Feature Article of Saturday, 18 July 2015
Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
July 12, 2015
He makes quite a sound argument that Mrs. Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei ought not to have been transferred by President John Mahama from the National Commission On Civic Education (NCCE) to the Electoral Commission (EC), because the heads of these constitutionally established rights institutions are independent coordinates of one another. Other establishments with a similar functional status mentioned by Dr. Ransford Gyampo, the University of Ghana political scientist, are the National Media Commission (NMC) and the Commission For Human Rights And Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). According to Dr. Gyampo, the heads of these rights establishments are appointed on a permanent basis by the President of our august Republic and cannot be capriciously or arbitrarily removed, except in cases of proven flagrant misconduct (See “Gyampo Queries Charlotte’s Appointment” Daily Guide / Ghanaweb.com 6/29/15).
The problem here is that the basis upon which Dr. Gyampo is impugning the validity of President Mahama’s transfer of Mrs. Osei from the NCCE to the EC is fatally flawed. It is fatally flawed because it hinges on a pending suit before the Supreme Court that is seeking clarification on the fact of whether Mr. Mahama has a right to appoint the new Electoral Commissioner without the substantial input of the Council-of-State. Dr. Gyampo’s contention is that traditionally, or rather conventionally, the practice has been for the executive to tarry on making such appointments while a plaint or suit related to such appointment was before the Court and had yet to be decided.
Well, the fact of the matter here is that anybody familiar with the status of the Council-of-State, as clearly articulated in the 1992 Republican Constitution, knows fully well that the Council-of-State is only an advisory body with absolutely no binding influence on decisions made by the President of our Republic. We also don’t know as yet whether the President consulted with the membership of the Council-of-State before naming Mrs. Osei to the chairship of the Electoral Commission. Indeed, the President may well have conferred with Chief Justice Georgina T. Wood and some of her associates before going public with his announcement of the name of our new EC chair. We have absolutely no way of knowing this because there are no clearly articulated guidelines for doing so transparently in our Constitution; which means that the President may well have systematically followed the very protocol that he is being virulently faulted by his opponents and critics for having flouted.
If the institutional integrity and independence of the four rights protection establishments are not contained in the suit before the Wood Supreme Court, then it is decidedly irrelevant whether Mrs. Osei was transferred from the National Media Commission to the Electoral Commission, rather than the National Commission on Civic Education or not. His best bet would be for Dr. Gyampo to join the plaintiffs and expand the reliefs sought, if he staunchly believes the President to be in flagrant breach of his legal and/or constitutional powers. Personally, I believe that appointments to such rights establishments and/or institutions as the EC, NCCE, NMC and CHRAJ ought not be made permanent.
There needs to be imposed term limits of, say, ten years on the tenures of the heads of the four preceding rights protection establishments. And then based on performance, as objectively determined by an independent professional evaluator(s), the tenure of a well-performing commissioner could be renewed for another final ten years. I also happen not to subscribe to the theory that merely guaranteeing job security to any of the heads of these rights protection establishments would necessarily guarantee administrative and professional excellence.
In fact, such facile security privileges could actually facilitate the unsavory entrenchment of decadent and mediocre performance, as Ghanaians had the misfortune to witness and experience under an arrogant and intransigent Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, in the waning years of the latter as Ghana’s electoral Commissioner. Longevity had caused the former Legon political scientist to feel brassily self-assured in his administrative arrogance.