Hurayyyyyyyy, finally, finally, finally, the battle has ended. The almost 4 decade’s dream of having a separate region for the good people of Gonjaland is now a reality. Savannah region is here with us. ‘’Ebore, anye de foapan’’. Kudos to all who played a vital role in its realization. The president of the Republic, Nana Akuffo Addo deserves much commendation for the political will and commitment he displayed in the fruition of this ages-long dream of having a separate region for the good people of Gonjaland. He is indeed a listening president and man of his words. I singled out the president at this moment not because I want to make a political capital for any political party but to stress the enormous political will and commitment he demonstrated in the creation of the region. Crystal clear evidences shows that Successive presidents and governments capitalized on the substantial demand and quest of Gonjalanders for a region and made their political gains and capital and left it unattended to. That is, they never displayed an iota of a political will and commitment to its creation. A cursory glance at history reveals that for more 4 decades, the people of Gonjaland have yearned and pressured for the creation of a region for their land. Admittedly, this call has always been repeated in all the annual congresses organized by the Gonjaland Youth Association (GLYA). It is also an established fact that successive Kings of Gonja made passionate appeals to governments to carve a region for the Gonjaland. Fresh in the memories of many Gonjalanders was the appeal by Yagbonwura Borenyinche of blessed memory in 1996 at Buipe and in 1999 at Bole to President J.J Rawlings to create a new region for Gonjaland and that of Yagbonwura Bawa Doshie in 2007 to President John Agyekum Kuffuor. The current Yagbonwura, Sulemana JakpaTuntunba Boresa I never minced the chance to appeal to the Mills/Mahama administration to give the people of Gonjaland their own region. Yagbonwura Boresa I during his first year anniversary and Damba celebration in 2011 in which the vice president of Ghana at that time, John Dramani Mahama was the special guest of honour made a passionate appeal to the government for the creation of a region in Gonjaland. In September 2016, he made the same appeal to Nana Akuffo Addo then presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party to carve a region for Gonjaaland should he wins the election and become the president of Ghana. The outspoken and vociferous former spokesperson of the Gonjaland Youth Association (GLYA), Mr. Mahama Haruna wrote and published several articles to push for the creation of a region for the people of Gonja. His articles that caught many eyes and attention was ‘’Creating a Savannah Region from the Northern Region. Is it not time politicians? (published by modernghana on July 27, 2009). ‘’Arguments against the creation of the proposed Savannah region are flawed’’ (mahamaharuna.blogspot,August 1, 2009)
Realistically, the demand for the creation of a new region out of the Northern region was not trumpeted by only the people of Gonjaland. In October, 2009, the Northern Regional House of Chiefs unanimously passed a resolution on the creation of a new region out of the then Northern region. After passing the resolution on the creation of a new region, a delegation of Northern Regional House of Chiefs led by WuluguNaba, Naa Professor J.S Nabila who was both the Northern regional and National House of Chiefs president on Tuesday, 27th October, 2009 paid a courtesy call on president Mills and presented to him the resolution. Evidently, almost all the regional ministers who superintended over the region have added their voices to the call for the creation of a new region out of the then Northern region. Alhaji B A Fuseini amplified the idea when he was handing over to Alhaji Seidu Iddi as the regional minister for the northern region. His argument was on the size and complexity of the region. In February, 1998, at MEET THE PRESS series in Accra Alhaji Iddi argued for the creation of a new region out of the existing northern region. At his vetting by parliament in 2001 as the northern regional minister, Mr. Ben Bukari Salifu also suggested the splitting of the northern region. Ben Bukari Salifu insisted that additional two regions should be created to make it three.
