I am one silly young man who is easily disturbed by worries that trend which afflicts the integrity of our Traditional leaders. And I am increasingly becoming disgusted by actions and inactions of some Traditional Rulers.
Six months ago, it struck me from my investigations into activities of Chiefs that over the years, the integrity of most Traditional leaders have too many times come under serious criticism from State Institutions, International organizations and even diplomatic missions. The integrities of many traditional rulers have come under stern scrutiny and we must discuss it. We must not hypocritically sweep it under the carpet in our quest to be respectful.
“Whether it is in the field of advocacy on health issues or in the area of ensuring that children go to school under hygienic conditions, or in the preservation of culture heritage, chiefs have a key role to play. Sitting down aloof and watching government facilitate development all alone is not an acceptable position”.
So at the insistence of the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the World Bank supported the establishment of the Promoting Partnership with Traditional Authorities Project (PPTAP) with various grants --$ 4.5 million went to Asanteman Council, and a further $ 500,000 to Akyem Abuakwa Council, to plan and implement developmental projects in their respective traditional areas on a pilot scale.
The pilot project started on 28 July 2003— two days before I turned 13 years, and ended on 30 June 2006. Some 40 school buildings were built in Asanteman and a few other projects commenced in Akyem Abuakwa. It is important to note that, a significant number of chiefs in Ghana have taken active part in the development of their communities and some are still role models for many—I still wonder in my dreams why young people chose chiefs as role models.
However, the focus of the project was to ascertain whether traditional leaders were up to the task of contributing significantly to socio-economic development of their own communities. It was also to test the collaborative efforts of traditional authorities, local and central governments, and donor agencies in promoting sustainable development in underprivileged, rural communities. This is 2012, next month is 2013 and it would be10 years after this pilot project started with a whopping $ 5 million disproportionately shared between only two traditional councils. And from all indications, it looks to me our leaders failed us greatly on that pilot project. They could not take advantage of this great opportunity and therefore nothing became of the Pilot Project. In fact nothing has been said about PPTAP since 2006. The questions on my mind are:
1. What has become of the PPTAP? 2. What significant impacts have been recorded? 3. Was it just another “token” in disguise?
It is only in Ghana and perhaps Africa that foreigners believe that they are enriching us by donating a cow, a goat, or some chickens and a plough. This is because they have realized that our leaders are interested in “tokens” than actually solving our many problems. They have realized, based on research that our leaders cannot effectively manage our many resources to benefit us all.
Often politicians are the ones who come under attacks from IMANI and other civil societies. I do not think successive governments have served as well enough but I am unpleasantly surprised by how little progress our Traditional leaders have made after Independence to alleviate poverty, eradicate malaria, maintain sanitation, and the like in their communities—And as if not embarrassing enough, our Chiefs have turned the Chieftaincy Institution into an agency of fraud.
I nearly broke down when I learnt that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) refuses to accept requests from the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture for protocol endorsements to facilitate Visa acquisition for Chiefs and their entourage travelling abroad. MOFA insists that there is little integrity in our Chieftaincy Institution and that very few chiefs are still in their good books.
Investigations have revealed that some chiefs collect huge sums of monies from desperate Ghanaians who will trade their life’s to travel abroad and fraudulently secure them Visas through the MOFA protocol under the pretext that these persons are subjects of the chiefs who will assist them on their trip—only for them to go and vanish into the air. This, according to MOFA, has resulted in a number of diplomatic wrangles between Ghana and aggrieved Nations who receive these illegal migrants.
I don’t think there is anything right with that “business”. It is not only fraudulent and therefore criminal, but it will, as long as it exists on a “willing-buyer willing-seller” basis, send wrong signals to the outside world that we don’t love our country and our culture. Ghana is in the international arena and what we do here is available to be seen everywhere. We don’t want to send the signal that we are thieves, no.