Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has expressed confidence in the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Jean Mensa, saying her track record of integrity and professionalism would be brought to bear on her job as a referee in the national political space.
The former President said he had known Mrs Mensa for a long time even before he became President and that “you’ve come to this office with rich experience and I feel confident that the commission is being steered on an even keel.”
Going on, he said the EC is the pivot around which the entire political system of the country must revolve, adding that like a referee in a game of football, the performance of the referee could lead to uproar among players and supporters but added that “you must show fairness and impartiality.”
Power and tension
Former President Kufuor gave a reminder that wherever there was power, there was also tension but advised that “for you to be accepted, people must trust and follow what you do.”
He said these when the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Mensa, accompanied by her two deputies, Dr Eric Bossman Asare and Mr Samuel Tettey and a member of the commission, Ms Adwoa Abrefa, paid a courtesy call on him at his residence in Accra.
The visit formed part of an engagement by the EC with stakeholders in the electoral process to apprise them of the various reforms being undertaken by the commission to ensure that the country’s electoral processes run smoothly and to take their input for a successful execution of the EC’s mandate.
Training of EC staff
But more importantly, the former President said the training of officials of the EC at all levels was important to ensure that their professional competence was up to the required level.
That, he explained was because any official of the EC who was not up to the task at hand would end up denting the hard work of the commission.
For that reason, he said there was the need to “professionalise your agents,” especially at the lowest levels of the electoral system.
Former President Kufuor entreated the leadership of the EC to remain firm and focused irrespective of the pressure that might be brought against them to act contrary to their mandate.
That, according to the former President is because, “the stability and peace of the nation, depends on the quality of work that you do.”
For that matter, he urged the chairperson of the commission to “let the integrity that you carry reflect on your work” and advised against laxity and taking sides.
He was of the view that the 2020 general election was going to be a very crucial one for the country and, therefore, every step in the process ought to be taken with all the seriousness and importance it deserved.
“The basic principles of transparency and accountability must reflect on you,” he pointed out, stressing that no one should force the commission to do the wrong thing, “not even the President.”
He added that “you should not be afraid of transparency when you are telling the truth.”
Guard against creation of new constituencies
The former President also urged the EC to guard against the temptation to create new constituencies in the wake of the creation of new districts, otherwise Ghana’s example might be a mockery for other jurisdictions with larger populations but relatively fewer Members of Parliament.
Mrs Mensa, for her part, said the visit was to primarily assure the former President that the EC was committed to undertaking credible, free, fair and transparent and peaceful elections in the country.
“In all that we do, my team and I are mindful of articles 45 and 46 of the 1992 Constitution and would like to assure you that in carrying out our mandate, those articles would be our guiding light. We will ensure that as much as possible, to the best of our ability, we operate within the confines of our mandate as enshrined in the Constitution,” she said.
“Over the years,” she said, “the EC has operated as a body onto itself and this is one of the things that we are keen to take off, so we are here really to demystify the operations of the commission and take off the cloak of secrecy that has shrouded our operations.”
She added that the EC recognised the quantum of experience and knowledge gained by the former President over the years within the political and electoral space of the country.
The commission, she said, was upbeat about tapping into his store of knowledge and experience in the quest to fulfil its mandate for the overall progress of the nation.