BUILDING A NATION: ‘When chiefs become politicians…’

It’s about four months to election 2016 and already the politicians are crisscrossing the country in search of votes.
Currently the President, John Dramani Mahama, is on his Accounting to the people tour. While the main opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo is also in the regions soliciting for votes, Hassan Ayariga of the APC is also campaigning with the Convention People’s Party’s Ivor Greenstreet urging Ghanaians to try something new after almost 24 years of NPP and NDC rule. As custom demands, the candidates must first visit the palace of the chiefs before embarking on their campaigns.
Surprisingly, some of the chiefs are endorsing these presidential candidates. I know many of you will condemn this act particularly as Article 276 (1) of the constitution says “a chief shall not take part in active politics; and any chief wishing to do so and seeking election to parliament shall abdicate his stool or skin.”
Now while this is subject to interpretation and debate, one thing remains undeniable. The reverence of the Chieftaincy institution by Ghanaians. And for me this is why I find it sad that chiefs are endorsing presidential candidates. How do you expect your subjects to treat and respect you when you are seen endorsing a political party?
Can’t the chiefs just welcome these presidential candidates without declaring their support for them? Now the tensions in the build-up to the elections are high and one would expect that when push comes to shove, the Chief will be the one to calm matters. But certainly not when the credibility of the chief is in doubt or compromised.
So why will our chiefs who are supposed to be revered by all, descend into the partisan politics to the detriment of their subjects? I know for some of you – particularly the partisan ones – you do not see anything wrong with this development because it suits you.
However, in building a nation, you need people who are respected by all. You need people who can calm tempers when tempers are high. This is one reason why some of us were happy when former United Nations Secretary General did not heed the call of those who were advising him to contest the presidency of Ghana.
Certainly Kofi Annan is one person we will all listen to whenever he speaks. I like the Asantehene for one thing. So far he has not been heard endorsing any presidential candidate. This helps because we need him to advise whoever becomes president. However, can the same be said of those chiefs who are endorsing presidential candidates? Certainly not.
I look forward to the day that the presidential candidates would advise the chiefs not to engage in these endorsements because of the important role they play in the country’s development.
By Winston Amoah
The writer is the host of Sunrise on 3FM from Mondays to Fridays 5:30am – 10:00am

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