The Chief of Akyem Abuakwa, Okyenhene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II, has cautioned chiefs against making partisan utterances that suggest they have been bribed, noting it could bring the image of the chieftaincy into disrepute.
He noted though Ghana’s constitution disapproves chiefs engaging in partisan politics, that does not take away their freedom of speech on critical national issues.
“There is a provision in the constitution that we should not engage in party politics as chiefs. That does not mean you cannot talk about education, the economy, sanitation or development,” he said.
Addressing chiefs in the Eastern Region after his re-election as the president of the House of Chiefs there, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, however, said it is important that chiefs do not speak in a manner that could give rise to speculations that a political party has bribed them.
His comments come on the back of public endorsements of some presidential candidates and their parties by some chiefs across the country ahead of the December 7 general elections.
Some chiefs in the country have endorsed the two key contenders in the election, President John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party’s Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
But that, and the utterances by some of these chiefs Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin said, affects the integrity of the entire chieftaincy institution as chiefs as often accused of as having been bribed.
“All we hear and read in the papers these days is that nananom have been bribed. I don’t know how some of you take it but it’s offensive to some of us… The only way they feed into the insane rumour is because of some of the things you say,” he observed.
Osagyefo Amoatia ofori Panin recalled the public outcry when vehicles were given to the national and regional houses of chiefs in 2012 for official use by the presidents, his vice and regional presidents.
He emphasised that protecting the chieftaincy institution is critical, saying “We need to be careful, I am not imposing it on you [but] because of the stability, integrity and respectability of the institution we have”.
He added: “For your own good, do not speak anyhow for the journalist to write stuff. If you can, it’s my plea that we stay away from some utterances that have been amplified in the papers making us look like somehow somebody is paying us”.