Chieftaincy Forum, Africa, a Non-Governmental Organisation has express concern on the perceived engagement of chiefs in corrupt practices to choose their leaders in various areas of the country.
“We are worried that our chiefs who constitute the main moral paragons and critical voices in the fight against this monster of corruption are themselves being caught in the web of it by accepting bribes from all kinds of sources. Our worry is borne out of the genuine concern that the chieftaincy institution which is culturally and constitutionally insulated from political control and manipulation appears to be losing its time tested value of independence and a sense of autonomy which used to be its critical hallmarks“.
A statement signed by Mr. Philip Mensah, Spokesperson for Chieftaincy Forum, Africa, and copied to the media, said “We have been observing with pain and worry the pace at which morality is taking a nosedive in our chieftaincy institution, once revered for its strong moral standards which include; but not limited to anti-corruption standards and high ethical values.
“It’s a trite knowledge that corruption remains a bane in our society particularly in our bureaucracy and public service, hence, successive governments have made the fight against this nation- wrecking canker a serious one with the expectation that our chiefs will use their revered offices to support the state in this fight“.
The statement however commended Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and Togbe Afede XIV among others for their outstanding leadership and urged others to follow suit.
“We salute the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and Togbe Afede XIV and several other important chiefs who continuously put the national interest first in all things. We respect them for their defence of the truth even when it is not too popular or pleasing to the ear. They deserve our commendation and national celebration, especially as truth is becoming a scarce commodity in public office and private life. Both history and posterity will judge them favourably. The nation needs such voices to keep our political office holders in check by speaking truth to power. Let’s encourage rather than denigrate them”.
The statement said the chiefs because of their strong values especially in anti- corruption in the past could speak the truth, but were now losing their timeless values as some of its members now turned themselves into the couriers of illegitimate moneys to other members or are made recipients of bribes and illegal moneys meant to buy their conscience and loyalty.
“So serious is this phenomenon that the election of chiefs – regional and national – which used to be done at the blind side of the country without citizens being in the known of how and when this democratic exercise was done in the past has now become an avenue for vote, conscience and influence buying to such an extent that some chiefs are being offered hefty resources mostly in the form of money to vote in a given direction”.
The statement was disturbed by the allegation that some chiefs with bottomless pit of resources were going round offering moneys to some chiefs ahead of the National House of Chiefs’ elections.
“Similar situations, we are told played out in the Regional elections with some chiefs being sponsored by some influence buyers to either contest certain positions or vote against some other candidates in the election. What is troubling is the allegation that in some cases, it is some of the chiefs who are at the forefront of doling out these illegitimate moneys to their colleagues just to influence them”.
“As citizens, we are worried that the last bastion of morality and voice of conscience is losing its pride of place and respect. Like most Ghanaians, we are worried at the extent to which our chiefs are allowing partisan politics to permeate the fabric of the once cherished institution of chieftaincy. This sordid state implies that the country’s fight against corruption and wrong doing in public office will remain daunting. It means that as a country, we are losing critical voices of moderation and peace called upon during the political tension and misunderstandings for national institutions is increasing“.
The statement questioned how chiefs who bribed to hold regional and national positions hold the government accountable by speaking up against wrong doings in public office.
“By their indulgence in these immoral acts, they are denigrating their sacred stools and skins as well as making nonsense of the great oaths of office they took in the presence of their subjects“.
The statement said they were however consoled by the fact that there were some chiefs with a true sense of integrity and independence who will not allow themselves to be corrupted by others and ready to uphold their respective oaths of office and hold sacred their stools and skins.
The statement urged chiefs to recognize the sacred fact that, unlike their chieftaincy institution which remained in perpetuity, politicians and political office were birds of passage who lived in a state of flux. “What is important is the national interest, and not our individual and parochial interests“.