For starters, a petition was served on our Paramount Chief and his Traditional Council on June 9th 2019, to which they were expected to respond within 21 days of receipt.
They however blatantly refused to reply in any form whatsoever and rather chose to engage in a needless witch hunt of some of the youth which only served to strengthen the resolve of our gallant youth to ensure the right things are done for our dear town.
It must be mentioned that the said petition was served in private and copied the following:
1. THE DISTRICT CHIEF EXECUTIVE, NDDA
2. THE DISTRICT COMMANDER, GHANA POLICE SERVICE, NDDA
3. THE COMMANDER, GHANA POLICE SERVICE, VAKPO
4. DISTRICT SECURITY COUNCIL, NDDA
5. THE REGIONAL COMMANDER, GHANA POLICE SERVICE, HO
6. REGIONAL HOUSE OF CHIEFS, HO
So, one would have expected that any smart leadership which is interested in amicable settlement would have responded to the petition and at most serve copies on those that were copied in the original petition. But, in line with the haphazard nature and know-it-all attitude of our paramount chief, he hastily engaged the media and read to them what he considered to be a response to the petition served on him and his council, bundling about blatant lies and sheer untruths in a bid to save face and salvage any pride left.
On the basis of his response and in view of his previous misplaced and ill-advised utterances on the subject we ask the following pertinent questions/observations;
1. Our chief was on record to have told some people that the petitioners are not members of the royal family so have no right to demand accounts of him, so we wonder if members of the media fraternity that he addressed were members of the royal family or indeed even indigenes of Vakpo.
2. We are aware that his calling the media was to address the issues we raised in the demonstration speech on August 3rd 2019, so it begs belief and defy common sense when the speech he delivered was in fact his attempts at "rendering accounts to the media and his family and friends present".
3. That it beats all forms of reasoning and common sense that our chief is comfortable talking to all others about the accounts except the very petitioners and the good people of Vakpo.
4. That those present at the said ill-convened press confab as a representation of our chiefs were in fact his family and friends. We want to place on record that not even a single divisional-chief was present therefore the gathering cannot be deemed to be a representation of our Traditional Council.
5. That once he defied all sense and refused advice not to engage the media in this accountability struggle, we have no other options than to organize a counter press conference to lay bare the facts of the matter to the general public and indeed any others that have followed this struggle for accountability that is unfortunately turning into family battles and needless grudges.
6. In the immediate aftermath of our massive unprecedented demonstration on the 3rd of August 2019 against all that’s wrong with our town, a group of respected senior compatriots invited us for an emergency meeting, where we all had agreed to give them a period of 30 days within which to resolve the issues raised in our petition. Against that backdrop, the last thing we would expect from Togbe Gbogbolulu V, at this point was to engage the press when we all are waiting patiently for the response from our mediating team.
We believe he has shown a total lack of respect and disdain for our senior compatriots who have constituted themselves into the said mediating team to try to settle the impasse. We also believe that his actions were in bad faith and smacks of gross disrespect not just to the mediators but our gallant youth and in fact, the entire community.
Now to the substantive issues raised by Togbe Gbogbolulu V in his press confab/supposed rendering of accounts:
ISSUE 1- ALPHONSE FARMS
Togbe's attempts at limiting his supposed 2014 rendering of accounts to monies collected from Alphonse farms is a bit weird to say the least. Is he by any means implying that as of 2014 the only revenues realized were solely from the lease of the Dzogbega lands to Alphonse farms?
That cannot be said or even assumed to be true so why the need to refer to that particular event (alleged 2014 meeting with the youth) in trying to answer to the issue of the unaccounted-for monies collected from Alphonse farms?
How a meeting of youth groups and Togbe Gbogbolulu V constitute rendering of accounts is another issue that needs answers.
We find the mention of the name of Mr. Ernest Obimpeh uncalled for, totally needless and a diversionary tactic from the main issues at hand for the following reasons;
A. What has what he is alleged to have said (that's even assuming he said so at the time) got to do with the current demands for accounts by the youth?
B. Does his saying that in principle prevent Togbe Gbogbolulu V from rendering accounts or preclude the youth from demanding same?
C. We are not interested in what an individual may or may not have said, but simply demanding that proper accounts be rendered to the good people of Vakpo and that should Togbe Gbogbolulu V have any personal scores to settle with anyone else that should be dealt with by the aggrieved parties and not dragged into our noble quest for accountability.
