A former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Justice Emile Short, has said: “I think it is important to understand that nepotism does not necessarily mean that you don’t appoint a relative of yours into a public position”.
He told Accra100.5FM’s Kwabena Bobie Ansah in a one-on-one interview on ‘The Citizen’ show on Tuesday, 10 September 2019 that a government can only be accused of nepotism if certain appointments were made “solely” on the basis of the President’s familial relationship with than, irrespective of the appointees’ competency and suitability for the job.
Asked by Bobie Ansah of what he made of the President’s appointment of relatives such as Mr Ken Ofori-Atta(Finance Minister), Nana Asante Bediatuo (Executive Secretary to the President), Mr Samuel Atta Akyea (Minister of Works and Housing), and his daughter, Gyankroma Akufo-Addo (Member of the Board of the Creative Arts Council) into public office, Mr Short, who chaired the three-member commission of inquiry that investigated the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-poll gun violence over six months ago, said: “I would prefer to speak generally on the issue of nepotism”.
Nepotism, Justice Short defined, “Is where an appointment is made based solely on the relationship without reference to the suitability of the person appointed”.
For example, he cited: “[Former President] Kufuor appointed Addo Kufuor [his brother], and at some stage, he [Addo Kufuor] was considered to be one of the best performing ministers”.
Additionally, he mentioned: “In the United States, John F. Kennedy appointed his brother as Attorney General. In that case, the appointee was considered credible, competent and a person of integrity to hold that position”.
So, nepotism, he argued, “Arises where the appointment is made irrespective, not taking into account; if the appointment is made solely on the basis of relationship and not on the basis of meritocracy”.
“So … I’m not saying that the present government is guilty or not guilty of nepotism; I’m not in a position to pass that judgment. So, I am not going to be involved in passing that judgment. And I will not pass that judgement event on the previous administration. Those are areas I do not want to venture into”, he told Kwabena Bobie Ansah at his residence.
“But I think it is important to understand that nepotism does not necessarily mean that you don’t appoint a relative of yours into a public position”, Mr Short stressed. “Ideally, it should not be so; in other words, you should not see a president appointing his [daughter] to a position in public office but there are situations where it can be justified, as I gave you the example of President F. Kennedy appointing Bobby Kennedy as Attorney General”.
“That appointment was never questioned because the appointee was competent, he was a person of integrity, and he discharged his functions creditably.
“The problem arises where the appointment is made solely on the basis of the relationship, to promote the relationship where there are other competent people that could have been appointed.
“That is when the issue of nepotism becomes very relevant”, he emphasised.
“But as I’m trying to explain the issue of nepotism, I’m not ready to tag this government as indulging in nepotism or the previous government as indulging in nepotism. I’ll leave that for other political commentators to do that”, Mr Short insisted.
Mr Short’s comments came hours after the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) described Nana Akufo-Add as “the most corrupt and most nepotistic President” in Ghana’s history.
President Akufo-Addo, the party said, “must accept full responsibility for the unenviable accolade as the most corrupt President in Ghana’s history, which hangs around his neck and find out why it is so”, the General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia told journalists on Tuesday, 10 September 2019.
“It has been established beyond all reasonable doubt that corruption is a way of life for the President and his government”, the party asserted.
Mr Nketia said President Akufo-Addo “demonstrated clearly” during his speech at the Bar Conference in the Western Region on Monday, 9 September 2019, that “he was not in touch with the realities of the time: that he heads the most corrupt government in the history of Ghana”.
“Rather than confront this resounding verdict of well-meaning Ghanaians, he opted for the path of delusion and denial. In summary, President Akufo-Addo lowered the bar for the fight against corruption at the Bar Conference”.
“According to President Akufo-Addo, the avalanche of evidence of corruption which has made his government a laughing stock and the butt of all jokes, is but a creation of us in opposition. He doesn’t think he’s responsible for all those accolades that he has earned and so on, but he thinks everything is just the creation of the opposition.
“He also made the astonishing claim that he has investigated every allegation of corruption and that he was not the infamous ‘Clearing Agent’ that Ghanaians have known him to be.
“We wish to call on the President to jolt himself back to reality and face the truth, which is that the Ghanaian public has lost all faith in him to do anything about the mountain of corruption under which his government has been buried.
“The multiplicity of polls and surveys carried out by credible national and international organisations show deteriorating confidence in his ability to win the fight against corruption.
“Ghanaians are unified in the belief that our country has been overrun by corruption with the president sitting at the apex of a cabal representing this. The clergy, the media, civil society and other interest groups including conscientious elders of the NPP itself have all been unanimous in their condemnation of the level of corruption under Akufo-Addo”, Mr Nketia said.
In his view, the President’s “failure to admit the existence of corruption in his government is a very clear indication that he does not even recognise the problem and cannot be counted upon to address it. Because if you don’t know the problem, how can you solve it? You must recognise that we have a problem, which is a corruption problem; and he says there’s no problem. So, those of you who are counting on him and hoping that one day he’ll get up and fight corruption, your hopes will be dashed because he doesn’t even recognise that there is a problem to be solved”.
He said the President’s “claim that the uncountable number of corrupt deals and practices that have come to light since he assumed office” is the doing of the opposition “is yet another example of a leader who totally out of sync with the aspirations and concerns of the people he governs”.
The Ghanaian people, Mr Asiedu Nketia said, “have been long aware that corruption is only fought on the basis of concrete steps aimed at preventing it from occurring in the first place, detecting its occurrence and punishing those engaged in it. If today, President Akufo-Addo is dismissed as a corrupt leader, it is the outcome of his own decision to make corruption the foundation of his government”.
On nepotism, Mr Nketia said the President “started off by installing the most nepotistic government in the history of Ghana which is brimming with dozens of blood relations, known friends and business associates. This set the tone for the public purse to be open for exploitation by his army of appointees.
“He promptly instituted a mechanism under which he and his close relatives, captured the state in ways never seen before in our country’s history. He and his relatives in senior government positions and some who hold no formal positions began to make familial or business relationship with the President, a key prerequisite for transactions with the government.
“In the process, businesses with no ties to the president or his relatives became endangered species when it comes to government contracts or business. While cloaking himself in age and shadow veneer of incorruptibility backed by spin and media hype, he implemented a nation-wrecking scheme to appropriate the resources of the state for the benefit of a chosen few.
“Today, key sectors of the Ghanaian economy are under the control of a clique of relatives and friends of the president.
“The pretention that this corrupt capture of state is happening on the blindside of President Akufo-Addo is no longer tenable.
“The shenanigans have long given way to the truth of his deep and active involvement.
Borrowing a leaf from the President and his relatives, for example, his appointees joined in the scramble for resources of the state”.