Nabdam in political mess: DCE confirmation cancelled; drama erupts Sunday

Agnes Anamoo, the Nabdam DCE nominee.
Agnes Anamoo, the Nabdam DCE nominee.

The mobile phones of assembly members in the Nabdam District have been tremendously busy since the day broke today (Sunday) on conversations about a serious fallout from the confirmation exercise held last Thursday for the District Chief Executive (DCE) nominee, Agnes Anamoo.

Starr News learns the nominee’s confirmation stands invalid and the Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu, who reportedly spearheaded the “flawed” confirmation process, is desperately pushing for the damage to be undone before the deadline elapses.

The nominee was sworn in for a second term on Thursday after assembly members ‘unanimously’ declared a ‘popular acclamation’ for her without casting any ballots. But many observers described the exercise as an illegality because it was in breach of the Local Governance Act 936 and the Model Standing Orders for Assemblies.

“The process of confirmation of a District Chief Executive is prescribed by law. The Local Governance Act 936, 2016 Section 20 (1) states that, ‘There shall be a District Chief Executive for each district appointed by the President with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the District Assembly present and voting at the meeting’.

“Also Order 15 (1, 2, 3) of the Model Standing Orders for MMDAS states that: One, ‘The President may nominate one person for approval by the Assembly to be appointed as the District Chief Executive’. Two, ‘The Electoral Commission shall, within twenty-one days of the President notifying the Secretary to the Assembly of the nomination, conduct a ballot on the nominee’. Three, ’Voting shall be by secret ballot’. This clearly shows that there must be voting and a threshold given achieved. So, it is not left to the discretion of the assemblies,” remarked one of the observers in a text message.   

Another observer said: “Voting must be done. What they did there was just useless, waste of precious time of assembly members, traditional rulers, politicians and so on. It was just a waste. We don’t know why they did all that. But before they did all that, the Regional Minister had revoked the appointment of some of the appointees to pave the way for that illegality.”

The Regional Minister, upon realising the gaffe, is said to have summoned the Presiding Member, Sampana Zure Abass, to the Residency (the state residence of the Regional Minister) on Saturday and urged him to call up the assembly members in the district for another confirmation exercise today― today being the last day of the ten-day grace period provided by law to the nominee after initially failing to obtain the required two-thirds majority.

There is intense pressure pouring out from prominent figures through repeated telephone calls on the Presiding Member and some assembly members to gather at the Nabdam District Assembly’s conference hall before midday and now go by the process that was riskily and unanimously ignored last week. Some strongly think that taking part in another confirmation exercise on a Sunday― a nonworking day― is as inappropriate as the same action that led the district into the current mess was wrong. It is still unclear if the under-pressure Presiding Member and the assembly members will yield to the growing pressure.

Electoral Commission Boss, District Coordinating Director speak

Assembly members rejected the nominee at the first confirmation exercise on Thursday September 30, 2021. She needed at least 13 of the 19 votes cast but gathered 12― representing 63.15%. She needed 66.67% to meet the threshold.

Some members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) accused the party’s Upper East Regional Chairman, Anthony Namoo, and Presiding Member― who is a member of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) ― of engineering the rejection suffered by the nominee. Both the Regional Chairman and the Presiding Member refuted the allegations and reportedly urged the assembly members to approve the nominee in the subsequent confirmation meeting.

When the assembly gathered again last week for the second confirmation exercise, an unanticipated letter signed by the Regional Minister revoking the appointment of two assembly members― Francis Wongnab and Moses Dee― took centre stage.

The two government appointees, after receiving their revocation letters, were marched out of the crowded hall by state security officers. The reason for the revocation was not stated in the letter, but observers believe the Regional Minister had taken that decision to pave the way for the nominee’s confirmation. The letter was copied to the Nabdam District Chief Executive and the Minister for Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development.

It is said that not even the party’s Regional Chairman was aware that the Regional Minister had written that letter and that he had come with it to the event. And it is believed that it was well planned because just immediately after the two men were ordered out of the hall, two people, dressed for the occasion, were sworn in as government appointees to replace those shown the exit in the hall.

Despite the removal of the two appointees, a proposal for ‘popular acclamation’ was voiced by one assembly member and it became a chorus― an imposed chorus, somebody says. Voting was sidestepped. And an oath was administered to the nominee. An observer said the applause that greeted the process was low and the jubilation that followed the exercise was like a dirge.

“Our appointments were revoked and we were replaced by other two. The place was packed. Soldiers were all over the place. And the police asked me to leave. We were walked out. There was no earlier communication that our appointments had been revoked and no reason was given. We were just marched out like thieves that had been caught.

“They even announced that if you were not invited for the meeting, you shouldn’t come in, you should leave the hall. So, it was not opened to the public. I was representing the district on a board at the Lands Commission. It was the same way I was removed from the board without prior notice. That happened two months ago,” Wongnab told Starr News on Friday.

The Upper East Regional Director of the Electoral Commission (EC), William Obeng Adarkwa, says the confirmation exercise reportedly being pushed for by the Regional Minister has not been brought to his notice. Telephone calls placed Sunday by Starr News to the Regional Minister on this development went unanswered.

“I’m also calling somebody to know what went wrong. I’m also calling someone to get the true picture. When I get the message, I will call you back,” stated the Nabdam District Coordinating Director, Jimba Mohammed Ibrahim, when Starr News contacted him on the matter on Sunday.

Observers say the NPP Regional Chairman as a lawyer and the Presiding Member as a veteran assembly member could have drawn the assembly’s attention to the Thursday’s wrong but it was good they were mute because, as they had been accused last month of working against the nominee, they would have come under another hail of accusations if they had righted the wrong at the event and a subsequent secret balloting had seen the nominee rejected.

By Edward Adeti, Upper East – Daily Mail GH

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