CHIEFTAINCY DISPUTES RETARD DEVELOPMENT
APOLOGISTS of feudalism and supporters of the monarchical form of government, in extolling the virtues of the chieftaincy institution, contend that it is the best form of governance (at least at the local level) in societies where levels of clashes and other social conflicts are not as high and sharp as in developed capitalist societies.
The speed and ease with which the British adopted the policy of Indirect Rule in administering its colonies in West Africa are very often cited in this regard as a good example of the suitability of the chieftaincy institution for our part of the world.
The reverse position, however, is that chieftaincy, as a relic of feudalism, is a backward and archaic system of governance that neither meets the democratic interest of the people nor possesses the progressive elements to advance society to a higher and more prosperous level to guarantee the people better and more dignified lives.
Chiefs in the various communities across the country have become pivots around whom important national policies and programmes of government have resolved. Many chiefs, especially the progressive ones, have, in this process, extracted concessions and taken initiatives that have culminated in the socio-economic development of their areas.
Indeed, some chiefs, taking due cognisance of the importance of education, have mobilised funds locally and externally to institute scholarship schemes for their people to access the quality education needed for the development of their societies and the nation as a whole.
These notwithstanding, the last few decades have witnessed such high numbers of chieftaincy disputes and their concomitant heavy loss of lives and property that many have questioned the continued relevance of that institution in our bid to secure accelerated socio-economic development and progress.
From Axim in the western Region to Hamile in the Upper West Region, from Keta in the Volta Region to kulungugu in the Upper West Region, disputes over who has the right to sit on skins and stools have raged and are still raging.
Accra, the nation’s capital, has not escaped this mishap. Within the last five years, the installation, first, of King Tackie Tawiah III, known in private life as Dr. Joe Blankson, under very controversial circumstances and amid heavy security, and only last week King Boni Nii Tackie Adama Latse II and his subsequent dramatic seizure of the entry into the palace of the Ga Mantse, have heightened tension among not only Ga people but also all resident of Accra.
While we take judicious notice of the statement of the Greater Accra Regional Security Council (REGSEC) to the effect that it had no hand in the installation of any Ga Chief, we wish to urge the REGSEC to eschew any complacency and take the requisite security measures to ensure that the peace and stability the capital has enjoyed is not breached.
Again, while we are restrained from commenting on the issues because of their pendency in court, we, nevertheless, would wish to urge traditional councils, regional houses of chiefs up to the National House of Chiefs to endeavor to compile and circulate the mode of succession to skins and stools, who is eligible and from what gate or house, who are the legitimate kingmakers and other such customary rules and practices to help deal with these conflicts.
The blatant disregard for eligibility criteria and the violation of the principles of rotation among houses eligible to nominate candidates for skins and stools are among factors which give life to these conflicts.
Ghana today is a peaceful, unitary and democratic country with a growing economy and an enhanced image which is admired by the global comity of nations.
We cannot and must not allow retrogressive chieftaincy elements to draw us many decades back.
Daily Graphic Page: 7 Saturday, June 16, 2011