The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and MP for the Dome/Kwabenya constituency has sneered at the Electoral Commission‚Äôs (EC) decision to create more districts and constituencies, describing the move as illegal.
Addressing a press conference yesterday at Awet Hotel, Osu, Hon. Mike Oquaye, a professor of political science and lawyer, said that ‚Äúthe creation of several of the new districts constitute an illegality and that in the re-alignment exercise, the EC woefully failed to address the problem of equity and fairness to all by ensuring equal representation.‚ÄĚ
Basing his concerns on especially the Greater Accra Region, he noted that ‚Äúsince political representation is essentially the representation of human beings, under no circumstances can we have a situation where a region with a population of 4,010,054 (Greater Accra) has been given 34 seats and Eastern Region with population of 2,633,154 has been given 33 seats.‚ÄĚ
The people of the Greater Accra Region and others at large, he pointed out, had been treated unfairly and unjustly by the new arrangement.
‚ÄúTo make a little analysis, Upper East gets 15 seats from 1,046,545 people; Greater Accra has four times more human beings than Upper East.¬† Therefore, 15×4=60. By this, the EC must give Greater Accra 60 seats, going by population,‚ÄĚ he stated, asking, ‚ÄúBy what stretch of imagination can we deprive Greater Accra, vis-a-vis the Upper East, of 26 more seats because of land size or any other factor?‚ÄĚ Ghana, with her small population, he went on, would end up with 350 seats in Parliament, going by the EC‚Äôs logic.
Turning to the Volta Region whose population of 2,118,252 has attracted 26 seats, the same factor, he submitted, warranted 49 seats for the Greater Accra Region.
The creation of many districts, Hon. Mike Oquaye said, was fallacious in law since many were disqualified by the population legal requirement, adding that ‚Äúno law mandates the creation of new constituencies for new districts.
Continuing with his rubbishing of the creation of new districts, he observed that ‚Äúat this point in our political history, it is misguided, unfounded and illegal,‚ÄĚ adding that the NDC government acted in indecent haste for reasons best known to itself, by this action.
He referred the EC and government to the population qualification mandated by law (Local Government Act, 1993 ‚Äď Act 462) and said, ‚ÄúThe government tried to jump the gun and has landed us in a quagmire.‚ÄĚ
With a minimum population of 75,000 being the requirement for the creation of a district, he said the creation of 46 districts by the NDC government was unseemly.
‚ÄúThe census results show clearly that at least 23 of the existing districts which are being divided, cannot qualify as districts in terms of the minimum population required by law,‚ÄĚ he said without mincing words, adding, ‚Äúif the basis for qualification as district falls, and if the constituencies are based on that baseless foundation, then the constituencies cannot stand.‚ÄĚ
It is an established legal maxim, he said, ‚Äúthat you cannot place something on nothing and expect it to stand.‚ÄĚ
Seven districts have been divided to create more constituencies in the Volta Region, only two of which qualify to be divided into Hohoe and Ho. ‚ÄúEverything else is sheer illegality and the expected gerrymandering should fall flat,‚ÄĚ he said.
Should an NPP government create 50 new districts in the Ashanti Region, leading to over 100 seats in that region alone, automatically, he said, ‚ÄúWill it lead to peace and justice in Ghana?¬† This is a serious matter which goes to the root of democracy, good governance, peace and security.‚ÄĚ
He called on civil society, religious leaders and peace makers to take a stand at once on this matter and let justice prevail.
¬†By A.R. Gomda