NANA BRAM OKAI II
THERE IS no doubt that a lot of our chiefs ‘misbehaved’ during the period leading up to the election this year. They did and said a lot of things unbecoming of chiefs. They virtually became praise singers of the defeated and humiliated out-going President of the Republic of Ghana.
It is for this and other reasons that many people are beginning to revise their notes about the relevance of the chieftaincy institution in our present day scheme of things because it seems to have outlived its usefulness. Chiefs are not for endorsements of presidential and parliamentary candidates.
Here is an institution that is described variously by many people as noble but quite frankly one fails to see where the nobility comes from in the face of unguarded statements and embarrassing acts done by majority of our chiefs from time to time.
Is the nobility about the adornment of gold bracelets and necklaces and expensive kente cloths at durbars by chiefs? Or it is the sitting in palanquins by chiefs and queens that makes it noble? Or the indiscriminate and multiple sale of land, causing confusion and pain to developers? Or the numerous chieftaincy disputes all over the place?
One would have thought that chieftaincy was a leadership position with chiefs leading the way to development and improvement in the lives of the people but this has not been the case, generally.
The chief sells the land but hardly accounts to his people. Meanwhile, there is a strong wind-storm which rips off the roof of the primary school building, which makes it un-usable. The chief will never use part of the proceeds of lands sold to fix the problem but will wait for the central government to come and fix it.
It may take a long while for this little problem to be fixed by the central government while the children and teachers suffer in the interim. So, what is the use of the chief in the area then?
Chieftaincy is not a profession; chieftaincy is a leadership position as already stated above. Therefore, if there is a chief who doesn’t have his own means of livelihood but depends on government and non-governmental organization (NGOs) for his daily bread, then we have a problem.
This may be part of the reasons why we saw several aberrations by chiefs when President John Mahama went on the campaign trail. Many ‘unbeez’ chiefs seized the opportunity to grab as much as they could in exchange of endorsement. And they were not disappointed.
Some got cars; some got huge sums of money and some got expensive kente cloths from the President, all paid for by the taxpayer, of course.
So, a chief may come out openly, after receiving the gifts, to declare that President Mahama is the best thing that ever happened to Ghana. Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory does not even come close. ‘For this reason, my people and I endorse him; JM, toaso.’
The chief forgets that he has only one vote and cannot speak for the entire community when it comes to voting because voting is secret. And it showed in the election results.
Most chiefs in the Western Region were ‘compelled’ (so to speak) to endorse President Mahama but God works in mysterious ways. With all the fanfare at his rallies in the Western Region and the open display of opulence and the sharing of goodies, including outboard motors, Mahama lost miserably in that region; Akufo Addo humiliated him there. So what became of the endorsements by the chiefs?
In Accra, all the chiefs were brought together to endorse Mahama. Some were even saying: ‘We don’t want anybody to come and lord it over us. If you don’t respect us, we will also not respect you.’(Referring to Nana Addo, of course). The chief of Ngleshie, a gentleman in his nineties, was given a copy of the bogus Green Book and having flipped through, announced that he was impressed with what was contained in it and endorsed the President.
The great climax came when the man who is contesting the Gbese mantse stool with one Nii Okaija took the podium and was given the microphone. It was there and then that he delivered the most strongly-worded hate speech ever in Ghana. He spoke in Ga and I paraphrase it. He said they (meaning the NDC) would win and win and win each time there was an election and that in the event of Akufo Addo winning, he would voluntarily abdicate.
Nana Akufo Addo won by a massive margin even in Greater Accra. I therefore expect Nii Ayibonte, otherwise known as Tommy Okine, to step aside as a chief with immediate effect. Fortunately for the Gas, Nii Ayibonte has a co-contestant to the Gbese stool. He should therefore vacate the stool for the other contestant, Nii Okaija, to take over without further ado.
Similar theatricals were staged by other chiefs in other parts of the country during the campaign period. President Mahama went to Dormaa to campaign. In attendance was the Dormaahene. He took the microphone and spoke in adulation of President Mahama. He openly endorsed him and promised to deliver 70% of the votes in Dormaa to Mr. Mahama. At the end of the day the Dormaahene could not deliver anything. All the three constituencies in the Dormaa area were captured by the NPP.
So, what has the Dormaahene done? Deceiving the President by false pretences? Can the out-going President take him on for deceiving him? I hope though, that the President and all other discerning politicians have taken note of this.
The theatricals at Offinso were spectacular. The Offinsohene got up from his stool and offered it to the President. “Mr. President, take my stool; it’s for you; sit on it and victory will be yours.”
The President then obliged and sat on the stool. He was decorated and declared co-chief of Offinsoman and endorsed openly. Nothing came out of that endorsement at the polls. Nana Addo captured Offinso.
The theatricals in the Asuogyaman area got to a ridiculous level when Mr. Mahama went there to campaign. A chief climbed the rostrum and boasted that he and his subjects had a way of spiritually deleting names and pictures of Mahama’s opponents,especially Nana Addo, from the political race, so victory for Mahama was assured. That pledge turned out to be fake.
The chieftaincy institution, no doubt, needs a massive overhauling to bring it to the level it should operate at. At the moment, our chiefs are easily corrupted. Chiefs don’t have to openly endorse Presidential candidates because that is not their function. Theirs is to remain neutral and give advice.
Those chiefs who openly endorsed Mr. Mahama have had their fingers badly burnt and hugely embarrassed. They have lost their dignity and they have lost their conscience. The confidence their subjects had in them has evaporated into thin air and they are the losers for that. Honestly, they brought this unto themselves because of greed. This is a lesson to all of us.