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Opinions of Monday, 30 January 2017

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Traditional Chiefs, please stop dictating to President Akufo-Addo

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By Rockson Adofo

I shall plead with our traditional leaders to cease dictating to, or bringing pressure to bear on, His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo. I had it in mind to write about the role of our traditional chiefs in our modern times economic and infrastructural development of Ghana.

However, the recent developments where some paramount chiefs in Sunyani in the Brong-Ahafo region are bearing unnecessary pressure on the President to do their wish has compelled me to rush out this publication before my envisaged write-up about the role and relevance of our traditional chiefs in the socio-economic development of Ghana.

Let us all take note that Gold Coast, now Ghana, and especially the then powerful Ashanti Kingdom, was a total monarchy. The chiefs then had absolute powers to practise their culture and traditions without restraints. They were the overlords of their tribes, lands and subjects. They could banish offending subjects from the lands which were their jurisdiction. They could behead some of their subjects in fulfilment of their traditions during the burial of deceased paramount chiefs and, or queens.

All these absolute powers of our traditional chiefs ceased, or were abrogated, during the colonial rule to never be reinstated even after the departure of the British Colonialists when Gold Coast gained her political independence and was renamed Ghana.

The chiefs were granted limited and regulated powers to aid the Whites in their indirect rule of the Ashanti Kingdom.

Since the political independence of Ghana, with the introduction of democracy in the country, the powers of our traditional chiefs have waned. They have been reduced, in essence, to ceremonial heads.

Under Dr Kwame Nkrumah's civilian but dictatorial Conventional People's Party (CPP) regime, he had less respect for our chiefs and threatened to let them run away leaving their sandals behind. Under the military dictatorship of former President Rawlings, he treated most of our traditional chiefs with disdain yet, they kept mute.

All these go to conclude that in dictatorships or democracies, the chiefs have no longer the powers they wielded when the nation or part of it was an ABSOLUTE MONARCHY (a monarchy that is not limited or restrained by laws or a constitution).

Under former President John Mahama, our chiefs became so corrupt and partisan. Because the President himself and his government were so corrupt to the core, they could easily be swayed by the chiefs who were seen or were perceived to affiliate to the NDC party. Having overtly or covertly become members of the NDC party, dining from the same bowl and drinking from the same cup of corruption with the President and the members of his government and party, some chiefs thought they had found or regained their long lost powers once more.

The modern day chiefs most of whom have acquired formal education, and riches oftentimes obtained illegally through the rampant and uncontrolled sale of stool lands; do not actually pursue the interests of their subjects but themselves.

Therefore, they are no longer the embodiment of unity and do not represent their subjects as the olden days chiefs, although autocratic as they were, did represent their people and commanded their total respect.

Subsequently, the three paramount chiefs (Amanhene) in Sunyani, like their other compatriot traditional chiefs elsewhere in Ghana, should please know where their powers end in a country where democracy is practised. They are mere ceremonial heads without any authority to dictate to the President of the Republic as to who he should appoint as a member of his government or not. They can only offer advice on such issues but not to dictate.

Additionally, a Minister for Brong Ahafo is there as the representative of the President and his government for the entire region but not only for the Sunyani Metropolis hence the three Sunyani paramount chiefs cannot object to the choice of person made by the President when the other chiefs may prefer him to another. Even in the event of other chiefs unanimously objecting to his appointment, the government has the prerogative to choose who he wants provided that person can help him realise his positive dreams for the region and the nation as a whole.

It is only a respect for the chiefs, a privilege but not a right, if a President consults them before appointing a Regional Minister for them, or removes the person he has designated if they object to that choice.

Where did Lawyer Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, the Regional Minister-designate for Brong Ahafo region go wrong, showing utter disrespect for the chiefs as they allege? He was right to point out the mistake of the chiefs to them when they publicly declared support for, and assured then, President Mahama who doubled as the NDC Presidential-candidate, of garnering 80% of the electoral votes from Brong Ahafo region.

Did the farsighted Mr Asomah-Cheremeh not warn them against their decision? Has their public statement issued in bad faith probably not come back to bite them hard in the arse?

The majority of the people of Brong Ahafo region including the other Amanhene in the region want the choice of person designated for the Regional Ministry by the President so Mr Asomah-Cheremeh has come to stay regardless of your objections.

We are in democracy where the government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Therefore, the choice of Lawyer Asomah-Cheremeh as the Regional Minister for Brong Ahafo region as made by President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo is the choice of the Ghanaian people. Period!

I hope no chief, irrespective of their status among their tribe, shall seek to bully His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwah Akuo-Addo in the discharge of his duties to be of selfless service to his people and nation.

We are under Constitution but not any Absolute Monarchy where whatever the chief says goes.

In England, the Queen does not interfere in the running of the government by the Prime Minister. The Queen knows her role as purely being ceremonial. She commands the respect of the British people because she has earned it by comporting herself but not through any act of command. I pray our chiefs will learn from her to comport themselves accordingly!