Creation Of New Regions

COMMENTARY ON THE IMPENDING REFERENDUM FOR THE CREATION OF SIX REGIONS AND THE CALL ON VOTERS NOT TO SIT ON THE FENCE BUT TO BE ACTIVE CITIZENS
Come 27th December, 2018, Ghana will witness a historic referendum as part of the process for the creation of six new regions. The proposed regions are: Western North, Oti, Ahafo, Bono East, Savana and North East. The voting is in accordance with Article 4 of the 1992 Constitution. It must be noted that the referendum is the climax of the process for the creation of the regions. President Akufo-Addo in accordance with the Constitution established the Commission of Enquiry to look into and establish the need for the creation of the regions and on the Commission’s recommendation the matter has been referred to the Electoral Commission for the organisation of the referendum. It is now the turn of the people of the affected areas to decide through voting.
This marks the peak of the whole process because as the saying goes; ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God’. This is the first time as many as six regions are being created at a go, through a referendum under the 4th republic. That is to say none of the elections that took place in recent history in Ghana was a referendum. This means that Ghanaian voters are not as familiar with referenda as they are with ordinary elections and so there is the need for intensive voter education. Voters need to know that referendum is not the same as the usual elections they are used to even though they all involve voting.
For example, in the usual elections, there is no minimum voter turnout requirement and so the percentage voter turnout has no effect on the results. In this referendum, there should be at least 50 percent voter turn out and out of that 80 percent must vote in favour of the motion or proposal before it will be considered successful. The temptation is that some voters may think that they are not competing with anybody and so it is a done deal. In this scenario, one could say that “YES” is contesting directly with only “NO”. Beyond that mathematically, there are two other invisible contestants that “Yes” has to contend with. These faceless candidates are embedded in the Article 4(6) of the 1992 Constitution.
They are the 50 percent minimum voter turnout requirement and 80 percent “Yes” votes in support. In view of this, there is no room for inertia if the electorate in the affected areas want the regions to be created and that failure to vote is tantamount to being against the creation of the region. This is because once a person’s name is in the voters register he or she will be considered in calculating the percentage voter turn-out whether the person voted or not. In that case, citizens who are interested in the creation of the region should take their fate in their own hands and express their interest through voting for as the saying goes ‘actions speak louder than words’.
Those who may not for one reason or the other not be in favour should equally exercise their franchise. No registered voter should stay aloof and depend on others to decide their fate for them in respect of the creation of the proposed regions. The truth of the matter as stipulated in Article 4(6) of the Constitution is that without crossing the 50 percent minimum voter turn-out requirement, it is impossible to achieve the 80 percent votes in support. In other words, if voters in the affected areas want the regions, then they cannot afford to sit on the fence.
They must do everything possible to exercise their franchise. All those in the affected areas should see the poll on 27th December as a call to national duty. They must all come out in their numbers on the D-day to cast their votes as a patriotic response to this all important national call. Let us remember the mantra for the Referendum: NO 50 NO 80. Long live Ghana.
BY GABRIEL DEI YEBOAH DEPUTY EASTERN REGIONAL DIRECTOR, ELECTORAL COMMISSION (EC), KOFORIDUA

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