My name is VIVIAN KAI LOKKO. Our guest for tonight is TOGBE XIV, the President of National House of Chiefs as well as the Executive Chairman of the World Trade Centre. Now, tonight, we’re speaking to him about the creation of new regions. A lot of back and forth is currently happening between himself and government over the process and consultation in the creation of new regions. Tonight, we’ll speak to him to clear some of the issues that have come up and many more.
VIVIAN: Togbe, thank you very much for your time and thank you for joining us.
TOGBE: Thank you
VIVIAN: Clearly, it appears you are not happy with the process in the creation of the new regions. What are some of the issues that you feel that are not being done right in the creation of these regions?
TOGBE: Well, thank you very much. Let me start by saying that as the President of Asogli and a key traditional ruler in the Volta Region, I have an obligation to defend the interest of my people. And of course, as President of the National House of Chiefs, I have an obligation to defend, as much as possible, the interests of the people of Ghana.
In the matter of regional reorgnisation, I’ve always held the view that this process should be conducted in ways that would strengthen our unity, our peace, for the sake of our development, which I believe is the most important desire of our people.
That was why I took a keen interest in this very important subject matter. That was why I decided, very early, to personally invite Hon Dan Botwe, and had about two hours of discussion with him, explaining to him what I believed were involved, and most importantly, explaining to him the issues that I believed would matter very much to the people of the Volta Region, or at least the majority of them, being from there, and being a man on the ground and in touch with the people.
You’ll appreciate that right from the very word go, there were expressions of interest in new regions, but there was also opposition to new regions. Some opposition was about inclusion in those new regions. So, knowing how sensitive the issue was going to be, I took that keen interest. I knew that there will be questions about the names that those new regions will have, there will be questions about where capitals will be located, and very essentially, where the new boundaries were going to be. But I had believed, very sincerely, having read the constitution very thoroughly, again and again, that at the end of the day, all the people of the regions that are touched in the creation of new regions would be entitled to vote, because creation of new regions would involve the alteration of boundaries of regions. And I’ve also believed that because there were people for and against, there was going to be very extensive consultation, where consultation means, with both those who are for and those who are against. We heard, among others, for instance, that about 400 chiefs from the northern part of the Volta Region, where Oti is being targeted, had petitioned. But then, we also know that there were others who have not been interested, who had expressed opposition to this. So I expected that there would be extensive consultation. That was why when I noticed very early that meetings were being held in Accra, that were closed-door meetings involving only sections of the people, I personally called Hon Dan Botwe to find out whether the consultation was going to be extended to all the regions that were going to be touched by this exercise. He assured me yes, it was going to be the case, that the Commission of Inquiry will visit the regions. Of course, they did visit the Volta House of Chiefs as part of their consultation process but I can tell you that, many of the chiefs were not very happy about what transpired.
VIVIAN:Were they not …?
TOGBE: Because, yes, the Commission told us the very things that we already knew about their mandate – what the President had asked them as a Commission to do. But unfortunately, they did not tolerate questions.
VIVIAN:So you were not allowed to ask questions during these deliberations?
TOGBE: They said they were not ready to answer questions. So, some of us spoke, others asked questions. But those were effectively only noted. I personally was critical of their interest in going on their fact-finding mission only to the northern part of the Volta Region.
So I said, among others, that they should endeavour to ensure that they work as a fact-finding body as opposed to a body under instructions to create new regions. Because one should not assume, from the word go, that new regions were going to result. It was going to be a consequence of their findings. Their findings will be the basis for their recommendation to the President.
VIVIAN: To create …
TOGBE: Exactly. So, they were going to be a fact-finding body. But straight away from Ho, they went to the north against all advice.
Of course, the desire of the Chiefs to see their inquiry extended to the south was fully communicated. And I personally (I remember very well) told them that it’s not clear whether the creation of a new region out of a region will mean effectively having two new regions as against just the creation of one new region because none of them will be the same. But, in any case, I did emphasize that the creation of one region will involve the alteration of the boundary of whatever was left. And based on what the Constitution provided, there should be a referendum when a new region is going to be created, and a referendum when the boundary of a region is going to be altered, whether or not it involves the creation of a new region. Based on the latter, obviously, you’re altering the boundary of a region, because of the creation of a new region.
