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06.12.2019 Regional News

Damongo: Youth Backs Gonja King; Says It’s Costly To Scatter Govt Depts In Savannah Region

By Ananpansah B Abraham
Damongo: Youth Backs Gonja King; Says It’s Costly To Scatter Govt Depts In Savannah Region
LISTEN DEC 6, 2019

The Damongo Youth Parliament, a civic rights group based in Damongo the Savannah Regional capital is supporting demands by the King of Gonja (Yagbonwura) to have all key government departments centralised in the capital.

The group has also served notice that if by December 16th, 2019 President Akufo-Addo does not rescind his decision to decentralise such key departments, they will stage a protest in Damongo.

Departments such as Health, Feeder Roads, Urban Roads, Roads and Highways, Agriculture, Education, Births and Deaths, Lands Commission, Survey, Planning and Cooperatives among others are currently being shared among other districts of the newly created region.

But at a press conference held in Damongo on Monday, Ananpansah B. Abraham, Secretary to the group, said the proposed government policy may work well for other regions, but not the Savannah Region.

“… the disperse nature of our settlement patterns makes it impractical to reason about. It will only end up in promoting inefficiency and ineffectiveness in administration. The efficiency ingredient which was key in requesting for the region will be defeated with a decentralized bureaucracy.

“The time and resources that will be needed to access scattered departments in the Savannah Region however, presents a somewhat Scary picture with cost implications.

“You can imagine the head of a particular decentralized department having to travel 341kms to and from Bole and Daboya for an official meeting or duty.How about a nurse in Salaga having to travel 252.4kms to Daboya to sign his/her documents because, the Regional Health Directorate is located there. Can you imagine the time, resources and stress? How about a contractor in Bamboi covering a distance of 455.1kms to Salaga to access the Feeder Roads Department and another 341kms to Bole to access the Agric department. You see what we are talking about?”, he quizzed.

Below is the full statement read at their press conference:

PRESS CONFERENCE
DAMONGO YOUTH PARLIAMENT(DYP)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 02, 2019
IMPLEMENT WISHES AND ASPIRATIONS OF PEOPLE OF SAVANNAH REGION BY DESISTING FROM ANY ATTEMPT TO DECENTRALIZE REGIONAL DEPARTMENTS OF SAVANNAH REGIONAL COORDINATING COUNCIL

Warm salutations to you our gallant press men, fellow Gonjalanders, friends, ladies and gentlemen; all protocols dully observed.

With a heart filled with gratitude and warm fuzzes, I wish to welcome you all on behalf of the rank and file of the youth parliament to this all-important press conference.

As a youth parliament, the common good of the youth and our communities in general and Savannah Region in particular, devoid of personal interest, are our utmost priority.

On that score, we wish to pat our gallant press men and indeed, all Gonjalanders on the back for the individual sacrifices and collective effort towards the creation and subsequently, the strive towards the development of the infant Savannah Region. Indeed, it was never promised to be easy, but with a true-blue character and unity of purpose, “we shall surely see visions”. (Rephrased).

Ladies and gentlemen, we have invited you here today to share our thoughts with you on the state of affairs in the newly created Savannah Region of ours.

Comrades, it’s instructive to note that, the quest for the creation of the Savannah Region was to accelerate Socio Economic Development and to enhance administrative efficiency.(This is as contained in the petition for the creation of a new region in Gonjaland).And many sons and daughters of our dear land who toiled tirelessly for decades to have a Savannah Region would have wished to share in the glory we have today.

This toil dates back to a meeting that was held from the 18th to 19th of April,1981, when the idea of requesting for a region was first mooted with loud applause. What a privileged generation we are?

It is therefore important for us to seize the golden opportunity provided by the region to refine ideas, listen to one another and develop Gonjaland. We therefore, cannot afford to betray the toil, sacrifices and silent wishes of our forefathers and mothers as they sleep silently with the hope of a promising and prosperous Savannah Region.

The Overlord of the Gonja Kingdom,Yagbonwura Tutumba Boresa 1,deserves a ceremonial embrace as the chief petitioner for the creation of the Savannah Region.We in the youth parliament, therefore share in the wisdom contained in his directive that, all the decentralized departments of the Regional Coordinating Council should be located at the Regional Capital, Damongo.

In an interview with PAD FM on 1st October,2019,after a closed-door meeting with the Regional Minister, the Registrar of the Gonja Traditional Council,Mr.Abutu Kapori,disclosed that, it will be a betrayal of trust if Yagbonwura accepts a region with such dispersed departments.

According to him, the Overlord has directed the minister to relay to government that he has not accepted and will not accept an arrangement to decentralize departments.

