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The professors in Ghana’s politics

There is this notion in Ghana that politics is a ‘dirty’ profession which is usually full of criminals and corrupt individuals whose sole interest is to plunder from the state.

Most Ghanaians who have reached the highest points of their careers, particularly academics, who have all the expertise and understanding that is needed to help transform the country normally veer away from politics with the fear of being tainted by corruption.

But history shows that Ghana has had the most successes when it was led by academics like Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Prof John Evans Atta Mill, under whose governments the nation saw unprecedented infrastructure development and economic stability.

Well, there are other academics who are hoping to emulate Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Prof Mills by venturing into politics despite the tag it comes with.

This article looks at some professors who are currently actively involved in the political landscape in Ghana.

Prof Joshua Alabi

Joshua Alabi is a Russia-trained Ghanaian academic and politician, who served as the first Vice-Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) from 2012 to 2016. He previously served as the Rector of the same institution from 2009 to 2012 and as Pro-Rector from 2005 to 2008.

In Ghanaian politics, Alabi was the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for the Krowor Constituency in Greater Accra from 1997 to 2001 and Minister of State for the Greater Accra and the Northern Regions respectively from 1997 to 2001.

He filed his nomination to contest in the NDC presidential primaries in 2018 but dropped out of the race. He was the campaign manager for former President John Dramani Mahama in the 2020 elections.

Alabi was born in Nungua, Accra. His father was an auto mechanic and farmer and his mother was a trader. He had his primary and middle school education at the St. John’s Preparatory School (now St. John’s Grammar School) in Achimota, a suburb of Accra, from 1965 to 1971. He then proceeded to the Tamale Secondary School for his high school education where he obtained the Ordinary and Advanced-Level Certificates from 1971 to 1976.

Prof Michael Kpessa-Whyte

Prof Michael Kpessa-Whyte is a Research Fellow with the History and Politics Section at the Institute of African Studies (IAS), University of Ghana, Legon. He is a political scientist in the tradition of Comparative Public Policy and Political Institutions.

He joined IAS in 2011 from Jonson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, where he was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Post-Doctoral Fellow.

In 2012 he was adjudged “The Most Promising Young Researcher” by the faculty (now School of Social Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon). Between 2013 and early 2017 he served as a Policy Advisor in the Office of the President John Dramani Mahama with dual responsibility as the Executive Director of the Ghana National Service Scheme.

Dr. Kpessa-Whyte is the author of several peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and he teaches various undergraduate and graduate courses relating to the study of African politics.

He is a leading member of the NDC and was one of the agents of the party at the strong room of the Electoral Commission of Ghana (the National Collation Centre) for the 2020 elections. He was also one of the party’s key witnesses in the 2020 election petition.

Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye

Rt. Hon. Aaron Mike Oquaye, MP born April 4, 1944, is a Ghanaian politician and a former Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana. Prof Oquaye was sworn in as the Speaker of Parliament on January 7, 2017.

He is a member of the New Patriotic Party and was the Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya from 2005 to 2013. He was Ghana’s High Commissioner to India from 2001 to 2004, then Minister of Energy from 2005 to 2006, and Minister of Communications from 2006 to 2009. He served as the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament from 2009 to 2013.

He is currently a member of the Council of Elders of the NPP and the head of the election committee of the party for its presidential primaries.

Oquaye was born in Osu, Accra to E. G. N Oquaye of Osu and Felicia Awusika Abla Oquaye (née Azu) of Odumase-Krobo. He was brought up at Asamankese in the Eastern Region, where he attended the Roman Catholic Primary School and Presbyterian Middle School before proceeding to Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary (PRESEC), at Odumase-Kro.

Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng:

Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng is a Ghanaian physician and cardiothoracic surgeon who established the National Cardiothoracic Centre and the Ghana Red Cross Society. He is also the President of the Ghana Heart Foundation and was the Chief Executive Officer of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.

A well-known figure in his country, Frimpong-Boateng was elected a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in December 2002.

He is a member of the NPP and served as the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation during President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s first term (from 2017 to 2020).

In March 2006, Frimpong-Boateng announced his intention to seek the nomination as the candidate of the NPP for the December 2008 National Presidential Elections. Documentaries were made about his life and his hopes, but in the end, the candidate elected was Akuffo-Addo.

Prof Nana Ama Browne Klutse:

Prof. Nana Ama Browne Klutse is an associate professor of physics at the Department of Physics at the University of Ghana. Not only is she one of the two women in the faculty of the department, but Prof Browne Klutse has risen to head it after her appointment in 2023.

She is also the youngest professor of physics in Ghana and the first Ghanaian to be elected to the UN IPCC (United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Bureau as the Vice Chair of Working Group 1.

She is currently a member of the Task Group on Data Support for Climate Change Assessments (TG-Data). She previously worked as the Remote Sensing manager at the GIS and Climate Centre and as a senior research scientist at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission.

Prof Browne Klutse is a member of the NDC and has on two occasions contested in the parliamentary primaries of the party at her home town Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese in the Central Region but she lost on both occasions to the former deputy Minister for Information, Felix Kwakye Ofosu.

Prof Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi:

Prof Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi was born on August 21, 1945, at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region. He is a well-respected academician with long-standing involvement in an evolutionary educational process.

He attended the Adisadel College in Cape Coast for his GCE O’ and A’ Levels before entering the University of Ghana in 1965 obtaining a B.Sc. Hons in Zoology in 1969. He pursued his Masters in Zoology at the same University and completed the course in a year in 1970. He left the shores of Ghana for the United States specifically the University of Michigan in 1972 where he spent four years studying for an MS in Zoology and a Ph.D. in Zoology.

He is a member of the NPP and was appointed the Minister for Education during the administration of former President John Agyekum Kufour.

Until his appointment as the Minister of Education, he was the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service. He was the Dean at the Faculty of Science, University of Cape Coast, and Policy Adviser to the Ministry of Education.

He also served as the Minister for Ports, Harbours and Railways under the Kufuor government.

Prof Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman:

Prof Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman is a member of the NDC and was appointed in 2013 by former President John Dramani Mahama as the Minister for Education, a position she held until 2017.

Professor Opoku-Agyemang, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, was the first female Vice-Chancellor of a state university in Ghana. She assumed duty on October 1, 2008, succeeding Emmanuel Addow-Obeng.

She was the running mate of former President Mahama in the 2020 presidential elections.

Prof Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang was born November 22, 1951, in Cape Coast. She attended Anglican Girls’ Secondary School at Koforidua and Aburi Presby Girls’ School.

She then had her secondary education at the Wesley Girls High School in Cape Coast from 1964 to 1971. She completed her B.Ed. (Hons) in English and French at the University of Cape Coast in 1977 and obtained her Masters and Doctorate degrees from York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1980 and 1986 respectively.

Prof George Gyan-Baffour:

Prof George Yaw Gyan-Baffour is a Development Economist and politician. He was a professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C., from 1993 to 2001.

He is a member of the New Patriotic Party and has been the Member of Parliament for Wenchi Constituency since 2005. He was the Minister of Planning during President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s first term and is currently the chairperson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC).

Pro Gyan-Baffuor was also appointed by former President John Agyekum Kuffour as the Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission in 2002.

He attended the University of Ghana where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree degree in Economics. He proceeded to Helsinki School of Economics in Finland where he obtained a Diploma in Economics.

He later obtained his Masters and Doctor of Philosophy degrees after enrolling at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He also has a postdoctoral diploma from Harvard University.

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