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Opinions of Saturday, 2 July 2016

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

All women do not behave like Charlotte Osei

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
June 28, 2016

I left Ghana before he came of age and/or gained public recognition – I had already appeared on Godwin Avenorgbor’s Variety Ahoy! and Carl Agyemang-Bannerman’s Solid Black and done Salifu Amankwaa’s Holy Gardens and Anokyekrom of the Ghana National Cultural Center as well as the Accra Arts Center and the Obuasi Gold Field’s Senior-Staff Club House with Agya Koo Nimo (Mr. Daniel Amponsah) – and so much of what I know about Mr. Ace Anan Ankomah has been largely through media gleanings about his activism. I don’t have much, one way or another, to say about the man, except to indicate the fact that Mr. Ankomah comes off to me as a reasonably remarkable professional lawyer. In my personal estimation, and I am not a trained lawyer at all but an avidly concerned Ghanaian patriot, Mr. Ankomah is just one of the pack of fast-rising activist lawyers.

I arrived at this measured opinion very recently, when in the wake of what became globally known as the Panama Papers, the leader or co-convener of the so-called #OccupyGhana activist group sought to put up a spirited, albeit patently lame, defense for well-heeled entrepreneurs, especially Ghanaian entrepreneurs, who use offshore financial institutions as a means of avoiding the payment of their share of national tax revenue. In his argument, Mr. Ankomah observed that he found absolutely nothing wrong with shrewd and astute entrepreneurs taking advantage of legally wholesome or benign networks to maximize their wealth.

Either he was being deliberately cynical, my gut reaction told me, or perhaps he had himself taken advantage of such tax loopholes, for Mr. Ankomah clearly did not seem to appreciate the dire implications and the indisputable significance of tax revenue as the mainstay of any modern nation’s economic and infrastructural development. I felt such a hostile posture to nation-building national development could not be more offensive and inhumane for somebody who prided himself in being a front-row human and civil rights activist. Alas, as even one of his critics poignantly pointed out, Mr. Ankomah disappointingly comes off as a studiously selfish, if not downright callous, class-conscious man pathologically obsessed with the protection of the interests of his “classmates,” close friends and associates.

In his defense of Mrs. Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei, the Supreme Court-scoffing Chairperson of the so-called Independent Electoral Commission (EC), we see the same aforementioned traits in crass and artless display. You see, as far as I have been able to ascertain, nobody is claiming that Mrs. Osei does not possess the requisite qualifications, at least on paper, to function as Ghana’s Chief EC Returning Officer. What we are saying is that she needs to strictly and evenhandedly abide by the rules that govern her constitutional job description. Her lurid decision to play possum with Supreme Court decisions and orders is one that ought to deeply offend any democracy-loving Ghanaian.

What the likes of Mr. Ankomah ought to be discussing ought not to be about how when she was a student at the University of Ghana’s Law School – by the way, I partly grew up on that campus – the then-Ms. Charlotte Kesson-Smith was so brilliant that she was appointed a TA or Teaching Assistant. Rather, what is at issue here is the character of the woman and her professional caliber or competence as the Electoral Commission’s Chair, not what implications any aspersions cast on her character have for the rest of global womanhood. The incontrovertible fact of the matter is that while her personal achievements are quite impressive, and I have personally had occasion to remark on the same, nevertheless, it cannot be gainsaid that Mrs. Osei does not behave like every woman in her kind of prominent and influential position, irrespective of race, creed or ethnicity.

She is one insufferably arrogant and stubborn woman who is hell-bent on derailing the otherwise robust and healthy development of Ghanaian democracy, and this is what the conversation ought to be about, not how uncouth or indecorous some of her most ardent critics may be or seem to be. Under absolutely no circumstances is Mrs. Osei to be confused with the global women’s liberation movement – I am one of only a couple of male members of my college’s Women Faculty Association – for that would be tantamount to sacrilegiously vulgarizing an otherwise sacred cause. Fellow travelers or “classmates” like Mr. Ankomah are, of course, entitled to their own thoughts, opinions and feelings about Mrs. Osei. But under absolutely no circumstances should they be allowed to foist their sentiments on the rest of us.

Nobody put a loaded gun or pistol to her head and forced her to assume her present position. Believe it or not, there are a legion qualified Ghanaian citizens willing and ready to step up to the plate and acquit themselves creditably. Thus Mrs. Osei would be grossly mistaken to suppose that she can run the EC by her own capricious lights.

*Visit my blog at: Ghanaffairs