Togbe Afede XIV, Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State in the Volta Region and the President of the National House of Chiefs recently spoke extensively on the proposed creation of Oti Region in a radio interview with Accra based Citi FM
My name is VIVIAN KAI LOKKO.
Our guest for tonight is TOGBE XIV, the President of the National House of Chiefs, as well as the Executive Chairman of the World Trade Centre.
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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 the 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
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
He assured me yes, it was going to be the case, that the Commission of Inquiry would 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
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
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
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 Reorganisation and Development, obviously, and of course given the time available to it, had the resources to
Council of State simply 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
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.
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
VIVIAN: Let me quote what he said. He said that, “Council of State, which includes Togbe XIV, on August 15, 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
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
But there’s no question in my mind that it was important that the Commission of Inquiry extended its
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
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 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
And I say
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 satisfy
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...
VTVIAN: 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
So from the beginning, the very beginning, people were feeling excluded and getting
Indeed, people are still questioning
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.
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
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 oryou’re not for it?
TOGBE: I’ve tried to
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,
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 Asilcuma 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,
VIVIAN: Are there 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,
Have they been able to authenticate the 400 or so chiefs? I mean, mind you, many of them are not
We need to learn as a people to do a 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
I am saying that the work that the Commission did
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. No answers. You were noting them. Of
VIVIAN: So of all the 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
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
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
No, the framers of the law, as I said, have done a great job for us. For the avoidance of doubt, to
So in the case of
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
move the capital from Accra to a place in the Volta Region or a place in the Ashanti Region ora place in the Northern Region.
So, I think the framers of the law did a very good job for us
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
Of course, whatever the Supreme Court decides, the
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,
Eritrea, well-defined entity; South Sudan,
Today, we have
That certainly cannot be what was on the minds of the framers of the law
VTVIAN: 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% Alcans, 11.3%
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.
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
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
Recently, they were creating districts, I don’t know why they didn’t create any new ones in the Volta Region. If more
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
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
When we try to
And I want to underscore the fact that I am not against the 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
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
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,