General News of Mon, 21 Jun 19990
Rawlings takes on chiefs and the media
Accra (Greater Accra) 21 June '99
President Jerry John Rawlings granting audience to the Asantehene, Otumfou Osei Tutu II on Friday said Ghana would continue to be peaceful and stable if chiefs use their traditional authority to curb some of the excesses in society.
Some of these excesses are committed by the media against individuals as well as those in authority "thus destroying traditional respect for authority", he said.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was at the Castle, Osu with some of his divisional chiefs, to thank the government for its support during the funeral of his predecessor.
President Rawlings said: "there is so much disinformation and misinformation that they are causing so much damage."
For example, he went on, when a one month ban on drumming and dancing was announced by the Ga Traditional Council last month, a lot of debate was generated in the media.
On one of such discussions on an FM station in Accra, a contributor said the Ga people should not compare themselves to Ashantis.
President Rawlings said, that statement was in bad taste and that the tension it generated in Accra would have eased if an Ashanti chief had come out with a statement condemning it.
President Rawlings said after the death of Otumfuo Opoku Ware II when Nana Akwasi Agyeman's name emerged as one of the contestants to the Golden Stool, a section of the media heaped insults on him.
It was surprising that no one from either the Ashanti Royal House or any Ashanti chief came out to defend him, he said.
President Rawlings said traditional authorities must assist to ensure that the power of the pen is not misused, stressing: "The pen can either build or destroy".
The President said Ghana has achieved a lot of progress through unity and that this must be maintained.
"We made all these achievements together as one people. Opposing views must be aired but these must be constructive otherwise the clock of progress will be wound backwards."
President Rawlings told Otumfuo Osei Tutu: "I wish you the best. Do not ignore the advice of your elders. Do not close the door to the words of wisdom from your elders".
Otumfuo Osei Tutu said his predecessor achieved a lot for Ghana and for Ashanti and he would build on that solid foundation for the progress of Ghana, adding that he is ready to co-operate with the government for the good of the country.
"Chieftaincy is like government. They both deal with people. But, as a new chief, I need time to look into things so the government should be patient with me."
Professor Kofi Awoonor, a Presidential Staffer, and Mr M.A. Seidu, Deputy Majority Chief Whip, both called for national unity.
Mr Seidu said the quick installation of Otumfuo Osei Tutu is a lesson for all traditional areas, especially those who have been embroiled in chieftaincy disputes.
"This shows that we also have democratic institutions that have stood the test of time," he said.
Nana Oduro Numapau, Esumejahene, called for co-operation between chiefs and the government.
"As a chief, you cannot be successful if you do not co-operate with government," he stated.