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17.09.2004 General News

Gov't would assist chiefs to regain their respect -JAK

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Kumasi, Sept. 17, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Friday said the government would pursue policies that would assist the chieftaincy institution to regain its respect and honour in society.
He said the government is therefore, expediting action for the Chieftaincy Amendment Bill to be passed into law and would continue to support the National House of Chiefs (NHC) in its peace-making efforts. "I hope that the new law will make the administration and management of the institutional machinery smoother and more efficient" President Kufuor made the pledge when addressing a meeting of the NHC in Kumasi.
He said the monthly stipends of chiefs, which were meagre would be increased substantially in next year's budget and pledged the allocation of two cross country vehicles to the House soon, while considering the review of payment of royalties to stools and skins.
President Kufuor said the institution had, for the past 25 years witnessed some "tokenism" of respect in the relations between successive governments and the institution of chieftaincy.
President Kufuor said consequently, much of the goodwill and institutional wisdom of the traditional society, which could have been harnessed for national development, have either been suppressed or not been as forthcoming as should be the case.
He said since the Government assumed power in 2001, it had been pursuing a policy of sincere and informed recognition of the institution of chieftaincy and its natural and constitutional roles in the country's governance.
"This is why relations between chiefs and government have improved significantly. This policy stems from our acknowledgement of the uniqueness and relevance for social development of the institution", he said.
President Kufuor said unfortunately, in recent times the spate of chieftaincy disputes often turns very violent, had tended to undermine peace, security, unity and progress in their respective areas in particular and the nation generally thereby casting doubt on the institution's role.
He said for good governance, it was critical that this negative trend was stopped, "indeed, the National House of Chiefs and all responsible citizens must rally to arrest and reverse this canker that is corroding the wholesome image of the institution".
President Kufuor said chiefs continued to be the fulcrum of all activities at the local and traditional levels and in this respect, chieftaincy provided leadership, vision and social cohesion for the people.
He said the institution also had great potential to strengthen the peace and national unity, security while promoting both the social and economic well-being of the people within its jurisdiction as well as complementing the efforts of the Government.
President Kufuor commended the House for their initiative to establish a code of ethics to regulate their conduct as chiefs and leaders in the communities, adding, "it is my hope that when the code is finally adopted, our chiefs will strive to live by their tenets they themselves have ascribed to."
On the general elections, he appealed to chiefs to promote the crusade for free, fair elections.
Odeneho Gyapong Ababio, President of the House, said due to good governance being pursued by the Government, Ghanaians were now free to go about their duties without any fear.
"We observe with great joy that we are moving ahead as a nation despite some difficulties. Indeed the fruits of your governance are not being enjoyed by Ghanaians only but also by our neighbours in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire".
Odeneho Ababio, who is also the Paramount Chief of Sefwi-Bekwai Traditional Area, said, "We, as chiefs are prepared to give you the needed support in your efforts to put this country on a sound economic footing so as to achieve an improved standard of living for Ghanaians".
The President of the House swore-in Kpembe Wura, Kibasibi Alhaji Ibrahim Haruna as a member of the House to replace the late Chief G.S.S. Bakari, Tuleuwe-Wura on the Northern Regional House of Chiefs delegation to the House.
President Kufuor was accompanied to the House by Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of Regional Integration and NEPAD, Mr Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Ashanti Regional Minister and Mr Maxwell Kofi Jumah, Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive.