I love to boast of my shareholder status and proud membership of Ghana incorporated. I tout Ghana’s credentials when it comes to democracy and the freedoms that go with it as enshrined in the country’s 1992 Constitution.
However, under the umbrella of freedom to talk, opine and move around freely as citizens, blackmails are gradually gaining grounds in the selection for public office appointments. Threats and ultimatums are creeping into and being pushed as deciding factors in the appointments and nominations of qualified citizens with the competence to serve the nation.
Why are Chiefs and traditional rulers and sometimes party supporters wading into the realms of who should be appointed into some public offices and strongly opposing the President’s nominations which for all intents and purposes are strongly advised by competence and needed skills.
Threats and ultimatums characterising national appointments
Agreed that the President or any other appointing authorities must consult and give open ears to what the people say. But really, for such national appointments to key strategic positions, shouldn’t competence supersede any other consideration and who should have the final say? Should national, regional or local appointments in this land of abundant freedom and a healthy democracy be subjected to threats and ultimatums?
Last Monday, February 20th, Today newspaper carried a news item to the effect that paramount Chiefs in seven traditional areas in Nzema in the Western Region of Ghana, have unanimously kicked against the President’s decision to appoint Dr. Ben Asante, a long standing employee of the Ghana National Gas Company, as a caretaker Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Company.
According to the newspaper, at a news conference held by the Chiefs in the Nsein traditional area, they suggested instead, Professor Sagary Nokoe, a citizen of the area and “whose contribution to the development of the country at local, regional, national and international levels have been outstanding.”
Reporting on the same story, The Ghanaian Times’s issue of February 20, said that the Chiefs led by the President of the Nzema Maamle Council, Awulae Angama Tuagyan II, and who is also the Paramount Chief of Bomiankor Traditional area, issued a statement to the effect that Dr. Asante’s personal interaction with the traditional authority was not the best.
According to the Times report, Dr. Asante did not recognise the existence of the Chiefs so his nomination as the CEO of the Ghana Gas Company would not allow the Company and the Traditional authority to work together. Consequently, the Chiefs issued a threat that they would make things difficult for the Company should the government fail to revoke the nomination of Dr. Asante.
Clearly, the threats coming from our respected Chiefs are based purely on an existing friction between them and the appointee and not the fact that he is incompetent or does not have the skills to do the job for Ghana.
And that brings to mind another threat that was recently reported on when some Chiefs from the Brong Ahafo Region raised their voices against another presidential nominee. According to media reports, the Sunyani Traditional Council recently protested against the President’s nominee for the position of Brong Ahafo Regional Minister. They accused him of showing disrespect towards the traditional authority.
When the protest was first made, the Chiefs were said to have indicated their unwillingness to work with the nominee if the president went ahead and confirmed his nomination. Fortunately, following “high” levels of discussions, the Chiefs were said to have come to some form of understanding and agreed for the nominee to be confirmed.
The cases of threats and disagreements with appointments and other issues has continued to date and one deeply wonders whether “government by the people” has not really been stretched too far.
Acts of defiance
There have been unfortunate reports from some Assemblies across the country where angry youth, allegedly coming from the New Patriotic Party (NPP), went to the premises of the Assemblies to disrupt meetings and protest against some nominees for those Assemblies. According to them, the new appointees were not known NPP members and therefore not deserving of the positions they had been given.
Similar protests and machoism were displayed around the country in the early days of the NPP’s victory from the 2016 election. We heard of alleged NPP supporters going round seizing toll booths, school feeding facilities, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) offices and others, dislodging those managing the facilities at the time because they were not members of the NNP.
All these acts of defiance started not only yesterday or today. I remember few years ago, people came out making similar pronouncements when a new party took over the reins of government. I remember in one instance, even workers of an organisation, came out to demonstrate and asked the government then to come and take away the appointed CEO who had already started work. But for how long should these types of posturing be allowed to continue in the name of rights?
Naturally, not all appointees to offices would be fully accepted by all. Chiefs, employees, communities, party supporters and other sympathisers would always have their say and objections. But really, threats and ultimatums should not be used to cause confusion and discomfort over and above competence, a critical decider in performance.
Where possible, we should allow the President with whom the buck will always stop and who has the constitutional mandate to appoint, to consult and take the final decision in the interest of the country. We should all allow democracy to work without the excesses which include resorting to blackmails and threats to settle personal scores. Blackmails would not build the united country we need. For certain, blackmails and undermining would not advance our democracy. We need to move on.
By Vicky Wireko-Andoh/Reality Zone With/Vicky.firstname.lastname@example.org