President John Mahama has appealed to chiefs to liaise with local government assemblies to identify potential economic resources in their areas and harness them for the empowerment and development of communities.
He said chiefs remain important elements in every sustainable development and development partners readily support groups whose proposals make provision for the involvement of traditional leaders.
President Mahama said this in an address, read by Mr. Paul Evans Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, at a durbar of chiefs and people of Lower Dixcove, to round off their annual Kundum festival.
The Festival was under the theme ?Sustaining the Environment for Development and Healthy Life.?
President Mahama cautioned assembly members not rival traditional authorities for power and recognition adding, saying, ?The two must be seen as development partners complementing each other.?
There should be conscious efforts to renew the opportunity for traditional leaders to help in the mobilization of their communities and to facilitate community members and allied organizations to make informed decision about their needs, the President said.
Chiefs, the President said, should attend assembly meetings to strengthen the bond of cooperation and promote transparency and accountability in governance, while representatives of local assemblies attend traditional council meetings.
He urged chiefs to also collaborate with the assemblies in the Street and Property Naming Project and agree on names for the streets.
Nii Osah Mills, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, said the greatest challenges facing the natural resources sector were deforestation and land degradation.
These, he said, were the results of illegal chainsaw operations, illegal mining, slash and burn agriculture, bush fires, wild fires and excessive fuel wood and harvesting.
Nii Mills said Ghana must promote development that is sustainable and ecologically friendly in order to reverse some of the negative environmental and social trends.
In view of this, a new Forest and Wild Life Policy that places emphasis on biodiversity conservation, ecotourism development and watershed protection would soon be implemented.
There would also be the strengthening of law enforcement through the establishment of Rapid Response Teams by the Forestry Commission to clamp down on all illegal activities in the forest.
Nii Mills said the President had directed all MMDAs to ensure that no illegal mining took place in their areas and had also tasked them to form District Mining Committees as required by Act 703 to manage mining activities in their areas.
Dr. Henry Seidu Daanaa, Minister of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs, said the chieftaincy institution was important in national affairs and so citizens should cooperate with their traditional leaders to make the institution the engine of social growth and national unity.
Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, Okyenhene, who presided, advised the people to support their traditional authorities and the government to develop their areas.
He said the decentralization process must speed up the development of rural communities.
Kundum Festival is celebrated by the Ahantas and Nzemas, and some of the coastal tribes in the Western Region of Ghana.
It is to purify stools of chiefs in the area; offer prayers to solicit guidance; and also offer an opportunity for socialization, planning of development projects; and entertainment through drumming and dancing.