The seat for the second highest position in the country became vacant after the sitting president, John Dramani Mahama, who until last week was Vice President, rose to the number one position following the demise of John Evans Atta Mills, his immediate boss, and the country’s former president, who died on July 24.
In accordance with the country’s constitution, Mahama has nominated the Governor of the country’s Central Bank, the Bank of Ghana Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, as the Vice President pending approval from the august house of parliament.
Article 60 (10) of Ghana’s Constitution states that “The Vice President shall, upon assuming office as President under Clause Six of this Article, nominate a person to the office of Vice President subject to approval by Parliament”.
Already, there are mixed reactions to Amissah-Arthur’s nomination, in what those kicking against his nomination have said is a bad choice, and a grave mistake that could further bring divisions in the ruling party, with some even suggesting that they don’t see him pull in that fire and energy required to win the elections for the ruling party. The opposition New Patriotic Party has even suggested that he has no constituency and would not do much to help the NDC.
But there are sections of the Ghanaian public including key personalities of the ruling National Democratic Congress who have lauded the president for choosing somebody mostly described as “an affable and distinguished technocrat” and one, likely to bring in the numbers for the NDC in the 2012 elections.
If eventually approved by parliament, Amissah-Arthur, an economist of repute, would have to help Mahama administer and steer what looks like a country at the crossroads.
Ghana goes to the polls in December with the ruling NDC bent on retaining power. The inclusion of Amissah-Arthur in a government team that has increasingly come under attack from sections of the Ghanaian public for reasons ranging from mishandling of affairs to not doing much to better the lives of ordinary citizens, is crucial not only to the fortunes of the NDC, but to the whole country, analysts have suggested.
Amssah-Arthur, 61, is believed to have gotten the nod, beating off competition from a large pool of potential heads mainly because he “brings to the table a vast experience as an economist, lecturer and a researcher,” the kind the government would need to properly position itself to prosecute its policies for the good of Ghanaian people, government officials have said.
With just four months to prove how good he is, Amissah-Arthur it is believed is also likely to get approval from the ruling party to be their running mate in the December polls, when they go to a specially-arranged delegate’s congress on September 1 to elect Mahama by popular acclamation.
With grounded roots in the ruling party dating back to the days of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) under Ghana’s first democratically elected president Jerry Rawlings, becoming Deputy Secretary for Finance and Economic Planning from February 1983 to March 1986, Amissah-Arthur became governor of Ghana’s Central Bank on October 1, 2009, replacing Dr. Paul Acquah who had served some eight years as Governor.
“Amissah Arthur was said to be the late President John Evans Atta Mills preferred
candidate to the Central Bank highest position because of his involvement in the team of technocrats who impressively managed Ghana’s structural adjustment programme, which turned the country’s economic fortunes around in the 1980s,” it’s been suggested.
A distinguished but laid-back politician, Amissah-Arthur was appointed Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Finance from 1993 to 1997. He was also the Deputy Chairman of the Transition team on Economy at a point.
“He also accumulated a great deal of experience whiles involved in structural adjustments programme, which enabled him to move into a more lucrative International Consultancy Business, thus making him one of the wealthiest people in the country”.
In 2010, the former lecturer of the Anambra State College of Education in Nigeria (1981 to 1983) was named the Most Influential Personality by the Ghanaian think tank, IMANI Ghana, who has described his nomination as “fantastic”.
“The Governor impressed us with his conduct of the affairs of the Monetary Policy Committee in particular, though there is evidence that other aspects of the Bank’s work, such as banking inspection, have also improved. Despite pressure from political forces to go beyond moral suasion in compelling the banks to reduce interest rates, the Governor has been unwavering in going where the evidence leads. Diplomatically, he has rebuked the government to pay the contractors and stop dithering, since this has an effect on non-performing loans in the system, and by extension lending rates,” IMANI has said in a statement.
In his early years of professional work, Amissah-Arthur worked at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) where he was a research assistant from 1974-1975.
Amissah-Arthur had his early years of tertiary education at the University of Ghana, obtaining degrees in Economics (1974) and Economics in 1980. He subsequently lectured at the same department of the university as assistant lecturer from 1980 to 1988.
Prior to joining Ghana’s Central Bank, he worked as a private Consultant and Economist.