Ghana’s new president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, during his first week in office, announced some ministerial nominations through a series of press conferences at the Flagstaff House.
At one of the events, he trotted out; “…The process of devolution of power will require that we look again at the regional structures of our country all with the aim of trying to promote rapid development of Ghana…We are now talking about a major exercise of political mobilization to be able to create a region”.
These words, from the President, are supposed to explain his priority of reorganising the ten regions of Ghana into fourteen regions, with the Volta Region being one of those to be divided. Firstly, this is to satisfy a political campaign promise and secondly to justify the faulty logic of rapid development through regional reorganization.
Then the Paramount Chief of Gbi Traditional Area and a member of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, Torgbegã Gabusu was also reported on Citifmonline backing the proposal and asking that the new “Oti Region must start from Asikuma Junction”, which by implication suggests that Torgbegã Gabusu does not wish to have the Gbi-Ewes in Peki cutoff in another region, i.e. the Volta Region.
Torgbegã Gabusu was quoted in the same news report suggesting that the Akpini-Ewes of Kpando would gladly opt out of the present Volta Region. The Vakpo-Ewes, Anfoe-Ewes and parts of SASADU (i.e. Sovie), who find themselves at the North of Dayi lying between Peki and Kpando were not mentioned in Torgbegã Gabusu’s submissions. However, according to the Gbi paramount chief, his proposed demarcation is simply for the sake of convenience.
This logrolling and factious posturing of Torgbegã Gabusu to see the third largest ethnic group in Ghana, the very ethnic group from which he appropriates and monopolizes his traditional authority, further disintegrated for the sake of convenience arguments speaks loudly of a leadership and followership that is inclined to dissension. May I remind my chief and traditional leader that “àmè aɖeke mekpɔa dzì ƒe ɖoɖo kua zɔmetsi ƒua gbè o”!; to wit, “hasten slowly,” your majesty.
Let us come to the current demographic statistics of the country Ghana. The most populous region today in Ghana is the Ashanti Region with over 4,780,380 people and ranks 3rd largest in land size. This makes the Ashanti population density twice greater than the population density of Volta. But to our utter dismay, this has not come up in the discussions of regional reorganization; signaling the “Monkey Business” strategy. Why would the regions with the highest population densities not be first considered and divided if there is that sincerity in the intentions to reorganize the regions.
What about the recent history of regionalization and rapid development? The history shows that the Upper West Region was created in 1983, but got its Regional Hospital only last year – 2016. The Eastern Region only had its first public university through the conversion of Polytechnics into Technical Universities. The Volta Region, which existed from independence got its first public university well after 50 years of Ghana’s independence. Clearly, the argument of regionalization promoting rapid development is a faulty logic.
Some arguments have also suggested that the regional capitals of some regions are not centrally located, which makes access to some services difficult. But we have not been told that Accra is over thousands of kilometers far away from Wa so let us relocate the national capital to a central point? I suppose the e-governance project is one of the interventions that will see the entire public administrative setup technologically integrated to serve the needs of the citizenry more efficiently. Should this rather not become the priority for a government that is desirous of improving access to government services?
It is more puzzling how chiefs and their subjects would not take advantage of their immediate local government administrative setups and influence development through the planning and administration subcommittees of their district assemblies, but hope that regionalization will suddenly bring more government resources into their local economies than before.
Let me ask, supposing Hohoe becomes the capital for Oti Region, does that guarantee any more resources for Dambai in Krachi East District, Kadjebi in the Akan Constituency or reduce the resource allocations to districts in the south of Volta? At best, only a few ancillary services will be provided from the bureaucratically obsessed public servants who will be located in Hohoe while all other districts in the two regions receive resource allocations that commensurate with their plans and budgets.
For a region that has many uncompleted government projects handed over to a new administration, one would have thought that the prominent chiefs from the region will unite and focus on these projects that affect the generality of people in the region and ensure that the projects are rapidly executed to bring meaningful development to their subjects.
Frankly, my chiefs, the factiousness at your traditional leadership front in the region only fits into the “monkey business” strategy. Already, some misguided pronouncements are setting the north against the south and majority tribe against minority tribes with petty partisan politics (NDC versus NPP) at the perils of family relations.
It saddens to say that former president Mahama also found political capital in the Oti Region proposal, while the priority developmental projects across the region suffocated for resources during his era. With the divisive posturing of some actors in the region, it beats my mind to figure out if Ewes will remain one people in one Region, same as the Ashantis and Akyems and still receive rapid development under an Akufo-Addo-led government?
I call on my fellow youth in the Volta region to wake up to the understanding that Ho being the regional capital of the Volta Region does not prevent any government from completing the Eastern Corridor roads, the UHAS satellite campus at Hohoe, construction of the Keta Habour and Volivo bridge, asphalting the rest of our district capital township roads, among others. However, the real perils of our progress, individually and collectively, will be to allow political and traditional authority pull wool over our eyes. United We Stand!!!
By Seth Doe, a member of Anlo Youth Council