The Recalcitrant Chiefs Befitting Abode Is Nsawam

Sat, 19 Jan 2013 Source: Badu, K.

In: The Lunatic Fringe Of Chinese Immigrants Must Be Reprimanded-8

“I intend to keep my finger on the pulse of its trends, and would not remit my fury in my condemnation of the illegal mining by Chinese immigrants.”

In this part, (Part-8), I intend to register my indignation about the role being played by some wayward and unpatriotic chiefs in the illegal mining in Ghana. Of course, I will endeavour to contain my emotional intelligence, and try to show deferential regard for our chiefs, despite my lividness in this matter.

Per the Constitution of Ghana, no citizen of Ghana is ‘above the law’. Yes, the Constitution is candid, however in my opinion, the enforcement of the laws leaves much to be desired. It seems some Ghanaians are ‘above the law’;--the laws were not enacted for them. In a nutshell, -- they are beyond reproach.

“In Ghana, chieftaincy stands as an important institution in governance. Although chieftaincy is a contested heritage in Ghana, it nonetheless has its appeal: for the country, it is a way to define our identity as a nation; for the people it is the only institution left to look up to when the national bureaucratic structures have let them down; and for the elite, chieftaincy legitimizes their social positions by establishing or widening their access to the state while the ‘modern’ power holders attempt to utilize what is perceived as traditional legitimacy for their own ends. Given this convoluted transactions, chieftaincy will remain a very important part of Ghanaian governance for a long time to come” (‘WE ARE THE PEOPLE’: GHANAIAN CHIEFS AND THE POLITICS OF CONTESTATION).

. In Ghana, Chieftaincy is guaranteed under the Fourth Republican Constitution (1992). And, more importantly, Article 270 (1) of the 1992 constitution states, “The institution of chieftaincy, together with its traditional councils as established by customary law and usage, is hereby guaranteed.”

Who Is A Chief?

Article 277 of the 1992 Constitution defines a chief as “a person, who, hailing from the appropriate family and lineage, has been validly nominated, elected or selected and enstooled, enskinned or installed as a chief or queen mother in accordance with the relevant customary law and usage.”

A Chief’s Responsibilities

“A Chief is responsible for the daily administration of the traditional area for its advancement and the growth of its inhabitants. A chief’s ultimate function is the maintenance of law and order as a prerequisite for the growth of the community and the advancement of the people in all spheres of life” (Odotei, 2010).

Who Owns Lands In Ghana?

“In Ghana, land ownership is complicated. By and large, however, there are (a) stool lands invested in chiefs; (b) family lands belonging to clans or maximal lineages; (c) private lands belonging to individuals; and (d) state lands usually expropriated from any or all of the above through an executive instrument. Compensation may be paid when such lands are acquired. In theory then the state has no land in Ghana. The ‘landlessness’ of the state makes it vulnerable to the dictates of chiefs. Government often pleads with chiefs to release lands for development. Although this is often done, the feeling that the state must depend on chiefs for land for development projects gives the latter some leverage” (WE ARE THE PEOPLE’: GHANAIAN CHIEFS AND THE POLITICS OF CONTESTATION).

Although the chiefs and other individuals own the lands in Ghana, “every mineral in its natural state in, under or upon land in Ghana, rivers, streams, water-courses throughout the country, the exclusive economic zone and an area covered by the territorial sea or continental shelf is the property of the Republic and is vested in the President in trust for the people of Ghana” (Minerals Act 2006).

In practice, the 2006 Minerals Act is emphatic about the ownership of the natural resources, -- the government of Ghana has the absolute ownership. Consequently, our chiefs do not have any audacity to allocate mining lands to individuals who are not in receipt of mining concessions. Nonetheless, some Chiefs are in the habit of conniving with illegal miners from China. The uncaring and unpatriotic Chiefs would allocate lands to the illegal miners, knowing it is unlawful for any individual to sanction small-scale mining ,-- the Ghana Minerals Commission has the exclusive right to do so. If some Chiefs are giving out lands for illegal mining without the knowledge of Ghana Minerals Commission, the question one may ask then is: ‘Why no offending Chiefs have since been brought to book? Are they above the law?

With hindsight, the uncaring Chiefs are colluding with the ‘criminals’ to steal our natural resources. Thus, it would only be fair to Ghanaians if such offending Chiefs are prosecuted accordingly. We cannot and must not allow some obstreperous Chiefs who do not have the nation at heart, but only harbour ulterior motives to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of Ghanaians.

It is important to note that ‘respect is earned, it is not an entitlement’. So, our hitherto respected Chiefs must endeavour to earn their respect, for, their waywardness will not earn them such respect. And, if they persist with their misdeeds, their befitting place of abode would be ‘Nsawam Prisons’.

K. Badu, UK.

Columnist: Badu, K.