“Yagbonwura wants all the regional departments to be sited at Damongo….This was the reason why he demanded for the region.Yagbonwura says if he was to be aware that this was the way the region was going to be structured, he wouldn’t have asked for it.When you look at the youth that came to my palace to protest against the decision, they are made up of different tribes. The teaming youth have indicated that they will feel highly betrayed and disappointed if the Overlord accepts such a decision, since that was not the region they fought and voted for,” he reiterated.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, the wisdom in Yagbonwura’s declaration reflects the wishes and aspirations of the youth and people of Gonjaland as expressly expressed in the petition for the creation of the Savannah Region, not the afterthought proclamations best couched as a mirage.

Compatriots, it’s important to note that, Yagbonwura’s directive is sequel to an attempted protest by the youth of the region under the aegis of Damongo Youth Parliament (DYP) against the unpopular decision. A protest which was put on a temporal hold.

We thought the declaration by the Overlord has ended the raging controversy, since he is the chief petitioner with a final say and symbolizes the entire region and Gonjaland.We the youth therefore, rested our case with the hope of a better structure for a coordinated development within the Savannah Region.

What beats our imagination however, is the subtle disclosure by the Savannah Regional Minister, Mr.Adam Salifu Braimah,in a speech read on his behalf at the recently held Savannah Star Awards that, the various MMDCEs’ in the Savannah Region have been tasked to allocate pieces of lands in their districts for the construction of the various Regional Departments as advertised by government.Meaning,he intends to go ahead with the decentralization policy, despite clear instructions from the chief petitioner against such a decision.

We have also become aware that, most of the Heads of the Decentralized Departments have started reporting to the Regional Capital, but are being coerced against their will to move to their so-called designated districts.

Comrades, ladies and gentlemen of the press, we consider this desperate move an affront to the authority of Yagbonwura who symbolizes the entire Gonjaland and a betrayal of the wishes, conscience and aspirations of the people. The people must be seen as owning the region!

I should like to state that, the disadvantages of decentralizing bureaucratic departments far outweigh the advantages, especially for Savannah Region with its dispersed settlements.

Friends, it’s instructive to note that, the various regional departments are only to serve as coordinating agencies,thus, coordinating the development within the region, and dispersing these coordinating agencies of the RCC will increase the cost of administration as the departments will have to communicate and share relevant documents, resources and information on a regular basis. Our recurrent expenditure will increase unnecessarily through commuting expenses.

Information we have sourced indicates that at present, an amount of Gh50,000.00 is used per month to fuel the hitherto eight and now seven vehicles of the Savannah Regional Coordinating Council… Averagely, each vehicle would have been consuming an amount Ghc7,143.00 of fuel per month which translate to 1,343 litters of fuel.

This is less the outstation and traveling allowances inter alia.

We are just wondering where the cost will be pegged with dispersed decentralized departments, where the Heads of Departments will have to cover several kilometers to attend official meetings among others.

Lest we forget, we will soon be raising some critical questions and issues about our missing RCC vehicle with registration number ER 3516-19 and chase’s number AHTKK8CDD200679016.Information about the progress of investigations remain sketchy and we are concerned, since it’s a matter bothering on public interest and public good. Coming soon….

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, the policy so proposed may work well in any other region, but for Savannah Region, the disperse nature of our settlement patterns makes it impractical to reason about. It will only end up in promoting inefficiency and ineffectiveness in administration. The efficiency ingredient which was key in requesting for the region will be defeated with a decentralized bureaucracy.

Take the distances from the regional capital to the various towns in the North East Region for instance:

The travel distance between Nalerigu to Gambaga is 7kms, Nalerigu to Walewale;57kms, Nalerigu to Cheripony which happen to be one of the farthest towns in the region is 112kms and Nalerigu to Bunkurigu is 61kms.

Bono East Region which is also closer in proximity to the Savannah Region presents a similar picture:

The travel distance from Techiman to Kintampo is 72.6kms, Techiman to Atebubu;143.4kms, Techiman to Yeji;212.9kms, Techiman to Nkoranza is 29kms and from Techiman to Wenchi is 31.8kms.

The time and resources that will be needed to access scattered departments in the Savannah Region however, presents a somewhat Scary picture with cost implications.

You can imagine the head of a particular decentralized department having to travel 341kms to and from Bole and Daboya for an official meeting or duty.

How about a nurse in Salaga having to travel 252.4kms to Daboya to sign his/her documents because, the Regional Health Directorate is located there. Can you imagine the time, resources and stress?How about a contractor in Bamboi covering a distance of 455.1kms to Salaga to access the Feeder Roads Department and another 341kms to Bole to access the Agric department. You see what we are talking about?

See the table below for a better appreciation of the above analysis.

TOWN TRAVEL DISTANCE IN Kms
Damongo to Salaga 239
Damongo to Bole 99
Damongo to Daboya 89.3
Bamboi to Salaga 455.6
Tuna to Salaga 346.7
Bole to Daboya 188.3
Buipe to Salaga 218.5
Such a system will create access crises and slowdown the bureaucracy of the region, thus promoting ineffective administration and underdevelopment. It will unnecessarily overburden clients who will be accessing these departments.

