Paramount Chiefs and Presidential Aspirants

Paramount Chiefs and Presidential Aspirants

By J E SOLOMON

The Paramount Chief of Gomoa Akyempim in Ghana, West Africa, Obrifo Ahunako Ahor Ankobea II, is reported  to have asked former President Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana to convince her wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings to abandon her plans to contest the National Democratic Congress (NDC) primaries in July, this year.

The report, filed by the Ghana News Agency from Apam in the Central Region of Ghana on Monday, April 25, 2012, was published by GhanaWeb.

I have great respect for paramount chiefs, and for that matter the chieftaincy institution.  But when chiefs, being that they wield enormous amount of influence in the society, decide to meddle in politics in ways that undermine their integrity, then I tend to look at them differently.

Obviously, Obrifo Ankobea is not happy that the former first lady is planning to contest the NDC presidential primaries to stand for president come 2012.  Otherwise he would not have suggested that Nana Konadu put the idea on hold for now.  Why should Obrifo Ankobea be unhappy about Nana Konadu contesting?  Even if he thinks that Nana Konadu, as president of Ghana, will be more of a third term for Jerry Rawlings, going public to persuade Mr. Rawlings is not something a chief should do.

When opinion leaders such as paramount chiefs attempt to direct their focus on issues they are not expected to get involved in publicly, what happens is that observers tend to entertain negative thoughts about such actions.  And they have only themselves to blame for any unfavorable attacks.

I do not intend to stir up ethnic sentiments about Obrifo Ankobea’s suggestion that Mrs. Rawlings should not contest, however, it is too obvious to understand the connection between the suggestion and the chief’s personal interests – it has an element of suspicion.  Fact is, the incumbent president, Mr. John Evans Atta Mills, is from the Central Region of Ghana, and, therefore, a Fante.  Obrifo Ankobea II also hails from the Central Region and is a Fante.  And one can only conclude that the chief’s personal interest in the 2012 presidential election is the main reason why he is trying to persuade Mr. Jerry Rawlings to talk his wife out of contesting the NDC presidential primaries in July.

There’s no doubt that Obrifo Ankobea II will like to see Mr. Atta Mills re-elected for a second term, but that all depends on the will of the people of Ghana.  If the elected representatives of the ruling NDC party decide unanimously to elect the incumbent as their flag-bearer for the 2012 presidential election, so be it. 

If, on the other hand, the NDC should nominate Nana Konadu or someone else who is eligible constitutionally, Mr. Atta Mills may, after satisfying constitutional requirements, still contest independently if he chooses.  In the final analysis it is the Ghanaian electorate that will determine who should rule the country. 

And when the electioneering campaign kicks off, Obrifo Ankobea II and, for that matter, any politically minded chief who wishes to join the campaign trail to support a candidate can do so, howbeit, without in anyway coercing, intimidating, or antagonizing fellow citizens who may be identified as political opponents.  No paramount seat or traditional stool in the country should be seen as an extension of any political party or the preserve of any political candidate.

If Obrifo Ankobea II is convinced, as the report indicated, that many Ghanaians would vote for the incumbent, then he does not need to persuade any aspiring presidential candidate to not contest the upcoming presidential primaries.  The votes, of course, will decide.  Meanwhile, he should leave Nana Konadu alone.