By: Adofo Rockson
I actually have difficulty comprehending the fear exhibited by our elected leaders, especially the Presidents, before our traditional leaders, to be more precise, our paramount chiefs and kings. From this unfounded fear, contrary to the tenets of our democratic dispensation, our presidents and governments have made it an obligation to involve our traditional leaders in the governance of the nation.
I totally disagree with our elected presidents who succumb to the pressure exerted on them either publicly or privately to obligatorily involve our traditional leaders in the governance of the nation.
It seems they get confused about what a democracy is or what is meant by an elected government and their responsibilities. As usual, let us define what a democracy is according to the dictionary. Democracy is a government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
The power to govern in any democracy is vested in the elected leaders, especially, the President or the Prime Minister according to the nationâ€™s written or unwritten constitution. The power is not vested in our chiefs or queens. Subsequently, it is just too wrong that undue respect is accorded our paramount chiefs to the point of them unduly influencing the decisions of the President or interfering with the job of the elected President as and when they feel like manipulating him.
Not long ago, some paramount chiefs in Sunyani in the Brong-Ahafo region boldly moved with intent to thwart the confirmation of the then Regional Minister-designate Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh. The President had to make overtures of peace by sending a government delegation to plead with them for forgiveness of sins for Mr Asomah-Cheremeh although Mr Asomah-Cheremeh had done absolutely nothing wrong. He had only advised the chiefs not to openly endorse one presidential candidate or party over the other as they never knew who would win the election. Such endorsements could not be without the concomitant repercussions. Truly as he advised, Nana Akufo and NPP won the 2016 Elections as against the predictions, endorsement and expectations of the Sunyani chiefs who had declared support for then President John Dramani Mahama and the NDC.
Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is also on record to have said that no court or judge in Ghana has the authority to reverse any decision he makes no matter how unconstitutional or preposterous it may be. This is the height of his disrespect for the constitution and the people of Ghana. It is an insult to the intelligence of any discerning Ghanaian. Check the underlying YouTube link.
This is all because our presidents are scared of the chiefs and do allow them to have their way in almost everything.
Let it be known to our nationally-elected Presidents and Members of Parliament that Ghana is not an Absolute Monarchy but somewhat a Constitutional Monarchy even if I am not mistaken. Before proceeding any further, let me define what are meant by absolute and constitutional monarchies.
By Wikipedia and other dictionaries, Absolute monarchy, or despotic monarchy, is a form of monarchy in which one ruler has supreme authority that is not restricted by any written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often, but not always, hereditary monarchies. Countries where a monarch still maintains absolute power are Brunei, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, the individual emirates composing the United Arab Emirates, Swaziland, and Vatican City.
A Constitutional monarchy is a system in which the king or queen's power is severely limited, because they act only on the advice of the politicians who form the government. Our Ghanaian chiefs may be a little closer to constitutional monarchy but tens of thousands of kilometres away from absolute monarchy. Why then are our presidents afraid of them and at times allow them to dictate to them?
Gone are the centuries when our chiefs and kings were the â€œkasapreko guysâ€ who commanded respect and instilled fear in people with those disobeying them risking their lives through banishment and decapitation, rather than earning their respect.
In those gone to come back no more days, the chiefs upon being â€œkakaiâ€ (fearsome persons), still represented effectively their subjects and sought their collective interests unlike todayâ€™s selfish, greedy and galamsey-fanatic-chiefs who seek to satisfy their insatiable quest for personal wealth through illegal means.
Our traditional chiefs should not be allowed to dictate to the government who should become the MCE/DCE of their towns or traditional areas. The President should elect people he has confidence in to deliver on his promises made to the electorates but not those that the chiefs will manipulate to serve their selfish interests.
Was ex-President Dr Kwame Nkrumah not right to have threatened that he would make the chiefs run away leaving their sandals behind? Why did he say that? I shall not tell you but please, do research the reason(s) yourself.
Most of the Ghana chiefs today have lost the respect of their subjects because of the propensity to corrupt themselves and abuse their powers. The ongoing Kumawu chieftaincy dispute with the dubious involvement of Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is a typical example.
While Ghanaians were suffering untold economic hardships visited upon them by the institutional corruption orchestrated and masterminded by former President Mahama and his NDC-led government, were most of the countryâ€™s chiefs still not endorsing him for re-election because of the luxurious V8 cars he was dishing out to them? Can these people represent the collective interests of their subjects? No! They represented only their stomach!!!
I am personally not a fan of elected Presidents allowing chiefs to dictate to them and unduly granted permission in the governance of the nation to the detriment of the electorates.
Point of interest, it is not all the chiefs that are selfish but most of them are, and they do not deserve that opportunity offered to them to play effective role in the governance of a democratic country.
In England, Spain and Netherlands, they have constitutional monarchies where the royals or monarchs play mostly ceremonial roles in the governance of their nations unlike in Ghana where they are allowed to be despots in their areas of jurisdiction although the nation is a republic or a democracy.
I dedicate this publication to the late Mary Rhule from Nzemaaland who passed away in 2007. Some old memories of her have just started racing through my mind hence the decision to remember her through the dedication of this article to her for personal reasons.