So, in view of all of these, I thought that the whole region would be interested, first of all, given the fact that there was so much opposition to the process, just as we had a lot of proponents.
VIVIAN:But what do you say to those who say that the region or the people that would be affected by the division or the creation of the new region, should be given the opportunity to vote, rather than saying the whole region should be given the opportunity to vote because really, it may not affect the entire region, when we take the issue of demarcation and other issues in the creation of that small region?
TOGBE: Okay. I can explain it this way. First of all, the law requires that the Council of State advise the President as to whether there is substantial demand for the creation of new regions, based on which the President will appoint a Commission of Inquiry. The concept of substantial is a relative one.
I will imagine substantial will be a question of how extensive that demand is in relation to the entirety of the region concerned. You cannot talk about something being substantial unless it is relative to some other thing. So one would have thought that substantial would mean a reasonable number of people from of a region desired a new region.
At the Council of State, the mandate was simply to advise the President about whether there was substantial demand, based on the evidence made available to the Council of State.
But the Commission of Inquiry, backed by the Ministry of Regional Reorgnisation and Development, obviously, and of course given the time available to it, had the resources to probe this kind of matter further. That was why the President was not supposed to just move ahead and start creating new regions based on what the Council of State said. Council of State simply just gave the President the green light to commence processes that would provide answers that would substantiate that substantial demand, so to speak.
And so, given that that was the case, one would expect that the Commission of Inquiry would extend its inquiry therefore, or its consultations, to the entire region involved. Only then can you establish whether what was thought to be substantial was indeed substantial.
And having said that, if you said 400 chiefs had petitioned, work would also have to be done to authenticate those 400. So, because of that, the Commission had a lot of work to do – not only authenticating the 400, whether they indeed were real, but also establishing in relation to the entirety of the region, the significance, the substantial nature of that demand, because certainly it has to be relative. Substantial demand is relative, relative to what the total population is, I believe.
VIVIAN: But the Minister, this morning we spoke to him, and he said there were broad consultations, majority of the people were allowed to petition or say what they wanted to say about what they want, whether they wanted the division or not. At this point, what do you mean, who then is left out, if they are not added, in terms of the relativity?
TOGBE: If you did your public consultations, let’s say in the Volta region, you started from Ho and you went up north, you cannot say you consulted the majority of the people. You came to Ho, you left Dzodze in the south, Keta, Aflao, Denu, Anloga, all these places out. Why will you do that?
VIVIAN: Is that what happened, all these places were left out?
TOGBE: That’s what happened. When you read the law on Commissions of Inquiry, it requires that a Commission of Inquiry shall conduct a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the matters that have been stated in the instrument appointing it. Full inquiry, I believe, will involve talking to even those who are against.
VIVIAN: Will you say in this case, those who were against were not spoken to?
TOGBE: What I’m saying is that when the Commission went to the Volta Region, apart from Ho, the capital, they limited all the public hearings to the very areas where they said they had received petitions from.
Again, let me mention this, the Council of State’s mandate is not to authorise the creation of regions. People say, Togbe was part of Council of State. No, Council of State did not…
VIVIAN: Let me quote what he said. He said that, “Council of State, which includes Togbe XIV, on August 15th 2017, advised His Excellency to proceed with the processes involved in the creation of new regions.”
He was reacting to the fact that you said there hadn’t been proper consultation with or good enough consultation. According to him, there had been about eight (8) consultations……
TOGBE: Actually, I have never said there was not enough consultation. But that’s a matter we can discuss now. I’ve never said there was not enough consultation. But the reality of the matter is that, for example in Volta Region, they never went to the south. They never went to the south.
From Ho, they went up north, and that’s why I said it sounded like something that had been predetermined – a decision to create regions and therefore, to have only those who wanted the regions speak on the issue. Full, faithful, impartial inquiry as the Constitution says, full inquiry would have meant, in my opinion, consultations that would extend even to those who are perceived to be against or those who have expressed an opinion.
But there’s no question in my mind that it was important that the Commission of Inquiry extended its sittings to the southern sectors. When the Commission of Inquiry went to areas where the demand was coming from, obviously, you don’t expect those who were in opposition to come out courageously to talk about their opposition. And I can tell you, for instance, that when Togbega Gabusu of Hohoe went up north, even though he was supportive, okay, he was chased out because they didn’t want his area to be part of the new region.
