History beacons the country today as the vice-presidential nominee, Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, appears before the Appointments Committee of Parliament to prove his eligibility for the job.
Today’s exercise is a major landmark because it is the first time a President of the land is seeking parliamentary approval for his vice.
Since I992 and on previous occasions, presidential candidates of the various political parties have nominated their running mates, who, in the event of that candidate winning the election, become the Vice-President of the country.
In contemporary Ghana, the country has not experienced a situation where a sitting President has died in office.
However, the Constitution has made adequate provision for such eventualities, and when it happened on Tuesday, July 24, 20I2, Ghana was not found wanting.
Article 60 (6) of the Constitution provides that, “Whenever the President dies, resigns or is removed from office, the Vice-President shall assume office as President for the unexpired term of office of the President with effect from the date of the death, resignation or removal of the President”.
After the then Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, was thus sworn in as the President on July 24, 20I2, he nominated Mr Amissah-Arthur to fill the vacant position in accordance with the constitution.
Article 60 clause 10 provides that, ”The Vice-President shall upon assuming office as President under clause (6) of this article, nominate a person to the office of Vice-President subject to approval of Parliament”
The attention of Ghanaians will, therefore, be focussed on Parliament to wait for the outcome of the vetting.
The Appointments Committee is composed of the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament as the Chairman with not more than 25 other members of Parliament as members.
In the current Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, the First Deputy Speaker, is the chairman while the Deputy Majority Leader, Alhaji Abdul Rashid Pelpuo, is the vice chairman of the committee.
The Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, is the Ranking Member of the committee while the Deputy Minority Leader, Mr Ambrose Dery is the Deputy Ranking Member of the committee.
The duty of the committee is to vet and recommend to Parliament for approval or otherwise persons nominated by the President for appointment as ministers of state, deputy ministers, members of the Council of State, the Chief Justice and other justices of the Supreme Court, as well as other persons specified under the Constitution or under any enactment.
Standing Order I72 (3) stipulates that the names of persons nominated for appointment shall be published and the proceedings of the committee shall be public.
The committee in most cases has recommended nominees to the plenary for approval by consensus or by a majority decision.
In few cases, the committee has also recommended to the House not to approve some nominations, especially, when it has found out during the vetting exercise that such nominees had dual nationality or were not registered voters.
Even though members of the committee have the right to ask questions, the chairman sometimes rules out some questions which he deems not appropriate.
There have been some occasions that preparation of the Curriculum Vitae (CV) of some nominees have given them up. The NPP MP for Techiman North, Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, has speciality in pointing out flaws in CVs.
After a preliminary meeting of the committee, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu told graphic.com.gh that members would be circumspect in dealing with Mr Amissah-Arthur because of the high office he was expected to occupy.
Already, the committee has placed adverts in the various media inviting the general public to submit memoranda to assist it in examining the nominee.
Indications are that Mr Amissah-Arthur will be sworn in Monday by the Chief Justice,Theodora Georgina Wood, should his nomination receive parliamentary approval.
The committee will set aside its rules and present its report to the House for consideration the same day.
Commenting on the Business Statement of Parliament for this week, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, gave an indication that “the Vice-President could be sworn in to enable him to adequately prepare for the funeral of the late President Mills”, which begins on Wednesday, August 8, 20I2.
It is expected that the Speaker’s Conference Hall, which is the venue for the public sittings of the Appointments Committee, will be filled to capacity as family members, NDC faithful, the press and a cross-section of the populace will throng the venue to be part of this historic occasion.
The attendance could present challenges to security personnel who will be assigned to maintain law and order at the Parliament House.