I have observed with dismay, disgust, and displeasure how the issue of the creation of new regions in some parts of the country has been handled by some individuals and groups. In some parts, the process seems to have been very smooth and devoid of opposition but in areas such as the Volta Region, every step of the process seem to have been met with some opposition. It is important to note that, I am a strong believer in divergent views since it exposes our own weaknesses and provides us with an opportunity to consolidate our paths before it becomes too late. But those views must be submitted through a process that gives recourse to the use of due diligence and upheld by the rule of law.
I have been dumbfounded at the approach of some persons from the Volta region and their posture of opposing the creation of the Oti Region for the people of the Volta region. When the process has begun, it was met with series of demonstration from groups in the southern part of the region (Ewes), who began by calling the exercise “a land-grabbing attempt” by the people of the north, referring to them as “Strangers” or “Settlers”.
This then followed with the calls for the process of creating the Oti Region to stall if the government wanted peace. Others claimed that it was going to create a division for the people of the Volta. These among several others were the calls from persons who vehemently desire that the Oti region should not be created. A few weeks ago, the President of the National House of Chiefs also made statements that seek to suggest that the committee was in breach of the 1992 constitution for not holding consultations to include persons in the south, who obviously were against the creation of this region.
Well, in order to avoid making a contemptuous statement and refrain from being held before the courts, I will leave the interpretation of the constitution to the Judges of the Supreme Court to handle. But for the purposes of this article, I will like to state that as an Ewe from Aflao and one who has spent some few years in the northern part of the Volta Region, it will be clear to every tom dick and harry to conclude upon a single visit to areas such as Kejebi, Wurawura, Ketekrachi, Dambai and others that, that part of the region has been denied and starved of a fair share of developments in the region. According to statistics available, out of the total number of One hundred and fourteen (114) doctors serving the Volta Region, only 7 or are in the Northern part of the Volta Region, out of nine (9) training colleges, there are two in the north and seventeen (17) out of 96 senior high schools in the Volta north and proposed areas for inclusion in the yet to be created Oti Region.
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Obviously, there is enough evidence to prove that the area has not seen a lot of development since the Volta Region was created after independence. As it stands, it appears the people have found a way to get their problems resolved and to them, the solution to their stagnation as a people is in the creation of a region, why not allow them get what they want?
It is also important to emphatically state that the group of persons or individuals who keep championing this “anti-Oti Region” campaign that, they do not speak for the Ewes and cannot hold themselves as more Voltain or Voltarians than the other ethnic groups represented in the Region. You can be of the majority group, but that does not mean that you are making any valid argument.
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For those who keep referring to the people in the proposed Oti Region, the majority of whom are Guans as “settlers” are only exposing their ignorance of the history of Ghana and the various tribes. If my memory serves me right, history has it that the Guans were the original settlers of this land, long before any other ethnic group settled here. Better still, we can say we all were guests to the Guans, who occupied these areas first.
As Ewe, and one from Aflao, I have held that to me, the creation of an Oti Region will not deprive my people of any livelihood they already have and neither will it worsen their economic prospects as a people. The Creation of Oti Region will not in any way change the location of the Diamond Cement factory, nor will it take the sea or the Border which has remained a means of livelihood to my people and continues to sustain the lives of the people in that’s part of the region. So, economically, I find no reason nor justification to campaign against the creation of regions for the people of a particular area.
On the peace and security arguments raised by persons said to be part of the opposition to the creation of this Region, I still can’t seem to understand how the creation of a new region was going to create a state of chaos in the region and between the people of the current. In any case, it should provide us with the opportunity to have a united front as Ewes and work for the development of our people with a common agenda. Well, as the Chinese say “one who first resorts to violence shows that he has no more arguments”. There is one question I have asked my people of the south and has since not gotten an answer to.
I ask, should our request against the creation of this region be granted and the people of Oti denied their opportunity for development, new investments, and economic prospects, have we considered the mark and enmity we would have succeeded in creating between us and the people up North?
In another twist, my conversation with an old university mate also suggested that political hegemony as being the brain behind the series of demonstration we have seen. According to him, one side of the divide sees the creation of a new region as an attempt to break the long-held territory of the Volta region, making the other also feel threatened by the move, hence fueling these demonstrations witnessed over the period of this process.
I cannot ascertain the authenticity of his claims but I don’t think this can be true. Simply because, I have worked in the Western Region and have keenly followed the process for the creation of the Western North region, a terrain that the New Patriotic Party has struggled since 1992. Until the last general election, the party has only been able to secure 2 out of the 13 seats, one of which it won for only one term. Yet, their process, coordination and the understanding between both political parties in the whole process have really been remarkable. In the said area, the campaign for a “YES” vote has actually been championed by the politicians on both sides. As is speaking, there is a bi-partisan team moving from community-to-community to ensure that they educate the people and get them all to vote “YES” to the Western North Region. Why can’t this be our story? Why can’t we show that we love these people for once by supporting their call to be granted their heart desires?
As I have said in previous posts, why can’t we the people of Volta be a group whose desires and aspiration be one that is guided by their unresolved and relentless demand for development, far from one that is currently influenced by personalities and party colors? Volta Region belongs to no one and no one should claim ownership of it.
By Stephen Nani
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