Savannah Region: Developing Salaga, Our Utmost Priority

During a meeting held at the forecourt of the Jubilee House on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, the President issued a Constitutional Instrument (CI 115) giving effect to the results of the referendum creating the Savannah region. In it (the CI) the President in his own wisdom chose Damongo as the Savannah regional capital.

Actually, the creation of the Savannah region presented the government and the Yagbonwura a golden opportunity to holistically develop the Savannah enclave by allocating distinct functions to the Eastern, Central and Western parts of the region in order to engender interdependence, thereby spreading development across the Savannah region. With this, the Savannah region would have been the fastest developing region in Ghana. Sadly, that was not to happen. Ultimately, the choice of Damongo only succeeded in enforcing the perpetual and complete dependence of the Eastern part of the region on the Central and Western parts. This is because, the Central part of the Savannah region is designated as the Industrial Hub of the region, the Western part has the Paramountcy (Traditional capital) and now they have been added the regional capital. What does the Eastern part boasts of? Where is the equity? Unfortunately, the answers to this questions now, are as irrelevant as music is to a cow.

During his brief address yesterday, the President admitted that, Anyone who visits the Northern Region, especially the newly created Savannah Region, will attest to the fact that it is typified by poor road networks, insufficient health, educational and communication facilities, poor sanitation and water supply system, amongst others. You will not be far from wrong if you describe the Savannah region as the least developed part of the Northern region. This at least should give the people of East Gonja (Salaga) a glimmer of hope that, the President appreciates the challenges of the Savannah region and Salaga by extension. Furthermore, the Minister for Regional Reorganisation and Development was unequivocal when he stated during his tours that, Every part of the new regions will be developed. He added that There will be an affirmative action by the government to make sure that they (the Savannah region and other newly created regions) will get accelerated development Likewise, the Minister promised to deliberately ensure that some decentralized departments are located at the various geographical areas to send government closer to the people.

Similarly, I will like to remind the government that hitherto, the people of Salaga travelled 116km to the Northern regional capital (Tamale). However, with the creation of the Savannah Region and the declaration of Damongo as the regional capital, the people of Salaga have effectively been slapped with 123.2km more, thereby, increasing the distance between Salaga and the regional capital from the previous 116km (Salaga to Tamale) to now 239.2km (Salaga to Damongo). We therefore, urge the government to speed up the process of locating some decentralized departments in the various districts within the Savannah region as promised. This is to ensure that no district is made worse-off after the creation of a new region as stated in chapter 2, paragraph 23 of the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Creation of the Regions (Commission).

Again, we strongly hope that, the government by its actions will not corroborate what is contained in Chapter 2; paragraph 27 of the Commission’s final report, quoted from the work of Professor R. B. Bening, who argued that ‘after creation of a region, it is usually the new capital town and its environs that record dramatic improvements and developments in the means of transport and communication and the provision of residential and office accommodation for government officials, parastatal and private commercial institutions’. Hence, the people of East Gonja are keenly watching and we will use all legal means to hold the government and the President in particular by their words.

I will urge the youth of East Gonja Municipality and Salaga in particular, to take solace in the sheer unity of purpose we displayed from the period of the referendum up to the advocacy for the regional capital. We should be rest assured that posterity will be kind to us. Unlike some of our leaders, who have shamelessly turned their back on the land that made them who they are, when it needed them most. In the words of Martin Luther King Jnr, in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.

Most regrettably, some of the leaders have become wax palm trees, shading people far away from their roots. Their lack of foresight is legendary. Else, how on earth could you cheaply give away a permanent status (regional capital) for a temporary monetary reward or governmental position that will last you not more than four years? Of course, among them were some chiefs and well placed politicians whose greed led them to plan, plot and actively worked against the interest of East Gonja (Salaga), a place they proudly call their hometown. Obviously, with brothers like this, who needs enemies? In fact, some, among them, highly placed royals and politicians, as a result of myopia went to the extent of using social media to advocate against their own hometown. It is sad that they couldn’t see the bigger picture.

Conversely, our most Venerable and Majestic Paramount Chief, Kpembewura Haruna Dari Bismark Banbagne Ndefuso II, through his words and deeds, has showed to us that, in him we have a dependable father. Also, He has proved to all his subjects within and outside the Kpembi Traditional area that, He is ready to stand by them when the need arises. Jira, your selfless dedication and the love for the land bequeathed to you is unparalleled. Posterity will be very kind to you.

Additionally, what was hitherto thought of, as impossible, was achieved within this short period. The utter show of patriotism by the youth soothes the heart. This is an indication that we can achieve anything if we put our minds to it. Within this period, we have set aside our political, religious and tribal differences and forged a very strong bond towards a common vision.

Just like a relay race, all of us, as individuals, groups and committees have performed our duties to our utmost best. We have through various platforms used cogent technical arguments to try to persuade the government to see the light and consider the future development of the Savannah region. Clearly, the President had other ideas.

Henceforward, I will strongly urge the people of East Gonja, especially the youth to remain united and redirect our energies towards bringing the needed development to the East Gonja Municipality. The fact is that, the Savannah Region has come to stay, therefore, the earlier we rechanneled our efforts towards securing our fair share of development the better for the Savannah Region and East Gonja in particular. Lamentation and violence will only give the whole of the Savannah Region and Salaga in particular bad publicity (as it has, so far) and set us back even before we set off.

Consequently, the destruction of the NPP’s constituency party office yesterday by some youth of Salaga as a reaction to the President’s announcement of Damongo as the Savannah regional capital was most regrettable and condemnable. As citizens of Salaga, we have every right to feel devastated and angry. Nevertheless, I urge all of us to express our disagreement in civility. Violence and Vandalism is never the way to go.

However, it is unfortunate the Police could not foresee and make appropriate arrangements to avert the incident in the first place. In fact, the NPP’s constituency party office is less than 300m away from the Police Command post. That said, as the police continue with their investigation, I implore them to be guided by what is termed in criminal law, the Blackstone ratio, which states that, It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.

In this period of disenchantment, I urge the people of East Gonja (Salaga) to find comfort in the words of Allah (SWT), who revealed that And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like something which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know (Qur’an 2:216). Therefore, let us put our trust in Allah. As whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed, Allah has set a measure for all things (Qur’an 65:3).

Source: Modern Ghana