Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, has called for conscious efforts to engage traditional leaders in the discussion and determination of national priorities.

“It is a matter of concern that grave issues of national development, relating to allocation of resources and the determination of our national priorities, are all determined without the engagement of our traditional leaders at any level.”

“Given our history, our culture and tradition, the weight of accumulated wisdom embedded in our institution, it beats the imagination that traditional leaders are all left as bystanders while the real issues of state are being decided,” he added.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu said this on Thursday when he delivered the Annual Leadership Lecture of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) on the theme: “Leadership: Strengthen Democratic Institutions for National Development.”

It was attended by high profile personalities including former President John Agyekum Kufuor, Nana Otuo Siriboe, Omanhene of the Juabeng Traditional Area and Chairman of the Council of State, and Nana Opoku Ampomah, a traditional ruler and Founder of the UPSA.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu said he recognised that the nation’s presidents had, in general, tried to find their own ways of interacting with chiefs, which had sometimes impacted upon decision-making.

“But the acts of courtesy on their part are no substitute for a defect so glaring and so unwise.”

It was the symptom of the defect which was playing out in the unhealthy row surrounding the impending Referendum, which forms part of Government’s attempt to reform the Local Government under the 1992 Constitution, he said.

“How is it possible then that the Central Government, representing the modern state, and Nananom, representing the traditional state, could find no space for engagement for consideration of a major reform of the local government and to agree on a common position before such crucial reforms were rolled?” the Otumfuo asked.

He said the December 17 Referendum was a matter of momentous importance and urged stakeholders to step back and take the heat out, as this would enable Ghanaians to see the light of the discourse.

The Referendum seeks to Amend Article 55(3) of the Constitution to democratise the local government system by introducing multi-partisanship into the elections at the local level.

Professor Abednego Feehi Okoe Amartey, the Vice Chancellor of the UPSA, expressed gratitude to Nana Opoku Ampomah for graciously offering them a land at Amanfo, near Bekwai, for the construction of another UPSA campus.

“While at that, I would also like to thank the Asantehene for his swift intervention in averting a legal battle regarding the said land,” he said.

The Leadership Lecture was instituted to strengthen the stature of the University as it strives to improve on scholarship, research and professionalism.

It coincided with the launch of UPSA’s 55th Anniversary and the 20th Anniversary of the distinguished Keynote Speaker since his enstoolment as the 16th occupant of the Golden Stool.