Why is the KMA's Kojo Bonsu fighting with the Asanteman Council?

Thu, 7 Jul 2016 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Tuesday, July 6, 2016

Folks, having read news reports about the conflict of interest involving Kojo Bonsu, CEO of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), and the Asanteman Council---and the characterization of him as a "persona non grata" and the agitation for his removal from office by President Mahama---I am tempted to side with the Asanteman Council.

The cause of the conflict can be traced to Kojo Bonsu's unilateral decision/action to remove Nana Agyenim Boateng I, chief of Amoaman, who represents Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II (the head of the Asanteman Council) from the team overseeing the Kejetia Lorry Terminal Redevelopment Project; and his open disregard for the Asanteman Council. If he felt his action was justifiable, why didn't he appear before Nananom to make his case clear instead of disrespecting them?

The Asanteman Council is peeved because of how Bonsu dealt with their representative. Bonsu had written a letter to Nana Agyenim Boateng, removing him from the team without due or prior discussions with the Asanteman Council (or the Asantehene) whose interests he was to serve. That letter was quickly dismissed as offensive. kojo Bonsu has stood his ground ever since.

Invited by the Asanteman Council to explain issues, he snubbed them, which seems to be the final blow that the Council won't take; hence, its resolve to kick him out. (See https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Our-decision-on-Kumasi-Mayor-irreversible-Asanteman-Council-453018).

I agree fully with the moves being made by the Asanteman Council, even if it appears that they are undermining Bonsu's integrity as the political appointee of President Mahama.

I don't know what he has to hide or to run away from in this Kejetia Lorry Terminal Redevelopment Project to warrant his decision to kick out the legitimate representative of the Asanteman Council. (We note that some allegations of impropriety or financial malfeasance have already been raised against Bonsu in the matter of this project or any other).

If a political appointee behaves the way Bonsu has done, he ceases to be relevant. Particularly coming at this time when tongues are wagging all over the place about corruption, why should he behave the way he has been doing thus far?

Political power is good if exercised properly. And the best way to exercise that political power is to win hearts and minds for nation-building, not to alienate the people and create needless tension to stall development.

Considering the dire implications of the conflict, it is clear that the Asanteman Council is determined not to cooperate with him. How can he succeed in managing the KMA if he is not on the same page with such a powerful force? Invariably, the anger being poured at him will be spread to President Mahama and the NDC as well.

How can the NDC get any goodwill if such an appointee muddies the waters? Too bad. And President Mahama must act quickly. Even though removing Bonsu from office might be misconstrued as bowing to pressure and seen as empowering the Asanteman Council to determine the fate of government appointees in that part of Ghana, it must be pointed out that a decision to remove Kojo Bonsu in this context can be justified with the fact that he hasn't been able to work diligently with the Asanteman Council, meaning that he is no longer fit to be at post. (Let's remember that the Asanteman Council is a powerful force to reckon with).

Evidence exists that political appointees serving in Kumasi have always worked seamlessly well with the Asanteman Council. Why not Kojo Bonsu too? And to be told that he removed Nana Agyenim, Boateng for no apparent reason than whatever he alone might have for doing so? And what prevented him from discussing any qualms with the Asanteman Council before moving ahead to remove him from the team?

And for showing gross disrespect to the Asanteman Council, he has proved that he cannot work hand-in-hand with the chiefs. Of course, before the political appointees got to office, the chiefs had been in place. At least, our political setup has room for the traditional rulers. So, why not seek their goodwill to function productively instead of throwing one's weight about?

Kojo Bonsu has overstepped his bounds and must be shown the exit before the situation worsens to erode trust, confidence, and respect for president Mahama and the NDC's cause. How can anybody step on toes of such a powerful force and hope to remain in office there?

Although some may say that acting on the agitation by the Asanteman Council to remove Bonsu from office may set a precedent for chiefs in other parts of Ghana to emulate (especially if they gang up against a political appointee whom they perceive as working against their interests), I think that removing Bonsu from office is a stitch in time to save nine!!

I urge President Mahama to act expeditiously to save the situation from deteriorating any further. The tone of the Asanteman Council's message is severe; and I am more than certain that no amount of effort at peace-making will change the dynamics. Kojo Bonsu must go!!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.