VIVIAN: So you mean the chiefs went mute at a point or —?
TOGBE: I’m not saying the chiefs went mute. What I am saying is this: If you held inquiries, public hearings, in areas where there was demand or demand was coming from, you don’t expect to hear opposing views, because people may not have the courage.
And that’s why I gave the example of Togbega Gabusu, who was chased away when he went up north, even to lend his support, because they did not want his territory included. And he had indeed expressed his support for the creation of a region to the north of the Volta Region! So even he could not have the chance to voice out his opinion freely. You can google, and you’ll read that he was actually chased away from that place.
So, what I’m saying is that, you don’t go limiting your public hearing, okay, 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.
And I say that, full, faithful and impartial inquiry would mean something more thorough than was done – a lot of opportunity being created for those who may have opposing views to express those views. And indeed, there had been calls on the Commission of Inquiry to go down south but no, they already determined before they left Accra that they were not going down south.
Again, let me say that I am for strengthening the peace and unity of our country. We must come out of this process more united, stronger, and poised to do development work. And that is why it’s essential that everything that we do should be done in ways that satisfies, you know, the majority.
Again, that concern was what informed my decision to invite Mr. Dan Botwe here. And I’ve done that not once (twice), and actually spoke extensively with him on the phone when there were concerns.
VIVIAN: Did you raise the concern about going south to speak with the people?
TOGBE: I’ve always raised it because, again, I’ve always believed that this is a matter concerning all the people of each region, not only Volta Region, that was going to be touched by this exercise. And which was why I brought him here, to find out what the objectives of government were, to lend some support to a fair process, and therefore, to also ensure that the process is done in a way that will not create problems, which meant advising him on the issues on the ground, matters that are of concern to the people – for example, the choice of name for the new region, a matter of serious concern; where the capital will be, matter of serious concern; and where the boundary will be…
VIVIAN: Do you think the choice of the name Oti Region and not any other, say, Northern Volta, Southern Volta is going to cause a problem? TOGBE:Well, the question I will ask you is, why will you call some Western North Region, Western this region, okay, and then you have something else for the Volta Region, when Volta Region is more easily divided into north and south, given the shape of the region. These are very sensitive issues and 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 pieces of advice that I gave mattered.
Among others, make it (the consultations) 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, what do you lose? If the Commission of Inquiry went to Keta, nobody was going to attack them. Anloga, Aflao, just listen. Why will you go to Ho and then straight away head up north?
So from the beginning, the very beginning, people were feeling excluded and getting antagonised by the process. You see what I’m saying?
Indeed, people are still questioning…. We haven’t seen, as I have said many times, the Commission’s report. We haven’t seen a white paper issued on it. We haven’t heard that they will not be published, and the reasons why they will not. The Constitution requires the publication of the report and the issue of a white paper or a decision not to publish with reasons.
VIVIAN: Yes ….
TOGBE: But we haven’t heard it’s been published, we haven’t seen a white paper, we haven’t heard it will not be published, let alone the reasons why it will not be published. But one will be very curious to find out the extent of the work that they did, the extent of data that they collected.
I mean it’s important that people who are asked to work do thorough work. If we are told that 400 petitioners came and we were going to do an inquiry, one would expect that we’ll even authenticate (validate) those 400 petitioners. Otherwise, I’ll sit down here, someone brings me something, and I see several signatures, several thumbprints and I count them and I say I have 400.
These 400 chiefs, is it really true? Again, I don’t want to go there but of course when we see the Commission of Inquiry’s report, then we can see how thoroughly they probed those things. Council of State couldn’t have done that. They did their work. Mr President, there seems to be substantial demand, get a Commission of Inquiry to go and inquire into the matters involved.
Remember, the law also, the instrument of appointment, required the Commission of Inquiry to find out the issues involved that needed to be determined in a referendum – issues involved, that needed to be determined in a referendum! That is why I’ve held the view that, even the referendum, when the law is strictly interpreted, may not just be a matter of a single “YES or NO” answer to a single question. There are many issues involved. Capital, name, boundary, and etc.
