After the violence that during the Ayawaso West Wuogon bye-election on January 31, 2019, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, under the direction of (then outside-the-country) President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, signed the Constitutional Instrument setting up the Commission of Inquiry that is currently investigating the violence. Consequently, the Secretary-General of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketia, damned the commission describing it as a “smoked screen”. The response that came back from the minister of Information and a constitutional law expert, made Ti-Kelenkelen begin to wonder if Bawumia was not right after all when he charged in 2016 that the NDC do not read.
First, Ti-Kelenkelen is not insulting the NDC. Two, it is not the fact that the vice president’s accusation may be true that is the source of worry, but the fact that the NDC are currently one of two political parties that has the surest guarantee to win elections and govern this country. And if there is evidence to show that, indeed, the NDC do not read, then this country has been in massive trouble when the NDC was in national administration, is in trouble even now when they are in opposition and will be in more massive trouble in future when the NDC gets into national administration.
During the campaign towards the 2012 General Election one of the major programmes the New Patriotic Party (NPP) staged was Dr. Bawumia’s assessment of the economic performance of the Mills-Mahama four years in office (2009-2013). We need not go into details, except to state that generally, using statistics from both internal and external sources, Bawumia painted a gloomy picture of the state of affairs then. That was when a very smart Dr. Bawumia was a confident academic but a feeble politician whose wife, Samira Bawumia, was fierier than him.
In 2016, the NPP repeated the Bawumia assessment of the economic performance of (this time) Mahama-Amissah-Arthur administration. Bawumia accused them of poor economic management and even turned a term popularised by late President Mills had used years earlier, “unprecedented”, against the NDC. He used it to describe (what he termed) unprecedented levels of poor performance on all fronts of national affairs. Afterwards, personalities who speak for the NDC hit the roof calling Bawumia names. Some of the insults they hurled at him are unprintable. Then Vice President, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, announced that he has complied over 200 questions for Bawumia on the contents of his speech, and that he will put then to him at the appropriate time; before the elections. However, for undisclosed reasons, Amissah-Arthur decided to shelve them.
Largely, speakers for the NDC who decided to confront the issues Bawumia had raised, contested the figures and statistics he applied to make his arguments. Bawumia’s response made matters worse for the NDC. He plainly told them they do not read, and explained that most of the figures and statistics he used for his assessments are information he took from documents prepared by state agencies, such as the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Statistical Services, Monetary Policy Committee and the Bank of Ghana. And since it is people from the NDC that were in national administration and heading the ministries and their appointees were heading all other state agencies, he (Bawumia) found it odd that they will not know figures and statistics prepared by these very state agencies.
As interesting and even strange as that may sound, Bawumia was right, especially when he cited his sources during the assessment forum. All that the NDC critics of his figures needed to do was go to those very sources and then come back to tell Ghanaians that Bawumia was lying or… But they did not. At the time, Ti-Kelenkelen heard some people argue that the NDC speakers knew the statistics but were playing partisan politics by pretending not to, just so they could accuse Bawumia of fraud. Ti-Kelenkelen’s take on that was simple: That NDC tactic is the surest way of being accused of being in charge of documents and not knowing what they contain. It is the surest way of inviting the accusation that you do not read.
Of CIs and Its Types
Taking recourse to Article 278(1) of the Constitution, Nana Akufo-Addo set up a commission to investigate the violence on the day of the Ayawaso West Wuogon bye-election. Acting president, Bawumia signed the Constitutional Instrument for the purpose on February 6, 2019. The chairman of the three-member commission is former head of CHRAJ, Justice Emile Short, and the other two members are Professor Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu of the University of Ghana, Legon, and former IGP, Patrick K. Acheampong.
The same February 6, Asiedu Nketia spoke against it. He is reported to have spoken on Citi FM’s current affairs programme, Eye Witness News, and said: “I am surprised and even confused, because there is a procedure for the setting up of a Commission of Inquiry, which procedure has not been followed at all. This Commission of Inquiry has been flawed at birth, so I want to believe it is a smoked screen move which the president is using to protect its own appointees.” He was suspect of the celerity with which the president had set up the commission and thus smelt something fishy.
Citi FM also called the minister for Information, Kwaku Nkrumah, who explained that there are two types of constitutional instruments. He said one type addresses issues of law, and since Parliament is the law-making body of state official procedure demands that such CI is handed to Parliament to go through for 21 days. The other type, he said, is an executive instrument which a president uses to address other issues that have nothing to do with law, such as setting up a commission to investigate an issue of public interest; such CI is effective the very moment it is issued. Eye Witness News then called a law professor who confirmed and explained what Nkrumah had said.
Obviously, Asiedu Nketia had no idea of the two types of CIs. And a bunch of questions jump up immediately. For example, who told him about the 21-waiting-day period for a CI? Was that person a lawyer? Did he try to consult other lawyers to ascertain the veracity of what he had been told?… Whatever the issues, coming from him, that was the official party position. And the fact that he goofed so badly reflects on the entire party, yet the wider implication is on the fortunes of Ghana, especially when the party (even some of their lawyers) has a long tradition of publicly goofing on issues of law.
A group of people who do not read have no business governing a state. It is simply dangerous and prospectively traumatic! What happens when they are in national administration and have to make policies and negotiate international agreements and contracts on behalf of the state? How much are they not going to give away to the detriment of the people?
(See also yirenkyilamptey.wordpress.com)
“…It is not the fact that the vice president’s accusation may be true that is the source of worry, but the fact that the NDC are currently one of two political parties that has the surest guarantee to win elections and govern this country.”
“That NDC tactic is the surest way of being accused of being in charge of documents and not knowing what they contain.”
“A group of people who do not read have no business governing a state. It is simply dangerous and prospectively traumatic!”
Ti-Kelenkelen by: Yirenkyi Lamptey