President Akufo-Addo has assured Ghanaians that he will do everything in his power to tackle the phenomenon of vigilantism.
Addressing a meeting of the National House of Chiefs on Monday, 6th November, 2017, President Akufo-Addo stated, “I will not walk the path others trod who found it convenient to turn a blind eye to the criminal misdeeds of their followers and took no action, as it would displease them.”
The president stressed, “I am walking another path, the path of making reality the principle of the rule of law, the idea of equality of every citizen before the law. Wrongdoers wear no political colours. They are just wrongdoers, and will be dealt with as such.”
Urging the membership of the National House of Chiefs to speak out and join government’s fight against the ills of society – corruption, social and economic injustice, crime – he reminded them also about the fight against the illegal mining menace, popularly referred to as galamsey.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the country has gone through a lot of difficult times in recent years, and it has meant that some people have had to find ways and means to keep body and soul together, and as a result, engaged themselves in illegal activities, such as galamsey.
“As chiefs, you have a responsibility, as was done in the days of our forefathers, to help preserve our lands, water bodies and environment. We all have a responsibility to say no to galamsey for our own common survival and the survival of those who are to come. If we allow it, we are jeopardising both our present and our future. Our responsibility in this is clear,” he added.
As customary guardians of the morals of the nation’s communities, both by your conduct and the manner in which they intervene in the lives of the people, President Akufo-Addo noted that recent cases, involving the defilement of children, have become causes for grave concern in the country.
“Such cases cannot be treated as family matters. Again, instances where the youth take the law into their own hands, vandalising properties, can no longer continue, and must be condemned by all. Perpetrators of such acts must be handed over to the law enforcement agencies for the laws of the land to take their course. Senior citizens should not be seen to be making special pleas for such perpetrators,” the president stressed.
Asking them to speak out, President Akufo-Addo urged the chiefs not to fall into the well-known temptation of telling him what they think he should hear.
“It would be equally tempting to tell me that I am the best thing that ever happened to Ghana; and it would be even more tempting to tell me to ignore my critics. I expect that as our esteemed traditional rulers, you will not go down that road, but will allow the moral authority of your status to justify your interventions,” he added.
By the same token, President Akufo-Addo urged the chiefs and the queen mothers not to be afraid of discarding those rules that do not fit in with modern, current realities and norms, making particular reference to the practices that seek to discriminate against women and children.
“It is difficult, for example, to find a scientific, legitimate reason why children should be given tiny pieces of meat or fish, when children need more protein than adults. It is difficult, again, to find a justification for some of the widowhood rites that persist today among many of our peoples. I urge you to be in the forefront of fighting to discard those outmoded practices, which should have no place in the Ghana of the 21st century,” he challenged.
Aware that the Constitution of the Republic forbids chiefs from engaging in partisan political activity, President Akufo-Addo noted that their involvement in the public life of the country derives naturally from their position as traditional rulers.
It is, thus, his hope that members of the National House of Chiefs will of help set the tone in their areas of influence to help realise government’s vision for a prosperous and progressive Ghana.
“I would, therefore, appeal to you to lend your voice in support of the regional and local government reforms being undertaken by my Government, i.e. the creation of new regions, in accordance with popular aspirations; the direct election by the people of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives and creation of new districts and the upgrading of some existing ones into municipalities. Government is determined to bring governance closer to the people, and expand the boundaries of democracy in our country,” the president said.
He continued, “We are counting on you to help shape and integrate yourselves into these developments so that the peculiarly Ghanaian contribution to the concept of governance, which emanates from the integration of royal, aristocratic institutions into the fabric of a republican, democratic framework, will be enhanced and strengthened to the benefit of the Ghanaian people.”