President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has vowed to arrest the rising phenomenon of vigilantism that was creeping into the socio-political fabric of the Ghanaian society.
He said he would do all that was within his power to ensure that those who flouted the laws of Ghana were made to face its wrath irrespective of their political, ethnic or religious affiliations.
Addressing a meeting of the National House of Chiefs in Kumasi on Monday, President Akufo-Addo stated that “I will not walk the path others trod who found it convenient to turn a blind eye to the criminal misdeeds of their followers and took no action, as it would displease them.”
“I am walking another path, the path of making reality the principle of the rule of law, the idea of equality of every citizen before the law. Wrongdoers wear no political colours. They are just wrongdoers, and will be dealt with as such.”
The President urged the members of the National House of Chiefs to speak out and join Government’s fight against the ills of our society – corruption, social and economic injustice and crime.
He further reminded them also about the fight against the illegal mining menace, popularly referred to as galamsey.
Noting the recent difficult times Ghana had gone through, President Akufo-Addo said the situation had led to some people finding “ways and means” to keep body and soul together, and, as a result, engaged themselves in illegal activities, such as galamsey.
“As Chiefs, you have a responsibility, as was done in the days of our forefathers, to help preserve our lands, water bodies and environment.
“We all have a responsibility to say no to galamsey for our own common survival and the survival of those who are to come. If we allow it, we are jeopardising both our present and our future. Our responsibility in this is clear,” he said.
The President noted with grave concern recent cases involving the defilement of children, asking traditional rulers to speak out against those ills as “customary guardians of the morals of the nation’s communities, both by your conduct and the manner in which you intervene in the lives of their subjects.
“Such cases cannot be treated as “family matters”. Again, instances where youths take the law into their own hands, vandalising properties, can no longer continue, and must be condemned by all. Perpetrators of such acts must be handed over to the law enforcement agencies for the laws of the land to take their course. Senior citizens should not be seen to be making special pleas for such perpetrators,” the President stressed.
The President urged the chiefs not to fall into the well-known temptation of telling him what they think he should hear.
“It would be equally tempting to tell me that I am the best thing that ever happened to Ghana, and it would be even more tempting to tell me to ignore my critics,” he said.
“I expect that, as our esteemed Traditional Rulers, you will not go down that road, but will allow the moral authority of your status to justify your interventions,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo also admonished the Chiefs and Queen Mothers not to be afraid of discarding rules that do not fit in with modern, current realities and norms, making particular reference to the practices that seek to discriminate against women and children.
“It is difficult, for example, to find a scientific, legitimate reason why children should be given tiny pieces of meat or fish, when children need more protein than adults. It is difficult, again, to find a justification for some of the widowhood rites that persist, today, among many of our peoples. I urge you to be in the forefront of fighting to discard those outmoded practices, which should have no place in the Ghana of the 21st century,” he said.
The President called on the Chiefs to support government’s vision for a prosperous and progressive Ghana.
He told them that though the Constitution forbade them from engaging in partisan political activity, their involvement in the public life of the country derives naturally from their position as traditional rulers.
“I would, therefore, appeal to you to lend your voice in support of the regional and local government reforms being undertaken by my Government, i.e. the creation of new regions, in accordance with popular aspirations; the direct election by their people of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives; and creation of new districts and the upgrading of some existing ones into municipalities.
“Government is determined to bring governance closer to the people, and expand the boundaries of democracy in our country,” the President said.
“We are counting on you to help shape and integrate yourselves into these developments, so that the peculiarly Ghanaian contribution to the concept of governance, which emanates from the integration of royal, aristocratic institutions into the fabric of a republican, democratic framework, will be enhanced and strengthened to the benefit of the Ghanaian people.”