Download Graphic News App

Install Graphic News App for the complete article


Mon, Aug

A false step

Volta Regional Minister, Ms Helen Ajoa Ntoso

The Volta Regional Minister, Ms Helen Ajoa Ntoso, is reported to have directed district chief executives in the region not to leave office after January 7 2017 until new appointments are made by the incoming government. Ordinarily, it would ensure the orderly transfer of power from one administration to the other. However, such a proposition must come from the new administration, not the outgoing one.

The laws of this country are clear as to who has the power to appoint district chief executives (DCEs). The DCEs cannot exist beyond the mandate of the President who appointed them. More important, it is Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who can direct who to act in those positions until he makes new appointments. The decision of Ms Ntoso is a false step which cannot override the provisions of the constitution.

Ms Ntoso might have been motivated by good faith. However, she cannot serve as Volta Regional Minister after January 6, 2017, when the President, who appointed her, would have ended his tenure. Good faith is not enough when we are dealing with the rule of law and constitutionalism. Therefore, if there are some in the outgoing government who have such predispositions, they should dissuade themselves from such tendencies and appreciate that they cannot act on their own beyond the will of the people.

In 2009, even after Prof. Mills had given clear indications that the outgoing DCEs were to remain in office until new appointments were made, that did not materialise since foot-soldiers made it impossible for them to act. Indeed, some of them were hounded out.

Beyond the impunity and arbitrariness of party sycophants, how can the DCEs sincerely serve under a President that some of them described in very gory terms as part of the election campaigns. The authority to appoint DCEs is the sole prerogative of the President while the assemblies are clothed with the power to confirm or reject such appointees.

If ministers of state and other appointees of the President were to remain in office for as long as new appointments have not been made, there would not have been the need for handover notes to be prepared before the elections. Indeed, Ms Ntoso and others who might be of the same thinking must appreciate that ministers do not exist on their own. They serve at the pleasure of a President and, therefore, they cannot purport to be in authority when the President they serve is out of office.

Maybe because of the experience of 2012/13, when there was a transition from one National Democratic Congress administration to another, it was easier for appointees to remain in office because the President they served was returning to power.

Indeed, when the process for the appointment of DCEs is changed, as promised by Nana Akufo-Addo, and they are elected, then they would be independent of the tenure of the President, because they would have been elected on their own merit. Until then, we must act within the provisions of the 1992 Constitution.

Whatever the case, there are coordinating directors at the assemblies. Unlike chief directors at the ministries, who have been described as political appointees by the Supreme Court, district coordinating directors are career civil servants who serve the nation but not a particular government.

Since the current ministers of state and DCEs do not believe in the ideals and philosophy of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), what business would they have supervising their units between January 7 and whenever new appointments would be made.

Already we are having difficulty with the management of the transition process as we are not united as to whether the outgoing government could continue to commit the country to certain activities or that everything must be left with the incoming government.

The confirmation of the appointment of the Commissioners for the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and National Commission for Civic Education, when they have acted for a while before now, has generated its own heat. In the face of the lack of national consensus on what the convention should be, it is not prudent that from the Volta Region comes a new edict that is not grounded in any constitutional or legal provision except for a matter of convenience, motivated out of goodwill.

We may appeal to Nana Akufo-Addo to allow DCEs to continue in office for a while or that he appoints the DCEs simultaneously as he appoints ministers of state, since the processes for the validation of the appointments are different.

One thing that is indisputable is that it is the incoming President, not the outgoing one, who determines who serves as a minister of state or DCE after January 6, 2017.