It sounds a bit absurd, but when the President of the National House of Chiefs makes a submission, it is not be entirely prudent to dismiss it. But this particular submission, from my point of view, is a bit out of the way.
We are being told that Togbe Afede XIV, Agbogbomefia of the Asogli Traditional Area and President of the National House of Chiefs, is demanding that the consultation process and the referendum scheduled to result in the creation of the new Oti Region should involve the entire people of the whole of the Volta Region.
It is akin to the suggestion that before a bride is finally given in marriage, the decision to accept, should involve the entire household of the family from which the woman is being given away.
What usually happens, especially in a marriage involving an Akan woman whose hand is sought, is that on the day of the engagement, the father of the bride is required by tradition to ask his daughter three times whether she, indeed, wants to leave the household and go and settle with the bridegroom.
Togbe wants to re-invent the wheel. I am afraid it would not work. The proposal is absurd, and from my point of view, devoid of the statesmanship required of his high office. It is my intention in this piece to explain why in my view the suggestion was made with ill intentions.
Read the lips of the man who chairs the National House of Chiefs: “It is obvious that the creation of new regions will result in the alterations of existing boundaries. Indeed, if one of the issues to be decided in such a referendum is the boundaries of a new region, then it is difficult to see how voting could be limited to people within the assumed boundaries,” the Agbogbomefia wondered.
“I have received petitions from the chiefs of Lolobi and the Akpafu traditional areas rejecting the proposed in the creation of the Oti Region. I have received petitions from Voltarians who feel entitled to vote in the referendum.”
The Agbogbomefia was addressing a durbar of chiefs and people of the traditional area to climax the celebration this year’s Asogli Te Za (Yam Festival). Under pressure from the government and non-governmental agencies critical of his non-conformist stance, the President of the National House of Chiefs appeared to have modified his stance in an interview with Citi News.
He told the radio station that a number of Ghanaians were misinterpreting his stance. “For the avoidance of doubt, let me state categorically, Togbe is not against the creation of new regions. People should not divert attention from the truth of what I am looking at and claim I’m against the creation of new regions. No, I am not against it, otherwise, I wouldn’t have invited Dan Botwe myself to let him know the issues involved, and how to carry all of the Volta along.
“Questions about the name, the boundary, the capital and the message that will go with it. I’ve tried to support a smooth process for the realisation of the government’s objective,” he said.
The Chief told his interviewer that the consultation process for the creation of the Oti Region out of the existing Volta Region had not been exhaustive enough. He said the consultation process needed to be “full, faithful and impartial in line with the 1992 Constitution.
“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 sitting to the southern sector,” he complained. “A full inquiry, I believe, would involve talking to even those who are against the process, but the Commission limited all the public hearing to the very areas when they said they had received petitions from.”
Naturally, the government responded to what it considered deliberate untruth calculated to discredit the hard work of the Ministry in charge of Regional Re-organisation and Development and the Justice Brobbey Commission.
The statement signed by the sector Minister, Daniel Kwaku Botwe, rubbished the assertion of the traditional ruler as calculated to incite the people against the creation of the Oti Region.
“The utterance of the President of the National House of Chiefs really baffles us, as he has been consulted, perhaps, more than any Ghanaian in the creation of the regions. Togbe Afede XIV has been involved in all consultations of the commission with the Council of State, the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, and the National House of Chiefs,” the statement emphasised.
The statement listed a number of occasions when the Commission had made representations to the National House of Chiefs, Volta Regional House of Chiefs and the Council of State, at which Togbe Afede was present. In addition, the Minister has met the Chief several times, at which all major issues were discussed.
The statement said the attack on the eminent personalities who constituted the commission by Togbe Afede “is baseless and should be disregarded… The Commission adhered strictly to the provisions of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana relating to the creation of regions. Government is thus satisfied with the manner in which the Commission conducted its work, and the subsequent report submitted.”
What is of interest in this drama is not what the President of the National House of Chiefs said or did not say in the creation of the Oti Region saga. What should be clear to Ghanaians is that the Agbogbomefia, who leads traditional leaders in this country, is actively supporting a group of people calling for the ceding of the Volta Region from Ghana.
The group has been campaigning underground for the restoration of Western Togoland, which became part of Ghana following a plebiscite in the events leading to the independence of this country from British imperial rule in March1957.
Three persons, led by Mr. Kormi Kodzordzi, also known as Papa Hogberdetor, 90, self-styled Chairman of the Western Togoland advocacy group, are helping the police in their investigations into the secession plan. The two other are Devine Odonkor, 65, and Martin Asiama Agbenu, 57.
First report indicates that the relatively younger two, Odonkor and Agbenu, were placed in custody while Mr. Kodzordzi was released on bail on grounds of old age.
I can report on authority that Togbe Afede is clandestinely lending support to these subversionists. It is on record that Togbe Afede addressed a relatively large crowd of sub-chiefs and subjects, calling for secession from Ghana on the basis that the Volta Region is to be divided.
I am inclined to believe that the Agbogbomefia is using his position as chief to foment trouble in this country. Togbe is not my friend, as a matter of fact, I have never met him before, though I have had a short chat with him on another subject not too long ago. All the same, I would like to offer the traditional ruler, and all those who think they could use their positions to foment trouble for the administration of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to be very careful.
I am advising the eminent Chief to back away from the activities of these subversionists. On paper, the whole thing looks like far from politics. I was of the same view until I heard a submission from aspiring National Democratic Congress (NDC) General Secretary Koku Anyidoho making that went viral on social media via Whatsup.
The ubiquitous character, known to have had a problem with the law not long ago, has waded into the controversy with all his political weight. Koku is insinuating that it is President Akufo-Addo who has called for the secession threat.
He says it was the desire to carve the Oti Region out of the Volta Region that has gingered the secessionist group to intensify their activities. Quoting an Akan proverb, Mr. Anyidoho told a media house recently that it was the President who has brought home maggots and thus invited lizards home.
I do not believe NDC officials do not know this fact. For me, whether the NDC is aware or not the Volta Region breaking away from Ghana is an exercise in futility, and Togbe Afede and all those hiding behind the umbrella to foment trouble should be careful.
In any case, the Volta Region, or any other region in this country, cannot break away and succeed to administer itself for even one year. Resources and opportunities are too limited for any one region to be a success story on its own.
Imagine a Volta Region as a country on its own. Togbe Afede’s many business interests would struggle to flourish. The Chief himself cannot continue to head Accra Hearts of Oak as the oldest existing club in this country, which brings into question the motive for all this agitation.
For me, Togbe Afede cannot be a friend of the NPP administration. The last time the NPP lost power in December 2008, Togbe Afede went public and declared that the Volta Region had been made an orphan by the Kufuor administration. What he forgot to tell Ghanaians is that all that time, he, Togbe Afede, was a Board Member of the Bank of Ghana.
This time, the Agbogbomefia might be inclined to believe that he could hurt this administration by encouraging secession. If I have my way, I would wish that the Volta Region is ceded from Ghana. But then, it is not all Voltarians who are enthused by this subversion plot. Togbe Afede will do himself a lot of good if he backs off this empty threat and concentrate on how he could use his influence to help this administration develop the Volta Region.
It is in the interest of the traditional ruler, who is also one of this country’s most successful businessmen, to come clean on this plot.
I shall return!
Source: Ebo Quansah/The Chronicle
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