IT IS refreshing to read that the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has reacted publicly to rumours that his person has links to the current imbroglio on cocaine that has betrayed national loyalty in government and allied institutions like the Police Service; the Narcotics Control Board, the Ghana Navy, and some prominent individuals within our society.
It is worth commending that the Otumfuo found space within the ambience of our democratic environment to state his case and chastise journalists, politicians and social commentators.
The Ghanaian Times and Daily Graphic newspapers (Wednesday, September 27, 2006), report that the Otumfuo condemned attempts by some people to link him with the cocaine scandal. "He has therefore; cautioned journalists, politicians and social commentators to desist from hiding behind democracy and the freedom of speech to persistently use the airwaves to question why the justice Georgina Woode Committee did not invite him over the issue".
"He questioned the basis for people trying to drag him into a crime for which he has maintained innocence". By this logic, the Otumfuo is saying that anytime a suspect denies knowledge of a crime he/she must be left to go without the appropriate investigation or that the mere word of suspects should be taken for the truth. "He described the situation as an anti-Ashanti hate campaign which must be resisted". This is a magnificently dangerous and explosive statement especially setting Ashantis against the rest of Ghana.
It is instructive to note that the Otumfuo in his fury, has attacked the need for democracy and freedom of speech. May be he prefer the dictatorial rule of demagogues and the reinstating of the culture of silence, after Ghanaians fought without respite to restore democracy after several years of demagoguery. It is extremely disturbing to hear the Otumfuo question the basis of democracy and freedom of speech simply because his name has been cited in the cocaine scandal- God save us. Otumfuo further questioned the basis of people asking why the Georgina Woode Committee did not invite him.
Every concerned Ghanaian would have lauded the Otumfuo, if after his name was allegedly connected, decided to appear before the Woode Committee on his own prompting rather than wait for an invitation. That for me would have spelt the mark of a great and dignified leader who wants to clear his name and therefore indicate his innocence and of course retained the dignity of his chiefdom. Despite having failed to do the one honourable thing, he resorts to vitriolics to redeem his name and chiefdom.
Ghanaians would justifiably and genuinely ignore any anger-posture by anybody to request that all connected persons in this scandal appear before the Woode Committee irrespective of their social standing so that we can purge our society from the insidious threat of this menace. And especially so when the President, recently reminded us that no one was above the law.
It is even traumatizing when the Otumfuo attempts to "cleverly" evoke tribalism into national issues rather than stating the obvious. It is not clear where the "anti-Ashanti hate campaign" he talked about come in since the entire Asanteman was not cited but him as an individual.
For the records, there are many Paramount Chiefs in Ghana like the Bolga Naba, Kaleo Naa, Okyenhene, Ga Mantse, Takpo Naa, the Yagbon Wura etc whose names have not be associated with this scandal. It is evidently abundant that Otumfuo wants to court the loyalty and solidarity of Ashanti's in a matter that is purely personal and has no correlation with the Asanteman Council as an entity. Is he hiding behind evoking tribalism to keep society mute? Or where does the question of respect for the elders emanate if all society want is elders whose deeds they can trust?
Evoking tribalism by no mean person than the Otumfuo portends great danger to our nascent democracy and future as a nation. Asking Ashanti's to shun politicians who do not speak well of him is tantamount to inviting partisanship into the noble institution of chieftaincy in Ghana.
Commanding various Paramount Chiefs and other people in his jurisdiction to open up over adverse comments on the Manhyia is a call to defend him even when he is individually liable. This protects dictatorship and abuse of authority and condoning evil within the sacred chiefdom. His apparent threat to excommunicate any Chief discovered to be in league with politicians to bring the name of Manhyia into disrepute is indicative of show of muscle and very appalling.
The questions society has raised about the complicity of the Otumfuo in this cocaine issue are not answered by the anger and fury he displayed. Without doubts, Ashantis want their name to be cleared and not be incited against any tribe in Ghana as postulated by Otumfuo. It is dangerous if all other tribes and their Chiefs want to behave and spit venom the way Otumfuo has evinced.
Fortunately, Ghanaians have embraced democracy and would rather work towards perfecting it and not be persuaded by the "anger" of Asantehene.