Thursday, August 2, 2007
Chieftaincy in Ghana and the Acquired Indiscipline Syndrome (AIS)
By: DR. V. ANTWI-DANSO
WE have had occasions in this column to lament the spate of indiscipline in this country. We are happy to learn that His Excellency the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, has renewed his commitment to the fight against indiscipline, and has made same, the cornerstone of his campaigns.
Congratulations, Sir! But we hope that it is not going to be a nine-day wonder! When he launched it the first time, he never backed his words with action. This time round let us all take our spears, bows and arrows and forward to the war front and lay siege on indiscipline. His Excellency, we are with you in the trenches!
Let’s face it, Ghana is gradually sinking into the gutter of indiscipline. In one of our pieces, headlined, “An Undisciplined Society Never Develops”, we warned that the rate at which we are sinking into the maggot-ridden cud of indiscipline calls for action to halt this phenomenon or else we would one day find a Somalia, Sierra Leone, or Cambodia in Ghana.
We spare no one in our blame. We said that from the messenger to the high office holders, shades of indiscipline may be observed. And from the castle to the huts of my village in Kwame Tia, the Acquired Indiscipline Syndrome (AIS) may be noted.
In almost all the institutions of state, indiscipline is a major problem. The late Chief Justice Acquah, was reputed to have instituted a crusade against indiscipline in the judiciary (the Bench). The so-called Kofi Boakye Tapes and the ongoing trials of some officers have brought more forcefully to the fore the rot and indiscipline in the Police Service.
The unruly behaviour of students of late in almost all our tertiary institutions clearly shows how the future generation are catching the Acquired Indiscipline Syndrome (AIS – pronounce it like AIDS only without the D), fast.
The latest institution to have clothed itself in the procurement of AIS is the once sacredly revered and highly respected institution of chieftaincy. Some stools are known to have been occupied by persons otherwise ineligible to do so.
That is the beginning of indiscipline. Historically, stool occupancy is known to be contestable. But once a choice a choice is made, we would normally see calm. But since most chiefs themselves after occupying the stool show incompetence and indiscipline, the AIS has found place in the institution. Why on earth would the installation of a chief be possible only with the heavy presence of the police? Oh that dear and lovely spectacle we all used to honour and observe with pride, now needs police presence?
Where is the glamour? Where is the regalness and the pomp and pageantry? When “property” of the entire state (Oman), and since occupancy is for a life time, most of our chiefs are just arrogant and undisciplined.
When the Oman or the people such tendencies the various. Houses of Chiefs have, in most cases, been on the side of their kind. Invariably, development projects have been initiated by citizens living in Accra, in the Diaspora or other big cities elsewhere. The Chief, using his monopoly only sells lands, is not accountable to the people and does not hesitate to call on people to riot on his behalf any time the citizenry calls his bluff.
In several places, including my own hometown, chiefs are selling lands, commercial trees etc., but do not account for money collected. I have had occasion to suggest the opening of a State Account, into which such money could be paid.
Money paid periodically by the Volta River Authority for lands lost in my area, as a result of the creation of the Volta Lake, go directly to some chiefs. They are never used for the benefit of the people.
Today, from Anlo land through Dagbon to Wa and Mamprugu, Chieftaincy is devouring people. In the past, little would you hear of chieftaincy disputes in the Volta Region.
The State had to bear the pangs of a dastardly act of beheading a sitting Ya Na. Sadly enough some undisciplined politicians have always sought to make political capital of this and other incidents.
The chieftaincy problems in this country are too many to recount here. But we are more worried about the epicenter now shifting to the capital, Accra. This year’s Homowo festival is under severe threat. The worry is that every Chief gets up to give orders, making believe as though Ghana has no laws and the laws of the stool, should be the laws of Ghana.
We strongly believe that once our noble constitution has preserved and recognized chieftaincy as a variable in the governance of Ghana, then that institution must espouse the virtues of discipline.
Why would the institution of chieftaincy not be able to be a check unto itself? Chieftaincy predates colonialism. Why has the institution not been able to give a register of stools and their hierarchies so that change would always be smooth? Why don’t we have a one-stop shop where all stools, their hierarchies, probable and likely occupants, mode of ascension etc., not be created, i.e. in the form of a book?
The National and/or the Regional Houses of chiefs could have commissioned such a project long ago. Indeed, we have many respectable chiefs, well-learned and progressive. But even there, from time to time we see their palaces turned into grounds of indiscipline. The latest to suffer the indignity of hooligans is the Manhyia Palace itself.
This column wants to appeal to our chiefs, particularly, the National House of chiefs to endeavour to sanitise the institution. People are calling for the abolition of chieftaincy, precisely because of the negative aspects of the institution.
But it is a noble institution and I personally believe that it needs to be preserved. However, it needs to be cured of the Acquired Indiscipline Syndrome (AIS).
The Ghanaian Times - Thursday, August 2, 2007 Page: 8