Let me welcome you all to Jubilee House, the seat of the presidency of our country. Newly sworn in Chairperson, Deputy Chairpersons, and Member of the Electoral Commission, let me start by congratulating you all warmly on your appointment to the Electoral Commission.
I believe that we are agreed that the events that have brought us here, this evening, for this swearing-in ceremony, are quite unique, perhaps, never before witnessed in the life of our nation.
You will recall that, on Thursday, 28th June, 2018, I removed from office the then Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei, together with her two deputies, Mr. Amadu Sulley and Mrs Georgina Opoku Amankwah, on grounds of stated misconduct and incompetence, as found by the Committee set up by the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo, to investigate petitions levelled against them. The processes that led to their removal were in strict compliance with the Constitution of the Republic. They were initiated by employees of the Electoral Commission, and by an ordinary citizen with no affiliation to government or the ruling party.
This whole process, which resulted in the removal from office of the three persons, was an instance of the rule of law at work. Neither my party nor I had any hand in the proceeding. Our only interest is to have an Electoral Commission that organizes credible, transparent elections. We do not want electoral victories handed to us by officials of the Electoral Commission. We want electoral victories handed to us by the people of Ghana.
You, Madam Chair and your two deputies, have come to office at a time when there is considerable anxiety in the nation about the work of the Commission. It is the quality of your work that will re-assure the Ghanaian people that the democratic system of government that they have chosen for their governance will be properly nurtured by an electoral system that allows their voice to be plainly and loudly heard.
It is no secret that I have spent much of my adult life fighting for the establishment of democracy and human rights in this country. And I have always fought for and advocated for a credible electoral process in Ghana. In emphasizing the importance and credibility of elections, it must be pointed out that the count, the collation, the declaration of results cannot and should not be more important than the sacred, God-given right of a citizen casting his or her ballot. I have said it before, and I will repeat it. Elections are about those who cast the vote, not those who count, not those who supervise, not those who transmit, and not those who declare. The heart of the democratic process is giving effect to the choices made by those who cast the vote.
The four persons I have sworn-in, a few moments ago, as Chairperson, Deputy Chairpersons, and Member of the Electoral Commission are persons, I am confident, will bring integrity, professionalism, and independence and fairness of mind to the discharge of their duties. They have been carefully selected, and, indeed, the Council of State, in proffering its advice, in its letter dated 26th July, 2018, to the President on their appointment, stated that “they were all eminently qualified to hold the respective positions, and, therefore, recommended that they be appointed accordingly.” Article 46 of the Constitution demands that, in the performance of their functions, they will not be “subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.” They answer only to the Ghanaian people, the Constitution of the Republic, and their conscience.
As you begin work, you will find no “honeymoon” period, neither will you be afforded the chance to settle in to your new responsibilities. On your desk, Madam Chairperson, will be the recommendations of the Report from the Brobbey Commission of Inquiry, on the creation of new regions, which, in accordance with the teachings of the Constitution, I have forwarded to you. The Commission, as per the recommendations of the report, is to organise referenda in the six areas of the demand for the creation of new regions. The nationwide referendum on Article 55, an entrenched clause, to determine whether or not full democracy should be extended to local government, the 2019 District Assembly elections, the registration of eligible voters for the 2020 elections, and the conduct of the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections are all matters which are, immediately, before you.
I am, nonetheless, confident in you and in your abilities to surmount these hurdles. Each one of you has excelled in your areas of focus, and you possess the requisite experience to deliver and meet the enormous expectations of the Ghanaian people. Let the events of the past year guide you. Remember that, now more than ever, every single decision you take will be scrutinized to the letter. That, however, should not scare you, and, indeed, let no one try to cow you into submission. On the contrary, let this expectation of the Ghanaian people spur you on to great heights, and, above all, work so that the will of the Ghanaian people is upheld.
Realising the dreams of the founders of our nation to build a free, united, prosperous and happy Ghana on the basis of the principles of democratic accountability, respect for human rights, the rule of law and the dictates of social justice must be our directive principles of development. That is the way forward for us in the 21st century, which, I believe strongly, is going to be the Ghanaian and African century, the century that will see the transition of the Ghanaian and African peoples from poverty into prosperity within the framework of democratic institutions under the rule of law.
Congratulations, once again, and Godspeed in the discharge of your heavy duties.
May God bless the new Members of the Electoral Commission and us all, and may God bless our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.