By the Association of Volta Youth (AVY) – U.S.A.
We deem it relevant to bring to the notice of the general public, the unconstitutionality of the yet to be created Oti-Region out of the Volta Region of Ghana, and we call on all Voltarians and none-Voltarians alike to unilaterally reject the move outright.
Before we dive into Article 5 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana that gives the President of Ghana a sort of constitutional power to alter or merge regions, we want to draw your attention to the fact that any piece of land is owned by a family or stool/skin and each family is made up of clans with tribal roots. It is instructive to note that lands were acquired by various groups through different ways including conquests. These lands or territories existed with its people with a certain social and political structure long before what is today known as “Ghana” came into existence. Without argument however, any piece of land that belongs to Ghana is either given to the country by the allodial title holders (traditional owners of the land) or was bought from the chiefs. It is important also to know that, the 1992 constitution of Ghana has maintained the ownership of the land to families, stools and skins and not the State. So, in matters affecting any piece of land, the position of the true owners and the traditional over lords of such affected land take precedence over any authority as guaranteed by the constitution. The Diversity of the land ownership has given rise to diverse culture and custom of which the constitution of Ghana has recognized.
ARTICLE 5 OF 1992 CONSTITUTION OF GHANA.
Article 5 clause (1) and (2) states that “(1) subject to the provisions of this article, the President may by constitutional instrument- (a) create a new region; (b) alter the boundaries of a region; or (c) provide for the merger of two or more regions.
(2) If the President, upon petition being presented to him and, on the advice of the Council of State, is satisfied that there is substantial demand for- (a) the creation of a new region; (b) the alteration of the boundaries of a region, whether or not the alteration involves the creation of a new region; or (c) the merger of any two or more regions; he shall, acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State, appoint a commission of inquiry into the demand and to make recommendations on all the factors involved in the creation, alteration or merger”.
Based on article 5 clause (1) above, it is our view that the President is not allowed to alter the name of a recognized existing region. It is our view also that creating a new region out of an existing region in territories as recognized by the constitution is a breach of article 5 clause (1) of the 1992 constitution.
The demarcation of the Oti Region is tribes based demarcation comprising of Akan-Guan speaking tribes, excluding the Ewe speaking tribes, with Akans as the dominant tribe. It is therefore a violation of article 5 clause 1 (a) and (b) to create a tribal region out of an existing region. The Directive Principles of state policy under the Constitution, 1992 calls for a promotion of regional integration. Allowing Oti Region to come into existence, means that, the recognized natural practice of the land, which is culture and customs of the land will also be altered as Oti will now see itself as a separate entity and will now introduce to the land their own culture and traditions against the tradition of the true owners which in Natural sense, is a breach of article 5 clause (1) (a) and (b) of the 1992 constitution.
We do not doubt the fact that the Akan speaking descendants in the Volta Region are citizens of the land, but historically, they are settlers who settled on the land. For example, Worawora’s hail from Kuntenase of Asantemanso near Asumegya. They were defeated in an attempt to own Lake Bosomtwe under the Leadership of Nana Awasiwa Boa. They remain in their ancestral home until the unexpected dramatic event which ensured that, the fifth Kuntenasehene Nana Odwisa, endeavored in poisoning King Opoku Ware, this led to days of intense chaos that made large number of Kuntenase people to move and settle on different lands. Many groups and leaders spring up in this movement, such as Oyoko royal family of Kwawu Atibie, Aduana royal family of Obo Kwawu, Worawora under Tiprekese, Tapa, Oyoko royal family at Ahenkro in the Apai area and others. Nana Tiprekese leads the Worawora’s to settled in the Botanical garden (Aburi), then move shortly to settled on Nkonya wurupon land at the Volta Region. Kadjebi’s and Papasi’s were the Denkyira’s who run away from Ashanti hegemonic expansion to settle in Volta region. Similar, has been the case of Apesokibi, Kabuso, Kokomba’s, Dambai’s and others which has given rise to diversity in the land.
