General News of Sunday, 28 October 2018
The Chiefs and People of the Buem Traditional Area have expressed gratitude to President Akufo-Addo for facilitating the constitutional process which may lead to the creation of the new Oti region.
According to them, they felt the need to have a region for themselves in order to halt the continuous deprivation and underdevelopment being suffered by our people.
They subsequently petitioned the two leading Presidential Candidates in the 2016 Presidential Election campaign – then President John Mahama and candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo – for the creation of the new region on assumption of office.
“Ladies and gentlemen, on the assumption of office of the current President, therefore, the people of the Oti enclave formally presented their petition for a separate region,” a statement issued by the Buem chiefs said.
“The constitutional processes were activated as we all know, culminating in a set date for a referendum to determine whether the new region will come into being or not.
“We take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the President for receiving our Petition and exhibiting courage in resorting to the Constitution of the Republic towards the realisation of our goal. We are most grateful to you, Mr President, that a journey we began in the 1970s will, hopefully, see its end during your tenure of office. We thank you”.
According to them, negative propaganda and threats of conflicts surrounding the creation of the region should be ignored in the interest of development.
Read the entire statement below;
PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE CHIEFS AND PEOPLE OF THE BUEM TRADITIONAL AREA ON THE NEGATIVE REACTIONS EMANATING FROM SECTIONS OF THE VOLTA REGION ON THE CREATION OF THE PROPOSED OTI REGION
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press:
We, the Chiefs and People of the Buem Traditional Area, have called you to this Press Conference to react to certain unpleasant developments evolving in some parts of the Volta Region as a result of a petition by the Chiefs and People of the northern sector of the Region to the President of the Republic for the creation of a new region (to be called OTI Region) out of the Volta Region and the subsequent activation of the necessary constitutional processes on the said Petition.
Historically, this is not the first petition to a sitting Head of State of Ghana. From the tenure of Dr. K. A. Busia down to the current, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, we have sought to have a region for ourselves in view of the continuous deprivation and underdevelopment being suffered by our people. Indeed, this felt need had become so dire that requests were made to the two leading Presidential Candidates in the 2016 Presidential Election campaign – then President John Mahama and candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo – for the creation of the new region on assumption of office.
Ladies and gentlemen, on the assumption of office of the current President therefore, the people of the Oti enclave formally presented their petition for a separate region. The constitutional processes were activated as we all know, culminating in a set date for a referendum to determine whether the new region will come into being or not. We take this opportunity to expression our appreciation to the President for receiving our Petition and exhibiting courage in resorting to the Constitution of the Republic towards the realisation of our goal. We are most grateful to you, Mr. President, that a journey we began in the 1970s will, hopefully, see its end during your tenure of office. We thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, from the onset of the sittings of the Commission of Inquiry into the Creation of New Regions till date, Volta Region has become a hotbed of needless agitation in opposition, ranging from why the Commission would not sit throughout the region, why Ashanti which is a bigger region would not be split, to a phantom Western Togoland agenda and threats of conflict.
Negative Propaganda and Threats of Conflict
We wish, ladies and gentlemen of the Press, that you take note of the following that have characterised today’s opposition which have assumed ethnic, predominantly Ewe, dimensions:
1. Daily Graphic of May 24, 2007 had the headline: “Creating new region from Volta is aggression”: A Retired Military Officer and an advocate of the separation of the Volta Region from Ghana, Capt. Von Buckenstein, has said that any attempt by government to create another region from the Volta Region would constitute an act of aggression on the people of the region . . . He explained that the purported division of the region might engender confusion since there were people in the southern part of the region who owned land in the north and questioned that if the region were divided into two what would be the fate of these lands. We ask how they came by ownership of the lands? They should distinguish between ownership and acquisition of lands in this context. In any case, movement across regions in Ghana does not require visas.
2. Minutes of a May 9, 2007 meeting of The Volta Foundation (an entirely Ewe group) had an item: Advocating for Oti Region out of the Volta Region. The minute read: It was reported in the media that sections of the Volta community predominantly, the northern half of the Region have in recent times agitated for a separate Region to be known and called the Oti Region. . . It is however generally believed that this group constitutes a very small minority with motives other than publicly pronounced so far.
