GENERAL MEETING OF VOLTA REGION HOUSE OF CHIEFS
September 27, 2018, Address by Togbe Afede XIV
My dear friends, let me remind all of us that the most important desire of our people is development. But there cannot be development if there is no peace. Therefore, it is important that we all work towards strengthening our peace and our unity in order to facilitate thedevelopment that we crave.
In this regard, I am very concerned, and I would like to comment on the fact that the ongoing work towards the creation of new regions in our country is posing a threat to our peace and to our unity. I say this in view of the petitions I have received.
I have a petition from the chiefs of Lolobi and Akpafu in the Volta Region who have sworn never to join a new Oti Region. I have also received petitions and from the chiefs of Chereponi and Dagbon in the Northern Region. In the Volta Region, I also received petitions from people who are outside the area targeted for new region, who feel entitled to vote in the referendum.
I have offered advice both privately and public on the regional reorganization process. Sadly, most of what I said in public have been misreported, and I have earned insults as a result. The views that I expressed and pieces of advice that I offered when members of the Commission of Enquiry visited the National House of Chiefs on April 18, 2018 were selectively reported to give a certain impression.
In that meeting, I emphasized the need for the Commission of Enquiryto work as a fact-finding commission as opposed to one working for the creation of new regions, in order to avoid suspicion of bias. And just as I did before in this House, I was critical of the manner I which the Commission conducted its hearings, and advised that the Commission must do an honest job without fear or favour in compliance with the letter and spirit of the constitution. But these areprobably water under the bridge now.
In reporting on my speech at the Asogli Te Za Durbar, the Daily Graphic stated that I “asked that no group of people must oppose the ongoing process to create new regions”, and that “the move ought to be respected by all and sundry in the interest of the peace and unity of the country”. Sounds like a nice statement. But I did not say so.
Permit me to present to you my views as did at the Asogli Te Za. I want to emphasize again, for the avoidance of doubt, that I want to talk about the critical issues in creation of new regions and not party politics. Let us remember that both the NPP and the NDC promised to create new regions.
Let us also remember that as a leader, I cannot be an apathetic spectator in important matters that affect our peace, unity and development prospects.
The framers of the law anticipated that there could be the need alter, in one way or another, the regional composition of our country. Thus, as could be seen in the provisions of chapter 2 of the constitution, they laid down clear democratic procedures for making the relevant decisions. In their wisdom, they provided tough conditions in order to make the creation of regions, alteration of boundaries or merger of regions difficult, unlike what has been happening in the cases of new constituencies and new districts.
It is true that some people from four of our regions who desired to have separate regions have sent various petitions to government over the years. It is also true that various politicians have made various promises accordingly.
The President did the right thing, as required by the constitution, by referring the matter to the Council of State, which performed its constitutional mandate and advised the President that there were substantial demands for the creation of new regions.
The President, again as required by the constitution, and acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, appointed a commission of inquiry, comprising eminent persons, to inquire into the demands and to make recommendations on all the factors involved.
The constitution provides that where the commissions found that there is the need and a substantial demand for the creation of new regions, it shall recommend to the President that a referendum be held, specifying the issues to be determined by the referendum and the places where it should be held.
In performing its mandate, the constitution enjoined the commission to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the matters specified in the instrument of appointment.
I have not seen a copy of the commission’s report, and I am not aware of its publication. However, reports suggested that the commission has recommended the creation of four more regions out of the existing ten – Western North, Oti, Savanah and Brong East regions from existing ones.
Distinguished colleagues, our constitution provides, among others,that there should be a referendum to approve:
It is obvious that the creation of new regions will result in the alteration of existing boundaries. Indeed, if one of the issues to be decided in such a referendum is the boundary of a new region, then it is difficult to see how voting could be limited to people within an assumed boundary.
The concentration of the commission’s work on the areas from which petitions came betrayed an early assumption that voting would take place in those areas only. If this thinking holds, then we should prepare ourselves for a flood of requests for and promises of new regions.
Under our constitution, a small group of people cannot decide on the partitioning of an entire region. The wrong examples – Eritrea, South Sudan, Trans Volta Togoland, etc. – are being quoted to justify illegality, totally disregarding our own law.
The framers of our constitution have done a good job for us in giving us a clear roadmap for the creation of new regions and the alteration of boundaries of regions. We must not bastardize it, but respect it in the interest of peace and unity.
So I want to appeal to both those who are for and those who are against the creation of new regions, politicians of the ruling party as well as those outside, and indeed all Ghanaians, to uphold the truth for the sake of our country.