- I sympathise with the opinion that says the group has no legitimacy; that it should be disbanded and the people arrested.
Last Saturday, for the first time in living memory, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) spoke with one voice on an issue.
On Joy FM’s Newsfile, reps of the two political traditions loudly disagreed with Prof. Emmanuel Kwesi Ening, the security expert, for prescribing negotiation as the solution to the Western Togoland secession problem.
The Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council holds the same position: negotiate. I used to hold a similar view. But I have changed my mind.
What are we going to negotiate over? Will the government ever agree to cede a centimetre of Ghanaian space? Jaw-jaw, therefore, is out. War-war is worse.
We cannot win a war with an underground terrorist group using guerrilla tactics, including raiding a police station from where they made away with 10 AK 47 assault rifles and burning an STC bus.
This is warfare, where the enemy knows you but you don’t know them.
Remember the terror that is threatening to break up Cameroun because of the activities of the Ambazonia separatists. Remember the daily bombings that rocked the Niger Delta of Nigeria by separatists in Ogoniland.
That is where Ghana is being dragged to. Soon, investors would be running away from Ghana’s gold and oil, because they don’t feel safe.
My suggestion is that we insist on judgement by the United Nations (UN). The group itself has long petitioned the world body as members of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), an international body representing ‘indigenous peoples and minorities’ that “have joined together to promote their right to self-determination”.
In their November 16, 2018 news conference, the Homeland Study Group claimed that the Akosombo Dam is in their “country” and “want to take possession right away”. A certain Association of Western Togoland Youths (ASWETOY) has also “warned” Ghana to “stop venturing into the mineral deposits of the homeland of Western Togolanders”.
On January 12, 2018, a group by name Association of Volta Youth (Ghana) in USA petitioned the UN Secretary General and Amnesty International and all member states of the UN, for a homeland, threatening ‘radical action’ to stop Ghana from exploring or drilling for oil in that part of the country. They have resolved to counter police arrests with “aggressive retaliation”, threatening “barbaric and bloody outcome”.
I wish it were easy to reason with them. I could draw their attention to historical records which show that “although there were several semi-autonomous Ewe-speaking communities along the coast and in the Togo hills, there was no Ewe state in precolonial times”; that, in fact, the name, Trans Volta Togoland, was the coinage of the British for ease of administering the territory.
But they will not listen to me, they will not listen to the government, but they will be prepared to sit down once they are assured of independent and neutral arbiters. That is why we must go the UN.
The genesis of all of above was the 1884 Berlin Conference. From that conference, Germany established the Togoland protectorate. During the First World War in 1914, Britain and France invaded the protectorate.
After the German defeat and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the western part of Togoland became a British mandate under supervision of the Trusteeship Council of the League of Nations (now the United Nations). The Ewe area in the British controlled territory was formally constituted into the Trans-Volta-Togoland region in 1952.
As a result of constant demands by some Ewes in the 1950s for unification either as a separate state or to join Ghana or Togo, the UN on May 9, 1956, held a plebiscite to decide on the wishes of the Togoland people. With 83 per cent voter turnout, 58 per cent of the population backed the union with the Gold Coast; 42 per cent said ‘No’. The Trans Volta Togoland was, therefore, integrated into the Gold Coast.
The UN General Assembly approved the union and on March 6, 1957 the British trust territory of Togoland and the Gold Coast became the independent and unitary state of Ghana.
The Parliament of the new Ghana named the Trans-Volta Togoland area as Volta Region.
I sympathise with the opinion that says the group has no legitimacy; that it should be disbanded and the people arrested.
With the experience of the Ogonis of Nigeria and Ambazonia in Cameroun, one thing is clear. We can talk tough all we want; these people are terrorists, and there are two things terrorists have no fear of: death and jail. To the UN, therefore, we must go.
While at it, I will plead with the NDC to stop portraying the recent escalation as a failure of intelligence by the NPP government. In a country without extensive CCTV camera coverage, metal and explosives detectors, how else do we deal with terror?
The writer is the Executive Director,
Centre for Communication and Culture,