The fact that according to Togbe Gbogbolulu V, some two(2) accountants were sent to audit the accounts and they failed to complete the task after only two(2) visits in itself doesn't in anyway affect why he should not render accounts to us now.
ISSUE 2-TESYD (CASHEW FARM)
The farm managers confirmed that a total of one thousand (1,000) acres was leased to them of which they have so far cultivated seven hundred and sixty-three (763) acres, so Togbe Gbogbolulu V’s assertion that seven hundred (700) acres was leased cannot be true and it's a palpable falsehood.
Moreover, Togbe Gbogbolulu V’s claim that the issue was discussed at all the divisions of Vakpo prior to the lease is false, simply because not many people have any idea about the farm except mostly those of our compatriots that were driven away from the Dzogbega land to make way for the cashew farm.
How was the information communicated to the divisions?
Were there consultative meetings with the people or meetings with sub-chiefs who in turn informed their people?
Whichever means was employed, it's more than obvious the intended effect was not achieved since our people have no idea about the farm until the demands for accountability raised the issue.
Even more worrying is the claim that the agreement didn't include any cash payment, but that 15% of the produce would be for Vakpo so we ask;
A. How will the 15% of the produce from the farm be calculated?
B. Who declares the 15%? What were the basis?
C. What mechanism has been put in place to ensure that Vakpo gets its 15% of the produce?
D. We are told in the tradition of Vakpo, a landlord is entitled to 1/3(one-third) of the produce. So, why 15% in this instance?
We are of the considered view that this agreement isn't in the interest of Vakpo and must be reviewed immediately.
ISSUE 3- TEAK AND OTHER ECONOMIC TREES
Our petition was for Togbe Gbogbolulu V and the Traditional Council to account for teak and other economic trees felled by Togbe Gbogbolulu V and the Traditional Council on our communal Dzogbega land. We did not mention any illegal felling of trees, of course we are law abiding citizens who wouldn't condone anyone illegally felling trees in our forests, but we are asking for specific accounts of trees that have been felled by Togbe Gbogbolulu V and our Traditional Council.
A. Or is Togbe Gbogbolulu V saying in his 18 years on the stool, no teak trees were felled under his stewardship?
B. We have on record that a vast number of teak trees and rosewood were felled at Dzogbega in the past 18 years. Is Togbe saying he is not aware?
C. It is not clear how the case reported to the police, as stated by togbe Gbogbolulu V in respect of some illegal felling of some trees, was again handed to Mr. Ernest Obimpeh. If a case is reported to the police why would same case be "given" to an individual for further action? What further action?
D. What was the outcome of the police investigation? Were the people charged with any offences or were they released by the police and on what grounds, if any?
Isn't it obvious that Togbe Gbogbolulu V is just trying to neglect his duty of protecting the resources of our town by desperately trying to lay the blame of his own inability on others?
Why should our demand for accounts from our chief be diverted to include a man who is not a chief and therefore, can’t be held accountable for what isn't entrusted to him?
E. Togbe Gbogbolulu V’s claim of making a loss of five hundred cedis (500 cedis) only to turn around to justify this needless loss by what he believed to be a deterrent to others is curious, to say the least.
He claimed some illegal loggers from Tafi had felled some trees and that they seized the trees and contracted one Mr. Kwame Dzubi to convey the logs to the "roadside"
How many trees were felled in this case and to be conveyed to which “roadside”? Togbe, please come clear on this.
Is Togbe saying the cost of conveying the logs to the "roadside" was more than the value of the logs? And he is proud to declare a loss of five hundred cedis (500 cedis) in a simple exercise of conveying logs to the "roadside" and selling them?
F. Togbe Gbogbolulu V also claimed that, to defray an amount of one thousand four hundred cedis (1,400 cedis), 10 "silk cotton trees" were felled amounting to eight hundred cedis (800 cedis) but that the "assignment could not be completed". So, were the logs left in the bush?
If indeed Mr. John Abotsi requested to be allowed to fell some trees to defray his balance, shouldn't it be at his cost to get the logs sawn down to size?
G. Did the Traditional Council actually construct any such shed for the carvers?
ISSUE 4- LEASE OF LANDS AND MONIES COLLECTED
Togbe Gbogbolulu V claims that all monies paid for the lease of Dzogbega farm lands were to Mr. Anani until 2017.
