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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Wake up, folks, parliamentary elections are local elections!

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It has been quite obvious to me for quite a while now that media website cannot be trusted to get its news stories accurately, especially those news stories dealing with the country’s democratic culture. In a news story captioned “December 17 Referendum: Otumfuo ‘Shames’ Okyenhene” ( 11/26/19), the Herald’s reporters/editors mischievously sought to twist the real facts of the impasse that recently occurred among the members of our National House of Chiefs (NHC).

Contrary to what the reporters/editors of the afore-referenced news item would have their readers believe, it was actually Togbe Afede, XIV, the President of the National House of Chiefs, and the latter’s Deputy or Vice-President, Daasebre Kwebu Ewusi, VII, that initially released the press statement suggesting that the Chiefs of the NHC had taken the unanimous decision to roundly reject the Government’s decision to have political parties sponsor and actively participate in the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), beginning from next year, rather than counterproductively holding on to the present National Democratic Congress-entrenched statute that has predictably resulted in the rampant rejection of MMDCEs by local assemblies and the very people over whom these handpicked governments appointees are designated to serve or govern.

Indeed, at absolutely no point in time did the Paramount Chief of Sehwi/Sefwi Anhwiaso, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi, II, release any prior press statement either directly suggesting or seeking to suggest that the members of the NHC had voted to resoundingly back political party participation in the election of MMDCEs. Rather, what Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi had said, and this is aptly captured by the Ghana Herald’s new report, was that the prior press statement released by Togbe Afede and Nana Kwebu Ewusi “did not represent the collective view of the House of Chiefs.”

But, of course, what is even more significant to highlight here and that which inspired this very column was the patently false and inescapably and unpardonably farcical suggestion that His Royal Majesty, The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei-Tutu, II, had suggested in his University of Professional Studies, Accra, (UPSA), lecture that the all-too-salutary amendment of Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution to allow for the full, direct and active participation of political parties in the election of MMDCEs was tantamount to unhealthy political patronage of party loyalists or “clientelism” in the country’s political culture.

Well, I hope to the higher heavens that Otumfuo Osei-Tutu was grossly misquoted by the apparently overzealous reporters/editors of the Ghana Herald because, unvarnished truth be told, it is actually the present system of “Spoils for Our Chiefs,” in the patently undemocratic form of unelected representation of these “traditional rulers” in the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies that veritably constitutes “patronage” or clientelist political culture. And so we can, perhaps, be pardoned for diplomatically suggesting herein that at the worst, The Asantehene inadvertently contradicted himself – Candidate John Dramani Mahama actually calls Otumfuo Osei-Tutu a liar – or His Majesty is so deeply and unfortunately entrenched in status quo political culture not to readily recognize the fact that it is the present system of self-deceptive “nonpartisan” local political structure which a fiercely and unabashedly democratic President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is laudably trying to reform, rather, that ineluctably constitutes political patronage or clientelism.

As well, on the rather scandalous and inexcusably naïve assertion that, somehow, the United States over a century ago fiercely fought hard to rid itself of clientelist political culture – I hope His Majesty was not referring to Boss Tweed or “Tweedism” or William Magear “Marcy” Tweed (1823-1878) of New York City’s Tammany Hall, Headquarters of the Democratic Party; Otumfuo, obviously, never heard of the late Mario Biaggi and the Bronx Democratic Party in the 1980s.

It is also quite obvious that unlike yours truly, for example, while Nana Osei-Tutu may be a very frequent and well-received visitor to the United States, nevertheless, the Supreme Overlord of the august and globally renowned Asante Federation is a total stranger to the innerworkings of American political culture.

One only needs to pay tangential or a cursory attention to the ongoing Impeachment Hearings in the US Congress, involving the egregious and flagrant foreign-policy conduct of President Donald John “Shithole” Trump, to fully appreciate the incontrovertible fact of America’s being a veritable, prime and unabashed practitioner of political clientelism.

Fortunately or unfortunately, The Asantehene is my historic, ancestral and traditional grandfather and my in-law as well; so I have decided not to push matters any more further than may be deemed decorous and appropriate, except, of course, to call on Otumfuo Osei-Tutu and all democracy-loving Ghanaians to vote a resounding and seismic “YES!” in favor of the December 17 Revolutionary Referendum.

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York


*Visit my blog at: Ghanaffairs