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Upper West Chiefs Call For Scrapping of Unit Committees

2007-04-04 16:29:59
This article has been read 716 times.

Chiefs in the Upper West Region on Wednesday called on the government to initiate steps to replace Unit Committees with Town/Village Development Committees in order to enhance unity in the communities.

This would also spare government the huge sums of money sunk into organizing elections for membership to the Unit Committees. In a communique issued at the end of a two-day workshop at Wa, the chiefs also urged the Regional Coordinating Councils to support them to access funds from the Consolidated Fund like other independent institutions to initiate development projects in their communities. The Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), organized the workshop with the Konrad Adenaeur Foundation (KAF) as the sponsors.

It sought to explore ways of strengthening the financial base of traditional authorities for sustainable land administration and poverty reduction in Northern Ghana and Upper West in particular.

The communiqu=E9, signed by all the fourteen chiefs who participated in the workshop, further asked municipal and district assemblies to pass a resolution to allow traditional authorities to access the District Assemblies Common Fund for their development programmes and advocated the establishment District Houses of Chiefs as allies in the development of the districts.

They called on all Tendamba (landlords) and all family heads to contribute a percentage of revenue accruing from sale of family lands for community development, while traditional councils should come out with a policy to pay a percentage of every plot of land sold in the area into an investment initiative.

In an address read on his behalf, Mr Ambrose Dery, Upper West Regional Minster, said strengthening the financial base of traditional rulers for their development activities towards poverty reduction was a useful venture, however, the issues needed to be examined critically. For instance, in implementing such a policy, a perception should not be created that traditional authorities had become parallel bodies in the decentralization process.

Furthermore, they needed to ensure that the traditional authorities as revered institutions were not exposed to undue scrutiny in line with the requirements of transparency, probity and accountability.

Mr Ben Guri, Executive Director of CIKOD, said research had shown that over 75 per cent of Ghanaians were still dependent on their traditional authorities for governance and social organization, while 85 per cent relied basically on traditional medicine for their health care. That therefore meant that ignoring the country's indigenous resource base meant ignoring the largest part of the potential for the development of the people.

According to him, among the governments that had ruled this country, only the NPP government should be credited for having shown concrete commitment to supporting traditional authorities, with the establishment of the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture as the best testimony.

Mr Klaus Loetzer, Resident Representative of KAF in a speech read for him, said chiefs were the frontline development agents of the communities and that their access to resource was very critical for the development of the entire nation.

He noted that modern state had eroded the traditional system where every farmer or hunter could bring a percentage of his or her produce to support the traditional institution.

"You dare not request a medical doctor, a teacher, a civil servant to provide a percentage of his income for the sustenance of a chief", he added.


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