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Chiefs endorsing presidential candidates are gambling – analyst

A Chieftaincy analyst says traditional leaders who are endorsing presidential candidates are doing that because they want development projects for their communities.

Dr Obiri Yeboah says given the inability of chiefs to provide social amenities to their constituents, the only means available is for them to pledge allegiance to candidates whom they are confident would provide them with the things.

“It is very difficult to decide not to be partisan because the people are all looking up to the chiefs to solicit social amenities from those who hold the purse and it is the presidential aspirants who hold the purse,” he said.

Speaking to Dzifa Bampoe, host of Joy FM’s Newsnite programme Thursday, the Chieftaincy expert says traditional leaders who are unable to lobby for development projects from candidates might be compelled to abdicate their stool by their constituents.

Endorsement of presidential candidates especially the two leading candidates namely President John Mahama of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) and flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) by chiefs has been on the table of political discussions for months.

Sections of Ghanaians including the Asantehene, Otumfuor Osei Tutu II and the President of the National House of Chiefs Professor Naa Pangasoa John Nabila have criticised traditional leaders for their action.

Although Otumfuor who is the head of the Asanteman Traditonal Council found nothing wrong with Chiefs accepting gifts from politicians, he cautioned them to be mindful of what they tell the politicians when they visit them.

He said any traditional leader who wants to dabble in politics should consider abdicating his position so that the sanctity of the Chieftaincy institution in the country would be preserved.

The NPP leader has been endorsed by several chiefs such as the Chief of Garu, Chief of Bawku, Paramount Chief of Tumu Traditional Area, Gyasehen of Peki Traditional Area, Chief of Tuobodom, and 58 Chiefs from the Atwima Kwanwoma Traditional Area.

President Mahama has also bagged in endorsement from the Chief of Kukurantumi, Zongo Chiefs, President of the Northern Regional House of Chiefs, Adontenhene of the Dodo Traditional Area, Chief of Sunyani, Chief of Yeji, Chief of Bassa, and the Chief of Odumase number one.

But Dr Yeboah said the warning by the Otumfuor should have come early considering more chiefs have endorsed these candidates.

Nonetheless, he said the chiefs could not be faulted if they openly pledge allegiance to political parties because they have lost their dignity and power to the politicians.

“They [chiefs] have been reduced to spokesperson and agent of government,” he said, adding “there is an antecedent in this country where chiefs were demoted and promoted by politicians so they have to play safe.”