- Already, the leader of the Homeland Study Group Foundation has, if not offered an olive branch to the Ghana Government, ...
When the Busia Government expelled “aliens” from Ghana in 1969, and this was reciprocated by Nigeria in 1982-83, it did seem as if co-operation between West African nations was dead for ever.
Yet, ECOMOG (the military body set up by ECOWAS in 1990 to intervene in the civil wars of Sierra Leone and Liberia) succeeded in bringing peace to the two countries. The irony of the situation is that the initial protocol that grew to make the ECOMOG effort a possibility, was adopted in May 1981 – only one year before Nigeria decided to retaliate against Ghana for expelling its citizens in 1969!
In international relations, therefore, anything is possible. So, if, at the moment, the demand for “separation” by Western Togoland seems to those who advocate such separation, to be worthwhile, they should answer this question: suppose ECOWAS really begins to implement in reality, some of its more important protocols? Residency; a common currency; harmonised import duties leading to complete free trade amongst ECOWAS members – if these are achieved, of what use would
“separation” be to Western Togoland?
In the spirit of ECOWAS unity, didn’t Nigeria and Ghana sink their differences and jointly contribute to the ending of hostilities in the Ivory Coast civil war? That was a situation in which two Anglophone countries agreed to risk shedding blood to save the people of a Francophone country, wasn’t it?
So, cool heads are what will bring a lasting solution to the Western Togoland problem. Let me ask: even if Western Togoland were to be able to militarily capture the Akosombo Dam (as some of the advocates of a separate Western Togoland have been threatening on the Internet!) of what use would the power be to Western Togoland, if it found no customers for the power? Hasn’t Ghana already got agreements with its West African neighbours regarding power-sharing?
Secondly, suppose the agitation for the separation of Western Togoland from Ghana were truly based on a suspicion that there may be oil deposits in that part of Ghana and that politicians from that area want to position themselves ready to pounce on the proceeds. Here again, haven’t we seen West African nations happily co-operating with one another and agreeing to international arbitration on the demarcation of areas offshore that contain oil deposits? Nigeria agreed to an international judicial finding on Bakassi, didn’t it? And didn’t Ghana and the Ivory Coast reach a similar, amicable settlement?
So then, if, on the basis that economic co-operation, the secession of Western Togoland could be deemed unnecessary, what else could be firing it up? A suggestion has emerged that it’s because our Finance Minister forgot to mention Volta Region roads in his statement to Parliament in early November 2019. But isn’t that far-fetched? Hadn’t people been taken to court in May 2019, for preaching secession? Hadn’t the case against them been withdrawn by the state, for unstated reasons? If the state had offended the people of the Volta Region by the budgetary gaffe, couldn’t the withdrawal of the case against the secessionists be construed as a “diplomatic” apology, that is, one that had not been publicly vocalised but was effective all the same?
No, the Western Togoland agitation has deeper roots. Maybe we should call what the Nigerians have been asking for, namely, a “national conference” and let it all hang out.. You say I am “ethnocentric” because of A, B, and C. Of course, I’d retort by asking you, what about D, E and F?
Are we capable of handling it? Yes!
If anyone had ever suggested that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Northern Ireland Unionists could sit down together with the British Government (John Bull) and talk and talk and talk until they reached what was called the “Good Friday Agreement” , who would have believed it? Nevertheless, it happened.
Already, the leader of the Homeland Study Group Foundation has, if not offered an olive branch to the Ghana Government, at least voiced out what could please him. “Don’t arrest my 70-year-old wife!” he has cried. “Don’t detain my followers. Invite me instead!”
Ahah! The Ghana Government should shoot back, “But we dropped the case against you and your followers! But yet you went ahead and made your Declaration of Independence! What guarantee do we have that if we allow your wife to join you where you are, you won’t do something worse?”
I am afraid that’s usually how politics works. It’s as illogical as it is tiresome. In recent months, Ethiopia has been showing the world how this tiresomeness operates. Human beings are full of inconsistencies and hypocrisy. They say they want “A”. But if you give it to them, then they move to “Q” (!), having jumped all the way to that letter, omitting all the letters that should have followed “A”!
You see, some political demands are emotionally-based and not on reality. In dealing with them, therefore, one should have the word COMPROMISE written on the back of one’s hand so that every time one wants to throw one’s hands up in the air, the word can unfailingly catch one’s eye.
Actually, it is a pity that the Western Togoland issue has not been laid to rest, for the UN did try its best to solve it in 1956-57. The UN appointed a Plebiscite Commissioner – a Mexican called Eduardo Espinosa y Prieto,– who was completely neutral. It was the first-ever plebiscite to be organised by the UN to ascertain the wishes of the population of a UN Trust Territory. So, the UN went the extra mile to ensure that it would be fair and acceptable to them all.
However, the trouble was that there were two questions, instead of one. The UN was only concerned with the fate of the people in the Trust Territory; but the people there were ALSO interested in whether the Ewes should be united – an issue with which the UN was NOT concerned, its mandate only covering the English/French division of the territory into British and French-administered Trust Territories! Colonialism, as a whole – and “trusteeship” was an element of colonialism – was basically unconcerned with the division of peoples.
Should the Ewe unification question have taken precedence over the “End of Trusteeship” issue? How could the UN have addressed that, given the fact that the UN was obliged by law to concern itself only with the individual Trusteeships, as and when circumstances (like the impending independence of the Gold Coast) arose?
We cannot go back into history to address that issue. But man-made problems, HOWEVER INTRACTABLE, must be solved by men. I therefore hope that the people of Ghana – and we have been “Ghanaians” for 62 years since the plebiscite – can be MAN enough to sit down soon round the table and say to history: “You want to destroy us with the remnants of legalities. But we won’t allow that!”