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Opinions of Sunday, 14 March 2021

Columnist: Joe Koomson

The ramifications of ‘unresolved conflicts: The case of the ‘Western Togoland’

The guns are down and the noise is over. Is this an end to what seemed to be an uprising to secede from Ghana? Or, was it a bid to leverage on the 2020 general elections to have a fair share of the “national cake”? In the run up to the 2020 general elections, Ghana witnessed what could be described as an uprising from a group that called itself the “Western Togoland”.

This group had one aim, and their aim was to secede from Ghana. In order not to take much of your time, I will rather not talk about the historical antecedents associated with this secession group. However, I believe talking about the peripherals or triggers to the seceding would rather make it easier to complete this write-up.

Prior to the “insurrection “, if I’m allowed to use such word, were grievances by the group for not having a fair share of the “national cake”. For the purposes of this write-up, “national cake” includes but is not limited to the lack of access to health care, the lack of access to basic universal human needs and under development amongst others. There were a whole lots of questions associated with the conception of the idea to write on this topic and one of such questions was, was the “insurrection” a means to get audience from the government?

It is in the right direction to argue that some of these actions by most “insurrection” groups are to have the full attention of the state and a case can be made of the recent kidnappings in northern Nigeria and some parts of the Sahel region. Taking a cue from these happenings, the question I ask now is, should the government of Ghana grant audience to the “Western Togoland” group?

From my perspective as a security person, granting or not granting audience is a matter that calls for critical analysis as I see from not too far a distant, a state that sits on a time bomb waiting to explode since the “Western Togoland” issue has been swept and kept under the carpet with no one, not even the media talking about it anymore.

With a careful look at the current Ghanaian atmosphere, I decided to sit in my small corner as a former police officer with eleven years of experience with a master’s degree in conflict, peace and security to probably analyze the future ramifications of the “unresolved” conflict between the State and the “Western Togoland” group. I did this taken into consideration the perspectives of two theoretical frameworks, namely: the greed and grievance perspective and from the perspective of Carl Von Clausewitz.

From the greed and grievance perspective, there are speculations out there which I have not been able to verify independently, that suggests that some part of the Western Togoland region is rich in some sort of natural resources. The question here is, could that be a reason for the secession? If that is the case, I see greed and not legitimate grievances. Perhaps, the calls for a lack of a fair share of the supposed “national cake” could just be a means to an end. Ghana naturally is blessed with resources and these resources have largely contributed to the growth of the country.

Fortunately, almost all the regions in Ghana have in a way produced some natural resources which have been shared through developmental projects throughout the country. In my view, no one region in Ghana has seen better development than others. I stand to be corrected on this assertion. The question is, why would a region discover some natural resources and keep all to itself if the speculations are anything to go by? Well, as I said earlier, the matter calls for critical analysis.

From the perspectives of Carl Von Clausewitz, who argues that war is a continuation of politics by other means, the question here is, was the “insurrection” politically motivated? If so, who are/were the actors? What is/was their interest? Could the interest of the actors if any be economical as argued by the new war scholars that African wars are a continuation of economics by other means? These are questions begging for answers and in answering these questions; there is the need for critical analysis of the matter.

From these perspectives of analysis, I have been asked severally to make a concrete assertion as to whether the “Western Togoland” group should be granted audience by the State. However, I have not been able to give a definite answer and my reasons are simple. Granting audience to the group means the State subscribe to the fact that the only way to get things done in one’s region is through violence and other regions or groups may follow suit. However, not granting audience also presents rather a damning consequences and that is my fear as a security person. Ghana is located in the West African sub region.

A region described by many as a ‘breeding’ ground for terrorist, insurgent and violent extremist groups because of the countries located in the Sahel Sahara.

Unfortunately, the Sahel keeps expanding and likely to cover the whole of Burkina Faso and Benin in the near future. My fear as a security person is what would become of our country should the group align itself with any of the violent extremist groups in the Sahel regions? There are lots of questions that need to be answered in respect of the “Western Togoland” issues but the matter has been swept and kept under the carpet and no one is talking about it.

Let’s not light a bomb and anticipate that it wouldn’t explode.

The carpet must be lifted and issues brought out to be resolved to its logical conclusion.

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