By Gordon Asare-Bediako
Confusion seems to have gripped the National House of Chiefs following the proposition by the Akufo-Addo administration to introduce partisanship in the district level elections, including the proposal to make the positions of MMDCEs elective.
The Government of Ghana seeks to amend Article 55 (3) which is entrenched in the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana in a referendum to allow political parties to present candidates in the district assembly elections. The Bill to also have MMDCEs elected is before Parliament awaiting passage.
While the campaign for YES gathers momentum, the opposition NDC, in a strange twist of events, came out with a changed mindset, urging all its members to rather vote NO on the day, a position that departs from the stance they earlier on had embraced.
As Ghanaians were still wondering about the strange U-turn of the NDC from a YES to a NO, the National House of Chiefs came to town, a few days later, to throw their weight behind the NO campaign, stating in its communiqué that ‘the efficacy and utility of introducing partisan politics into local government is questionable’. The November 14 letter to the general public was signed by Togbe Afede XIV and Daasebre Kweku Ewusi VII, the President and Vice President respectively.
No sooner had the Togbe Afede/Daasebre Kweku Ewusi-signed letter came out than Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi, the Western Regional House of Chiefs’ President, the chairman of the Governance Council of the National House of Chiefs, came out to chastise the two leaders of the group, accusing them of taking a position not reflective of the collective views of all the members.
Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi indicated that his committee is responsible for such matters and to the best of his knowledge, no meeting whatsoever had been held by his committee or the entire membership of the association to deliberate on the matters relating to the referendum and the introduction of partisanship in our district level elections.
As though that were not enough, the next day, the 15th day of November, 2019, a letter signed by Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, Okyehene who also doubles as the President of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, also came out. Amongst other issues raised by the Okyehene, the letter stated that as a body of eminent chiefs, decisions of national importance should be subjected to a lot of consultations.
The letter further stated that the Whole House has not been briefed on the matter before the unilateral decision by Togbe Afede and his partner in crime to go to town with a release purporting to represent the entire membership of the National House of Chiefs. In effect, the Okyehene has rejected the release from the National House of Chiefs and assured the general public to expect a communiqué from Nananom over the matter in the coming days.
To the many Ghanaians who thought they had seen the end of this brouhaha, Togbe Afede and Daasebre Kweku Ewusi had something in stock for them. On Sunday, the 17th day of November, 2019, the President of the National House of Chiefs and his team released a long letter detailing what they describe as the series of discussions held over the matter.
This latest action of the President and Vice President of the National House of Chiefs is seen by many as an attempt to justify their action as regards the letter they wrote to ask Ghanaians to reject the introduction of partisanship in our local government elections.
Though Ghanaians cannot predict when the other side will counter what has been released by Togbe Afede and his team, what is more than obvious is the fact that we have not seen the last of this matter from both sides of this divided National House of Chiefs.