This description, we consider very demeaning and disrespectful of our people and their concerns. Who told them minority groups don’t have a voice?
3. In the Ghanaian Times of Thursday 25th January, 2018, the Moderator of the E. P. Church, Rt. Rev. S. S. Agidi openly declared his hatred for the proposed Oti Region when he categorically stated that the creation of Oti Region will cause mayhem. Does this have anything to do with his Church’s little involvement in the development of the northern part of the region and concentrating mostly in the south?
In as much as we respect the views of the clergy, we deem it irresponsible for a revered man of God to beat war drums on something which is meant to propel development.
4. Coalition of Volta Youth: Petition to the Chiefs on the Division of the Volta Region (A press release of 11 August 2018): A press release with intemperate and insulting language addressed to their Togbewo/Mamawo (again an Ewe slant in the negative agenda), called the Commission of Inquiry ‘shambolic’ and made very dangerous assertions about the state of the Ewes as compared to other tribes, calling for secession of the Ewe people which ought to have been condemned by their chiefs. In the absence of such, do we deem it quiet acquiescence to the statement of the youth?
5. Daily Graphic of Thursday, October 4, 2018 reported on the back page that: “The Chiefs and people of the Asogli State in the Volta Region have asked that all persons in the Volta Region be allowed to vote in the upcoming referendum to decide on the creation of the new region instead of limiting the voting to only those from the Oti enclave. The Warlord of the Asogli State, Togbe Adzi Lakle Howusu XII was reported to have said this at a press conference in Ho. He was quoted to have stated that the Ewes constituted 73 per cent of the population of the region . . . and that the constitution did not give power to minority groups to decide on the partitioning of an entire region of an entire region . . .” Togbe Howusu forgot that the same constitution spells out a process that does not permit the majority to lord it over the minority in regional boundary alterations or region creation decisions. Others have also taken up the ethnic composition factor as a game changer. We wish to observe that the resort to playing on ethnic percentages now is rather the source of a potential conflict but we assure them we will not catch their bait. We assure peace throughout the process.
6. The Goviefe chief, during an address to anti-Oti protesters at the Asogli Traditional Palace on the 8th of August, 2018, falsely put out in the media that the people of Oti occupy the lands of Ewes (video evidence is available). He intentionally stoked ethnic sentiments by saying Ashantis were behind the Oti agenda and that they should leave the Volta Region and go to their hometown. For his education, some districts of Ashanti are being hived off into the new region in Brong Ahafo. So why will Ashanti be interested in the partitioning of the Volta Region?
7. The Anlo Traditional Council in a release after a meeting at Ave on Saturday, 13th October, 2018 said that a potential tribal conflict is anticipated if Oti was created. How can the opposers to the creation of Oti be the same people to blow the alarm on a potential conflict?
Such proposition by some chiefs that the creation of Oti will bring chaos to the region is very preposterous and a dangerous smokescreen for evil.
8. At a press conference by the Tongu Council of Chiefs at Sogakofe on Friday, 19th October, 2018, to “buttress the statements of the Asogli, Anlo and other states”, the spokesperson stated erroneously that 80% of the people living in Volta north are from Asogli, Anlo, Tongu and other areas of Ewe lands. He went on to enumerate reasons for their opposition to an Oti Region as a political agenda by the ruling government, destruction of family relations and fabric of the Ewe in the Volta Region (referencing the ecology of the Ewe from Benin to Ghana), hastening of underdevelopment and fueling tribal conflict, and imposition of Ashanti culture in the northern part of the Volta Region.
We are minded to ask if the Ashantis have prevented the Anlos and other Ewes living in Ashanti from practising their own Ewe culture? Why then will Ashantis come all the way from Ashanti and impose their culture on the ethnically diverse people of Oti? Are the Ewes rather bent on imposing their culture on and dominate non-Ewes of the Volta Region? Certain things definitely do not add up!
