Chiana Pio makes history as America renovates House of Chiefs’ offices 52 years after construction

Chiana Pio (in a red hat) is joined by Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia E. Palmer, among other dignitaries at the inauguration ceremony in Bolgatanga.

About 60 years ago, the Government of Ghana established a House of Chiefs in every region to deal with matters relating to, or affecting, chieftaincy.

The Upper East Regional House of Chiefs before renovation

To ensure that the House of Chiefs performed its function as expected, the government also provided the organ with offices.

Residents, particularly traditional leaders, of what is known today as the Upper East Region were delighted when the government constructed offices for the House of Chiefs in the region in 1971.

The premises of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs before renovation

But the joy turned into despair with time as the offices gradually cracked and crumbled for lack of renovation for 52 years.

The building deteriorated with the passage of time.

It became so dilapidated onlookers described it as an eyesore. While its roof leaked everywhere, watery waste also seeped constantly through cracks in its washrooms into the rear end of the premises.

Renovation work on the dilapidated offices of the House of Chiefs in Bolgatanga monitored by Media Without Borders.

A number of chiefs who served as presidents of the house made efforts to have the central government renovate the offices. But the efforts did not yield any results.

Renovation work in progress

The current president of the house, who doubles as the Paramount Chief of Chiana, Pε Ditundini Adiali Ayagitam III, had pledged to refurbish the offices— and build a guest house for the house—during his campaign for the presidency.

Parts of the House of Chiefs’ building.

He won the election in 2020— when the structure was on the verge of collapse.

Refurbishment work in progress

No sooner had he won the election than he, together with his vice, the Paramount Chief of Mirigu, Naba Anonsona Anthony Abisa III, began to search for donors through personal contacts to support the House of Chiefs with fund to renovate the offices.

A section of the back wing of the building being renovated.

The efforts paid off as the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) came to the aid of the house with fund.

Then, renovation work started in 2022 on the building and was completed in 2023.

The revamp work took several months.

Inauguration Ceremony

On Wednesday May 31, 2023, the refurnished offices were inaugurated in the region’s capital, Bolgatanga.

The offices after the renovation

Ghana’s Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the United States Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia E. Palmer, and Ghana’s Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Stephen Asamoah Boateng, attended the event.

Dignitaries joined hands in officially opening the renovated offices.

“I would like all of you gathered here to join me in welcoming into our midst the American Ambassador, her staff and officials of OTI /USAID who have provided the funds to make this job a reality,” said Pε Ayagitam III in his welcome address.

“I am informed the amount needed for this job was beyond the authorised capacity of officials of OTI/USAID and approval had to be sought from Washington DC.”

Dr. Bawumia unveils a plaque at the inauguration.

He continued: “We wish, therefore, to thank all those officials in Ghana and the United States of America who worked behind the scenes to put this great smile on our faces. We are highly motivated by this gesture and we, hereby, want to assure our financiers that we shall take good care of the facility in the years to come.”

The Chiana Pio leads dignitaries through the revamped offices.

Of concern also to Pε Ayagitam III, while he delivered his speech at the ceremony, was the state of a guest house constructed for the House of Chiefs decades ago.

The renovated offices of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs in Bolgatanga today.

The guest house was built to accommodate traditional leaders who travel to the regional capital for official functions but, for some reasons, cannot return home the same day.

The refurbished conference hall of the House of Chiefs.

“That house,” he told the gathering, “now is also not habitable.”

He explained that the facility “is also suffering from lack of renovation over the years” and disclosed that the House of Chiefs intended to construct “a new guest house”.

Pε Ditundini Adiali Ayagitam III and the United States Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia E. Palmer.

“Honourable ministers, ladies and gentlemen, we do not want to sound like the proverbial Oliver Twist.

“But we would like government to provide for the construction of a new guest house— or for an elaborate renovation of the existing one,” he added.

The United States Ambassador to Ghana disclosed that the USAID’s OTI provided “more than $140,000 of support to rehabilitate the Upper East House of Chiefs building”.

“The U.S. Government stands together with local partners in the Upper East to advance their goals of promoting peace, improving livelihoods, and increasing community well-being for more cohesive and resilient communities,” she noted.

United States Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia E. Palmer being entertained by a cultural troupe at the event.

On his part, Ghana’s Vice President stressed the need for the region to promote peace and harmony.

Vice-Presidennt Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

He also urged the traditional authorities and the people of the region to join forces with the government and other important stakeholders to “resolve any issues that have derailed the peace and development in the region, especially chieftaincy disputes”.

Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/


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