General News of Friday, 26 October 2018
The President of the National House of Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV, has continued his criticism of the processes for the creation of new regions insisting that the consultation process was not exhaustive enough.
Speaking to Citi News’ Vivian Kai Lokko, Togbe Afede stressed that the consultation process needed to be “full, faithful and impartial,” in line with the constitution.
But these ideals were not reflected in the public consultations held by the Justice Brobbey Commission in the Volta Region, he stated.
This is primarily because the southern part of the Volta Region was ostensibly sidelined in the process.
“You came to Ho. You left Dzodze in the south, Keta, Aflao, Denu, Anloga. All these places [left] out. Why would you do that? There is no question in my mind that the Commission of inquiry [needed to] extend its sittings to the southern sector.”
“A full inquiry, I believe would involve talking to even those who are againstthe process, but [the Commission] limited all the public hearings to the very areas where they said they had received petitions from,” Togbe Afede also said.
The chief’s recent comments follow petitions he received from the chiefs of Lolobi and Akpafu in the Volta Region who have sworn never to join the new Oti Region.
The focus of the hearings in communities that supported the creation of new regions meant dissenting views were silenced, the National House of Chiefs President observed.
“Obviously, you don’t expect those who were in opposition to come out courageously to talk about their opposition. You don’t go limiting your public hearing to only areas that have voiced support on such a very sensitive issue. You don’t expect a lot of people to come out courageously to express opposing views.”
I am not against Oti Region
Though he said he was not against the splitting of the region, Togbe Afede feels he has to defend everybody in the area as a key traditional ruler in the Volta Region.
When the Commission met with the Volta Regional House of chiefs before the hearings begun, he recalled that the scope of the engagements was of concern to the chiefs.
“I tried to bring those sensitivities to the attention of government so we can have a smooth process but I don’t think that the piece of advice that I gave mattered. Among others, make it a tour of the entire region to collate views. What do you lose really? Unless you don’t want the voices of opponents to be heard.”
Criticism from government
The Minister for Regional Reorganization and Development, Dan Kweku Botwe, expressed shock over Togbe Afede’s criticism.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Thursday, Mr. Botwe said comments that seek to cast aspersions on the work of the Commission are unfair and shocking.
This was especially because the President of the National House of Chiefs had been engaged several times through the entire process, he added.
“This is about a description that the work by the group of eminent people is shoddy. He might have different views on some of the decisions being taken but to describe the work as shoddy, we take strong exception to that.”
Suit over the creation of new regions
A group calling itself Strategic Thinkers Network-Africa dragged the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General to the Supreme Court over the yet-to-be-created six regions.
The group was seeking an injunction on the referendum process to be held in beneficiary communities.
Strategic Thinkers Network wants the Supreme Court to declare as null and void the Electoral Commission’s plan to limit the referendum to only registered voters in the yet to be created regions.
The group is also demanding a declaration that the impending limited voter registration exercise in the beneficiary areas “is arbitrary, whimsical and capricious, and violates Articles 45(a) and 296 of the 1992 Constitution and therefore unconstitutional.”
Nonetheless, the Electoral Commission has opened the voters register in areas earmarked for the upcoming referendum for the creation of new regions.
The exhibition is taking place in 47 districts in the four proposed areas and will end on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.
The new regions are to be known as Oti, Ahafo, Brong East, Western North, North East and Savanna.
The commission recommended that two regions should be created out of current Brong Ahafo region to have Ahafo and Brong East, two out of the current Northern region, to have North East and Savannah.