…Over appointments of NPP affiliates as EC officials
The Council of State, has responded to the petition from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regarding the approval of Dr Peter Appiahene and Hajia Salima Ahmed Tijani known affiliates of thegoverning New Patriotic Party (NPP) as members of the Electoral Commission (EC), saying their appointments cannot be reviewed.
Aside the opposition NDC, the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) in collaboration with the STAR-Ghana Foundation, and the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) addressed the press to express concern and displeasure about the appointments by President Nana Akufo-Addo and announced on March 20, 2023.
One Reverend Akua Ofori Boateng, who was also appointed to the Commission, following the retirement of three members of the Electoral Management Board, works with Gabby Otchere-Darko’s Asaase Radio. Gabby is a cousin to the President.
A letter to the Council of State, signed by the Chairman of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, had urged a reconsideration of the appointments, arguing that the reputation of the EC, would be further tarnished if the appointments were not rescinded.
But the Chairman of the Council of State, Nana Otuo Siriboe, in a letter addressed to the NDC National Chairman, explained that once it had thoroughly assessed the CVs of the nominees and provided its advice to the President, the process was deemed complete. The subsequent swearing-in of the appointees further solidified the Council’s role in the appointment process.
“As you rightly stated in paragraph 8 of the third page of your letter, the President having sworn into Office the two individuals, the Council of State has become functus officio in the process of their appointment.
“It is therefore not possible to review the recommendations already made by the Council to the President,” the Chairman of the Council of State, stated.
The Council emphasized that it is not within its jurisdiction to review recommendations once they have been submitted to the President and acted upon. This decision effectively closes any possibility of revisiting the approval process for Dr Peter Appiahene and Hajia Salima Ahmed Tijani.
The nomination of members to the Electoral Commission is a crucial step in upholding the democratic process in Ghana. The Council of State’s role in vetting and advising on these appointments is vital in ensuring the integrity and transparency of the Electoral Commission.
The NDC had expressed concerns in their petition that two of the members were known NPP activists, but the Council’s response indicates that the approval process was carried out diligently and in accordance with the established procedures.
The NDC’s letter cited evidence of Dr Appiahene’s and Hajia Salima Ahmed Tijani’s affiliations with the NPP, including their involvement with TESCON, the NPP’s tertiary wing, and their close relationships with senior NPP officials.
Although the appointments have already been sworn in, the NDC hopes that the Council of State will review its advice to the President to avoid any perception of complicity in the appointment of “patently partisan individuals” to the Electoral Commission.
“Dr Peter Appiahene is not only a card-bearing member of the ruling New Patriotic Party but a recognized leading figure within the ranks of the Party. He has been a patron of the tertiary wing of the New Patriotic Party, TESCON, at the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Sunyani since 2017. He is a known communicator of the New Patriotic Party in the Bono Region on both radio and television,” the letter reads.
“Prior to his appointment to the Electoral Commission, Dr Appiahene had played various leading roles for the New Patriotic Party in the Bono Region. Indeed, he touts himself in his political profile and personal credentials as “a strong NPP man with a lot of experience in election issues in Ghana”.
“We are nevertheless of the view that against the background of the evidence that we have presented, it is possible for the Council to re-consider its advice to the President in order to erase any perception that the Council has been complicit in the appointment of these patently partisan individuals to the Electoral Commission and to safeguard the integrity of the Council as far as its role in the structure of our governance architecture is concerned.”
The letter was also copied to some foreign missions in Ghana EU, AU, the US embassy, the UK High Commission, the Netherlands Embassy, the German Embassy.
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament for South Dayi, has suggested that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo appointed Dr Peter Appiahene and Hajia Salima Ahmed Tijani as deputy commissioners of the EC, without the consulting the Council of State as required by the Constitution.
Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor came to this conclusion after reading the response from the Council of State to the NDC’s petition on the appointment of Dr Peter Appiahene and Ahmed Tijani, because they were deemed to be members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).
He said that the letter shows that President Akufo-Addo appointed and swore in the three deputy commissioners before approaching the council which violates the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
“This letter from the Council of State reveals that contrary to Article 70(2) of the Constitution, the Prez actually nominated & swore into office the 2 EC Commissioners before the Council was approached by the Prez for their ‘Advice’,” the MP wrote.
In the said letter, which was shared by the South Dayi legislator, the Council of State stated that it considers the qualification of potential appointees of the president before advising him on them.