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Opinions of Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Columnist: Anlo Youth Council

Anlo Youth council welcomes Nana Akufo Addo

Your Excellency, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, the Anlo Youth Council (AYC) wishes to congratulate you and bid you a warm welcome as the 5th President of the 4th Republic of our dear country, Ghana. This has been one of the most astounding elections ever fought in the history of our country, and your victory provides Ghanaians with very high hopes and expectations for your government. We, the members of the AYC, are not left out in the expectations of the quality of delivery on your election promises to the people of Ghana.

As the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is grappling to come to terms with its loss due, particularly, to the Ewe voter abstention from the polls in the Volta Region and in every Ewe settlement across the Country, we wish to underscore the unique position of the Ewe voter in the Ghana polls. Now we know that we can effect a change of government if we vote massively or we simply abstain massively. Either way, change would happen in Ghana. On this occasion, Your Excellency, the change happened in your favour. You are welcome!

It is in this regard that we wish to bring to your immediate attention some critical issues of concern to the AYC. Some of these issues have either been completely ignored or tackled inadequately by previous administrations. These concerns relate generally to the development of the Volta Region at large and the Anlo Traditional Area in particular.

After your successful inauguration two weeks ago, we take cognizance of the fact that you have an enormous task delivering on your electoral promises amidst our dwindling economic fortunes as a country. We can envisage that the competition for our scarce national resources is not going to abate as each community and region tries to draw your attention to their plight. We are not by this statement urging you to pay any special attention to Anlo to the disadvantage of other competing communities and regions who will also be making a legitimate pitch for their fair share of the national cake.

What we seek to do, most respectfully, is to bring to your kind attention issues that are clearly recognised by the citizenry in this area of the country as the responsibility of the government, issues which require immediate attention. For the most part, our experience in this part of the country has been the lack of harmonious coordination between the needs of the people and government economic agenda for the people. Two reasons may account for this phenomenon.

First, being a region that is profoundly averse to the NPP and its programmes, a win for the NPP in the past has taught us that citizens become disoriented or unhinged from anything that has to do with governance. Second, as a corollary, party officials and corrupt public officers take advantage of the situation and promote their own agenda instead of the collective agenda. With propaganda at its height in our politics today, it means that the situation does not change in any significant ways, even with the NDC in power, so the political and economic rights of the people become subordinate to private interest. To reverse this situation, the AYC has taken the civic education aspect of its mandate to the people seriously.

The idea is to involve stakeholders at all levels of the community in setting the political and economic priorities of our communities. On this note, Your Excellency, we would like to inform you that the AYC seeks close collaboration with your government to alleviate the cankers described above. The goal is to improve our use of our scarce national resources and to bring government closer to the people.

This is in the hope that the animosities and the acrimonies that characterized the relationship between the people and past administrations will dissipate and pave the way for the immediate take-off of your electoral promises and programmes.

In this statement, Your Excellency, we wish to crystalize the priority issues which we believe should engage your attention immediately:

One District One Factory/One District One Million Dollar

Your Excellency, even though there are suspicions in some circles concerning your “One-District-One-Factory” project, we in the AYC—after listening to you and your cohorts and upon careful evaluation—believe that this audacious program is meaningful, achievable, and has the potential to breath a new lease of life into rural economies including ours.

The narratives of our tomato farmers whose produce is left to the vagaries of the weather during bumper harvest is a well-known tale. The poor packaging of our local gin, Akpeteshie, which could match any other spirits, for example, Tequila in the US is well-documented.

There are many local enterprises that could see a boom, if only your planned industrialization can be carefully executed to integrate technology and efficiency into the local enterprises. In the end, we believe we can achieve competitive market prices for these products for the revival of our rural economies.

At this juncture, we would like to highlight some areas of institutional reforms for your attention. We do this in the knowledge that no one pours new wine into an old wineskin. If they do, the wine would only make the wineskin burst.

Natural Resource Economics and Development

The Anlo area geographically and environmentally is very fragile, being a wet land and encompassing the largest lagoon and riverine systems in West Africa, the Keta Lagoon Complex.

We are aware, Your Excellency, of the many natural resources that abound in the area, the exploitation of which would come into conflict with livelihoods, culture and sustainable practices of the people. Recently, the natives of Sonuto in the Keta Municipality were brutalized by the police because of resource conflicts between the communities and Kensington Industries Limited of India.

