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Feature Article of Thursday, 7 February 2013

Columnist: Suleman, Edem

A Political Council of State

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*
A Political Council of
State.doc

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