Re. Akufo Addo Orders Release Of New Regions Report
I welcome the news that the President has ordered the wayward Commission of Inquiry into the creation of new regions to release the Report they have withheld since its submission to Government in July this year. If it is indeed true that the President ordered the publishing of this Report against the stupid and arrogant decision of the Commission not to publish it at first, then, I'd like to say he has listened to good counsel.
I was not amused by the farcical, arrogant and undemocratic attempt to withhold publishing that Report until probably a day before referenda. But I am, however, amused by its reversal with some lame duck excuse, as indeed, it is rather the duty of Government to release it, with a white paper, being such a very important exercise. This bungling attempt to shift responsibility is simply an attempt to shift blame from the Jubilee House. The President need not order publication of such Reports out of his magnanimity as if we are in an era of dictatorship and personal rule without laid down procedures to be followed by government appointees and the President himself. This region creation thing is being handled very badly!
Yes, the Constitution is clear on certain aspects and very murky on other aspects of the region creation procedures. They are not clear cut as some are claiming. This murkiness has allowed the Government to give its own narrow interpretation in respect of where the referendum should take place, which the Supreme Court has approved recently. But that decision has really opened a Pandora's Box, as we shall see in the future.
The Constitution was clear that the Commission formed must establish:
- need for creation of a region
- substantial demand for the creation of a region.
The first injunction requires that the Commission justifies the need for a creation of a region, as this is the most crucial in the constitutional requirements to create new regions, to the extent that, as specified in Clause (3), the President can even create regions if no petitions were submitted to him, that is, requirement (2), “substantial demand” or petition does not exist; but even that only after a commission of inquiry has been established “to inquire into the need”. Therefore, the reasons given for the creation of a region must be proven beyond all doubt as needful, proving that they are genuine and no other remedies or measures are available to redress those reasons. So if it is to promote development, as we are hearing, it must be proven that the size of a region or some other reasons have prevented the whole region or a part of it from developing. In the case of the VR, we'd like to know if it is true that Ewes have conspired to deny the Oti enclave development, as some from the Oti enclave have been saying and using in their campaigns, and for that matter, some Ewes who were a part of the Oti Region Movement must be excluded from being a part of the Oti Region, as the Commission of Inquiry has decided. Has it been established in the Report that the southern section is more evenly developed than the northern section? These and other queries must be answered in establishing the need for the Oti Region.
Needless to say that there is no scholarly work or report anywhere specifying that creation of regions in Ghana leads to or will lead to development. If there is, I am blissfully ignorant of that. That is why it is very crucial for us to have this Report so that we can read for ourselves how this Commission has proven that for all the regions to be carved out, not only the Oti Region which is causing so much furore. Something constitutionally important as this should have been put in the public domain for open discussion over a period time and consensus reached before any attempt to create regions is implemented. Creation of regions CANNOT and SHOULD NOT become a party manifesto fulfilling thing, as is the case now and shall be in the future, as things stand now.
On injunction 2, where and how the "substantial demand" should come from has not be specified in the Constitution, and so we can equally assume from the whole population in a region, not only a segment of it. So in statistical language, focusing on only a cohort of the population, that is, a segment, as the Commission did in canvassing for opinion in the Volta Region, for instance, is very, very wrong, undemocratic, biased sampling, unjust, unfair and unconstitutional. It denies others in the population the chance to express their opinions too. This is a political demand, with both centripetal and centrifugal actions within the population of a region, not only a segment of it. The Commission should, even just as a matter of feigned courtesy, listened to alternative views instead of brazenly and disrespectfully ignoring them. Who the heck do they think they are at all in the first place? I am sure they have not heard of Janteloven (the Jante Law) before but these tenets of it are appropriate here.
- Do not think you know better than us.
- Do not think you are better than us.
I am sick and tired of the attitude of these journeymen, most of them first time educated people in their peasant and similar class families. Once they are given official positions, they become colossuses with wings, riding roughshod over all else. It is because we have been groomed not to boast about the feats of our forebears, not to mention ourselves, that some are belittling us and treating us with much levity. That era is coming to an end. We may not even have been ministers before but, for some of us, our ancestors gave the lands to the missionaries to build the schools and churches on (as for the slave castles, the whites built most against our wishes, beginning with the very first), sat at the great palavas to shape the creation of the Gold Coast, helped directly in setting up its administrative institutions and managed the Gold Coast into the prosperous model colony it became within 60 years! They created the history of Ghana, good or bad, and we, at least some of us, are knowledgeable about that. And we are aware of what we can also do by the sheer force of our intellect.
