A member of the Council of Elders of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Mr B.K. Senkyire, has described as wrong the constitutional provision that bars chiefs from taking part in politics.
He said given the instrumental roles chiefs played in attaining Ghana’s independence, it was wrong to gag them from even speaking about politics.
“The chiefs of this country were those who first fought the white man. You are talking politics and you, the youth of today, want our chiefs to be quiet. It is not right,” he said.
He, therefore, called for an amendment to the provision in the 1992 Constitution when he spoke at an event at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the overthrow of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President.
Article 276 (1) of the 1992 Constitution states that: “A chief shall not take part in active party politics; and any chief wishing to do so and seeking election to Parliament shall abdicate his stool or skin.”
However, Article 276(2) also states that notwithstanding the position of the constitution on chiefs taking part in active politics and provisions of Article 94(3)(c) that bars chiefs from becoming Members of Parliament, “A chief may be appointed to any public office for which he is otherwise qualified.”
Mr Senkyire, who served as a Member of Parliament in the First Republic and also a Local Government Minister in the Limann regime, observed that the country’s political setup was incomplete without the participation of chiefs.
In recent times, the Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II, and the Sunyanihene, Nana Bosoma Asor Nkrawiri II, were attacked by members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) respectively for voicing their opinions about the ruling government.
Ghana’s political history is replete with chiefs who served as catalysts for the country’s agitation against colonial rule.
One of such eminent and gallant chiefs was Nii Kwabena Bonne III, Osu Alata Mantse, in Accra.
Nii Bonne was a sub-chief of Osu in Accra who organised and led a boycott of imported goods in Accra on February 28, 1948.
The boycott led to the halting of economic and social activities in the capital and saw the subsequent arrest of the famous Big Six by the British Colonial authorities and the shooting of some Ghanaian ex-servicemen at the Christianborg Castle crossroads.
According to some political pundits, but for Nii Bonne there would have been no occasion for Nkrumah to declare a Positive Action for Independence.
In 1844, the British signed a political agreement with a confederation of Fante states. Known as the Bond of 1844, the agreement extended British protection to the signatory states and gave Britain a degree of authority over them.
Perhaps the strongest show of how chiefs defended what have now become Ghana was the heroic deeds of Yaa Asantewaa, the Queenmother of Ejisu, an area now in the Ashanti Region.
With their king and many leading chiefs already in exile, the Ashantis faced a new crisis in 1900 with the British governor's demands for additional tribute and the symbolic Golden Stool.
It was Nana Yaa Asantewaa who rallied Ashanti resistance with what historians described as her ‘fiery and provocative speeches and gender-conscious challenges'.
Some chiefs were also exiled in seeking to protect or resist the strong arms of colonialists.
An Asantehene, Otumfuor Agyeman Prempeh I, was exiled in 1900 together with his parents and 50 other chiefs, queenmothers and servants by the British colonial authorities for 24 years.