We could be outraged by such reasoning but we decide to remain calm in the face of such provocative destruction of historical facts and infantile conjecture. Whoever deceived them that migrating and living on an already inhabited land makes the migrant the owner of the land? They should read and listen to Emeritus Prof. D. E. K. Amenumey who has categorically stated that the ewe-speaking lands towards the north end at Hohoe. We also refer to an article by Madam Elizabeth Ohene: “Who speaks for the Ewes?”, in the Daily Graphic of Wednesday, October 24, 2018 in which she indicated that she did not regard the Volta Region was an Ewe region.
9. On a recent courtesy call by a delegation of chiefs of the Ketu South Traditional Council on the President, the Paramount Chief of the Aflao Traditional Council, Togbe Amenya Fiti V, asked the President to refrain from creating the Oti Region while in the same breadth asked for the split of the Ketu South Municipality into two separate districts for faster development – the same reasons the Oti enclave is asking for a separate region. What’s the reasoning behind their opposition then? Ironical!
10. Then emerges another group, Mediators Consult (labelling itself as an NGO), with varying agenda, among which are:
• To brainstorm on government’s administrative policy of partitioning Volta Region
• Bring together the four factions fighting for the liberation of Western Togoland into a formidable emancipatory team.
• Consult chiefs and clergy on issues affecting Volta Region and Western Togoland. (copies of minutes of their 7th August, 2018 meeting held at Dela Cathedral (E. P. Church), Ho available)
This group, led by Very Rev. Japhet Ledo, a former Moderator of the E. P. Church, Ghana is key in the Western Togoland agenda as the second point portrays. We shall leave them to their whims and caprices.
11. We are also increasingly, witnessing highly volatile and provocative utterances from some citizens of the Volta Region in the diaspora, particularly the Ewe group, in the media, meant to deliberately ‘poison’ the atmosphere and paint a dire situation of ‘a region in conflict’. This is highly irresponsible and we call on the security agencies to take note and act accordingly.
12. We also call to attention the recent overt and covert actions of Togbe Afede XIV, Agbogbomefia of Asogli, President of the National House of Chiefs and a member of the Council of State which initially considered these petitions. While we the petitioners have based our petition on Article 5 (1) (a) on the creation of new regions, he is forcing in Article 5 (1) (b) on altering of boundaries of a region. He has the option of going to court anyway.
We note, however, the very unsavoury language in which Togbe Afede describes the work of the Commission of Inquiry and taking the President of the Republic to the cleaners for his references to the manner in which referenda were held in Spain, Scotland, Eritrea, South Sudan and Trans Volta Togoland. We believe Togbe’s emotions, personal interpretation of the Constitution and other considerations caused him to lower his guard as a chief to spew such language which for the sake of decency we do not want to repeat here. We call on him to rise above ethnic pettiness and play a more mature role as the President of the National House of Chiefs and a member of the Council of State.
It is our expectation that Togbe Afede will read carefully, Madam Elizabeth Ohene’s article and the response of the Minister for Regional Re-organisation and Development to his statement denigrating the work of the Commission of Inquiry and re-examine his stance on the matter of Oti.
13. Today, some detractors from the Volta South have entered the Oti enclave and going door-to-door asking residents not to vote YES in the upcoming referendum. This is highly provocative, to say the least. What is their motivation for travelling from the south of Volta to carry out this nefarious activity in a territory, which is bent on ensuring that Oti happens? Is it to intentionally cause mayhem or stoke the much-talked about conflict? Cases like this have been recorded at Tapa Abotoase, Krachi Nchumuru, Dambai, etc. We will continue to liaise with the security agencies for the laws to deal with any trouble makers.
14. Political attribution: The detractors of Oti have accused the President of the Republic and the ruling government of deliberately ‘dismembering’ the Volta Region for political advantage, forgetting so soon the during the 2016 political campaign both then President John Mahama and candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo acceded to grant the request of the northern sector people to grant them regional separation on attaining power. Which of the chiefs talking today raised a voice to question that at the time? Why today?
