SHOULD CHIEFS GO ON DEMONSTRATION?
An open question to the National House of Chiefs
Really, it was starting news that The Ghanaian Times carried on Wednesday, June 22, 2011. It appears as a headline on the front page of the paper but the details and picture were splashed in an inside page.
The headline said TROUBLE IN NEW JUABEN…. As group demonstrates against Daasebre’’. No doubt, it aroused public interest as a matter of great concern and worry, considering the fact that the story became the topic of discussion for that say and it still continues as a mind- boggling issue.
Already, and more expectedly, the New Juaben Council has reacted to it, saying that the allegations against Daasebre Oti Boateng are “wholly unfounded “and setting up a committee to investigate the incident. Nonetheless, there is a vital point that must be clarified. And this write- up is calling on the appropriate authority for it.
As it was indicated in the new story, the group of demonstrators turned out to be chiefs who are disenchanted with the Omanhene, over his alleged “dictatorial and autocratic rule,” ignoring the age-old customs and traditions of the people.
Some of the allegations set out in the petition which was presented to the Deputy Director of the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) are mentioned here. ``Daasebre is high- handed and intolerant; gives impossible assignments to people; applies excessive punishment for failure to carry out his instructions and decisions or any defiance of his authority, causing discontent and resentment among the people.
By his hostile leadership, he has alienated some of the chiefs, while discouraging very important citizens, tourists, invertors and the youth from participating in the key customary functions, durbars and festivals held from time to time. Similarly, in adopting a divide and rule system, some divisional a sub-chiefs are rendered ineffective and redundant; some stools are made vacant and unrecognized, while new favourite ones are frequently created.
“One meetings of the traditional council, these are more or less perfunctory, being held only in emergency cased or under certain circumstances such as personal attacks on the Omanhene and sus pension of a chief for one reason or the other.
“By and large, Daasebre’s violation of the customs’ and traditions is not only an impediment to meaningful development in the area but a compulsion on the youth to lose interest in the socio-cultural activities as well as the chieftaincy institution. This trend is regrettable.”
Apparently, many distinguished chiefs were bold to participate in the demonstration, displaying placards through the principal streets of the Koforidua municipality in the full glare of the public, after holding a press conference at the Legion Hall. What an extraordinary and exciting scene!
And this leads to the point which needs clarification. Should Nananom, our chiefs, go on demonstrations? Is it fitting and proper for them, considering their dignified status?
I posed the questions to people who expressed different views and opinions, particularly referring to the recent demonstration of chiefs against the Omanhene of the New Juaben Traditional Area. The reactions were spontaneous and thought- provoking.
Briefing, some remarked that chiefs are traditional leaders who occupy positions of honour and respect. They have sworn an oath of total allegiance, loyalty and service to the stool, paramount and people in the pursuit of peace, unity, development and stability during their period of reign. Why would any chiefs do anything contrary to the oath and discredit himself?
This viewpoint goes to condemn the rampage of the New Juaben chiefs in strong terms such as outrageous, mischievous, imprudent, reprehensible and undesirable. It tarnishes their image and reputation.
Indeed some indigenes of New Juaben have bemoaned their action, considering it as preposterous and ill-motivated to seek-some selfish interests.
To some others, chiefs are custodians of the sacred customs, traditions and moral values of the societies in which they rule. They are highly enlightened and conscious of their functions and obligations .they will therefore oppose and resist any actions from any source that threaten their position; violate the customs and traditions and despise them.
This viewpoint relates to the case of Daasebre, being accuse of arbitrary rule, intolerance, and contempt for chiefs and creating widespread apathy among the citizens.
However, a section of people find a demonstration of chiefs as incredible and ask puzzling questions. Can it happen? What can cause it? And can’t the dispute or conflict be resolved amicably and quietly in the palaces of the chiefs?
Their guess is that any such matter may occur as a result of a break-down of the lines of communication in chieftaincy administration or complacency, laxity and insensitivity on the part of the leadership.
In all the consensus of opinion on the New Juaben demonstration is that it is fraught with far reaching and dangerous consequences. It creates a great embarrassment for Daasebre, the traditional council, chiefs and people in the traditional area; casts a slur on the chieftaincy institution and incites the youth who have a penchant for acts of demonstration and possibly other chiefs in the country.
One wonders why no steps were taken to nip the incident in the bud. Are there no laid –down procedures to address grievances? If there is any, why did the aggrieved chiefs not follow it? And were they conscious of the negative effect of their action?
Of course, they were, as their spokesman declared in the press interview: “We are aware of the sabotage we would be facing and we are ready to face the risk”.
Already, a committee has been set up to investigate the matter and, hopefully, it will do a thorough job and come out with the full details that will ascertain whether chiefs should go or not go on public demonstration. Perhaps the National House of Chiefs, the authority on chieftaincy affairs will come out to clarify this issue.
The Ghanaian Times Page: 8 Wednesday, July 06, 2011