We are also aware of the interests in other resources and wish to alert Your Excellency to the surreptitious manner public officers are dealing with capitalist interests in the area. We all know what happens long after greedy public servants have been paid to side step due diligence - Sierra Leonean diamonds and Nigerian oilfields are living examples not too far from us.

We humbly demand a non-partisan professional review of what has taken place over the years and a publication of the finding to enable all of us align to the sustainable way forward over our resources.

Public Services and Institutions

The attitude of government functionaries and public service workers in the Volta Region is of much concern to the AYC. The lack of competitive private sector alternatives, the lack of proper supervision of public service workers, and a laid-back approach to work makes the region a fertile ground for laxity rather than the expected sterling performance of government workers.

We humbly suggest a complete overhaul of the public service in the region. Government must come out clearly on the measurable outputs of the public service to enable us measure our expectations with the standard outcomes. The situation where public schools would score zero percent in BECE outcomes three years in a row, the situation where assembly members are only answerable to only themselves, and the situation where community projects cannot be critically evaluated for their weakness and poor outcomes must be a thing of the past.

Your Excellency, our area is predominantly a subsistence agricultural and fisheries economy. The Adidome Agricultural Institute and the Ohawu Agricultural College have completely disconnected from the aspirations of the youth. Several biodiversity natural resources that have sustained the livelihoods of our rural economies need scientific and technological interventions to remain key economic commodities. Gala Ledzi ( crab), Gala Baƒui, Adza ( another specie of crab) and Fɔli ( Oysters) are some fisheries resources that need attention for culture. Sabala (shallot ), Atsitoe (black velvet tamarind ), Agbeli (cassava) Tomatoes are some agricultural commodities also yearning for technology infusion.

To add to the above, the place of tilapia in our daily menus across the country cannot be overstated. The Ada river, the Sogakope river, and the Keta Lagoon provide suitable natural environments for a sustainable aquaculture with the potential to employ thousands of our unemployed youth and provide sustainable source of fish for the whole country and for export. It is this and other requirements of improvement in agriculture and aquaculture that we demand that these two institutions, the Ohawu Agriculture College and the Adidome Agriculture Institute must receive immediate attention of government to support the ‘One District One Factory/One District One Million Dollar’ project.

With the above in mind, the AYC believes the Ohawu Agriculture College can immediately be elevated to a campus of KNUST’s Faculty of Agriculture in support of the local economy.

Justice and Security

Your Excellency, a cursory search at the Ghana Police Service and the Judicial Service would reveal to you that it takes much longer for the Police to investigate reported crimes and much longer, still, for trials to come to conclusion and the perpetrators appropriately punished in the Volta Region. Thus, crimes hitherto uncommon in the Volta Region, are now gaining roots, which is a very worrying development. In well documented instances, the security services themselves are the perpetrators of crime against the citizenry, including murder as happened on 2nd November, 2007 in Anloga; Xikpo, 2014; St. Pauls Denu, 2015; and at Sonuto in 2016. These and many other atrocities committed against our people have gone without trial and punishment.

We expect the government, under the leadership of Your Excellency, to overhaul the Denu and Ho High Courts, specifically, as a few of the Justices recently caught in the scandal exposed by Anas Areme-Yaw, passed through these courts.

Social Services

Your Excellency, the social services sector of government in the Volta Region is simply the worst and there is ample evidence borne by statistics from the Ghana Living Standards Survey. Educational outcomes have taken a nosedive. HIV-AIDS is on the increase for lack of anti-retroviral deliveries and mother-to-child prevention services to the Region. Our Cocoa and coffee sectors have collapsed. Coconut and copra production in our coastal areas have declined to negligible levels over the last 50-years. The Afife Irrigation Project which was producing several metric tons of rice locally have suffered neglect. The Eastern Corridor Roads remain only in our dreams. The recent cholera outbreak in 2013 saw the Volta second only to Accra in casualty figures. All these issues are the result of the lackadaisical government service which we humbly want you look at.

