The seeming tension in the Volta Region over the deployment of some military men has ignited another form of a tribal row in the political sphere as the two main political parties have picked quite staunch positions on the issue.
Over the past week, residents in Ketu South raised concerns about the spontaneous presence of military men in the enclave, some few months to the December polls.
As a way of addressing the issue, two leading members of the ruling NPP government have proffered sharply divergent views on the development which have been labelled by a section of Ghanaians as largely contradictory and not representative of the ongoing issue.
According to K.T. Hammond, a Member of Parliament for Adansi-Asokwa and leading member of the ruling party, the influx of military men in the region is to check against the trend of over-voting and double registration in the upcoming December polls and the EC’s new voters registration exercise.
In the words of the lawmaker, “The military is there to make sure that you vote if you are a Ghanaian, you vote if you have the constitutional right to vote; that’s all there is to it”, he said. They [military personnel] are not electoral officers, but they are a peacekeeping force ... So, the soldiers, the police and immigration are just maintaining the peace, making sure there’s no infiltration. I mean, come on, let’s be serious; what’s the point in going through all that we’ve gone through, to the Supreme Court and all that then allow a porous border for people to come through and then infiltrate the register again? We would have been back to where we started”.
These statements which didn’t seem to sit right with some Ghanaians have generated outrage not only among the main opposition party but also a section of the populace who have labelled it as ‘ethnocentric comments against the people of Volta Region’.
On the other hand, Interior Minister Ambrose Dery has also given his reason for the deployment of military men to the region ahead of the voters registration exercise and the December polls.
According to him, the presence of the military men in the enclave is not a new development because their deployment dates as far back as the initial stages of the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus.
While reacting to minority concerns about the development, Mr Dery said the military men are to check against the importation of new cases of the Novel Coronavirus and not for any other ulterior motives. He is quoted to have said, “We closed the borders as part of the COVID-19 Protocols.
Our experience over time is that the Eastern border continues to give us a course for worry because people are still coming in. We have discovered over 250 unapproved routes. The police and military being there is to protect our borders. If you look at our neighbours they do not have the testing records we have. Togo, Burkina Faso, La Cote d'Ivoire do not have the testing records. We are doing all we can to prevent COVID-19.”
Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa has also explained that the heavy presence of armed personnel of the military and other security agencies in the Ketu South Municipality is to enforce the closure of the border. Mr Letsa during a media interaction in Ho on Friday said the government will not in any way declare war on its citizens since the Volta Region forms part of the country.
As the controversy rages on, there is yet to be an official address of the issue by appropriate officials in charge but as it stands now, the opposition NDC has taken the initiative to register their displeasure in a press conference from the area.
This, according to them is an attempt to call the attention of the government to the contradictory statements made by the officials.