Consult broadly in appointment of EC Chair - Ransford Gyampoh

BY: Victor Kwawukume
Professor Ransford Gyampo
Professor Ransford Gyampo

An Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Ghana (UG), Professor Ransford Gyampo, has posited that consultations by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in the appointment of a new Chair of the Electoral Commission (EC) among key political leaders would have expanded the frontiers of inter-party dialogue, consensus building, tolerance and accommodation.

According to Prof. Gyampo, who is also the Director of the Centre for European Studies, although he had no reservations about the competence of the appointments made by the President, broader consultations prior to making the decision would have engendered consensus and acceptance.

“I have no qualms with the competence of the EC nominees. But doing consultations behind the scenes, particularly among key party leaders, in addition to following what the Constitution says, would have expanded the frontiers of inter-party dialogue, consensus building, tolerance, and accommodation,” he stressed.

Professor Gyampo said this in an interview with the Daily Graphic on the new appointments made by the President at the EC and related matters.

President Akufo-Addo did not err but…

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The President, he said, did not err in following the Constitution just as former President Mahama did not err too in appointing Mrs Charlotte Osei.

However, Prof. Gyampo expressed the view that both personalities believed (whether overtly or covertly) that there was the need to deepen consultations and sometimes go beyond what the laws said to ensure acceptance and legitimacy of certain appointees.

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He recounted that prior to former President Mahama appointing Mrs Charlotte Osei as EC, he advocated that the former President should go beyond the constitutional provisions to consult party leaders and other key stakeholders in making the appointment.

“Around that time, key New Patriotic Party (NPP) personalities and very well respected people who sympathise with the NPP supported me.

When I criticised Mahama for ignoring my advice, my NPP friends supported my criticism,” he reminisced.

He said he was, therefore, expecting President Akufo-Addo to also go beyond the constitutional provision to consult more before nominating the EC bosses.

But the National Democratic Congress’s (NDC’s) response to the President's nominations, he deducted, showed that he did not consult, even though his party people favoured more consultations when they were in opposition.

Professor Gyampo said he was at a loss as to why there had been that much unwillingness to consult.

He asked: What will happen to the powers of a President who reaches out to the opposition in making major appointments? Will his powers go away? Will that make him cheap?”

Silencing the opposition

Not too long ago, he said, the President held a meeting with all former Presidents, which was a good initiative.
Prof. Gyampo said though the President was not obliged to hold that meeting, there was wisdom in that initiative.

“In my view, this initiative has contributed to the peace of our President Rawlings is not too hard against Akufo Addo, partly because of the respect accorded him by the current government,” he posited.

For him, one way to silence the opposition and get some peace in government was to consult them, not all the time but on major national decisions. He stressed that “politicians must learn this!”

Interestingly, Professor Gyampo said he had observed that the NDC in opposition was now criticising the President for not consulting broadly before nominating the EC bosses.

“I am drawing attention to the hypocrisy of partisan politicians in Ghana. They are saints when in opposition and demons when in power. The hardship of opposition drives them to their political holiness and power makes them behave differently from how they behaved in opposition,” he counselled.

Prof. Gyampo had one piece of advice for politicians: “Let us all learn to do the kinds of overtures that keep us together as a people and prevent us from fighting. In this regard, let us eschew political hypocrisy and do away with "’payback time’ politics.”

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