Again, I’ve not seen what issues the Commission has identified that need to be decided in a referendum. So it’s hard for us to see what justification there is based on the law, to focus all work in the areas targeted for new regions, without even a courtesy visit to other areas to give a semblance of fairness. You see what I’m saying?
Those were not done, and that’s worrying. Let me put it across for the avoidance of all doubt – I, Togbe, I’m not against a fair process for the creation of new regions and I’m not against the split of Volta Region into two. After all, two —
VIVIAN: So you are for the split.
TOGBE: I’m saying I’m not against. It’s important that I emphasise that I’m not against. There are many issues involved. And even for me, there are many issues involved.
VIVIAN: So where does Togbe Afede stand in this case —?
TOGBE: You know, let me say again that, I am for a fair process. If a fair process results in one Volta Region at the end, fine. If a fair process results in two, fine!
VIVIAN: Are you for a separation or you’re not for it?
TOGBE: I’ve tried to emphasise to you that it is immaterial to me, really, personally, whether we have two Volta regions or one. But more important for me, is that, whatever we do must be consistent with the law, must be seen to be fair and impartial, as required of the Commission, so that the majority is happy. That is democracy; you see what I’m saying? If you create two (2) Volta regions, what does that mean? Two (2) people appointed from these new regions to the Council of State, ten (10) people to the National House of Chiefs….
VIVIAN: Will the creation lead to development?
TOGBE: I don’t believe that the creation of a new region will by itself, lead to development because it doesn’t increase the resources available to the nation. It is the same resources that must be allocated. From the same pot, resources will be allocated to the various regions. So, creation of a new region, by itself, should not lead to development. There is no reason why we can’t build the roads without calling a place a new region. You get to the Volta Region, and getting up there (to the north) is very difficult. Even going to Hohoe from Accra, tough business; from Hohoe to the north, tough business; now, from Asikuma Junction to Ho, really tough; Ho to Aflao, very very tough indeed. We don’t need to create a new region to fix Ho-Aflao road, Asikuma-Aflao road, Asikuma-Hohoe road. No, we don’t need to. So that (the creation of new regions) in itself will not lead to development.
VIVIAN: Are there anything positives at all we’ll get, for example, the people of Volta Region will get with the creation of this new region?
TOGBE: The one that is guaranteed are the superficial – two (2) appointees to Council of State, ten (10) to National House of Chiefs. Those will happen, you see what I’m saying. And one can be selfish and say, aah, I want ten (10) representatives to National House of Chiefs, for whatever is worth; two (2) to the Council of State, for whatever it’s worth. But those are not really material. It’s about time we concerned ourselves with the things that matter.
So those are the superficial that can appeal to, excuse me to say, the average mind. We have more representation, more here, and more there. But when it comes with the question of development, I’m saying, you don’t need to have a new region to have a regional-class hospital up north; you don’t need to have a new region to have a university up north. We can decide on all of these irrespective of whether we call the place a new region. So, it’s hard for people to believe that development is the objective, and, more importantly, when you fail to get them all involved, then they begin to sense ulterior motives. Yes, I’m on record to have said that the Commission didn’t do a thorough job.
VIVIAN: You said they did a shoddy work.
TOGBE: Again as I said, from the word go, people were for, people were against. It came to Council of State, and they said, Mr. President go ahead, appoint a Commission to probe the issues further. Now, you have the mandate to probe the issues. Let’s say the Volta Region, so why do you go only to the north when there is opposition coming from the south. Have you established the substantial nature, the actual nature of that demand? Have they been able to authenticate the 400 or so chiefs? I mean, mind you, many of them are not real traditional chiefs. Some of them could be development chiefs who bear the name Nana or Nene or whatever. We need to learn as a people to do thorough job. You understand what I’m saying? We see shoddy works all over this country. Roads are built, and within months, they develop potholes. Thoroughness is very important in everything that we do. It behooves on you to be thorough in your work, on me to be thorough in my work and everybody else. So, together, we can build this country.
I am saying that the work that the Commission did needed to be more extensive. When they came to the Volta House of Cheifs, we demanded that their public hearings were extended to the south, they didn’t listen. Questions that we asked: Who are going to vote? Only those in the north or all of us? They couldn’t answer. They couldn’t answer these questions. They said they were still finding out the facts. Well, one would have thought that if you couldn’t answer those questions, then after finding out the facts, you’d come back to us and answer those questions.
