Petitioners, who are calling for the creation of the proposed Ahafo Region, have complained about the marginalization of the people since the creation of the Brong Ahafo Region in 1959.
The petitioners, including chiefs, made this known at a public hearing organized by the Justice Stephen Alan Brobbey’s Commission of Inquiry on Friday, April 6 at the Accra International Conference Center.
Spokesperson for the Ahafo petitioners, Yaw Owusu-Brempong said, “In 1959 the people of Ahafo were happily joined together with the Brongs to create the Brong-Ahafo Region out of the Ashanti Region.”
“However, a few years after the creation of the region, the Ahafo people, who have always been in the minority, started agitating to break away from the Brongs to get their own region.”
“They could not contain the level of marginalization in terms of political appointments and infrastructural development,” he said, while reading a summary of the original petition forwarded to President Akufo-Addo for consideration into the creation of the region.
The Ahafo area, he said, has been discriminated against in the areas of education, healthcare delivery, road networks, political and chieftaincy appointments, among others.
According to him, primary and second cycle institutions in the area lack many essential facilities.
“For quite a long time, our second cycle institutions have been referred to as “mushroom schools” and have not seen any facelift over the years,” he said, adding that “with the proliferation of universities across Ghana in recent years, there is no university campus in the Ahafo.”
Some indigenes from the area at the venue echoed the sentiments of Mr Owusu-Brempong.
‘You don’t Need Human Resources’
Interestingly, most of the participants, who complained about low quality of education in the area, are professors, lecturers, teachers, with one of them being a lecturer from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Owing to the high number of learned people among the petitioners, the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry, Justice Stephen Alan Brobbey stated emphatically that the Ahafo people do not need human resources because for him they have them in abundance considering the fact that most of the chiefs from the area are erudite.
Touching on the quality of healthcare delivery in the Brong-Ahafo region, Mr Owusu-Brempong stated that out of the 57 hospitals and clinics in the region, only nine are in the Ahafo area “and even with those, there are clear differences in quality.”
“Chip compounds, which are the least in the health facilities, are scattered across the Ahafo area but we do not have many good hospitals. A lot of our people lose their lives on their way to Sunyani and Kumasi when they are referred to those hospitals with much better facilities,” he declared.
“Majority of the roads in Ahafo are not motorable, especially, those leading to the cocoa and plantain growing areas. This has negatively affected total output and consequently impeded the economic livelihoods of the citizens of Ahafo, especially our farmers,” he said.
He said that cash inflows from gold in the region “have not reflected in the socio-economic development of the area.”
Mr Owusu-Brempong said, “Since the creation of the Brong-Ahafo Region in 1959, 34 people have been appointed as regional political heads, ministers, secretaries, commissioners, but only four out of the lot have been appointed from the Ahafo area.”
“This political marginalization has not helped in our developmental agenda since we have not had enough ministers to push for our cause at the central government level.
“We therefore believe that getting the Ahafo region will ensure that we get a fair representation at the Central government level in the form of ministerial appointments,” he said.
In concluding his presentation, he explained that “it is anticipated that the creation of Ahafo, which is long overdue would address several development challenges facing the region, as there would be effective local governance, equitable resource distribution for accelerated development.
“We are also aware that there are a few people who believe that the geographical land size of Ahafo and the population is too small to warrant a separate region. We would like to address that concern by stating that with a land size of approximately 8,009 km square, we would be bigger than three states in the United States namely, Rhode Island 1,545 km square, Delaware 2,489 km square and Connecticut 5,543 km square,” he said.
There was high level of support from the people of the Ahafo area, who raised placards with inscriptions, “United for Ahafo region,” “It is time for Ahafo Region,” “Please Ahafo region now.”
History of Petition
DAILY GUIDE understands that the people of Ahafo have presented eight petitions to three presidents of Ghana between 1981 and 2003 to address the said marginalization.
“We were relieved when the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, showed courage and commitment towards the creation of additional regions by creating the Ministry of Regional Reorganization and Development,” Mr Owusu-Brempong explained.
Justice Brobbey gave the assurance that their views would be taken into account in formulation of the document that would be presented to President Akufo-Addo.
The Commission of Inquiry into the Creation of New Regions commenced work after it was inaugurated by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of the Republic on Thursday, 19th October 2017.
The Commission was tasked to establish whether there was substantial demand for the creation of new regions based on petitions received by the President and advice from the Council of State as required by Article 5 of the 1992 Constitution.
It began its fact-finding mission with in-camera hearings with the petitioners at the Osu Castle, Accra in 2017 and later went to the various regions where the petitioners are demanding the creation of new regions to hold public hearings.
The current public hearings- the final in the series- are intended to give opportunity to individuals, who wanted to make submissions at the regional public hearings but could not do so to make their submissions.
It is also meant for the petitioners to make their final case on why they think the regions should be created.