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16.04.2008 General News

Chiefs Must Control Resources - Okyehene

By Kwadwo B. Donkor - newtimesonline.com

THE Okyehene, Osagyefuo Amoatia-Ofori Panin, has said the challenge chiefs face in their expected leadership roles is their inability to control the resources of their lands.

He said even though some chiefs have magnificent plans they could not put them into action as 'the central government controls all our revenues.'

He expressed concern at the reduced power of chiefs which, he said, had rendered them as mere custodians of culture and tradition.

The Okyehene stated this on Monday at a lecture he delivered at the 41st Cadet officers course at the Ghana Police College in Accra.

It was on the theme, ‘Chieftaincy, Peace, Security and National Development.’

'We have the title as landlords but excluding all the incidents of ownership of land, namely power to allocate, power to collect revenue, to transfer title or interest and to disburse the revenue accruing from the land,' he said.

The Okyehene said modern traditional rulers were stripped of political, executive and official judicial power and 'plagued with inadequate resources in most cases.

'They are virtually marginalised in the formal scheme of national, regional or local governance and development except the national representation on Council of State and the remote consultation during selection of government appointees to district assemblies,' he lamented.

He therefore called for the re-examination of the article 276 of the Constitution which prohibits chiefs from taking active part in political activities.

He suggested that chiefs should be allowed to even contest as members of parliament where they would have the opportunity to directly make inputs into some of the legislations that affected the institution.

The Okyenhene called for the restoration of financial autonomy to chiefs through the abolition of government control over the collection and disbursement of the stool land revenue, adding, 'One cannot expect chiefs to be any worthy partners in development when the revenues from their stool lands are taken away and controlled by government officials.

'If you look at me, can’t I manage the resources of my area?' he asked rhetorically.

Notwithstanding the challenges facing the chieftaincy institution he believed that it has been able to provide peace and development to their communities.

He appealed to his colleagues not to be afraid of the changes and to do away with practices that had outlived their usefulnesses.

'It’s a human and dynamic institution, it is imperative that we change and adapt in order to make the institution more relevant to the demands of our time. We should not be afraid to change that which has outlived its usefulness and relevance,' he stated.

Osagyefuo Ofori Panin entreated the cadet officers to put more emphasis on innovative ideas and strategies to ensure that both present and future generations would continuously enjoy the hard earned freedom, peace, security and good order that was currently prevailing in the country.

'As you earn your badge of honour remember to represent the uniform you wear with dignity,' he stressed.

'When you give your word, you keep your word. It is the first character trait that you should teach your children and it is the last that human should forget. It is called integrity,' he entreated the cadet officers.

Earlier in his address, the commandant of the training college, Assistant Commissioner of Police Nana Kwadwo Oware said following the recent chieftaincy dispute in the country, particularly the Anlo and Bawku cases, he thought it important to include the lecture in the course for the officers.

The commandant who is also the chief of Akyem Apinamang, explained that most of the cadets would be working closely with the traditional rulers upon completion of the course.

He said there was the need for them to understand the institution, the role the chief plays vis-à-vis that of the police in ensuring peace and security in the various communities.

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