Exactly a week today, on Thursday, December 27, 2018, six mapped out electoral districts will go to the polls in this country to decide on their destiny to become autonomous political administrative regions. At least, 50% of all eligible voters in each district must vote out, of which at least 80% must agree on the decision to become a region.
This will be the first time in the history of this country that a region or regions (are) going to be created with the express decision of the people concerned.
The first region to be created after independence was the Brong-Ahafo, which was carved out from northern and western parts of the Ashanti Region on April 4, 1959 by an Act of Parliament (Brong Ahafo Act #18 1959); the Upper Region was carved out of the Northern Region on July 1, 1960; the Greater Accra Region was carved out of the Eastern Region on July 23, 1982, and in 1983 the Upper West Region was carved out of the Upper Region.
In all the cases above, it was during dictatorial regimes where any word from the “Top” must be obeyed. Next Thursday, however, Ghanaians will encounter a different situation, and that will be a more democratic way of creating regions. Like such referenda or plebiscites the world over, only those in the affected areas will take the final decision of their fate.
In most cases, any vote that crosses the 50% barrier would decide the fate of the people, as in the case of Quebec in 1980, in which people voted 40.44% pro and 59.56% against, and in 1990, when they voted 49.42 pro and 50.58% against moving out of the union with Canada, and in the case of the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, in which the Scots voted 44.70% pro and 55.30% against moving out of the United Kingdom. In Ghana, however, at least, 80% will be the deciding factor for the creation of a new region.
In view of this, the chiefs in the Brong Ahafo Region have placed a ban on Christmas conventions, not on religious grounds, but to make sure that everyone would be around to vote to attain the required 80% +x number of votes.
Apart from the Northern Region, where there was an issue about the location of Chereponi, all of the three regions of the Northern, Brong Ahafo and Western are so excited about the referendum and the creation of new regions. All the indigenes have pledged to respond positively to the plebiscites and record a near 100% “Yes” vote.
Elsewhere, however, things are not so peaceful in the Volta Region, where threats of war are rife in the air, with some Ewes vowing to make sure that the Oti Region is never created. A people who hold themselves to honour all that is legal and of justice would turn a right to look wrong and move on from one provocative action to another, in attempts to make the forth coming referendum look like something to blow up the whole nation into flames.
To claim sole ownership of the Volta Region is more like a fantasy, since other ethnic groups own the region as well. And if these ethnic groups decide to breakaway, how does that affect the Ewes? The dream of breaking away with other ethnic groups to create a new country called Western Togoland is also more of a fantasy than a reality; because, these Ewes are trying to tell the other ethnic groups that had voted for unification with Ghana in the 1956 Plebiscite, and desired to forever remain in Ghana, to move out with them. Why are they attempting to impose their desires on others? It looks more like enslaving the rest of the ethnic groups. And talking about enslavement, the Ewes are the best people to confirm that slavery and bondage are no good. So why do they want to drag other people into bondage and put them where they do not want to go?
This is sheer wickedness and gross falsehood for those groups of Ewes to choose to use the creation of a region, which would have no territorial effect on Eweland, to champion their over sixty years desire to be in a nation of a union of Ewe states?
That the Gold Coasters never got involved in the 1956 Plebiscite, so should those Ewe anti-Oti campaigners stay out of the Oti area. This is a fair suggestion.
It is so sad, since the December 27 referendum would be the only democratic way of creating new regions.The first of this to happen in Ghana, and the whole world would be watching us to come out once again with a success story for others to implement. For twenty-five straight years, we have used the ballot box to decide who governs us. Our constitution may not be perfect, however, like the proverbial bad native doctor, it is keeping the patient alive for the arrival of the good doctor.
I will hereby appeal to all those anti-Oti Region campaigners to give peace and love a chance in this matter, and allow the people of Oti to decide their fate. For one thing, whether Oti is created or not, when, or if, their desire to breakaway to form Western Togoland becomes a reality, no one, and not even the United Nations, can force those areas of the former British Togoland which voted to be in union with Ghana, to secede and join the new nation. And one thing also, the only area that can go to form the Western Togoland would be of only 5,862.8 square kilometres of land mass, covering the Hohoe, Kpandu and Ho indigenous areas.
Also a misplaced dream that the Pekis, Tongus and Anlos were part of British Togoland is clearly debunked by authentic maps of the Gold Coast, which made them part of that colony. Also Ewes who believe that Western Togoland covers almost half of Ghana should be assured that this is never true. When the dust finally settles, it would be the found out that the Wedome Ewes and the Asogli State would be on their own, with their less than 6,000 square kilometres of land. And by the way, any referendum on the Western Togoland would only involve the Northern Ewes, because they are the ones petitioning.
Let the peace and civility prevail throughout the whole of Ghana before, during and after the 2018 Referendum on the creation of the new regions.
As witty as they are, the Asantes have coined the word referendum into a Twi phrase “YƐFrƐƐdom” to wit “calling of the multitude.” And rightly so we should allow the multitudes, and not the thugs, to peacefully decide the fate of the people.
Happy Referendum Day to Ghana in advance.
Hon. Daniel Dugan