We want to know the exact period from which such payments started until 2017 since we are reliably informed some others have been taking some monies too.
Is it actually true that Mr. Charles Damankah (fine boy) has been collecting the lease since 2017?
That notwithstanding, is Togbe Gbogbolulu V saying he cannot be asked to account for monies collected on Dzogbega lands because Mr. Anani and Mr. Damankah were the persons who collected the monies?
ISSUE 5- INABILITY TO SETTLE MATTERS
Whatever the efforts of Togbe Gbogbolulu V and/or the Traditional Council that he is trumpeting regarding the Adomi Agbota issue, the fact still remains that there are two(2) Agbota in Adomi.
We are concerned about what is achieved and not the amount of effort that yielded no results.
Against the fact that this issue went as far as to the Regional House of Chiefs, it's worth mentioning that the recommendations of the Regional house of chiefs is yet to be implemented 10 years on.
ISSUE 6-REFUSAL TO PROVIDE WATER
Togbe Gbogbolulu V rather bizarrely says the petitioners aren't members of Traditional Council and don’t attend meetings so are not conversant with Traditional Council procedures and therefore cannot complain about procedures at such meetings
Which human centered procedures wouldn't make common drinking water available to chiefs during Traditional Council meetings?
More like telling Ghanaians they can’t complain or raise issues on the proceedings and occurrences in parliament because they are not parliamentarians. Wonders!
It must be on record that the chiefs are representatives of the people and that every and any citizen of Vakpo has the basis, the competence and the capacity to comment on matters arising in the Traditional Council.
We call on Togbe Gbogbolulu V to quickly address the issue of failure to provide common drinking water during Traditional Council meetings.
In response to the issue of lack of social amenities Togbe Gbogbolulu V rather cheekily says "Togbe and the VTC alone can’t provide social amenities for Vakpo"
We want to place on record that between October and December 2018, the gallant youth aided by the good and benevolent people of Vakpo raised more than 30,000 cedis in cash and materials to renovate our town roads and embark on some major renovation works across the town in preparation for our maiden homecoming. It's telling to note that neither Togbe Gbogbolulu V as an individual nor the Traditional Council as an institution played any financial role, however little, in all of these renovation works.
So we find Togbe Gbogbolulu V’s claims of him and the Traditional Council alone not being able to provide social amenities strange, misplaced, inappropriate and reckless, given the people over the years have been doing their bit to develop our town all by themselves. So, such people can't be made to appear an expectant bunch who do nothing for themselves, but to expect their leaders to do all.
ISSUE 7- ONE-MAN SHOW
Togbe Gbogbolulu V also claims that all monies are received by appointed persons and paid into VTC account at GCB, kpando. He also goes on to say that at least two(2) signatures are needed to withdraw money from the said account, yet we are aware that Mr. Francis Boateng, the secretary to the Traditional Council has been suspended for receiving the petition for and on behalf of the Traditional Council and that according to Togbe Gbogbolulu V, Mr. Anani left his position as treasurer of the Traditional Council for about 2 years now so how are withdrawals being made?
B. What kind of monies were received by the appointed officers?
C. Are acquisitions made and are PVs raised?
D. Why is none of the Divisional chiefs a signatory to the accounts?
ISSUE 8- WATER BOARD
It is surprising that Togbe Gbogbolulu V will single out just one incident as a reflection of the whole water issue.
Mr. Dela-Braunes may have embezzled some money (assuming without admitting it’s true), but that can't be all to the water and water board saga.
A. How did Togbe Gbogbolulu V manage to become the water board chairman? Was it a unilateral decision or was it a decision by the Traditional Council?
B. Is Togbe implying he was in charge of the water board temporarily and handed over to a new committee after only two (2) months?
C. Why and when did the new water board collapse?
ISSUE 9- SCHOLARSHIP
Togbe Gbogbolulu V says since the board of trustees was formed for the scholarship scheme not a single member had ever responded to calls for a meeting.
A. Who then operated the scheme?
B. The scheme operated without a board, yet beneficiaries were selected and various monies were paid out?
C. It is our position that Togbe constituted himself into a one-man board, selected "brilliant but needy" students, decided on how much to spend on each of these students and when he cannot handle it any longer, he unilaterally cancelled the scheme citing government's free SHS program as the reason for retiring the scheme. This can't be entirely true because the scheme was not established purposely for SHS students.
