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Of the ‘tsunami’ effect, and praise for Ghana’s Electoral Commission

Ajoa Yeboah Afari Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, the author

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 Source: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

It wasn’t exactly the overwhelming ‘aseda’ (thank you) votes for President Nana Akufo-Addo that some of us had expected, as I wrote last week, but he has won a second term “to do more”. And victory is victory.

Nevertheless, the crushed expectations seemingly indicate a kind of protest from some quarters, from the grassroots.

Anyway, the tsunami-like devastating impact of the results of Election 2020 on the Members of Parliament holding ministerial portfolios, the MPs-cum-ministers, also appears to provide a pointer to the need to complete the review of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992.

It has to be updated to take account of current realities.

It has been reported that as many as 22 MPs holding ministerial positions lost their seats, some of them political heavyweights.

Despite the hard work of the Akufo-Addo Government, the numerous initiatives tackling the developmental needs of the country, and in very creative ways, his New Patriotic Party was not able to sweep the seats in the House as happened in 2016. Perplexing, to say the least.

The December 7 general election results, as announced by Electoral Commission Chairperson Mrs Jean Mensa on Wednesday, December 9, were: President Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party – 6,730,413 votes, representing 51.595 per cent; Mr John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress – 6, 214, 889, representing 47.366 per cent.

At the time of writing this, the ruling NPP’s seats in the 275-member Parliament, are, reportedly 137. But it is believed that the Independent Fomena MP-elect, Mr Andrew Amoako Asiamah, will side with his mother party, the NPP. The number of seats for the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress is put at 135.

Interesting times ahead for the next Parliament!

Some of the notable NPP casualties of Election 2020, are: Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (Nalerigu – Gambaga constituency); Mr George Andah, Deputy Communications Minister (Awutu Senya); Mr Yaw Buaben Asamoa (Adentan) and Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddique, Minister of State (Madina).

Other notables who lost include: Prof. George Gyan Baffuor, Minister of Planning (Wenchi); Mrs Barbara Oteng Gyasi, Minister of Tourism (Prestea Huni Valley); Dr Bernard Okoe Boye, Deputy Minister of Health (Ledzokuku) and Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Krowor).

Anyhow, the NPP must have gained some comfort from the triumph of Energy Minister Mr John Peter Amewu who has made history as the first NPP victor in the Hohoe Constituency.

From the NDC, one surprise was the victory of Mr Francis Xavier Sosu, who beat the NPP’s Mr Yaw Buaben Asamoah.

But what could have happened in the constituencies where the NPP had been expected to win? What did the MPs-cum-ministers, and others do, or not do, that apparently turned some of their electors against them? Did some of them use their ministerial position as an excuse to neglect their duty to the people who voted them into power?

Perhaps it’s an indication that combining the work of an MP with the duties of a Minister is not practicable. Maybe this is the cue for another look at the Chapter 8 of the national Constitution.

It stipulates that “the majority of Ministers of State shall be appointed from among members of Parliament” (emphasis added, Article 78).

A decade ago, a Constitution Review Commission (CRC) assessed how the Constitution had performed in practice and whether any amendments were needed.

The CRC, chaired by Emeritus Professor Albert K. Fiadjoe, was established by President John Evans Atta Mills in January, 2010.

Following the completion of its work, a Constitution Review Implementation Committee (CRIC), was inaugurated in October, 2012. That was under the watch of President John Mahama, after the death of President Mills in July, 2012.

Unfortunately, for reasons probably not made public, the implementation has been suspended for years.

However, it seems to me that the catastrophic effect of the 2020 general election on, in particular, the NPP’s MP-cum-Ministers, underscores the need for some aspects of the Constitution to be amended.

Why must the President select the majority of Ministers from Parliament when Ghana abounds in so much talent outside Parliament, both in Ghana and abroad? And this leaves out those who don’t want to be in Parliament. Thus it would be helpful to have the CRIC work updated and finalized.

Significantly, the EC continues to receive high commendation for the conduct of Election 2020, and deservedly so. Chairperson Jean Mensa and her team have demonstrated admirable dedication to ensuring that the elections were fair, free and credible; a transparent process. And it’s extremely regrettable that pockets of electoral disagreements reportedly caused five deaths. Nobody should die because of an election.

At the time of writing this, Mr Mahama was yet to congratulate Mr Akufo-Addo. Indeed, he is reportedly insisting that he won and therefore the NDC will challenge the EC’s announced results in court. Of course, that is their right. Better legal action than violent action.

Nevertheless, while President-elect Akufo-Addo and the NPP are celebrating his well-deserved, ‘one-touch’ victory, there must be disquiet in NPP ranks over the election results generally, why the anticipated bumper harvest of votes nationwide didn’t materialise.

And evidently, that concern should be factored into the selection of the party’s regional executive, as well as ministerial appointments for the President’s second term.

(ajoayeboahafari@yahoo.com)

Columnist: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari