President John Mahama yesterday extolled the virtues of outgoing Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, when he addressed Parliament yesterday, describing him as ‘an illustrious son of the land’ he would miss.
He was full of praise for the man for the various roles the latter had played at the commission for the past 23 years – rising from the position of Deputy Chairman of the then Interim National Electoral Commission (INEC) to Chairman.
This was during President Mahama’s presentation of the State of the Nation address to the legislature.
Among a host of other responsibilities, Dr Afari-Gyan supervised the controversial 2012 general elections which results were disputed and battled at the Supreme Court by three Ghanaian citizens.
He defied calls by various religious leaders and the opposition party to hold on to the declaration of a winner when the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) complained of irregularities which could affect the outcome of the presidential election results. He proceeded to declare then candidate John Dramani Mahama and his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), winners of the elections amid tight security.
For eight consecutive months, the election results were contested, with Afari-Gyan as a star witness for the Electoral Commission which was the 2nd respondent in the famous election petition hearing filed by the NPP.
President Mahama said yesterday, ‘There will certainly be an opportunity for a grateful nation to express its gratitude to an illustrious son of the land who has led a team of dedicated and hardworking men and women over the last 23 years to guide our nation in one of the delicate aspects of modern democracy, which is the elections.
‘As President of the Republic, let me on behalf of the people of Ghana express our respect to dedication to work shown by Dr Afari-Gyan. I have no doubt that his place in Ghana’s history is assured and he will be dearly missed when he finally retires this year.’
The upcoming district assembly elections scheduled for March 3 to elect representatives at the local level would be the final major elections to be undertaken by the Electoral Commission under the leadership of Afari-Gyan, before he attains his statutory retirement age.
President Mahama therefore thinks the outgoing EC chairman deserves commendation for his several years of service to the nation.
Dr Afari-Gyan was born at Anyimon in the Brong-Ahafo Region on June 18, 1945.
He attended Achimota School and Adisadel College for his ‘A’ Level and also graduated from the University of Ghana in 1967 with a BA degree in Philosophy.
He went on to attain an MA degree in African Politics in 1969 from the same university and proceeded to study in the United States where he was awarded a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1974.
Dr Afari-Gyan worked as a lecturer and professor in Political Science at the University of Ghana. He has also lectured in the United States and Nigeria.
He was a member of the Committee of Experts that drafted the Fourth Republican Constitution for Ghana.
In 1992, he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Interim National Electoral Commission by the then PNDC, a military junta led by Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, with the hope of returning the country to civilian rule.
Rawlings stood for the 1992 presidential elections and won.
With the coming into force of the Fourth Republican Constitution, a new Electoral Commission was set up and Afari-Gyan became its first substantive chairman and supervised all the Ghanaian elections held under this Constitution in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.
In 1998, he became the Executive Secretary of the Association of African Election Authorities and a member of a committee of experts to advise Nigeria on elections.
He has also worked in a number of other African countries, and has written several books.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
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