Accra, July 27, GNA - The institution of chieftaincy is a strong underpinning to Ghana's unification and development, President John Agyekum Kufuor said in Accra on Tuesday.
He said for chieftaincy to be relevant to national development, it must be modernized and kept abreast with the pace of development.
"Governments must always work in cooperation with chiefs in our efforts to develop because Ghana is a unitary state and nothing should be done to divide us", he said.
President Kufuor made this observation when the newly enskinned Nayiri Na Boahagu Mahami Abdulai Sheriga II, King of the Mamprugu Traditional Area in the Northern Region paid a courtesy call on him at the Castle, Osu.
Na Sheriga, 68, enskinned on January 26, this year, succeeded the late King of the Traditional Area, Na Gamni Mahamadu Abdulai, who died last year.
On the proposed elevation of some divisional chiefs in the area, President Kufuor said the Government would not subvert or manipulate chieftaincy in any respect for its selfish or shortsighted gains.
"We have respect for chieftaincy and will not manipulate the institution", he said.
However, he appealed to the Nayiri to use the appropriate channel to accord the chiefs involved the needed dignity.
President Kufuor said the problems at Bawku and Bolgatanga, which begun during the First Republic were complex and that required an intensive research to find means to resolve the issues without any adverse effect on the country.
He urged them to use dialogue to solve the problems in order to restore the rights of the people involved and maintain peace and tranquillity in the area.
President Kufuor said the creation of the new districts and constituencies were not for the selfish gains of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) but for an effective and efficient administration. He gave the assurance that the new districts would be well equipped with the needed infrastructure and staff to operate efficiently.
President Kufuor said a new bridge would be constructed over the White Volta to make the 'Overseas' areas accessible, adding that the Walewale -Nalerigu road would be rehabilitated.
On a request by the Nayiri to re-demarcate the Northern Region, President Kufuor said the Government would not rush into projects that were not well researched into but after a thorough research the proposed re-demarcation would be done for the benefit of the people and Ghana.
"This is a knowing Government that is sensitive and responsive; that sees the chiefs and people as partners in development", he said. On the elections, President Kufuor gave the assurance that the Government would not cheat.
He said the threats being peddled by some people were empty for the Government would not allow them to disrupt the country's democracy. "We want the people to own the Government and determine the choice of Government to rule and give genuine meaning to the country's motto of "Freedom and Justice".
Chief Iddi Mahami, a Spokesman of the Nayiri, said Ghana was developing very fast; therefore, the institution of chieftaincy could not lag behind but keep abreast with time and appealed to the Government for the elevation of some divisional areas to paramount status.
The areas are Wulugu, Soo, Wungu, Yunyoo, Kurugu and Bunkpurugu. The Nayiri commended the Government for the creation of the Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District and the Kubori-Yagaba constituency to accelerate the socio-economic development of the area.
The Nayiri said the Mamprugu Traditional Area was still divided through the interference of Government officials in the disputes at Bolgatanga and Bawku.
He said before the Upper East Region was created as an administrative entity, Bolgatanga, Bongo and Bawku had been part and parcel of the Mamprugu Traditional Area.
The Nayiri said through the instigation and political support of the previous Government and partisan politics they interfered in the rule of the Nayiri over his people and this had been the latent threat to peace and security in the area.
"Peace is prerequisite for the development of any area and we are resolved to solve our differences through dialogue instead of civil strife", he said.
On Agriculture, the Nayiri appealed to the Government to subsidize the price of fertilizers to enable farmers to increase their acreages and profits.
President Kufuor presented 20 million cedis to the Nayiri; 10 million cedis to the elders offered a carton each of schnapps; beer and Guinness and two crates of soft drinks.
The Nayiri presented a smock and a bull to President Kufuor.