Although it is not easy in our part of the world for leaders to speak truth to power because of some obvious reasons which include possible attacks and name-calling, one man has defied that odd by carving a niche for himself when it comes to saying things without minding whose ass is gored as far as that is the unpalatable truth. He may not be a saint nor has it always got it right, but he has always exudes courage, boldness and fearlessness in his defence of people’s rights especially those of ordinary countrymen and women many of whom are voiceless. Though his approach has earned him so much of hatred, bitterness and character assassination, but he has remained resilient in what has become his stock in trade – saying it as it is. He has remained consistence in the face of mounting criticism of some of his actions and public pronouncements which often sound unpalatable to politicians of both divides.
That man is Togbe Afede XIV, the Chairman of the National House of Chiefs and the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State. Though he has been at the receiving end of attacks and abuses, he remains firm. As a Businessman par excellence, Economist and an astute and impactful Traditional ruler, Togbe Afede has served all but one government in the Fourth Republic. Upon his return from Yale University in 1989, he together with Mr Ken Ofori Attah, the Finance Minister and and Keli Gadzekpo , the Board Chairman of ECG, started Data Bank before he later established Strategic African Securities and a chain of other businesses which continue to provide jobs to hundreds of our people. Upon the lifting of the ban on party politics in 1992, there was a rapprochement on him by the New Patriotic Party for him to contest the Ho Central seat on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party, but he declined the offer and remained in his private practice and business.
Ever since he assumed the chieftaincy title of the Asogli State, he has been doing so much to redefine that role by offering wise counsels to successive governments, investing in very strategic areas of the economy, creating jobs for the teeming masses of our people, providing technical advice to our governments and national institutions including the Bank of Ghana as well promoting the cause of charity. As an astute Yale trained Economist, Togbe Afede has put his expertise, experience and knowledge at the disposal of the state by serving some of our national institutions of repute. In the year 2003, then President John Agyekum Kuffour appointed Togbe Afede to the Board of Bank of Ghana after Togbe Afede had brilliantly challenged the Bank of Ghana’s methodology employed in the determination of interest rates. So that was a position he earned on the basis of his competence. Meanwhile, it is worthy of note that this appointment did not in any way stop him from expressing his strong views on national issues especially those that bother on the abuses of people’s rights, dehumanization and politics of exclusion, underdevelopment and tribalism. Togbe is a firm promoter of diversity, inclusive politics, integrity, unity, love, respect and development. These are values he has lived with all through his life, even though he has paid prices for standing up to these issues.
Togbe Afede further served as a Board Member of the BOG under the Presidency of Prof. John Evans Attah Mills, but continued symptomatically of him to point out the evils of the government. Although on many occasions he has been a lone ranger in these fights and expression of his sentiments, yet he has never been daunted by criticisms and what people say of him. He remains resolute and uncompromising. On the basis of his competence and professional acumen, Togbe was again appointed the Board Chairman of the National Investment Bank whose position he occupied and retained under the new government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo having been renominated by the new government until he later tended his resignation. Characteristic of Togbe Afede, he continued to defend the rights and aspirations of Ghanaians and his people. He continues to push for development for his people and the country at large.
For instance, ahead of the 2016 general election, he told the whole country that the Volta Region is a bride awaiting a suitor for marriage. What he sought to convey was that the Volta Region which included Oti Region at the time requires development and does not care who provides her with the needed development, so political parties especially those who claim her as their ‘World Bank’ should desist taking the region for granted. This statement inured to the benefit of the NPP as the party has seen a significant jump in its share of the Votes in the region to the extent of winning a seat at Krachi East Constituency. As a fearless traditional ruler, Togbe Afede was again critical of the plans and processes leading up to the creation of a new region out of the Volta Region. In that regard, not only was he concerned about the processes of the creation, but he was equally concerned that the Oti enclave needs real development which can be provided with or without the creation of a new region.
As someone who puts people’s interest ahead of his, he was again at the forefront in questioning government’s move at organizing a referendum on whether to make the local government system of the country partisan. He was at the right side of history by defending the millions of voiceless Ghanaian men, women, youth and children who feel that with politics having permeated almost every of our institutions including the church, the local government system should not suffer same fate of partisanship. They wanted it left the way it is. Togbe Afede as the Chairman of the National House of Chiefs together with some of his able chiefs of the House successfully kicked against the referendum.
In recent times, he has been critical of the invasion of the Volta Region’s border towns by security forces as this is taking a huge toll on the livelihoods of the residents in addition to allegations of abuse of the people’s rights. To ascertain things for himself, he together with some members of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs toured some of the affected areas and interacted with the chiefs and the security personnel.
Again, as strong believer in the building of strong national institutions devoid of political interferences in the manner these institutions are administered, he never hesitates to resign whenever he realizes the undue political interferences in the institutions he serves. Togbe has always pushed for the development of the Volta and the Oti Regions and has never misses an opportunity to remind political duty bearers to go by the dictates of the 1992 Constitution in the regional reorganization exercise. His values of integrity, truthfulness, courage, resilience, empathy, love, cosmopolitan mix and respect are key for national development and worthy of emulation. He sees positions as means of initiating change and affecting lives through development.
Volta Youth Forum
August 5, 2020.