The proposed creation of the North East Region out of the Northern Region and the Oti Region out of the Volta Region continues to face stiff opposition from a section of the people, even as the Electoral Commission inches closer to referenda in the affected areas.
Although the government has stated that the creation of the new regions is being pursued within the remit of the Constitution, in the cases of the Volta and the Northern regions, the opposing forces, which have chiefs at the centre, cite cultural, historical and geopolitical factors and insecurity to back their resistance.
In the Northern Region, the bone of contention has been the inclusion of Cheriponi in the new region, while in the Volta Region the resistance is coming from the chiefs of the southern part of the region who are fiercely voicing their opposition to the partitioning of the region.
A special request by the Overlord of Mamprugu, Naa Bohagu Abdulai Mahama Sheriga, for the inclusion of Cheriponi in the proposed North East Region was yesterday rejected in a charged atmosphere at an emergency meeting convened by the Dagbon Traditional Council (DTC) in Tamale.
The scene at the conference hall of the Northern Regional House of Chiefs, the venue for the meeting, was tense after majority of the chiefs took a firm decision to reject the request by the Overlord of Mamprugu for the inclusion of Cheriponi in the proposed region.
The meeting, which brought together all the chiefs in Dagbon, including the Abudu and the Andani factions, was expected to bring an end to protests and agitation on why Cheriponi should or should not be part of the new region.
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Naa Sheriga had requested the DTC to allow Cheriponi to be added to the proposed North East Region, ostensibly to boost the geographical size and the chance for the creation of the North East Region.
Chereponi forms part of the Dagbon Traditional Area and is located in the north-eastern part of the Northern Region close to the Togo border.
Since the announcement of the proposed regions was made, the chiefs of Dagbon, particularly Chereponi, have raised issues with the inclusion of Chereponi in the North East Region.
Those who oppose Cheriponi’s inclusion in a new region argue that separating it from the Northern Region and adding it to the new region, which falls mainly in the Mamprugu area, may mean Chereponi would have to pay allegiance to the Overlord of Mamprugu.
The Overlord of Mamprugu, who has been accused of masterminding the inclusion of Chereponi in the new region, has, however, assured the chiefs of Dagbon that Chereponi will only be added to the proposed region for administrative purposes, while its chiefs will owe allegiance to the Overlord of Dagbon.
Decline of request
At Tuesday’s meeting, the chiefs traced the historical antecedents and stated that the decision to decline the request was as a result of the cultural, historical and geopolitical implications the request would have on the council.
But they renewed their support for the wish of the Mamprugu Traditional Council to have a new region.
The Secretary to the Gukpe Naa, Naa Mohammed Rashard, who briefed the media after the meeting, said Dagbon might have its internal challenges, but the cohesion and integrity of the kingdom remained resolutely non-negotiable, as every “prince and principality has the unalloyed responsibility of defending the kingdom against dismemberment”.
He said the decision by the chiefs was a collective one taken by the council, as it could not betray Cheriponi by agreeing to cede it to the future North East Region.
All government officials, with the exception of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cheriponi, Mr Samuel Abdulai Jabanyite, who were invited by the house for the meeting failed to show up.
The chiefs were furious at the development, describing it as “gross disrespect to the Dagbon Traditional Council”.
Meanwhile, from the Volta Region, the Council of Anlo Chiefs has unanimously declared its opposition to the partitioning of the region.
The decision was taken at the congregation of Anlo chiefs, representing the 36 traditional areas of Anlo, at Ave last Saturday.
Fear of tribal conflict
“We strongly believe that the division of the Volta Region has the potential of resulting in tribal conflicts among the peace-loving people of the Volta Region rather than the rapid development they need,” a statement issued by the traditional council after the meeting said.
“We strongly call on the government to consider a wider consultation than what possibly looks like a rushed agenda to divide peaceful and law-abiding residents of Great Volta Region of Ghana.
“It took us patience to understand the issues on the ground, hence our call on the government to, with immediate effect, put a hold on the creation of the Oti Region,” it added.