D. Providing the list of the so-called beneficiaries of the scheme isn't sufficient. We want to know how each student was selected
E. We want to know what agreement was entered with each student.
This demand of the aforementioned chiefs and the refusal of Togbe Gbogbolulu V to render any proper accounts, resulted in the three chiefs boycotting Traditional Council meetings and all activities for almost four (4) years.
These chiefs had to call off their boycott because Togbe Gbogbolulu V took off their names from the roll of chiefs who were to be sworn in as chiefs of Vakpo when Vakpo was granted a Paramountcy status. Togbe Gbogbolulu V demanded and took a ram each from these chiefs before allowing them to be sworn in.
"(1) The National House, a Regional House or a Traditional Council and a Divisional Council shall keep books of accounts and proper records in relation to the National House, a Regional House or Traditional Council in the form approved by the Auditor-General.
(2) The National House, a Regional House or a Traditional Council and a Divisional Council shall submit their accounts to the Auditor-General for audit within three months after the end of each financial year.
(3) The Auditor-General shall, not later than three months, after the receipt of the accounts, audit the accounts and forward a copy of the audit report to the Minister.
(4) The Internal Audit Agency Act, 2003 (Act658) applies to this Act.
(5) The financial year of the National House, a Regional House, a Traditional Council and a Divisional Council is the same as the financial Year of the government."
There's a glaring discrepancy between some amounts quoted for same expenditure items in separate account sheets, the durations notwithstanding, we deem them suspicious and illogical. For instance, "palace administration" between 2001- September 2014 stood at four thousand and seven cedis (4,007 cedis) and that for 2014-2019 is nineteen thousand nine hundred cedis (19,900 cedis).The difference of fifteen thousand eight hundred and ninety three cedis (15,893 cedis) for a 5 year period cannot be acceptable and prudent, relative to the previous thirteen (13) years.
5. In Togbe Gbogbolulu V’s so-called account to the three (3) sub-chiefs who demanded accounts from him in 2014, he quoted a figure of forty one thousand eight hundred and ninety eight cedis (41,898 cedis) as being “TnT” for the period between 2001-August 2014, but interestingly, that particular expenditure item is removed altogether from the “recent accounts rendered to the media". If Togbe Gbogbolulu V has nothing to hide why should he remove that from his "recent accounts"?
Why not let the world know the gargantuan figures he spent on fuel without ever spending a pesewa of the people's money for the benefit of the people?
6. The following students attended Senior High School for a period of 3 years, yet the figures quoted as their fees was for 4 years. So, we want to know how Togbe managed to pay fees even when the people had completed.
A. Dzanka Ruth
B. Doku Rita
C. Rejoice Baku
7. The following students were all day students, so it doesn’t stand to reason that they paid as much fees as the beneficiaries who were boarders. Togbe has to explain to us why all the beneficiaries paid same fees throughout the duration of their scholarships.
A. Godsway Bedu
B. Edem Akorli
C. Cindy Togbani
D. Rita Doku
There's something quite awkward about one of the beneficiaries who happen to be Togbe Gbogbolulu V’s own grandson.
Kekeli Bakoyeya is directly related to Togbe Gbogbolulu V. So, one wonders how a case of conflict of interest can be avoided in this instance since Togbe is the one-man board that selects the scholarship beneficiaries.
At least three (3) beneficiaries who were alleged to have been sponsored to the tune of four thousand cedis (4800 cedis) each had their parents dispute that figure.
They confirmed a total of less than one thousand cedis (1,000 cedis) was actually what was paid by Togbe Gbogbolulu V for the entire duration of the schooling. So, the four thousand cedis (4800 cedis) quote is not, and cannot be true.
8. Togbe Gbogbolulu V again mentioned a figure of twenty five thousand cedis(25,000 cedis) as being the expenditure for the "elevation of vakpo to a traditional council status" and we want to know what constitute that total.
9.The youth of vakpo will not rest until Togbe Gbogbolulu V and the Traditional Council render proper accounts of all monies received from our communal lands and other resources and comply with the other requests made in our petition.
We want to state clearly without any equivocation, contradiction, and malice that, the struggle of the youth for accountability is a struggle towards the common good of our town, Vakpo. If not for anything, we are being citizens and not spectators, as the President of the Republic had admonished us in his inaugural speech as President.
Thank you for your attention. Until, our goal is achieved, the struggle never ceases.