VIVIAN: So the Council of State that gave them the green light to go ahead with the process hasn’t gotten the report? They haven’t reported to you what they found out in this process?
TOGBE: I am not aware of the release of any report. We had a Council of State meeting yesterday. I’m not aware that any report has been submitted to the Council of State. Certainly, none has come to the National House of Chiefs and none has come to the Volta House of Chiefs.
You can talk to the chiefs of Volta House of Chiefs at least or National House of Chiefs. Those are the houses that I attend. When the Commission of Inquiry came, they made it very clear that they were not in a position to answer questions. So people asked questions and they didn’t have the answers. What kind of consultation is that?
So people asked questions. No answers. You were noting them. Of course if you were noting the questions, one would expect that you’d come out with the answers. But we didn’t have any.
VIVIAN: So of all about eight (8) consultations you were involved in, are you saying that —
TOGBE: How many? Which are the eight (8)?
VIVIAN:We were told that you were involved in about eight (8) consultations. For example, one in May of 2017 at the conference room of Volta House of Chiefs, and you were there.
TOGBE: Let me explain to you. What was called consultation was what I just described. They came in, told us the general things that we all knew already – short address. Then of course, at the Volta House, I spoke even though I wasn’t the President. At the National House, where I’m President, I spoke. But I’m saying that in both cases, we did not get feedback. It was nice they came to listen to us but the question is the doubts we had, the questions we had…
VIVIAN: Were not cleared….
TOGBE: They were not cleared. And the pieces of advice were not taken. Why, we didn’t know, because we didn’t get feedback. Well, if that’s what they call consultation, fine. But a consultation should be like a two-way thing. When I ask questions, you answer and then we try to understand each other’s feelings and then arrive at something that allows people to leave whatever meeting they had with their doubts cleared. We left most of these meetings more confused.
Consultations with Hon Dan Botwe? As I said, I invited him here and told him what I thought needed to be done. But the most important thing that I’ve always emphasised and we must not steer the argument away from that to create unnecessary confusion – whether consultation or not, the most important thing is the question of who votes. That is all I’m talking about.
VIVIAN: We understand those from the areas that are going to be affected are the ones who will be allowed to vote.
TOGBE: How do you define those who are affected?
VIVIAN: Those who will be under the Oti Region, they will be allowed to vote from what we are picking.
TOGBE: And that’s what I’m saying is wrong because the Constitution gives the guidelines. You know there’s this feeling that the Commission of Inquiry has the discretion to decide who votes. It’s not true. They recommend to the President but they must follow guidelines in the Constitution.
If they have that discretion, then it means they can practically say that, hey, even in Oti, only part of them can vote. If they have that discretion, if they have that power to decide, it means effectively, they can decide that only part of Oti can vote.
They can even decide that, hey, the rest of the Volta Region, you should vote to accept whether to take out Oti or not. No, the framers of the law, as I said, have done a great job for us. For the avoidance of doubt, to minimise abuse of power, they have stated it very clearly.
These are the stated conditions under which you need a referendum: creation of a new region, alteration of the boundary of a region, and they added for good reason, whether it involves the creation of a new region or not.
So in the case of Volta Region for example, what would be left of the Volta Region is a region whose boundary has been altered. And it was altered in the creation of a new region. It’s covered fully under that second condition. Of course, the third, which is not important here, is merger of regions. So, the creation of a new region, the alteration of the boundary of a region, the merger of regions, each of these requires voting.
But then the Constitution (the framers of the law), I believe, foresaw situations that may not fit into either of these, which probably is why they said of course the Commission of Inquiry would recommend the areas.
For instance, if you’re going to carve a portion of Volta Region to create a new national capital territory, you can’t say that’s a matter of interest to only Voltaians, even though their boundary is the only one being touched. A matter like that will be of national interest.
And I can imagine the Commission saying, hey, for the creation of this new national territory, let the whole nation vote to move the capital from Accra to a place in the Volta Region or a place in the Ashanti Region or a place in the Northern Region. So, I think the framers of the law did a very good job for us okay, to close the gaps to ensure that, there’s a clear path.
