The Oti Region is one of the brand new regions in Ghana today, having been born on December 27, 2018 and yet to be outdoored. But, come to think of it, how will indigenes of the Oti Region be called? If people of Haiti are called Haitians and people of Djibouti are Djiboutians, then, obviously, people of the Oti Region could be called Otians. The emphasis must be on the “T” or else it may sound like Ocean(s), and I do not think it will be fair on them.
However, whatever name they choose to be called by, should be one that will unite the diverse ethnic groups that form the region. I am beginning to believe that the Oti Region is the most ethnically diverse.
A region which has not got an indigenous language that can be spoken by all. With time, maybe they will adopt one of their own. But what does it matter, we have Hausa, a non-Ghanaian language, spoken widely in the north.
The richness of the unity in diversity of the Oti people can be evolved into a beautiful culture and tradition that can draw many investors, local and foreign, to the area, because the region has what it takes to be a number one tourist destination, a national breadbasket, and an industrial hub.
The new capital is about to be named, and I hope and pray that enemies of progress may not use this to create divisions in Oti. So far, Jasikan and Nkwanta have been named as contenders. I will not give my opinion here about which one should have edge over the other. What I will suggest is using the Catholic Church’s Conclave method of electing popes to select the regional capital.
Using this method, there should be more than two contenders for the capital and their representatives, preferably the district chief executives (DCEs), will have to meet at an agreed venue under the supervision of the ministers in charge of Regional Reorganisation and Development and Local Government and Rural Development, and made to elect a town other than their own, which they will prefer to be the capital.
At the first past the post method, the town with the most votes becomes the capital. With this method, no “enemy” of the government would create differences for it and make the government and party unpopular.
Development of the new region must be top on the agenda, since it was mainly because of lack of development that made the people of Oti breakaway from the Volta Region, and the same may be said of the other new regions. Private partners must be encouraged to invest in the new regions, and government and people must identify the top areas that when immediately invested in, would change the lives of the people.
One thing to minimise here is the canker called corruption. By now, I suppose some people are looking for avenues where they can illegally cash in and make money at the expense of the development of the region. They could be anyone, indigene or outsider, smooth talkers and smart asses, some may even look very decent and honourable; nonetheless, measures must be taken to minimise acts of corruption.
The government has set aside, as seed money, GH¢20 million for each new region that works out to be a little over $4 million. We do not know exactly what all of the money will essentially be used for, but we hope most of it will not end up being used by technocrats who will organise workshops to decide what to do with the money, and also consultants who will put out very high fees for recommending where to put a market or build a bus terminal.
There is also the need to appoint political heads for these new regions that are hungry for hard work and success. People who have been part of the struggle and are more than determined to see their regions rise up and be part of the best within a few years. We need people who are indigenes through and through, and have love for their regions more than for themselves.
We will need regional ministers who are well connected internationally among others, and who can easily seek assistance from international bodies, institutions and companies who will come from abroad and invest more on BOT or BOOT basis.
We can wish all the regions well and hope they succeed, however, such must be backed by hard work and goodwill by the indigenes in particular, and all Ghanaians in general. We only hope that the Ewe extremists will not execute any anti-development operations in the Oti Region.
Happy New Year and Happy New Region to this God blessed our homeland, Ghana.
Hon. Daniel Dugan