The multiplicity of customs and traditions within the demarcation of Oti-region are as a result of accommodating variety of people but the customs and traditions of the true owners superseded any practice. So any attempt by the President to undermine the cultural practice of the land owners is an aggression and the constitution does not permit that.
Having said that, in Article 5 Clause (2), who, on the best interest of the land should petition the President on matters affecting the physical and natural existence of the land? Is it the rightful owners of the land or the settlers on the land? It is unconstitutional on the part of the President to avoid the true owners of the Oti-Region demarcation and accept petition from Akan-Speaking tribe who are settlers.
By clause 2 (a), if the President, upon petition being presented to him and, on the advice of the Council of State, is satisfied that there is substantial demand for- (a) the creation of a new region; There is no evidence of substantial demand for the creation of Oti-region as stated by the constitution. Rather, there are substantial and increasing demand for not creating Oti-region. Some of the groups that publicly spoke against the creation of Oti Region are Concerned Citizens of Volta Region (CCVR), Concerned Youth of Ho (CYH), who separately demonstrated against the move, Association of Volta Youth-U.S.A (AVY), Star Volta Development Association (Star VOLDA), the Association of Western Togoland Youth (ASWETOY) including individuals and all of the Volta Chiefs in the Volta Region outside the Oti region such as the President of National House of Chiefs, Torgbui Apede XIV, Torgbui Sri, Torgbuigah Gabusu who is strongly against ethnic division. Even, among the tribes that falls within the Oti demarcation, it’s only the Akan-speaking tribes that are asking for the creation of the Oti-region. Other tribes that falls within the Minority in the Oti-region are against it, but due to corrupt elements within the demarcation using government’s logistics, including pickup trucks and money to intimidate and threaten minority Chiefs, has made them to reluctantly compromise. A move which has been terribly regretted.
ARTICLE 4 OF THE 1992 CONSTITUTION OF GHANA.
- The sovereign State of Ghana is a unitary republic consisting of those territories comprised in the regions which immediately before the coming into force of this constitution, existed in Ghana, including the territorial sea and the air space.
- Parliaments may by law provide for the delimitation of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic Zone and continental shelf of Ghana.
It will be improper for us to talk of Article 5 of the 1992 constitution without properly digesting the entrenched Article 4, which provisions existed the territories comprised in the regions of Ghana. Article 4 is unique and precise as it established the territories in entrenched order without giving right to anyone to alter it. So for the president to exercise his powers under article 5, article 4 must first be invoked. If article 4 is not invoked by national referendum, any action by the President under article 5 undermines the constitution which will also be aggression and abuse of power.
HOW VOLTA REGION EXSISTED.
Volt Region is part of West Torgo (now West Togo) which was a mandated territory under the League of Nations and became a UN Trust territory in 1946 under the UN Trusteeship Council. It was placed under the care of Britain to be nurtured to independence under international law by the UN.
The request of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the pressure on Britain made it to refuse to grant independence to West Togo and instead in order to satisfied the request of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and appease the then Gold Coast, Britain asked the UN to allow her to make a UNION for West Togo and the Gold Coast against the will of West Togolanders and the Togoland Congress, the political party and mouth piece of the West Togo. UN reluctantly granted the UNION request and asked that the memorandum of understanding be established should the UNION be chosen.
On 9th May 1956, referendum (plebiscite) was held of which yes for UNION won. It is significant to note that, the Krachi’s who are asking for an Oti-region today actively took part in the referendum of which yes for Union won at Buem-Krachi districts. The Union was not established and the memorandum of understanding was also not written as conditioned. West Togo illegally became part of Ghana.
It is important to note that, Ghana did not take part in the 1956 UNION referendum, instead, on 12th July 1956, Ghana held a referendum to choose unitary system of government against the UNION government and West Togo also did not participate in the 12th July referendum.
VOLTA REGION IS NOT A REGION OF GHANA.