And I’m saying that in this case, okay, the Constitution is very clear. We’re creating a region or regions. There is need to vote. We’re altering the boundaries of regions. There is the need to vote.
VIVIAN: Now that it’s at the Supreme Court, if the Supreme Court decides that the whole region shouldn’t vote, just the part that will be affected, what next?
TOGBE: You know, It’s hard for me to say what next. What I can say though is, whatever comes out of that, posterity will be the best judge of all of us who have been involved in this thing. Those of us who have asked that voting should be extended to all in the region versus those who have been against it.
Of course, whatever the Supreme Court decides, the members of whatever panel is established will be judged by posterity. But let me say though that I’m very concerned about the precedent that we shall be establishing.
I’ve heard examples of Scotland – that only they voted. Scotland is a country on its own tied to England and Wales therefore, the UK – foreign policy, immigration, defence and, etc. So, if Scotland had to decide whether to remain in the union or not, that’s for Scotland to vote. Eritrea, well defined entity; South Sudan, well defined entity; Catalonia, well defined entity; Trans Volta Togoland, well defined entity, unlike Oti or any of the new regions being created. And when we were having the plebiscite, we didn’t have 1992 Constitution. Trans Volta Togoland was administered on its own and the choice was for them to decide: Do we stay independent or do we join Ghana? That certainly can’t be a matter for Gold Coasters to vote on, but it was a matter for Trans Volta people.
Today, we have 1992 Constitution. Citing those examples, I’ve always said, is quite dangerous because what it means therefore is that if one day the Krobos decide that “we want our own region out of the Eastern Region”, then the Krobos are the only ones who will vote.
If the Ahantas or whoever decide, “we want our own region out of Western Region”, only they will vote.
That certainly cannot be what was on the minds of the framers of the law. They indeed did a wonderful job for us and it’s important that we respect what they did for us, otherwise, we’ll be creating a dangerous situation that can affect the very survival of our country. How can we use Scotland as an example? So can a territory in Ghana decide that, “hey, we want to be on our own”, then, following the Scotland example, only they vote? No!
VIVIAN: So you mean, that assertion in itself is dangerous and it shouldn’t—
TOGBE: We must not entertain it. I mean, for the sake of this country. We have made mistakes so far and I think it must be accepted that we have made mistakes. We can go back and try to do things right. We’re talking about democracy, majority rule. What we decide does not necessarily have to be what each and everybody wants or wanted, but the majority. So you go to a region, let them vote on what the issues are – where the boundaries will be, what the name will be, the capital, etc. – and let the majority decide, and we’ll all be happy.
VIVIAN: In this case, it is not the majority, but the minority.
TOGBE: You see, again, this is very interesting. Volta demographics, when you look at population: 73.8% Ewes, 2.8% Akans, 11.3% Grumas, 8.1% Guans, 1.5% Ga-Adangmes, others 2.5%. Okay? What you would have seen is that even in deciding the boundary of the new region, they are taking out of Hohoe Municipality, Lolobi, Likpe, and others to join Oti. You see, the Ewe portion, Hohoe, is what is being left out among the areas that constitute Hohoe Municipality. Why not the entire Hohoe Municipality, one way or the other? Of course, Hohoe have desired to be part of the new region; why taking Hohoe out?
VIVIAN: You see something is fishy with that, pulling out the Hohoe part and not the entire–?
TOGBE: Lolobi, Akpafu, are part of Hohoe Municipality. They say they want to stay in Hohoe Municipality. Likpe, is part of Hohoe Municipality. Lolobi, Akpafu, Likpe are Guans, not Ewes. Why are you taking them up north and you’re excluding Hohoe? So assuming you do that and assuming what is left of Volta is Ewes, that’s 73.8%. So effectively, you’re asking 26.2% to decide for the entire region.
We’re creating a new boundary for 2 regions and you want one section to decide, therefore, whether Hohoe is excluded or included, whether Akpafu is excluded or included. I mean, for heaven’s sake, even without the law, this defies logic.
It’s about time we Africans, we the people of the black race, focus on the things that matter, aim to do things fairly so that we can also progress. I’ve always said it. Look at the black race, from Haiti through West Africa to the Horn of Africa. What do we see? Poverty, strife, needless controversy. Let’s learn to do things fairly. Let’s learn to carry the majority along.