Damongo was settled on as the regional capital because of its generally accepted central nature…About four of the six districts in Gonjaland are closer in proximity to Damongo. It is centrally placed and best fit to coordinate development within the region.

Developing Damongo as the pride of Gonjaland like Tamale, Kumasi, Accra, Koforidua ad infinitum, does not take away anything from the other districts in the region. These Regional capitals gained the prominence they have today, as a result of the concentration of regional departments which propelled growing population.

Such a dense population easily attracts investors who will want to take advantage of the numbers to do investments.We are already picking information that, potential investors are being scared away from our region because of the unpalatable decision to decentralize, since it will not make investment sense to put so much into a town that cannot attract traffic and the numbers needed to drive business.

Friends from the media, we are told the president mentioned about decentralization of development and government installations, whilst presenting the Savannah Region with its Document of Attestation and Constitutional Instrument (CI 115), to give effect to the creation of the region.

Decentralization of development is the way to go. That is why we entreat the president to embark on massive infrastructural development within the Savannah Region. We want to see more scattered higher institutions of learning, factories, better road networks, markets, district hospitals and CHPS compounds inter alia.

For the question of government installations, the meaning maybe opened to varied interpretations. But if that was meant to direct that bureaucratic departments should be scatted; we appeal to the conscience of the president to reconsider his decision. This is not the Savannah Region we intended. This is not the Savannah Region we must own, when we don’t have a say in how departments should be structured. Decisions and policies are made and can be unmade.

If we are really committed to decentralization, let’s rather impress on government to create more districts in the newly created Savannah Region and resource these districts together with the existing one’s to take charge of development.

Ladies and gentlemen, lest we forget, what criteria was used by the RCC to determine that the Regional Agric Office is best fit to be sited at Bole. How about the Regional Health Directorate and Feeder Roads? Who designed that criteria? Which people were involved or consulted in arriving at this crucial decision? We need to know…

It is important to note that, the departments in themselves are just structures responsible for coordinating development and don’t constitute development in themselves.Structures in themselves mean nothing if they don’t contribute to development.

It’s very difficult to fathom the motivation behind such acts of destructive desperation aimed at implementation a decision that is not in consonance with the popular will and wishes of the people.

We, within the youth parliament as key actors in the region wish to add our strong voices to this important debate.

We didn’t fight for a region that will at last, be a burden to the people. We intended to have a region that will enhance administrative efficiency and effectiveness.

As coordinating agencies, easy access to these departments is practically necessary if we mean development. Any attempt to scatter these departments will be counterproductive, as our meagre resources will be disbursed in running administrative cost of the region, rather than developing.

It will be a clear affront to the authority of the Overlord who is the chief petitioner to scatter these coordinating departments. And it will be clearly against the wishes and aspirations of the people for whose reason the region was created.

What is insulting and somewhat authoritative is that, the decision to decentralize was taken at the blind side of the Yagbonwura and the people of Gonjaland.Yagbonwura disclosed in one of our engagements with him that he only heard of the “somewhat unpopular” decision when PAD FM broke the news.

Is it now consultative development in a democratic Savannah Region or authoritative decisions defined by the whims and caprice of some “faceless individuals hiding under the cover of a so-called petition? We thought we collectively fought for the region and must plan its development together.

Friend, the so-called petition which we are told is the basis for this decision is not only non-existent, but it’s a total fiasco and a prime afterthought. So, the lest we talk about it, the better.

Such a decision was never the understanding of Yagbonwura, his chiefs and the people of Gonjaland.

We the youth are therefore, prepared to protest against this “blasphemous decision. We will not sit aloof and watch the authority of Yagbonwura to be flaunted with impunity.

We will resist any attempt to implement such an unpopular decision which does not fit into our developmental paradigm and does not resonate with the wishes and aspirations of the people.

Your Excellency, we are aware you just called off the holding of the Referendum of 17th December,2019, citing the lack of broad, national consensus among key stakeholders and the populace.

The decision to decentralize the regional departments of the Savannah Regional Coordinating Council was taken without broad consultation and consensus among key stakeholders and the populace.

We therefore, call on the president of the Republic of Ghana, His excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo-Addo to as a listening president use his powers to reconsider this rather unpopular decision. Let the people of Savannah Region be seen as owning the region.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, if by the 16th of December,2019, we don’t receive any positive response and reason to believe that the decision to decentralize was an afterthought but not intended; we will stage a massive demonstration to register our displeasure….

We are citizens, not spectators.
May the good Lord bless us all…
Long live Ghana!
Long live Gonjaland!Long live Savannah Region!
Long live Damongo Youth Parliament!
In one accord we remain faithfully yours,
ANANPANSAH,B ABRAHAM
(SECRETARY)
0241129910

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