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Who Speaks for the Guans? A Follow Up To Liz Ohene’s “Who Speaks For Ewes?” (2)

botchway November 5, 2018


We have been hearing Togbe Afede, the Northern Ewes, Ewes Secessionists, Community of Ewe Clergymen and developmental experts like Horlali Haligah saying that everything the government is doing by way of creating a new region out of the Volta Region is unconstitutional. Now what does the Constitution say in Article 5 (1), (2), (3) and (4)? Article 5 (1) states clearly that Subject to provision of this article, the President may, by constitutional instrument- (a) create a new region; (b) alter the boundaries of a region; or (c) provide for the merger of two or more regions.

(2) states clearly that If the President, upon a petition being presented to him, and on advice of the Council of State, is satisfied that there is substantial demand for-

(a) the creation of a new region; (b) the alteration of the boundaries of a region, whether or not the alteration involves the creation of a new region; or (c) the merger of any two or more regions;

He shall acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, appoint a Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the demand and to make recommendations on all the factors involved in the creation, alteration or merger.

Article 5, goes on (3) to state that even without any petition, if the President is satisfied that there is the need for the creation, alteration and merger of regions, upon the advice of the Council of State, he can set up a commission of inquiry to come out with recommendations. (4) is explicit that when the Commission is satisfied of any of the above, it shall recommend a referendum and specify where the referendum shall take place.

If, indeed, Akpafu never joined the petitioners, Article 5 (1) and (3) clearly states that the President has not erred in adding them to the new region. He received advice from the Council of State, and one would suppose Togbe Afede, who was on that Council together with others, jointly advised the President to go ahead.

It, therefore, suggests to the Akpafu people to be law-abiding and express their desires by voting at the referendum. This barbaric approach of driving electoral officials away does not speak well of any leadership who wants to be above board in pettiness and all things unruly.

As it is, there is nothing illegal in the process towards the creation of any new region. The President of the Republic has satisfied all provisions of the Constitution in this matter. Those who do not understand may proceed to court.

Horlali’s presentation gives him out as someone who is either just parroting what he heard from his mentors, or simply put, wants to be heard and counted as one who belongs. We have been hearing anti-region campaigners in the Volta Region talking about imminent conflicts and citing the protracted one between Alavanyo and Nkonya as a typical example, and Horlali did mention that.

Resolutions for traditional conflicts and land disputes among others are under the jurisdiction of the houses of chiefs. Even when such issues travel to the Supreme Court, the judges will first find out whether they have travelled through the houses of chiefs. Horlali should get education on this, and when he is at it, he needs to find out from the traditional authorities in the Volta Region why they were sitting down aloof all these years without finding a solution to the Alavanyo-Nkonya problem. The best thing the Volta Regional House of Chiefs could do, in an attempt to resolve the conflict, was to suspend the paramount chiefs of Alavanyo and Nkonya from the House. Togbe Afede was president of that august house for eight years, and now he is the President of the National House of Chiefs, so we need to know what efforts he has made to bring peace in that part of his home region.

Horlali did not seem to put his development acumen into play in his article. To date, no one has exhibited with strict proof and evidence how the creation of a new region would bring about adverse costs to national development. All we hear is about political appointments which will drain the public purse, as if it is only political appointees who are employed in the new regions.

There will be the establishment of regional offices and institutions like hospitals, courts and departments and agencies of ministries in a new region. Getting these closer to the people is, in itself, development.

The contractor and businessman would no longer travel hours to access business. And in all these, a lot more people get employment; it will even make many seek jobs closer home than to go far away for greener pastures, ending up sleeping in slums, unhealthy, and unsecured places. As it stands now in the Volta Region, the Peki Hospital serves an area of about 80 kilometres diameter, and that is not good for development.

When Horlali joins people who believe the creation of new regions is just a means of politicians using selfish aims of amassing political gain, I find him to be very hypocritical in his judgment. What is politics all about? It is all about the managing of people and affairs. If a people have expressed their desire to be located and identified under one region, and government goes through all constitutional provisions to satisfy the needs of these people, some others are crying foul! Unless they are either naïve, ignorant, mischievous or all of the above, we can conclude that such persons are nation wreckers who will want to stir up trouble and blame the politicians for it.

When, in 2016, the two major political parties had strong demands from some peoples across the country that they needed new regions, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) promised that should they form government in 2017, that desire would be implemented. We all heard them pledging full support to the creating of new regions, and ex-President Mahama spoke loud and clear in Ho that the Volta Region will be split. Why the likes of Togbe Afede, Horlali and other anti-Oti region campaigners jubilated then but are dead against the idea now, speaks of double mindedness and double standards.

Horlali was just apt in using twisted statements to play along with his masters. In truth, nothing from his counter to Elizabeth Ohene makes any sense, except to say that he wanted to attack politicians and the government. And, indeed, his last sentence has rather entwined him as he stated: It is time we did away with partisan politics and viewed issues through the lens of patriotism with the interest of the nation at heart.”

He should come out clear and explain the exact stand of the Northern Ewes in the Volta Region. Why is it that this group of people have expressed their deepest heart’s desire since 1956 to date to be called Western Togolanders and not Ghanaians, and when Ghana is dividing the Volta Region they scream murder? What exactly do they want? For the records, in 1956 they were the only ones who voted massively not to join Ghana, but ended up as overall minority. The Plebiscite was explicit: To become part of Ghana or not. Those in the northern part of Volta Region voted to be part of Ghana. However, in their bid to satisfy their selfish desires, the Northern Ewes are saying the Plebiscite stated a time frame after which it would expire. This is a big lie.

The creation of Oti Region without a piece of Eweland in it would make it very difficult for these Ewes to lay claim on a larger tract of land whenever or if ever they finally have their independence. This is the basis and foundation of this anti-Oti region nonsense.

It is rather shocking to find the chiefs and elders of Akpafu disassociating themselves from the other Guans in this matter. Instead of joining their kinsmen to come under one region, they have displayed their disagreement in this arrangement. I will only draw their attention to the fact that the reason behind this anti-Oti Region campaign is to have an independent nation made up with Ewes in the overwhelming majority, and the Guans forming less than, say, absolute of less than 15% minority. When that happens, their own lands, properties and rights could be usurped from them. We have a good example today in English Cameroon.

The great weakness of the Guans, especially those in the Volta Region, is that they do not speak an identical Guan dialect, and it is very common to move from one town to another and find them speaking differently, and so they have adopted Ewe as the second official language. With this disadvantage, in a nation with Ewe dominance, they can easily be pushed into extinction just as the Red Indians and Aborigines are facing today.

A new region for them would shore up their identity, and this is important for the Guans. I can see the establishment of the Oti Region bringing together all Guans across the country so that their identity would be fully established.

But as it stands now, who is speaking for them?

We hear that ethnocentric cry about why the Volta Region should be divided and not the Ashanti Region which is larger. In the first place, the Ashanti Region is only larger than the Volta Region by 3,819 sq. kilometres, which is less than the land size of the Ho West District. So what is the big deal here? Moreover, in 1959, when the Ashanti Region got split with the creation of Brong Ahafo Region, parts of Asanteman were in the new region. Even though they lost land, the Asantes never complained, so we may ask why the Northern Ewes are so aggressive when no Eweland would be lost during the creation of the Oti Region.

But the question still remains, who speaks for the Guans?

Hon. Daniel Dugan


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