Let us not be concerned about petty little things which don’t matter. Again, I’m sorry to cite the Volta Region but the point that I’ve been making is that voting must involve all in the regions that are touched by this exercise. That’s what I’ve always emphasised.
When you look at the Volta Region situation, we have lived very harmoniously. It’s so sad to hear people now claiming Ewe domination. I feel very very sad that our brothers in the north of Volta, with whom we have lived so nicely, can now talk about Ewes being this, Ewes being that, Ewes being this. But it will surprise you: of the seven (7) regional ministers we’ve had in the Volta Region since 2001 – remember, before then, ministers come from any part of the country – only three (3) were Ewes.
Those who are 73.8% based on the 2010 Population Census, 73.8%, they had three (3) out of the seven (7) ministers of the region appointed. The north had three (3) and the seventh was Hon Afotey Agbo, who came from Accra. I mean, how can you, honestly speaking, claim domination by Ewes? In appointing ministers, you had as much as the majority had. They didn’t complain. Resource allocation is not defined by the Ewes; it comes from Accra!
Recently, they were creating districts, I don’t know why they didn’t create any new ones in the Volta Region. If more decentralization is what brings development, why didn’t you create more districts? So, it’s important that we are very honest about this. And for the avoidance of doubt, let me state it categorically, that Togbe is not against the creation of new regions. People should not divert attention from the truth (what I’m looking at) and claim I’m against the creation of new regions.
No, I am not against it, otherwise, I wouldn’t have invited Hon Dan Botwe myself to let him know the issues involved and how to carry all of Volta along. Questions about name, the boundary, the capital, okay, and the message that will go with it. I brought him and advised him about it. I met him two (2) times and we also talked on phone. I tried to support a smooth process for the realisation of the government’s objective.
VIVIAN: Don’t you think this will cause more division than unity?
TOGBE: Well, the signs are already out there. People are complaining. But again, I just hope that the right thing will be done, this country will stay united, Volta Region will stay united, even if they are 2 regions, will stay united, just as we would expect our relations with all the rest of the country so to speak, to be. But it’s very important that we accept that things need to be done properly.
And I’m hoping that the decision will favour what I see as the legal position. People are talking about, well, the Commission is given the mandate to recommend. But it has to be consistent with the constitutional guidelines. We have different opinions, different desires. The Constitution has been put in place to help weed the path through the jungle of conflicting desires (and opinions) that we have, so that there will be order and sanity.
When we try to bastardise it, then we create problems. It’s said that, “Justice is not a service freely available to all; it is a lucrative business, in the hands of a lucrative profession”. But I believe very sincerely that justice will be done in this matter because, that is good for us as a country, for our future, okay, for our unity, peace, progress and development.
And I want to underscore the fact that I am not against creation of new regions. I am for doing so in the proper way, with the votes of all in the region counting, because the Constitution says so.
(It provides that) when you’re altering the boundary of a region, whether or not it involves the creation of a new region, one of the conditions under which there should be a referendum. Why would you want to gloss over the fact that you’re altering the boundaries of regions, and only focus on “we are creating new regions”? The law says when you’re altering the boundary of a region, whether or not it involves the creation of a new region, there should be a referendum. That’s what it says.
VIVIAN: Now that the Commission’s work is done, obviously, we know the referendum is coming off in December so it appears this is it, we have moved on from that part where things should have been amended, etc
TOGBE: I think there should be very sober reflection. We can all make mistakes. They say, “a stitch in time saves nine”. If we can acknowledge that indeed mistakes have been made, what stops us from going back and redefining our path? That is better than allowing the wrong path to create problems for us. So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not too late. We can make it happen, we can make it happen well for all of Ghana, so we don’t set dangerous precedents.
As I have said before at the National House of Chiefs, the Volta House of Chiefs, if this wrong interpretation of the law stands, then we are in for a flood of new requests for regions and of course, promises left, right and centre, by politicians to create new regions. In no time, we probably will have 50 regions in Ghana and still be counting. This is a matter to be taken very seriously by all Ghanaians who desire the best for our country.
I believe in my heart that mistakes were made. If we have come to see that, indeed, we made mistakes, we should just accept it and try to do it right. Let’s fix it now. Again, “a stitch in time, saves nine”!!