Mr Yaw Opoku, a lawyer and a member of the Socialist Forum of Ghana, has described the Chieftaincy institution as a relic of the past which contradicts the present republican status of the state.
He said the institution evolved at a certain stage of human development and reflected the life of people, but it had now lost its essence with the various political transformations over time.
Mr Opoku expressed this view on Tuesday in a paper on the Chieftaincy institution at a public forum in Accra, organized by the Committee for Joint Action (CJA).
He said the significance of Chieftaincy and kingship had waned all over the world, because people now realized that the sovereignty of the state resided in them instead of in a selected few along bloodlines.
Because of lack of space in the political dispensation of many states, he said the Chieftaincy institution had become a contradiction in the face of modern governance and a fertile ground for conflict.
He said Chieftaincy emerged at a stage when human beings began to struggle for resources which led to killings and capturing of people to work for others.
Such a feudal system, he said, created chiefs who then became political and military leaders with added responsibilities of adjudicating on judicial matters and performing religious functions.
He said with the breaking down of such monarchic system in Europe and the subsequent emergence of colonial powers in Africa, the roles chiefs played were reduced to insignificant figure heads.
In contrast Nana Oduro Kwarteng, Guantuahene of Agona Swedru said the role of chiefs in contemporary Ghana was still relevant and must be upheld with the dignity that went with the institution.
He said though the role of chiefs narrowed in the face of political administration, “Chiefs as agents of development in our community and at the grassroots level are still as relevant as they were during my grandfather’s era.”
He said the role of Chieftaincy institution in present modern society could be described as irrelevant if its focus was not aimed at improving the quality of life of the people.
Nana Kwarteng, therefore, challenged chiefs to be proactive in their vision for development and serve as a vessel through which government development agenda could be accelerated in their area.
He, however, condemned the few charlatans hiding under the cloak of the noble tradition to foment trouble to justify their heinous crimes in the name of Chieftaincy.
He said such people must be dealt with according to the dictates of the law.
Expatiating on how the Chieftaincy Institution contradicts the republican status of the state, Mr Opoku said the preamble to the 1992 constitution stated in principle that all powers of government sprang from the sovereign will of the people.
He said Article 1 (1) further said the sovereignty of Ghana resided in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government were to be exercised in the manner and within the limit laid down in the constitution.
Mr Opoku argued that under such circumstances, Article 277 which stated that a chief must be selected from a certain lineage and bloodline did not offer an opportunity to the people to determine who would lead them as enshrined in the constitution under the principle of universal Audit Sufferage.
“Under that principle, leaders are supposed to be selected by votes.
However, our chieftaincy institution allows only a few people to take such a decision against the dictates of society of equal citizens,” he said.
Mr. Opoku therefore asked the Constitutional Review Commission to take a critical look at that constitutional provision which stated that chiefs must be appointed through bloodline and amend it accordingly.
He said the chieftaincy Institution was bedeviled with numerous conflicts because chiefs were perceived to be custodian of the land and therefore could dispose of it anyhow.
Mr. Opoku said as a result, though chiefs by a constitutional provision under Article 267 were not supposed to sell lands, most chiefs circumvented that provision be granting long leaseholds on the indentures while in actual fact the land had been sold outright.
“This is because, I cannot see how such lands could be taken back after 90 years of leasehold”, he said.
He said most chieftaincy disputes therefore emanated from parochial interest of what people stood to gain when they became custodians of lands.
Mr Opoku lauded the recent landmark ruling by the Supreme Court on Obojo Lands case which had given a different meaning to what constituted a stool land.