From the above, it is crystal clear that there was substantial demand for the creation of a region for Gonja and the good people of Gonjaland were ready to do anything within their ambit to realize it. What was left to propel it was the political will and commitment of any sitting president to activate article 5 of the 1992 constitution. The 1992 constitution in chapter 2 empowers the president to create, alter or merge any regions in Ghana either at his own discretion or upon a petition. With this enormous power vested in the president to create regions and realizing the huge demand for the creation of a region for the people of Gonjaland, it was then surprising that for the 8 years of the stay at the presidency of former president Mahama as vice president and the substantive president, he did absolutely nothing about the creation of the said region for his own people. His silence was indeed surprising taking into consideration how passionate and desperate he was about the creation of a region for the people of Gonjaland during the days of former president Kuffour. From 2001-2008, he never minced the least opportunity he got to castigate the Kuffuor’s administration for what he described as either a delay or refusal to create a new region for the people of Gonja. It is a historical record that former president Mahama ever questioned Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani who was the minister of presidential affairs on the floor of parliament if it was normal since 2003, no action had been taken on a petition presented to President Kuffuor by Yagbonwura Bawa Doshie on the creation of a region for the people of Gonja. Former president not contented with the response of Mr. Mpiani that creating a new region was quite a serious and technical issue and that president Kuffuor had received the petition and will take action on it. To buttress his point that the Kuffuor administration was doing little to realize the creation of the region, he referred Mr. Mpiani to a provision of the constitution that states that the president after receiving the petition was not to spend time studying the petition but to consult with the council of states and if approved, a commission is to be set up to look into it. It is also on record that during 2005 parliamentary vetting of ministerial nominees, John Dramani Mahama who was the member of parliament for Bole-Bamboi constituency questioned Honorable Ernest Debrah and Boniface Abubakari Saddique who were the outgoing and incoming Northern Regional ministers respectively about their opinion on the creation of a region out of the Northern region. Their responses were blunt and categorical on the difficulties in administering the region on the sheer size of it. They therefore welcomed the idea of creating a new region out of the Northern region. In fact, in June, 2008, former president John Dramani Mahama who was the vice presidential candidate of the NDC categorically stated clearly that as a son of Gonjaland, he will push for the creation of a region within Gonjaland should the NDC win the 2008 elections and he becomes the vice president of Ghana. He made that statement before the king of Gonjaland, Yagbonwura Bawa Doshie and the entire Gonja Traditional Council ( GTC) at Jakpa Palace when he(JDM) came to officially introduce himself to the King in 2008 as the running mate to professor Evans Atta Mills and sought for his blessings. Is it not then surprising that he turned a deaf ear to the plea and demand of his own people? In 2009, at the 33rd annual Congress of Gonjaland Youth Association(GLYA) held at Bole, the president of the association reminded former president Mahama about his promise in 2008 before the king and elders of Gonja Traditional Council. In 2011, at the Damba celebration and the first anniversary celebration of Yagbonwura SulemanaTuntumba Boresa I, the king of Gonjaland pleaded with president Mahama to as a matter of importance and also a son of the land to consider their plea and his own promise of creating a region within Gonjaland. Former president Mahama only assured him the government will look into the matter and act appropriately. In February, 2014, the Gonjaland Association of UK and Ireland branch issued a threat to former president Mahama to give Gonjaland the region he promised or face their wrath.
It is a historical record that Akuffo Addo first made the promise of creating a region for the people of Savannah in January, 2008. He made this promise when he addressed Yagbonwura Bawa Doshie and the Gonja Traditional Council at the Jakpa Palace. He pledged to work within his first year of government to ensure the fruition of the long dream of the people of Gonja. It is also on record that he repeated such a promise to the Gonja Traditional Council in the run up to the 2012 elections and that Yagbonwura Sulemana Jakpa I made an appeal to him to consider creating a region for Gonjaland should he win the 2016 elections. With the alacrity and commitment he treated the petition presented to him by Yagbonwura Sulemana Jakpa I and the entire Gonjaland on Wednesday 29th September, 2017 on the creation of the Savannah region is a clear demonstration that his promise of creating a new region for the people of Gonjaland was not a political strategy to win elections in that area. Clearly, his swiftness to positively respond to the petition by activating Chapter of the constitution was phenomenal. It is no doubt that if Akuffo Addo had the 2008 elections, the Savannah region would have been about ten years old and we would have been done with the provision of almost or most of the basic infrastructure for its smooth running. However, solace should be taken in the saying that better late than never. President Akuffo Addo would demonstrate same political will in putting all necessary infrastructure needed for the smooth administration of the Savannah region just as he did in its creation.
Iddi Adam Osman
Larabanga, Savannah region.
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