A traditional ruler has observed that the biggest weakness of Traditional Authorities and Traditional Councils in Ghana was the lack of human and material resources to make them function effectively.
Nana Owusu-Ansah Kokroko II, Krontihene of Wenchi Traditional Area in the Brong Ahafo Region, on Friday said traditional rulers could not share development responsibilities with district, metropolitan and municipal assemblies because the playing field was obviously skewed in favour of the assemblies.
He said for members of the Councils to assume the proper role as development agents, they must be given the needed capacity as well as human and material resources to enable them work properly.
Nana Kokroko was speaking at a workshop for traditional rulers and assembly members from Tain, Wenchi and Techiman districts in the Brong Ahafo Region on the topic: “Integrating modern systems for political, social and economic accountability into the traditional council to enhance transparency - challenges and opportunities”, at Techiman.
The two-day workshop under the theme: “Traditional Councils and District Assemblies - addressing the challenges of transparency and accountability in local governance”, was aimed at strengthening the trust and confidence between members of the Councils and government officials at the assembly level as well as between the members and their people to enhance local governance.
It was organised by Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), a Ghanaian local governance non-governmental organization (NGO), and sponsored by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), a German political NGO.
Nana Kokroko, a former Clerk of Parliament, said the Councils were supposed to complement the role of the assemblies but they could not do so because the system has denied them that opportunity as a result of the lacked technical assistance, logistics, human and material resources, which were being provided to the assemblies and Regional Coordinating Councils.
Nana Kokroko said that there was no structured public service organization to cater for the Councils while the assemblies were being supported to ensure effective administration and management of the local government.
He challenged traditional rulers to ensure accountability and transparency to justify the trust and confidence reposed in them by the people.
Nana Kokroko expressed regret that the Councils “are operating today with very little or no state funds at all and yet they are expected to pass the litmus test as catalysts of change in economic and social development”.
He called for a legislation to turn the Councils into more focused and productive entities.
Mr. Bernard Guri, Executive Director of CIKOD, said a study carried out by the group and University of Cape Coast revealed that many government officials and the general public had doubts about the chieftaincy institution as regards accountability and transparency to the people.
He said the findings included “some chiefs do not inform their people about the amount of royalties they receive for the development of their traditional areas and how such monies are spent”.
Mr. Guri said that even though government officials recognised the importance of traditional rulers as indispensable partners in development “they are not sure to what level they can hold chiefs accountable if they allocate public funds to them to support developmental activities”
Mr. Stephen B. Blighton, Techiman Municipal Development Planning Officer, urged the Councils and communities to forward their development proposals to the assemblies well-ahead of time for incorporation into the over all assembly development plan.
Mr. Klaus D. Leotzer, Resident Representative of KAS, said it was important that traditional leaders took the lead in ensuring transparency and accountability in local governance since they were the custodians of the culture and resources of the people.
He said it was imperative for traditional authorities to account for resources entrusted in their hands.