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Regional News of Friday, 16 February 2018


Clash deepens in Binduri District as Capital shifts again

The Binduri District has become more split apart than it started in 2012— when it was created from the Bawku Municipality— with one faction, who used to agonise, now jubilating with promises, and another side, who was once satisfied, currently fuming with threats over the location of the district capital.

Arguably the only district in Ghana with a ‘shifting capital’, Binduri has had its ‘proposed’ capital situated twice, from Bazua in 2012 to Binguri in 2014, amid nail-biting controversies.

And just two months into 2018, the ‘restless capital’ is shifting yet again to another site with a resurrected disagreement after the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development issued a strong letter, directing the assembly to move its offices from the current site at Binguri to Binduri— where the country’s Legislative Instrument (LI) 2146 reportedly says the district capital should be pitched.

Not too long after the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council had received that letter, the Regional Minister, Rockson Bukari, plunged into action: he purportedly led a contractor and a consultant to the fresh location, to begin spadework for a new assembly office block to be erected.

A faction, who looked satisfied with the siting of the assembly’s offices at Binguri under the Mills and Mahama presidencies, took offence at the latest move and descended heavily, like tons of bricks, on the Regional Minister at a news conference it held just last week. Speakers at the presser burned with open threats to spill blood as they argued passionately that there was no such thing like Binduri as a community in the district.

A reprisal press conference also came up on Valentine’s Day, organised in Bolgatanga, the regional capital, by another group of natives from the district.

The conveners, who belong to a bloc which by dint of persistence won after taking the dispute over the district capital arrangement to court years back but did not see the government at the time actualise the court decision, now looks good and content at the latest turn of events under the new government.

Their relaxed mood was a sharp opposite of the air of frustration at the early-February conference that prompted the latest counterstatement from a side widely perceived to be sympathetic towards the political party now in power. Leading the assemblers of the news conference Wednesday, Philip Ayamba, a popular community development guru with a trademark hat, explained why his side did not need to go to war.

“Our people have a saying that when two dogs are fighting for a bone, and one of them picks that bone, it stops barking. It doesn’t bark any longer, lest the bone drop and the other one would pick [it] and run away. They are making moves to bring the thing (the capital) to Binduri. Why should we cause any trouble? Once this government has decided that the right thing has to be done, the wrong that was committed six years ago has to be righted,” he said.

Needless Assembly Block Financial Loss to the State — Faction

The summoners of Wednesday’s conference consider the construction of an assembly office complex by the past government at Binguri, even with a court ruling that the capital be sited at Binduri, as an illegality, contempt of court and financial loss to the state.

A “financial loss to the state” because a new office block is going to be constructed again at the “rightful site” on the strict orders of the central government whilst serious questions as to what would now become of the new-looking office block at Binguri, put up at a reported Gh¢1.2 million and being used by the assembly today, are yet to find satisfactory answers.

“Those people should be investigated and held accountable for causing financial loss. They rented somebody’s house in Bazua for close to one and a half years. Then, they eventually moved to Binguri; rented yet another person’s house. And, then, they started the construction of the building. So, two different people’s property had to be rented for close to two years in total and a sum of money was spent putting up the building.

“That is an illegality which should never have happened in the first place and I do not see why we should let sleeping dogs lie and allow an illegality like that. This is no matter of let sleeping dogs lie. It was wrong. People who caused that problem are available. We know them. They are still here in the region. They should be held accountable,” said Mr. Ayamba with a 'triumphant emphasis' as he pointed to some appointees of the Mills and Mahama governments from the region.

NDC shifted capital to punish ‘NPP Stronghold’— Group claims

The Upper East Regional Minister, who received verbal knocks from the unhappy side after his recent tour of the district to initiate a capital relocation process, was showered with tributes from the jubilant side for going there at a ‘chariot pace’ to do as the Legislative Instrument had demanded.

“This present Regional Minister is not playing politics with it. This is an Act of Parliament that was assented to by the then President Atta Mills, of blessed memory. So, he (the Regional Minister) has an obligation to ensure that it is respected. So, he’s just simply doing his job. It is legal— an LI. There is nothing they can do about it as individuals. A former Regional Minister, his deputy and some others played politics with it.

“If the NDC created the district and somebody is sitting somewhere, thinking that people in the centre of Binduri, where the capital is supposed to be sited, always vote for NPP and always vote against NDC, why don’t you use that (locating the capital where the LI is pointing at) as a reason to woo them in? You think that you must punish us for always voting for NPP. It’s unfortunate,” stated the hat-loving elderly man.

Responding to the opponents’ declaration that there was no specific community called Binduri in the Binduri District, Mr. Ayamba counterargued, saying there was “Binduri” and he rapidly counted his fingers off as he mentioned seven suburbs he said made up the community— Natenga, Zuuri, Asitampeligu, Bulugu, Bankango, Saarabogo and Sakpanateng.

“Binduri as a community is very different from Binduri as an electoral area. If the assembly were to decide that they would put the offices in say Saarabogo or Bankango, we would not complain because they are part of Binduri as a community in the Binduri District. That is what we are saying,” he affirmed.

He added, as his hat shook with the same vigour displayed throughout the long court struggles: “If anybody is coming with bloodbath motives and things like that to Binduri, we shall report them to the security agencies. And I believe the security agencies have what it takes to handle such people. We from Binduri want to be as civil as possible. Our preparedness is in the security.”