The raging fire under the feet of Mrs. Jean Mensa, Electoral Commissioner, and Daniel Yaw Domelevo, Auditor-General, are interesting developments that call for a deep national introspection in appointing heads of our nation’s governance institutions.
Invariably, building a strong democratic Ghana would ultimately require having strong and independent institutions that will guarantee fair and equal treatment of all the citizenry.
However, 28 years down the line, in our democratic dispensation, it is apparent that we need to rethink how to make these governance institutions strong and independent to enable them play their rightful roles as envisaged by the framers of the 1992 constitution.
Mandate of governance institutions
The constitution of Ghana, guarantees the independence of these governance institutions namely EC, A-G, CHRAJ, NMC and security of tenure for its office holders.
This guaranteed independence by the constitution is in consonance with the important roles the institutions are created to play, and perhaps the risk the office bearers are likely to face in the hands of powerful executive organs of government, relative to discharging their mandates.
It is not out of place for those of us who know the electoral commissioner and the auditor general to opine about them. Jean Mensa is a dignified woman, with unblemished integrity, capable of administering EC without bias, and the same can be said of the indefatigable Domelevo, a man of integrity and honesty known for his high sense of equity and incorruptibility. These traits in both Jean and Domelevo are well known to many Ghanaians, including; some of our political actors.
Why are political actors determined to tarnish their image and discredit their work?
Is it because President Mahama appointed Daniel Domelevo or because President Akufo Addo appointed Jean Mensa? I believe many people have prior knowledge that these two Ghanaians have excelled in their individual endeavours. The references to Mrs. Mensa and Domelevo in this specific piece is not to say that they are the only victims of this cancerous political tumor, but the ones within the radar currently.
In July 2015, the then deputy minority leader in Parliament, and now Minister for Defence, Mr Diminic Nitiwul lambasted the EC and Mrs. Charlotte Osei at the launch of Ms Adjoa Safo’s re-election campaign ‘’we are the ones having a contest with the NDC and not her. Her actions show that she has become the captain of the NDC Team ‘’he said, refereeing to Mrs Osei as having an agenda to favour the then governing NDC. The litany of accusations and allegations against Mrs. Charlotte Osei of trying to rig the 2016 elections were rampant, tarnishing her image and hard-won reputation.
Today, the positions are on the reverse, and the NDC is also accusing Mrs. Jean Mensa of working to rig the 2020 elections for the NPP candidate and the current president, Nana Akufo-Addo.
Many unprintable words are used on Mrs. Mensa, including; allegations of breaches of the EC’s procurement rules for personal benefit. According to NDC’s scribe, Johnson Asiedu Nketia: ‘’we have been led to the impression that the current chairman of the EC sees her mandate only in terms of getting Nana Akufo-Addo re-elected even if it means subverting the hard-won reputation of that otherwise respected institution ‘’ he said. I have no doubt that NPP, when the tables turn and they find themselves, where NDC is presently, will turn against Madam Jean Mensa with the same venom like NDC is doing. Dr Afari Gyan, distinguished former EC chairman, suffered this brute predicament in the hands of these two parties, especially when any of them found themselves in opposition.
Many Ghanaians are worried at the trend and direction we are moving in our democratic process. The rush deployment of political mad dogs by their pay masters to desecrate public servants’ high-earned reputations is debilitating.
This denies and prevents Ghana from accessing many highly skilled, experienced and incorruptible people to join the national building efforts. In Ghana, and outside it, our nation has abundance of exceptional professionals with talents and leadership, yearning to play their part in building Ghana. But these incessant abuses and hostilities against public servants and the unnecessary antagonistic political tagging and labeling of respected professionals because they are appointed or served in government A or B is scaring.
Ghana, certainly, cannot continue in this tandem and the need to re-engineer the governance process to engender confidence in public service and attract people of relevant expertise to support Ghana’s nation building is imperative.
In a thought-provoking speech in the ancient town of Kyebi, capital of Akyem Abuakwa State in the Eastern Region, in December last year, His Royal Majesty, Ya-Na Abukari II, King and Overlord of the Dagbon State, speaking as the special guest of honour at the 20th anniversary celebration of the ascension of His Majesty, Osaygefuo Amotia Ofori Panin, as King of Akyem Abuakwa State, the Ya-Na eloquently said: “I want to make proposals for the consideration of the people of Ghana, especially government.
It is high time Ghana amended its Constitution and replaced the current Council of State with a Senate or Upper House ( call it what you may) composed of prominent chiefs, distinguished Ghanaian men and women with power to consider certain bills, put before Parliament.
The said Senate will be the appointing authority for positions such as the Auditor-General, Inspector General of Police, and Chairperson and Members of Electoral Commission, Vice Chancellors of State Universities and Executive head of the National Media Commission.
The appointment of the heads of these five vital institutions by the president has been a source of great disagreement between every ruling government and the opposition.
This is not good for our budding democracy. When we transfer the power to appoint the heads of these institutions to the Senate it will be good for our democracy’’.
This thought-provoking proposals presented by the charismatic King, Ya-Na Abukari II is gradually receiving some attention as Mr Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, at a workshop organized by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, endorsed the proposal of the Ya-Na and called for a bi-partisan appointment of heads of the governance institutions.
To build a strong democratic Ghana, capable of commanding the respect and confidence of the people and attracting the right expertise and highly skilled manpower, we should go no further than to holistically buy into the Ya-Na’s proposal and amend the constitution to strip the president of the power to arbitrarily appoint people into these supposedly independent institutions.
This will promote competence and enhance the nation’s democratic accountability and cure the cancerous tumor that plagues governance institutions, thereby exposing every respectable person appointed into the offices to the dangers of abuse and hostilities by political attack dogs.