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Opinions of Thursday, 28 December 2017

Columnist: Abubakari Is-haq Motariga

Matters arrising out of recent Dagbon Traditonal Council decision

I have watched how some of our chiefs and some people FEAR this new baby called Eastern Corridor Region (ECR).

The more the youth agitate for the ECR the more the FEAR of our chiefs make them take a decision against the ECR that makes us angered and almost tempted to disrespect them (revered chiefs).

While I have often called for a show of respect and a cease-fire on the wanton insults from the angered youth, I think the youth need to allay the FEARS of our chiefs and make them change their stance.

Some of the questions, or call them FEARS, our revered Chiefs and some other people ask are:

FEAR 1: where will Ya Na sit or attend a regional House of Chiefs meeting?: I know amendments to certain clauses in the Chieftaincy Act are in the pipeline. The amended clauses should be able to allow the Ya Na have reps who sit at two regional House of Chiefs meetings as reps of Ya Na.

The Ya Na would be allowed, in the amended Chieftaincy Act to attend, ceremonially, any of the two Regional Houses of Chiefs meetings on matters deemed necessary. Even if it were not so, an MP who has an interest in our progress, could ensure that a bill for such amendments is drafted and considered in the house of parliament.

In any case, the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry, Justice S. A. Brobbey, is a walking resource on chieftaincy matters. I believe he will ensure that the right things are done.

FEAR 2: Won't we lose our lands or our identity as Dagombas? We would lose our lands and identity if the ECR would bring a natural barrier and separate the people of Western Dagbon from Eastern Dagbon.

We have passed the era of Partitioning of Dagbon between British Gold Coast and German Togoland. An announcement by the President, after we have gone through constitutional requirements for a new region, would only be artificial.

It will just be like carving new districts or making some old districts Municipalities or Metropolis. Have we lost our identity after the new districts were carved out, most of which were from the old Dagbon Council? Yendi was the District Capital and most new districts today like Gusheigu, Karaga, Mion, Zabzugu, Kpandai, Bimbila, Wulensi, Salaga, Chereponi, Tatale, Saboba, etc were administratively linked to Yendi.

After these new districts, have we lost our identity? ECR is not like a tangible huge object that would require the Ya Na to cede a portion of the land for such a demarcation. Because it is administrative, the President has absolute power to make a declaration albeit through constitutional processes. That is "Hence of, Yendi is the Capital town of the Eastern Corridor Region".

If it is traditional boundaries, the Ya Na has absolute power to make declarations not to CEDE a portion of Dagbon lands for the new region. I found this similar statement from the Gonja Traditional Area problematic, although I respect their rights and opinions. Creating new regions is not and should not be along ethnic lines. If this unfortunate development is allowed, then we would have opened a Pandora's box and new agitations would be set in motion.

The Konkombas, the Anufo, the Basari, the Nawuris, the Mamprusi, the Dagaaba, in fact all tribes can find suitable platforms to agitate for new regions along their ethnicity.

FEAR 3: if new regions is good, why doesn't the President first split Ashanti Region or Eastern Region? The President is not a dictator like Rawlings when he (Rawlings) created the Upper West and Upper East regions.

Rawlings is a Voltarian and I wonder if he was asked by the people of the then Upper Region why he had not split the Volta Region first. Even then, the Ashanti Region was more populated than the Upper Region.

Today, under the constitution of Ghana, our journey to new regions start and end with the people. From petition to referendum, the people affected by the regional reorganization have every right to reject it.

So I ask, "which chief or group of people in the Ashanti Region or Eastern Region petitioned the President for a new region?" Our landmass (Northern Region) is huge and recently the former Regional Minister, Prince Imoro Andani, issued a statement lamenting from practical experience how it was difficult touring district capitals of the Northern Region.

He indicated that it took him three days or more to be able to do that due to the large size of the region. Does the Ashanti Regional Minister experience same?

I can't hide my feelings reading the word CEDE in the DTC decision. Under my Microscopic lenses, I have thought of the invidious decision, the efforts with which could not settle our Abudu-Andani quagmire that has weakened us more than anything.

The youth have agitated for peace and development. The youth have agitated for an end to the Abudu -Andani confusion that has weakened the Dagbon Kingdom for centuries. What happened to this agitation for peace? Today the youth are agitating for development and the chiefs are not in support.

We the youth have realized that the DTC decision was a follow-up acceptation of the 20-member committee report drafted about three months ago. It is unfortunate that, the committee lacked merit since only two people, we are reliably informed, hail from the Eastern Corridor enclave and the rest hail from the Western Corridor.

The Committee sat in Tamale without consulting a lot of people from the Eastern Corridor. Even later, attempt by the Coalition of Eastern Corridor Youth to meet the Committee and make our case and widen the consultation proved futile.

It will be unfortunate for the Western Dagbon to always attempt to decide the fate of the Eastern Dagbon, especially in a matter like the Eastern Corridor Region (ECR). We thought the youth, at least the Coalition of Eastern Corridor Youth, will be given an invitation and some few minutes to make our case at the DTC meeting.

We the youth have been waiting for a convincing opinion to back down our passion for the ECR scenario and we haven't seen or heard one yet. So how can we CEDE our dream for the ECR??? We the youth have paid courtesy calls on the chiefs and NO chief or elder has ever asked us to stop our agitations for the ECR. So how can we CEDE our support for ECR although we respect the opinions of our chiefs and elders.

We the Youth cannot CEDE our destiny to the elders who will not hear our point of view. Our view is that our Dagbon kingdom can be stronger and united in two regions like the Ashanti kingdom which even stretches beyond two. That is, regional boundaries are different from administrative boundaries.

We cannot CEDE our search for peace, unity, progress, and development to a decision without broader consultations. We the youth cannot CEDE the future of our generation and the generations of our children and grandchildren yet unborn to our present unfortunate situation of 'drectionlessness', insults, penury, joblessness, and underdevelopment of our communities.

We the youth in the Eastern Corridor enclave cannot CEDE our quest for ECR to the Western Dagbon who don't understand our plight ie Poor hospitals with an ambulance on road almost everyday to Tamale , no tertiary institutions like University, no Radio Station in Yendi, less job opportunities, less investment and business opportunities, no developed airstrip or airport, few banks, no RCC and the jobs that come with it, no developed football pitch or stadium, no regional offices of departments like GES, GHS, Ghana Police Command, etc.

Much as we respect our chiefs and elites, we can't just CEDE our support for the ECR scenario just like that. You can call me on 0244903765 or 0209362425 and convince me to convince my colleagues why ECR is not good to our future and kingdom.

Much apologies to my readers for my weirdness and poor grammar I may not have looked at properly in this write-up.

.....signed.....
Abubakari Is-haq Motariga
Chairman, Coalition of Eastern Corridor Youth PC, Yendi