06.02.2013 Feature Article

A Political Council of State

A Political Council of State
06.02.2013 LISTEN

I watched Ghana's president, John Mahama, state during his first address to the nation as an “elected” president that his government was going to be about “partnership and not partisanship”. I thought to myself “that is a catchy phrase, which means a lot. If indeed he is going to adhere to this phrase, then he may be a good man to lead Ghana after all.” I should have know this was all part of his numerous and shameless lies. Sadly, this article is not to recount those lies – the ones he told to allegedly win power and the ones he has told after allegedly winning power.

This article is to expose a creeping culture of partisan politics in the election of our highest advisory body and why it needs to be frowned upon as quickly as possible. I am speaking of the election of regional representatives of the Council of State, which is governed by the first constitutional instrument made pursuant to the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana: Election (Regional Representatives on Council of State) Instrument, 1993 (CI 1). It is for no reason that the first constitutional instrument had to deal with the manner in which our regional representatives were elected.

Sadly, the election of regional representatives to the Council of State has recently been influenced by political affiliations. Let us not kid ourselves any longer; we must be explicit about making the Council of State elections political. That is exactly what has become of it. Recently, a friend of mine volunteered to help a candidate in the Central Region campaign to retain his position as the elected regional representative of that Region. My friend is not really into politics so this came as a surprise to me.

He told me the man he had volunteered for was a man who deserved to lead Ghana because he was a selfless man and certainly visionary. I wondered what my friend saw in this man and thus decided to do my research. It turns out that this man came from very humble beginnings and had risen to the top. He was an inspiration to many young men and had been honored by Asantehene and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He was a sports man whose record at the West African University Games remains unbeaten.

I googled a bit more and realized that he served in key roles at the end of President Rawlings' administration and throughout President Kufuor's administration. During his time in President Kufuor's government he encouraged his subordinates to further their education, which they did and he sponsored. I also found out that he had chaired international education forums including an education panel of the World Economic Forum. He was also a religious man. Apparently, he was the lay president of the Methodist Church and during his leadership education was the key focus of the Church. No wonder the Methodist University College was established during his tenure.

I never got a chance to meet the man personally but I travelled to the Central Region to find out what he had done for the Region. Most of the people I spoke to describe him as the man of the land, one of our own. Accordingly to the local people, he randomly selected promising students from poor backgrounds and sponsored their education. I understand one student obtained 8As in his final high school exams and proceeded to the university. I was also told that he sponsored another student who attended Mfantsipim School. The Botwe boy won a geography award and was flown to California in the United States to participate in an international event.

The locals said “the man does not care about where you are coming from, your religion, your political affiliation, etc. once you show promise, he will support you.” Apparently, during his visits around the Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District as member of Council of State, he met the current Member of Parliament for that area. She showed promise and on his return to Accra, he told Cecilia Johnson and other NDC gurus about this lady. The lady run for and won the NDC primaries for Asikuma Odoben Brakwa and this man sponsored her election to Parliament.

My friend himself is no stranger to this man's generosity. He sold newspapers by the roadside after secondary school because his family could not support his further education and the little money he made, he used in looking after his younger siblings. This man sponsored my friend's tertiary education. My friend graduated with a 1st Class in Accounting and is currently in one of the top auditing firms in the country.

There is no way I would not vote for such a man if given the opportunity so I was shocked when my friend called and told me that the man lost his bid to retain his seat. I have always believed Ghana is not worth dying for. And this man's loss just confirmed it. Education is dear to this man thus prior to and during his campaign for re-election; he donated books and educational material to and for the benefit of the Central Region. He brought investment opportunities into the Region, the fruits of which we should be seeing in the next year or two.

I learned that the custom in the Central Region was that the Presiding Members of the District Assemblies get to participate in the election and any other member of the Assembly. Indeed, Regulation 4 of CI 1 states that “the Electoral College shall consist of two representatives from each District Assembly in the Region, elected by the members of the Assembly from among themselves.”

This time around and rather shamefully, the NDC directed all District Chief Executives appointed by them to be part of the Electoral College. As if that was not enough, the NDC threatened all members of the Electoral College. They voted under duress; maybe, maybe not but the Electoral College voted along party lines. And that is what is shameful.

But it plays right into the traditional Ghanaian mentality and I dare say the Fante mentality. Ghanaians are individualistic and self-centered. The do not care about community development. Again, I dare say no wonder we sold our own people to the white folks. The Ghanaian will do everything to promote his own interest against that of his community. The Ghanaian, and not the white man or the Chinese, is a threat to Ghana.

I am reliably informed that all members of the Electoral College for the Central Region were camped at a hotel and continuously threatened by NDC officials including Kobby Acheampong, the brother of the Vice President, Totobi Kwakye, the Regional Chairman, etc. I have seen some of the threatening text messages and listened to some of the recordings. The propaganda pushed by the NDC was that this man was going to be nominated as the running mate for the NPP in the next election.

I bow my head in shame today as a Ghanaian as I did on 9th December 2012. We side step what will benefit the community for our own personal interest. If we intend to do that, we should at least be open about it. Let us know the Council of State members are elected on NPP or NDC tickets.

Edem Suleman

ModernGhana Links