PARLIAMENTâ€™S APPOINTMENTS Committee Chairman Edward Doe Adjaho yesterday indicated vice presidential nominee Kwesi Amissah-Arthur was vetted in a non-partisan manner because he was going to be the second-in-command for the whole nation.
The Appointments Committee, he explained, decided to vet the nominee devoid of needless politicking since he would occupy the position of vice president to serve the whole country and not one political party.
â€śI am satisfied with the conduct of all the members of the Committee and I am sure posterity will judge us for holding the vetting in public,â€ť Mr. Adjaho stated.
The Appointments Committee Chairman who is also the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament was responding to people who criticized them for vetting Mr. Amissah-Arthur in public.
President John Dramani Mahama, who was sworn into office following the death of President Atta Mills on July 24, 2012, nominated Mr. Amissah-Arthur as vice president in accordance with Article 60 (10) of the constitution.
Article 60 (10) of the constitution stipulates that â€śthe Vice-President shall, upon assuming office as President under clause (6) of this article, nominate a person to the office of Vice-President subject to approval of Parliamentâ€ť.
Accordingly, the Appointments Committee decided to vet the nominee in public after the nomination was referred to it by the Houseâ€™s Speaker Joyce Bamford-Addo.
The decision generated mixed reactions of commendation and condemnation by a section of Ghanaians.
According to Adjaho, the possibility of in-camera hearing for Amissah-Arthur was discussed by theÂ Appointments CommitteeÂ and overwhelmingly rejected by both the majority and minority members.
Commenting on the matter before the committee vetted vice presidential nominee, Mr. Adjaho said â€śwe accept all these condemnations/criticisms in good faith. However, what we cannot accept is to use falsehood to accuse the Committee/Parliament of double standardsâ€ť.
He debunked claims by people including NDC MP for Sene, Felix Twumasi Appiah that Chief Justice Georgina Wood was vetted in camera.
Adjaho quoted June 1, 2007 edition of Parliamentâ€™s official report Hansard, which clearly showed the Chief Justice was vetted in public.
The only person who was given in-camera hearing, he pointed out, was National Security Minister Francis Poku because of security implications.
He noted there were no precedents to guide the Appointments Committee to vet the vice-presidential nominee since it was the first time Ghana had faced the situation.
The Parliamentary Committee, Adjaho pointed out, had to look at best practices by established democracies such as the United States in arriving at the decision to vet Amissah-Arthur in public.
Concurring, the Ranking member on the Appointments Committee Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the transition of an incumbent President was an event that had not until July 24, 2012, happened before in Ghana.
â€śWe find ourselves in unchartered waters and that explains why some people disagreed with the path chosen by parliament to deal with the situationâ€ť, Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu who is also the Minority Leader in Parliament said, insisting the Appointments Committee had â€śchosen the right pathâ€ť to vet the nominee in public.
Parliament, he pointed out, was called upon to approve the nominee because a presidential candidate and his running mate subject themselves to thorough scrutiny or vetting by the general public when the two face the electorate during electioneering campaign.
He said the two would be voted into office if the public find them worthy of the high office of the land.
According to Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Amissah-Arthur was nominated to be the vice president without going through the election process, and that it was only proper for MPs who are peopleâ€™s representatives to ask necessary questions as openly as possible.
Quoting the parable of the talents told by Christ Jesus, the Appointments Committee ranking member recognized the high office of vice president, saying â€śto whom much is given, much is expectedâ€ť.
The Minority leader said Parliament was setting standards that should be emulated by future generations.
By Awudu Mahama