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Opinions of Monday, 21 August 2017

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

The proposed creation of extra regions and the bizarre suggestions of balkanization

Normally I would not come out of my hideout to confute apparent belied facts by a fellow columnist, but on this occasion, I cannot help than to offer my opinion on an article which appeared on ghanaweb.com on 20th August 2017, captioned: ‘Must we allow the balkanization of our homeland Ghana?

The author writes: “Sometimes it is pretty hard to understand the motivation that drives some of the members of our nation's political class.

“Take the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) obsession with dividing up some of Ghana's existing regions. What is the point in balkanizing our homeland Ghana so?”

I am not sure whether if the author has a passing acquaintance or familiar with balkanization at all.

“Balkanisation is a geopolitical term, originally used to describe the process of fragmentation or division of states that are often hostile or uncooperative with one another.”

Based on the preceding extant acceptation of balkanization, we can boldly conclude that the proposed creation of regions in Ghana cannot be deemed as balkanization in any sense.

Of course, there is no intrinsic antagonism amongst any of the proposed regions in Ghana. So, how could anyone ascribe balkanization to the whole project?

The columnist pontificates: “Breaking up some of Ghana's regions makes no sense at all from a national cohesion standpoint in the digital age. It is like chasing fool's gold – and the political equivalent of seeing a mirage as the discovery of a new source of water in a parched landscape.”

To be quite honest, I am struggling to get my head around how and why geographical demarcations of peaceful precincts could destabilize national cohesion.

It is, however, worthy of note that it is not only Ghana that has been divided into regions. Take, for example, the United Kingdom has been divided into 48 counties, used for the purposes of administrative, geographical and political demarcation.

“By the early 17th century, all of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland had been separated into counties.

“The older term shire was historically equivalent to "county". In Scotland shire was the only term used until after the Act of Union 1707.

“Since the early 19th century, counties have been adapted to meet new administrative and political requirements, and the word county (often with a qualifier) has been used in different senses for different purposes. In some areas of England and Wales, counties still perform the functions of modern local government (Wikipedia).”

It is also true that the Federal Republic of the United States has about 50 separate States.

Suffice it to state that the geographical divisions have done nothing to hamper the development of both the United Kingdom and the United States.

In fact, if anything at all, the divisions have rather aided or facilitated the development of the geographical areas in the United Kingdom and the United States respectively.

In fact, there are more examples around the globe. But even if we use the examples of the United Kingdom and the United States, we can somehow dismiss the author’s suggestion that the project is useless and therefore those in support of the idea are probably not deep thinkers (emphasis mine).

I also find it extremely incredible that the author could choose to attribute tribal or ethnic bias to the proposed creation of the extra regions in Ghana. How pathetic?

The fact however is, the project can never be imposed on the people, as they will have the opportunity to decide through a referendum.

In 1983, the then head of state, J. J. Rawlings, successfully supervised the split of Upper Region, which gave us Upper West and Upper East Regions.

Was Rawlings’s decision to split Upper Region borne out of ethnic shenanigans or tribalism?

It is also worthy of mention that geographical divisions started long before Rawlings’s decision to divide the Upper Region.

“The colonial administration started along the coast with their capital Cape Coast till 1877.

“Later, the Ashanti Territory was added, followed by the Northern Territory and finally Togoland through a plebiscite on 9th May 1956, then the British Togoland was part of Ghana at independence.

“After independence, there was the need for the creation of a political region out of the Western Asante.

“This laudable idea was supported by some chiefs within the Bono and Ahafo areas particularly the Techimanhene whiles some other chiefs and people opposed the creation of the new region.

“Some other Ghanaians also did not share the view of the visionary president Dr Kwame Nkrumah move for the creation of a region out of Asante. But Ghana’s first president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s vision for the creation was beyond ethnic and political considerations as others thought of, he was certain that such regional creation would promote the socio-economic development of the Bono and Ahafo areas of Ghana.

“For this reason and other useful considerations a new political region was created out of the then Western Asante known as Brong Ahafo Region on 4th April 1959.

“One of the key considerations for the creation of the Brong Ahafo was its landmass but not necessarily based on its population at that time (Kipo 2009).”

Obviously, since the division, the people of Ashanti Region and Brong/Ahafo Region have lived side by side with each other without any major conflict. So the talk of geographical demarcation going to upset national cohesion is somehow unfounded.

In sum, geographical demarcation in a peaceful country cannot be referred to as “balkanization”. And, who are we to oppose such a move if the residents of the said precincts decide to embrace the idea through a referendum?