Well, since they have been excluded from the democratic process, those now opposed to the Oti Region creation cannot be expected to acquiesce to something they were not a party to.
The Supreme Court, once again, failed miserably in handling judiciously and speedily the suit against conducting the public hearing in only the northern part of the VR and was presented with a fait accompli. The harm was already done when the case came up for hearing. Justice delayed is justice denied. The judiciary and the court system in Ghana continue to be a major bane of good governance and gross injustices in Ghana, as I pointed out in a previous article and intend to delve more into. Anyway, this failure to do the right thing set the stage for Ewes as a whole rising against the creation of the Oti Region, whereas a sizeable number of them were unconcerned at first, a large number in the Gbi area embracing Peki and Hohoe areas were actually in support and some of us have a good riddance attitude to them. If they want to go, let them go! I had had enough, so I thought then.
You see, in spite of those areas producing the top leaders of the NDC from the VR, people from those areas have never come out to defend Ewes when they were being insulted because of the P/NDC. And they never say cocoa and food crops which add more to agric GDP than cocoa are produced in their area of the VR too and so they or the VR also deserve a fair share of the national cake. Nor, do they come out to say we are Akans, Guans, Likpes, Chokosis, blah, blah, blah from the VR too and so not only "Ayigbes", as they are also despicably referring to Ewes, are in the VR. In fact, some of them (including some stupid Ewes from the Gbi area) even joined the Ewe demonization and vilification crusade, pointing hands at we Anlos as the culprit Ewes to be targeted and even killed, as written in a book by Dr Kodzi way back in the 1990s long before that money-miss-road jerk Kennedy Agyapong went on national Tv to call on the Asantes to kill them, and long before Azar married Rosemary and discovered that women also have sense. These are the undeniable facts and sentiments underlying the Oti Movement many are pretending not to know and refusing to mention. These facts and Dr Kodzi’s book, Ghana: Worse Than Apartheid S. Africa and Kofi Awoonor’s The Ghana Revolution will never disappear so let us deal with them.
ETHNIC GERRYMANDERING: Unfortunately, the Commission rather decided to turn the whole Oti or North Volta Region creation idea into an advancement of the nascent anti-Ewe agenda and indulged in what can be described as “ethnic gerrymandering” by demarcating a boundary to isolate Ewes and contain Ewes within their own region. Tribalising the whole thing and unleashing ethnocentric sentiments has caused the present furore in the VR. That is why the Lolobis, Akpafus, Santrokofis and others, including even some Akans, who were part of the Oti Movement with Togbega Gabusu of Hohoe, having seen this unwholesome ethnic gerrymandering move of the NPP regime, are now clamouring to be excluded from the proposed Oti Region; since the Hohoe and Peki areas (the whole of Gbi as Togbega Gabusu wanted) has for no reason been excluded. Togbega Gabusu was reportedly manhandled and chased out of Krachi when he went there to submit his own views. The man, reportedly, has since died from the shock of his treatment. It is a pity he did not live to see the consequences of his folly.
On where the referendum should be held, the Constitution did not say so but leaves that to the discretion of the Commission. Having failed to canvass the whole population to determine whether a "substantial demand" exists within the region, its nature, limits which can determine the boundary of the new region, name for the region, etc., it is no surprise that they decided arbitrarily that it should be within a boundary of their own choosing to further their real agenda of Ewe isolation. They were given the discretion and they abused it but there is nothing the Supreme Court can do to redress that, having failed earlier to halt it, as the Constitution gave them the right to decide where the votes should take place. It could be a segment or the whole region, a murky aspect of the constitutional procedures.
The argument that Ewes would have voted against the creation of Oti Region is an invalid one, as Ewes initially were not against the creation of the Oti Region and many indeed supported it, or were indifferent. If the process has been fair and democratic, many Ewes in even the Anlo areas down south would have voted Yes to Oti Region creation. Me too, just so they can go with their trouble. It is the form it has taken that has aroused opposition. The Commission failed miserably in performing the roles given it and has created a canker for the Akufo Addo Administration and the country. For the longest time, docile Ewes have been aroused and they are uniting to fight a common cause and a perceived enemy, putting aside their historical divisions and grievances. Some Guans and others whose ancestors fought besides Ewes against the invaders and enslavers that plundered the Weme and Oti enclave are also waking up to the fact that Ewes are not their new enemies and the cause of the underdevelopment of the Oti enclave and the journey they have been misled to embark upon surely might lead some to Kontsiabu all over again. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.
Andy C. Y. Kwawukume
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of ANDY C.Y. KWAWUKUME and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.