He has not always been a very conciliatory and unifying influential traditional Ghanaian ruler, contrary to what His Royal Majesty, The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei-Tutu, II, would have the rest of the nation believe. Indeed, the Overlord of the Modern Asante Federation may very well be as politically and culturally divisive as Togbe Afede, XIV, the President of the National House of Chiefs (NHC), and the latter’s Vice-President, Daasebre Kwebu Ewusi. We make the foregoing observation squarely based on the rather invidious pronouncement made by Otumfuo Osei-Tutu, in the wake of the declaration of the electoral victory of the then-Interim President of Ghana, to wit, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, by the extant Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, in 2012.
The aforesaid pronouncement was to the effect that The Asantehene was primarily concerned with ensuring, first and foremost that his own people, that is ethnic Asantes, were afforded what Otumfuo Osei-Tutu then considered to be their fair share of the metaphorical “National Cake.” This pronouncement was reportedly made in Asante-Bekwai, where Otumfuo Osei-Tutu had either accompanied or joined the newly elected President Mahama to either cut sod or reactivate the construction of a deliberately abandoned real-estate housing project that had been initiated by former President John Agyekum-Kufuor. Shortly after the exit of the latter, his now-deceased successor, President John Evans Atta-Mills, would be widely reported by the media to have intimated his total lack of interest in prosecuting “These Asante Projects.”
Which was why many of us were quite flabbergasted, but not altogether surprised, that The Asantehene would now be accusing the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) of having, largely by default, sown seeds of division among members of the National House of Chiefs in the raging matter of the government’s indisputably laudable and salutary attempt to democratize the political culture of the country’s local governance system. It appears that some unabashedly National Democratic Congress-leaning chieftains in the country, who clearly seem to have lost their inescapably partisan perks or favors afforded them by the previous Mahama regime and other NDC-sponsored regimes, such as the tough-talking ethnic-chauvinist Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, so-called, that is, Togbe Afede, XIV, have decided to stall the democratization of our local governance process by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at all costs.
Consequently, faulting the ruling New Patriotic Party, as he was widely reported to have done before a packed audience at the University of Professional Studies in Accra (UPSA), for being responsible for the apparent factional kerfuffle that seems to have taken grips of the membership of the National House of Chiefs was clearly disingenuous on the part of Otumfuo Osei-Tutu (See “Otumfuo Speaks on Dec 17 Referendum” MyJoyOnline.com / Ghanaweb.com 11/22/19). Well, The Asantehene is absolutely right to observe that “Local government in the modern era is only traditional government in Western attire.” The real question, however, becomes the fact of whether, indeed, our present system of local governance is authentically as “modern” or “progressive” as The Asantehene would have the rest of the nation believe. And the obvious answer, of course, is “Absolutely Not!”
It is also rather pathetic that influential and powerful traditional rulers like His Royal Majesty, The Asantehene, would cavalierly presume to have significantly contributed to the present state of Ghana’s democratic culture when, in fact, leaders like Otumfuo Osei-Tutu have actually regressively, albeit selfishly, collaborated with the patently and implacably anti-democratic and “revolutionary” National Democratic Congress to scandalously buck the system. Put more bluntly and succinctly, The Asantehene may very well be integral to the proverbial Monkey-Wrench that appears to have been thrown into the otherwise visionary and progressive decision by President Akufo-Addo to democratize our local governance system. Indeed, even as the immortalized Prof. Albert Einstein is reported to have once insightfully observed, “You cannot do the same counterproductive thing over and over again and still expect different and more profitable results each time.”
It well appears that traditional rulers like Otumfuo Osei-Tutu, Togbe Afede and Nana Kwebu Ewusi want to eat their metaphorical cake and miraculously have the same on their dining table as well. The real pity here is for traditional rulers like Otumfuo Osei-Tutu to envisage the election of our Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) along partisan lines, which, by the way, is routinely done in the most robust and advanced of modern democracies, including Great Britain, the historical font of postcolonial Ghanaian democracy, to be diametrically incompatible with authentic local governance. This is quite understandable because these traditional rulers were themselves not popularly elected or appointed by the very people whose fundamental rights and interests they so cavalierly presume to represent.
Sooner than later, the overwhelming majority of the Ghanaian people and the electorate would be forced to decide whether our monarchical or chieftaincy system has any practical relevance for the development and modernization of a postcolonial and sovereign Democratic Republic of Ghana.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
November 22, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
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