Private Sector Investments

Government continues to stifle private initiatives to bring investors to the region as exemplified in the 2000 MW Ketu Power Project, the Keta Harbour Project, the Southern Volta Water Project and many more. Your Excellency, we would humbly expect your government to take very practical steps to make investments in the Volta Region not only attractive but assuring to investors who might be attracted to the region. Simply improving the efficiency of government service would significantly reduce the barriers to and the cost of doing business in the region. We call on your government to engage with the affected investors in a forum of wide-ranging stakeholders and communities of concern in seeking workable solutions to these critical issues.

Repeal/Amendment of the Chieftaincy Act, 2008 (Act 759)

Your Excellency this is one vexatious and absurd Law on our statutes. We have great confidence in your competency as a lawyer of significant repute not to allow this injustice to our people and citizens of Ghana pass without your attention, notice, and immediate remedy and relief.

The Constitution of Ghana states clearly among others in:

Chapter 1, Article 1, Clause (2)

This Constitution shall be the supreme law of Ghana and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

Chapter 22, Article 270 Clause (1)

The institution of chieftaincy, together with its traditional councils as established by customary law and usage, is hereby guaranteed.

Clause (2) Parliament shall have no power to enact any law which-

(a) Confers on any person or authority the right to accord or withdraw recognition to or from a chief for any purpose whatsoever; or

(b) In any way detracts or derogates from the honour and dignity of the institution of chieftaincy.

Article 274

Clause (1) There shall be established in and for each region of Ghana a Regional House of Chiefs.

Clause (2) A Regional House of Chiefs shall consist of such members as Parliament may, by law, determine.

Your Excellency, the Chieftaincy Act, 2008 (Act 759) states:

In Preamble:

An Act to revise and consolidate the Chieftaincy Act, 1971 (Act 370) to bring its provisions in conformity with the Constitution and to provide for related matters.

Section 6, Clause 1

In accordance with Article 274 of the Constitution, the Regional House of Chiefs consists of members specified by the legislative instrument made by the National House of Chiefs and issued under signature of the President of the National House of Chiefs.

And Your Excellency, the Legislative Instrument L.I. 1946 as amended; The Chieftaincy (Membership of Regional House of Chiefs) Instrument, 2008 reads:

In Preamble:

In exercise of the powers conferred on the National House of Chiefs by Section 6 of the Chieftaincy Act, 2008 (Act 759) this instrument is made this 1st day of October, 2008.

Section 12 Clause (1)

The members of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs are:

(a) The Paramount Chiefs of

(i) Anlo;

(ii) Buem;

(iii) Krachi;

(iv) Akpini (Kpando)

(v) Asogli:

And others.

The LI legislated the membership of the Anlo Traditional Council in:

Section 12 Clause (1) (h) as follows:

(h) Anlo Traditional Council

(lxiii) Fiaga of Klikor;

(Lix) Fiaga of Avenor

(lxx) Fiaga of Some;

(lxxi) Fiaga of Dzodze;

(lxxii) Fiaga of Aflao;

(lxxiii) Fiaga of Wheta; and

(lixx) Fiaga of Afife.

Respectfully, Your Excellency, please kindly notice the elimination of the Awoamefia of Anlo by legislation from his own traditional council and by consequence, his elimination from the Volta Regional House of Chiefs.

Secondly, Your Excellency, the Anlo Traditional Area, as is common knowledge, customary law and practice, is constituted by the Awoamefia, The Awadada, The Dusifia and Miafia; The fifteen (15) Hlortatorwo and thirty-six (36) Dufiawo.

The Legislative Instrument L.I. (1946) 2008 as amended, only listed seven (7) Dufiawo!

Your Excellency, the Anlo Youth Council (AYC) has taken up this matter with all governments since the passage of the Chieftaincy Act, 2008 (Act 759) and the Legislative Instrument L.I. (1946) as amended; The Chieftaincy (Membership of Regional House of Chiefs) Instrument, 2008 without success.

We humbly suggest that these legislations are in clear contravention of the pledge provided by the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana that the institution of chieftaincy, together with its traditional councils as established by customary law and usage, are hereby guaranteed.

We wish to restate for emphasis, Your excellency, that your expediency in the matters of law, justice and fair play as raised above is earnestly awaited. We therefore make haste to humbly petition you as President of the Republic to provide immediate remedies and reliefs to ensure these legislations against our people, chieftaincy, traditions and culture are fully amended or repealed.

WoezÉ” Your Excellency.

Thank You.

Secretary President

Kodzo Chapman Mayor Agbleze

024 438 1673 024 458 4835