General Opinion

Political influence is fuelling the Akuapem chieftaincy dispute

My admiration for Akuapem people dates back to my Secondary School days many years ago when I got to know the Akuapem people through the family of my friend who was my classmate .

Myfriend’s mother Mama Oye and father Mr Opare made me part of their family and I had opportunity to travel to Akropong with them to celebrate the Odwira festival and on weekends when we were on holidays in Accra.

Many Akuapem people are known to be very peaceful and decorous. I strongly believe that their peaceful environment and welcoming weather on the mountain had influenced their lives positively.

It surprised me when I attended the funeral of my friend’s father last year and I heard very horrible stories about the upsurge of youth crime in the area , confusion , rancour , violence relating to the chieftaincy dispute after the death of Oseadeeyo Nana Addo Dankwa III .

I went to Akropong some few days after the private car of the new Okuapemhemaa Nana Afua Nketia Obuo II had been burnt by arsonists and I could bet my last pesewa that the arsonists would be arrested. My conviction got me into a hot argument with one of my friend’s cousins who told me point blank that even though the person who deliberately burnt the newly installed Queenmother’s private car was known and had been arrested , he would be left off the hook.

Whilst I argued that the President would not sit down for her Queenmother to be treated this way, my friend’s cousin told me that the perpetrators of all the confusion around the Akuapem Chieftaincy dispute were closely connected to highly- placed political people at the Jubilee House.

I contested his argument strongly because I knew the IGP would surely do everything possible to protect the dignity of the Okuapeman stool which every Akuapem owes allegiance to.

Many people who were around seemed to share the popular view that nothing would be done against the culprits because the dispute and confusion around the Akuapem Chieftaincy problems are fuelled by big people associated with the NPP Government who support a particular candidate in the dispute. At that time, they described the preferred candidate of some of the rich and politically influential people in Akuapem as the Tattoo Chief .

According to them , young people who have no jobs and are gangsters are paid by these businessmen, politicians and important people in the Jubilee House to cause trouble , violence and mayhem and they get away
with it .

It was said that these gangsters openly bragged about their relationship with these powerful people and they had become untouchables. To be frank, names like Honourable Dokua and members of her family, the MCE , Victor Newman , some Chiefs and others featured strongly on the list of suspected supporters of the people who are believed to have caused the burning of the Okuapemhemaa’s private vehicle and the recent burning of the Queenmother’s palace in addition to other violence.

The names that are on the lips of Akuapem people were troubling but I stuck to my belief that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo , my hero , would never support people connected to his party to fuel violent conflicts in his backyard. I decided to continue to find out the outcome of the police investigations in finding the underlying cause of the most disheartening violence against the Okuapemhemaa.

Even as I was still trying to resolve the puzzle of the burning of the private car of Okuapemhemaa , I chanced on the story of Daily Guide of 26 th June 2019 that the residential facility of the Okuapemhemaa’s palace where she sleeps had been set on fire at the dawn of 25 th June 2019 , exactly a year after her vehicle was burnt.

In fact, I read the story many times and I had to bend down my head in shame. I was troubled and ashamed because I had put up an ignorant defence of a shameful act. The family members of my friend started calling me to request me to read the Daily Guide story. They told me, ‘ We Told you so.’

I am sad that because of two things . I cannot believe that some Akuapem youngsters could be paid to destroy their own revered heritage and there would be some Akuapem businessmen and politicians who could be so wicked to take advantage of the unemployment situation of some of the youth on the mountain and give them drug laced alcoholic beverages and small stipends to create such insecurity in one of the most peaceful areas in Ghana. I am sad also because the government does not seem to care about the growing insecurity in the Akuapem area especially my adopted town Akropong.

Now I am unable to defend the forcible entry into the Okuapemhene’s palace and its occupation of the palace by the Security agencies for many months under the pretext that one of the factions had stuffed the Okuapemhene’s palace with a cache of arms. What is disturbing to the Akuapem people is that when the security agents broke into the Okuapemhene’s palace and arrested some Chiefs, no arms were found.

There are reports that the security personnel that occupied the Okuapemhene’s palace turned the palace into a social centre and did many sacrilegious things in the palace, which makes the purification of the palace a necessity.

Being an Akan of the Brong ethnic group and a royal even worsens my pain. What is worrying me is my love, admiration and respect for the Akuapem people. Is the President of the Republic of Ghana , Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who has earned the accolade Abu Dani by resolving the conflict between the Abudus and the Andani gates going to look on unconcerned as the carnage in his backyard rages on?

His silence is unjustified and connotes support for the destruction and violence against the Akuapem Queenmother and the Akuapem people. If the Akuapem people were not even the President’s own people , they are Ghanaians who have the legitimate right to be protected by that state. We cannot sacrifice the interest of a few people for the peace of any part of our nation.

I did not see the publication of the burning of the Okuapemhemaa’s palace in the major newspapers, which means that the story of the carnage was ‘killed' and not given prominence indicating the power of those behind the shameful acts.

Talking to many Akuapem people on this matter, I could feel their pain and disappointment with the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo because they had always regarded him as their own. They are quiet but their pain is so loud to be felt by anybody who cares. If for nothing at all , the President, the IGP and the security agencies should be able to arrest the perpetrators of these crimes and let them face the full rigours of the law. I expect the President to assure the Okuapemhemaa and the Akuapem people of the government’s commitment to bring the perpetrators to book.

The President should further assure the Okuapemhemaa, the Chiefs and people of their protection and safety. Anything short of these will expose the government’s direct complicity in the shameful crimes.

LET PEACE PREVAIL IN AKUAPEM.

Columnist: Joseph Appiah Mensah

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