A house divided among itself cannot stand, says the Holy Book of Christians. However, that seems to be the recent case of the eminent traditional leaders of the country who form the National House of Chiefs concerning the upcoming referendum scheduled for 17th December 2019. While the President of the National House of Chiefs, Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, Togbe Afede XIV, and his Vice, Daasebre Nana Kwebu Ewusi VII, are saying the House was against the government’s position on the referendum, same seem not to be the collective decision of the house as has been refuted by the Chairman of the Governance Committee of the House, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II of Sefwi Anhwiaso in the Western Region.
House of Chiefs Position
The President and his Vice in a statement called on Ghanaians to vote ‘No’ in the December 17 referendum seeking to allow the participation of political parties in local level elections. According to the two, allowing political parties to participate in the local polls will further promote exclusiveness associated with political power in the country. “While we are aware that the election of chief executives of districts etc. could result in the coexistence of central government and local government controlled by different political parties, experience clearly demonstrates that the culture of ‘winner takes all’ would prevail at the level to the detriment of our united development endeavors,” the statement said.
It added, “we are concerned that the introduction of partisan politics into local government will be accompanied by the unwholesome political culture and the corruption associated with partisan politics, which has already done a lot of harm to our society and economy.”
Even before the ink would dry on the statement, it was debunked by the Chairman of the Governance Committee of the National House of Chiefs, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II, who says the Statement does not represent the collective view of the house.
“I am not aware of any consultation or meeting. This matter should have been referred to the governance committee of which I am the Chairman, but it hasn’t been referred to me. If it came to the governing council, it would have been discussed at the planning committee. But this hasn’t happened so. I don’t know who and who came out with this statement on behalf of all the paramount chiefs in the country. Especially when two major political parties have taken a different stance. If we are not careful, we will involve ourselves directly in party politics. So far as I am concerned, this is a statement coming from two individuals, not the house,” Ogyeahoho Gyebi II said.
Eastern Region Dissociate Itself
Subsequently, the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs has also dissociated itself from the statement by the National President and Vice, further deepening the confusion.
The Eastern Regional House of Chiefs in a six-point statement signed by its Regional President, Omanhene of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council, Okyenhene Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, said: “the statement issued by the President of the National House of Chiefs does not reflect the views of the traditional leadership of Ghana.”
The statement stated that the National House of Chiefs is a responsible body of eminent chiefs and the symbol of traditional and national authority saying its position on critical national issues evolves from broad consultation and deliberation to reflect and enforce collective national conscience and aspirations.
It further explained that the statement issued on the 15th of November 2019 by the President of the National House of Chiefs had not the knowledge of the Governance Committee Chairman, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II, “who has found the need to express shock at not being aware of the statement” by the President and other related matters in violation of due process.
It said the Standing Committee of the National House of Chiefs has no record of deliberations on the matter; the Committee of the Whole House has not been informed or met on the matter in question and the Leadership of the various Regional House of Chiefs have not been informed or consulted.
“In relation to the above it is the considered opinion of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs that the statement issued by the President of the National House of Chiefs does not reflect the views of the traditional leadership of Ghana,” the statement said.
Position to be Communicated
Meanwhile, the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs has asked the public to expect from Nananom in the coming days, a communiqué on this critical national issue in line with established consultative processes.
The Referendum seeks to amend Article 55 (3) to enable political parties to sponsor candidates for election to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and Lower Local Government Units.
Currently, the law, in Article 243 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, says District Chief Executives for the MMDAs are to be appointed by the President with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of the assembly present and voting at the meeting.
Chiefs were consulted
Howerver, in a quick rebuttal to the Chairman of the Governance Committee of the National House of Chiefs, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi and the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, The National House of Chiefs has rejected claims that their position was not discussed with members.
The counterstatement signed by the National President and his vice, said the House discussed the matter when the Deputy Minister of Local Government first appeared before them with the matter.
The statement also outlined a series of fora at which the issue was discussed and the current position adopted which all had Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi, especially in attendance.