From the foregoing, ladies and gentlemen, we are tempted to see the statements and actions of Oti detractors as traits of what Prof. Kofi Kumado described as ‘internal colonialism’ in Lecture 3 of the Ghana @ 50 Anniversary Lectures, 2007. To deal with this, he advocated “more regional engineering”, suggesting the creation of as many as ten more regions. (pages 89 – 91). So what crime has His Excellency, Nana Akufo-Addo committed by receiving petitions and activating the constitutional processes accordingly?
The Western Togoland Agenda
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, one lame argument that has been cited for opposition to the creation of the Oti Region is the creation of a Western Togoland. And as stated earlier one of the objectives of the Mediators Consult is to: “Bring together the four factions fighting for the liberation of Western Togoland into a formidable emancipatory team”.
They are not convinced that the May 9, 1956 UN Plebiscite had settled the issue of Trans Volta Togoland forever. We see this as a clear agenda to dismember Ghana and re-group the Ewe people into one territory and have the opportunity to lord it over the people of the northern part of the Volta Region who are non-Ewe and are in the minority.
In his article, The brouhaha over Togoland Plebiscite: The historical fact, Emeritus Prof. D. E. K. Amenumey, the renowned Professor of History, stated categorically that the arguments for a Western Togoland have no legal basis and cannot have any legs to stand on (see article published in Daily Graphic of September 3, 2016, page 31; September 5, 2016, page 34; and September 7, 2016, page 51).
Do we have any more to say apart from what is coming from this luminary of history?
All we can, ladies and gentlemen, is to state categorically for their attention and knowledge of all Ghanaians, that we of the Oti area declare that we are not part of their agenda and shall never secede from the Republic of Ghana and shall not commit ourselves to treason by acting against Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
The Oti Agenda
Ladies and gentlemen, as stated earlier, based on the comparatively high development deficit in the Oti area, four (4) previous petitions for the creation of the Oti Region to arrest the situation and foster development were presented to the respective Prime Minister/Presidents in 1970, 1992, 2003 and 2006. It is therefore evident that the call for the creation of the Oti Region did not start only in 2017. The penultimate one ended at the then Council of State level. As mentioned, the development deficit continues to be evident in the areas of education, health, justice delivery, administrative services, the road sector, employment opportunities, etc.
It is our conviction that a new region will serve the Oti enclave better in achieving our developmental goals as we envisage a separate budget line, influx of businesses, growth in existing economy that will bring in employment opportunities, improved education and health systems, all to enhance development. The old structures for the development of the Volta Region have not worked and there is an overriding demand by our people for a change in the existing dynamics. Indeed, we wish to refer to Prof. Kumado’s statement in his lecture that: “These new regions would also help in our desire to develop the whole country more equitably.” This is all we demand for Oti, and we believe, for all the new regions as well. For now, it is lopsided development on all fronts in the Oti enclave.
We wish to assure the rest of the Volta Region, and indeed, the whole country, that we of Oti come to the table with open arms, no hidden agenda. Government has no hand in our resolve except activating the required constitutional processes. We are for peace, a necessary condition for development.
We therefore wish to strongly advise those in unnecessary opposition that they should stop beating empty war drums when there is no precipitation for war.
Ladies and gentlemen, please take note that several groups of Ewes have lived at peace within our communities in the Oti enclave for ages. They have made a lot of contribution to the development of these places. There have been inter-marriages. They have acquired property as well and a new region cannot dispossess them of these. This is not the time for their compatriots in the Eweland to drive a wedge between us and them. It is in our collective interest for all of us to vote a resounding YES in the upcoming referendum. The benefits are obvious.
We also want to be emphatic that no single chief in the Oti enclave owes or has ever owed allegiance to any Ewe chief. Neither have we ever been vassals of any state in the Volta Region nor occupied even a millimetre of Eweland.
We of the Oti enclave do not see the creation of a new region generating any conflict or war. We see peace and development. We have lived together in peace with the south since independence and will continue to do so after the demarcation. The opponents of Oti should learn that the prize of peace cannot be compared to the cost of war should they dare start one. They should therefore let the voice of reason prevail!
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, this is our story and we count on you to put it out there for the entire country to appraise the circumstances of our cause and our resolve to reach our goal.
Thank you for responding to our invitation.