Secession – Mischief Or Sabotage

SThe call by some members of Homeland Study Group for the secession of the Volta Region from Ghana is very sad, unfortunate and very mischievous and should be condemned by all Ghanaians whose belief in building a strong unitary state is being threatened or undermined by this group. 

Relatively, Ghana has enjoyed peace and stability since independence in spite of some upheavals by the military. Even the longest of those interruptions led by the son of the Volta Region did not subvert the unitary state of Ghana but solidified it in a revolutionary way.  Ghana’s stability has been the envy of many nations and has been a singular factor that has endeared the hearts of many Western nations to lend a helping hand in Ghana’s economic development. 

It is, therefore, regrettable and strange that with the present state of affairs in Ghana what some citizens consider very important for our national development is the pull out of the Volta Region – an issue settled in 1956.  If this is not treachery, sabotage or mischief, then somebody should tell me what it is.

The question is: who made the Study Group the mouthpiece of the people of Volta Region?  The region is made up of Ewes, Nchumurus, Krachis, Asantes and others who have migrated and settled in the region.  So which of these tribes are seeking to secede from the rest of Ghana?  Is it the Ewes, the Nchumurus, Krachis or Asantes, or all of them?  If some of the tribes are not happy with this union, it does not mean all the tribes support this suicidal mission.  Some people of the region have condemned the action of the group but I think the condemnation is not strong enough. 

Whatever their reasons are, the intent to declare independence on 9th May, 2019, was serious enough for the government to take some drastic measures.  The fact that they were arrested in 2017 and bonded “to be of good behaviour” only to be rearrested in 2019 suggests how serious and determined the agitators are, and the government needed to nip it in the bud.  It also strongly suggests that there are some clandestine or covert organizations behind these moves and therefore the earlier the matter is put to rest, the better for this nation.

Historically, many illegal declaration of independence in many parts of the world had only brought about civil wars with its consequences of human suffering and economic disasters, hardships and deaths.  An example was the Biafra’s declaration of independence in Nigeria.  At the end of the civil war, two million people had been displaced; about 150,000 had lost their lives and more than 200,000 injured and maimed for life. The loss of property and damage to the economy was beyond description.  Those who think that these people must be treated with kid gloves and given a hearing or invited to talk to, are playing with fire that needs to be quenched without further delay.  I have been a Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and I know what internal unrest can do to a country.

The reason behind the agitation as alleged is that the Study Group and its followers want the rest of us to accept that the amalgamation of former Trans Volta Togoland, (63 years ago when most of the followers were not born) to then Gold Coast, was illegal.  If these citizens are law-abiding and want to challenge the illegality of the amalgamation, the peaceful way is to send the matter to court.  To hold secret meetings, design a flag, set up a central bank with a currency, set a date for the declaration of independence, create some secret security organization with weapons etc, suggest that they are prepared to take the law into their own hands.  The issue of reversing the results of the plebiscite of the former Trans Volta Togoland is now so complicated that any group of people who proposes such an idea has no good intentions for the rest of Ghanaians.  My reasons are: first, since the amalgamation, the region has undergone some drastic changes and today the reversal of that decision can only be done by carving portions of land of the five regions of Ghana namely Upper East, North East, Northern, Oti and Volta to create the “new nation”. No government worthy of the votes of majority of Ghanaians would accept it. How do the advocates hope to achieve this peacefully and what would be the reaction of the rest of Ghanaians who reside in these regions? 

Second, the social implications of many inter-marriages involving other tribes of Ghana with that of the region will create huge social problems for many families.

Last but not least, would the advocates be able to cope with the security implications of their action? There are many other questions but for space, these few questions are enough to highlight the dangers ahead as we continue to toy with the issue.

Why would an 85-year-old man lead such a struggle which for all intents and purposes, knows very well his strength would not be able to carry him through? The answer, I believe, is that he has many followers – some very prominent citizens in our society, who prefer to remain anonymous and are secretly urging him on. 

The condemnation of the arrest of some members of the Study Group by Hon. E. K. Rockson-Nelson, MP for South Dayi, indicates that there are many sympathizers. He stated: “It is understandable that the state would take steps to protect the sovereignty and sanctity of Ghana …. However, such conducts by the state in exercising its rights must be done in accordance with laid-down procedures anchored in law… an intention by one to declare Volta Region a supposed independent state cannot constitute a crime… The choice of a criminal prosecution is a horrible one. Persecution has never succeeded in quelling the agitation of a people determined to attain self-rule”.

George Nyakpo, Ho Branch Secretary of the Study Group, complained about the silence of ex-President Rawlings and my question to him is: why? Has ex-President Rawlings given the Study Group his blessings?  I hope not because having served this country as the longest head of state, such an action will be very unfortunate, to say the least.  I will reserve other questions since I believe he would not do any such thing and his silence may be due to the embarrassment the arrest has caused him.

The hypocritical attitudes of Ghanaians are my worry because when we should call a spade a spade, we always dodge the issues and this has affected our national development for some time.  So far, the usual politicization has not taken place and I hope it would not happen because any political party that engages in this secession game will not survive it and will regret the consequences.

Surprisingly, the radio stations also seem to shy away from the issue but whether we like it or not, it is a problem that needs to be dealt with before it gets out of hand. “Procrastination usually results in sorrowful regret. Today’s duties put off until tomorrow, give us a double burden to bear; the best way is to do them in their proper time.” ~Ida Scott Taylor. The time has come to deal with this issue and stop behaving like ostriches.

By Brig-Gen (Rtd) J. Odei