The Asogli State Council says the entire Volta Region must be allowed to vote in the referendum aimed at creating the Oti Region.
According to the Council, it finds the exclusion of the southern part of the region in the consultation process to create the region “worrisome” as the creation of the Oti Region will involve the alteration of the existing boundaries of the region.
“Therefore, the entire Volta Region must be allowed to take part in the referendum and it must not be limited to only the area earmarked for the Oti Region,” the Council stated at a press conference Tuesday.
According to it, “it will be unconstitutional, unfair and against natural justice to limit the referendum to a minority in the Region leaving out the voices of the majority of Voltarians.”
Below is the full statement
PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE REFERENDUM IN VOLTA REGION
ASOGLI STATE COUNCIL,
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we have invited you here today to address the nation and the entire world on some issues regarding the creation of the Oti Region from the Volta Region.
We the chiefs and people of Asogli State, and our brothers and sisters from southern Volta, wish to state our position on some matters that we consider a threat to the cherished peace we have enjoyed over the years in the Volta Region.
As stated many times by the Agbogbomefia, the most important desire of our people is development, which cannot happen if there is no peace. Therefore, it is important that we all work towards strengthening our peace and our unity in order to facilitate the development that we crave for.
We are therefore troubled that this priceless commodity, called peace, is being undermined by the reckless way the creation of the proposed Oti region is being handled.
We recall calling on the commission of enquiry to extend its public hearings to other parts of the Volta Region, specifically the south, but the commission disregarded this call by Asogli State and proceeded snobbishly on their illegal agenda.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we speak, not even an excerpt from the final report of the commission is available to us. All we heard was that the commission had established significant demand and recommended a referendum to be conducted in the “Oti” enclave. Consequently, the Electoral Commission has commenced limited registration exercise in the recommended area living out other parts of the Volta Region.
Friends of the press, we find these developments worrisome and therefore wish to state our position unequivocally that the creation of the Oti region involves the alteration of the existing boundaries of the Volta Region. Therefore, the entire Volta Region must be allowed to take part in the referendum and it must not be limited to only the area earmarked for the Oti Region.
In our view, it will be unconstitutional, unfair and against natural justice to limit the referendum to a minority in the Region leaving out the voices of the majority of Voltarians.
Friends of the media, we cannot remain indifferent when an important matter such as this, which affects our very existence, is being handled in such lopsided manner. It constitutes an abuse of power.
As could be seen in the provisions of chapter 2 of the constitution, the framers of our law laid down clear democratic procedures for making the relevant decisions. “In their wisdom, they provided tough conditions in order to make the creation of regions, alteration of boundaries or merger of regions difficult, unlike what has been happening in the cases of new constituencies and new districts.”
The President, as required by the constitution, and acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, appointed a commission of inquiry, comprising people we thought were eminent and honest persons, to inquire into the demands for new regions and to make recommendations on all the factors involved.
The constitution provides that where the commission found that there is the need and a substantial demand for the creation of new regions, it shall recommend to the President that a referendum be held, specifying the issues to be determined by the referendum and the places where it should be held.
In performing its mandate, the constitution enjoined the commission to make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the matters specified in the instrument of appointment.
As we have said earlier, we have not seen a copy of the commission’s report, and we are not aware of its publication. However, reports suggested that the commission has recommended the creation of some new regions.
Friends of the media, for the avoidance of doubt, our constitution provides, among others, that there should be a referendum to approve: the creation of a new region; the alteration of the boundaries of a region, whether or not the alteration involves the creation of a new region.
This is in plain English, and we urge all Ghanaians to read Chapter 2 of the constitution.
It is obvious that the creation of new regions will result in the alteration of existing boundaries. Indeed, if one of the issues to be decided in such a referendum is the boundary of a new region, then it is difficult to see how voting could be limited to only people within an assumed boundary and not the entire region.
The concentration of the commission’s public hearings on the areas from which petitions came, betrayed the government’s decision, even before the commission commenced work, that voting would take place in those areas only. It makes the commission’s work a sham, intended to simply rubber-stamp the government’s conspiracy against the majority of the people of this region.
Under our constitution, a small group of people cannot decide on the partitioning of an entire region. It is shameless to quote the wrong examples – Eritrea, South Sudan, Trans Volta Togoland, etc. – to justify this illegality, totally disregarding our own constitution.
We believe that the framers of our constitution have done a good job. They have given us a clear roadmap for the creation of new regions and the alteration of boundaries of regions. We must not, as the Agbogbomefia has cautioned, bastardize it, but respect it in the interest of peace and unity.
We want to appeal to both those who are for and those who are against the creation of new regions, politicians of the ruling party as well as those outside it, and indeed all Ghanaians, to uphold the truth by adhering to the procedures specified by the constitution as regards to the alteration of the boundaries of existing regions.
We are aware of malpractices that are already going on in the limited voter registration taking place in the Oti enclave. It is a shame that this could be happening in today’s Ghana. Our politicians must, for once, learn to do away with old habits that have caused unnecessary conflict in our country.
For the avoidance of doubt, we want to underscore our determination to resist the illegal partitioning of our region based on the votes of a few. We owe this sacred duty to the people of our region, and indeed, to all the people of Ghana.
We also want to add that the Ewes have never sought domination over the other tribes in the region, even though we are in the majority. Volta’s population comprises: Ewes 73.8%, Akans 2.8%, Ga Dangme 1.5%, Guan 8.1%, Gruma 11.3%, others 2.5%. But out of the six regional ministers we have had since 20o1, three were non-Ewes from the northern part of the region: Hon. Kwasi Owusu-Yeboah, the late Hon. Henry Ford Kamel and Hon. Helen Ntoso.
In conclusion, we want to emphasize that we are not against the creation of new regions, following due process. But for the sake of peace and unity, we demand that those responsible for the creation of the new regions follow strictly, the roadmap specified by the constitution and allow all citizens of the region to vote in the referendum, instead of limiting it to only those from the Oti enclave.
Once again, we are determined to protect the sanctity of the law.
Thank you, and God Bless our Motherland.