According to article 4 (1) the sovereign State of Ghana is a unitary republic consisting of those territories comprised in the regions which immediately before the coming into force of this constitution, existed in Ghana, including the territorial sea and the air space.
Ghana’s unitary system of government started from 12th July 1956 when those territories comprised in the regions which immediately before the coming into force of the 1992 constitution, existed in Ghana, through referendum chose unitary system of government and Volta region did not take part in the referendum because it was not considered a territory of Ghana. Volta region was part of the West Torgo that chose UNION government with Ghana and will submit itself under union constitution. So any unitary constitution of Ghana has no jurisdiction over Volta Region.
The 1992 constitution of Ghana is a legal document and cannot take jurisdiction over anything that existed illegally before coming into force. In this case, Volta Region existed illegally before coming into force of the 1992 constitution. Therefore, the 1992 constitution is UNCONSTITUTIONAL to determine what happens to the Volta land. If the 1992 Constitution had acknowledged the UNION chosen in 9th May 1956 and established its conditions or memorandum of understanding, then its provisions over Volta Region can be certain.
Ghana’s occupation over Volta Region remains illegitimate until 9th May 1956 referendum (plebiscite) is honored. It is important that today’s generation of Ghana, uncovers the illicit affairs by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and put the right thing at its place. Without that, Volta Region and any suburb of West Togo and Ghana will forever remain world apart.
Independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, nationality and identity are inalienable rights and are non-negotiable. It is the ultimate rights and no one or government can dare take it away from you. Our forefathers die for it, and it is worth it. So, not even death will deter us from liberating the Volta Region.
We are concerned about the under development in the entire Volta Region especially the Northern Part where we have a poor healthcare delivery system, zero road network, poor educational facilities, (Schools still under trees), Lack of portable water, inadequate or lack of government aide or assistance to the area to mentioned a few. These are basic Universal Human Rights which lies on the shoulders of the government to protect against Urgent Threat. There is no excuse on failure on part of government in ensuring the right of the Voltarians, if they deem the region as part of Ghana. The worst and most annoying part is continue fair share contributions of the region to the National coffers.
We want to state on record that Association of Volta Youth-USA (AVY) are not blaming and not against the Citizens of the Northern Volta for calling for a new region to accelerate development in the Area. We are on the view that those in helm of power that have access to our sweat in to the National coffers has no justification to deny Volta Region development if they consider our land part of Ghana. We should be blaming them and not asking them to create a new region that will serve as avenue for some unscrupulous politicians to become rich over night at the expense of the current plight of our Region.
There is also no proving evidence that creating Oti region will accelerate the kind of development that we expected. We have lived together, both south and the Northern part of the Volta Region in peace and have had intermarriage’s among us. We can’t find ourselves now on a divided ground because government of Ghana failed to honor its mandate. If there is no secondary motive behind the creation of Oti region, then the entire demand is an exercise of frivolity.
We respect the multiparty support that existed in the land, but we plead that when it’s comes to issue of the interest of the region, all should endeavor to stand firm and avoid any political colors.
Our forefathers voted in the 9th may referendum to form a UNION government with Ghana and that UNION is the only thing we have in common with Ghana, and since there is no working UNION among our land and Ghana, asking Ghana to create Oti-region for us is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
Let us come together and think of what we can do to improve the condition of the land (Volta Region), rather than asking the grand children of those who disrespected the decision of our forefathers.
We are committed to anything that pose to bring development to the entire Region but new REGION is certainly not one of them.
Nothing can peril our future than having bilateral declaration of Statehood. Volta Region is one, Let us give it that unified front that will be respected beyond the boundaries and around the globe. We are ready to Champion this course and our door is left ajar to our Oti Brothers and Sisters for dialogue.
The government of Ghana should do the right thing and stop using certain factions to cause divisions in the Volta region.
Happy new year to our Countrymen in the Volta Region.
001 703 401 6324
Michael K. Agbozalu.
001 347 607 2847
001 347 772 5325.