Richard Ackom Quayson: Celebrating a man of professionalism, ethics and integrity

A Tribute by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC)

The governance, transparency and accountability fraternity has lost a colossus in the late Mr. Richard Ackom Quayson, who was a Deputy Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) until his death on Thursday, March 21, 2024 at the age of 64.

“Mr. Quayson was known for his commitment to duty, high sense of professionalism, ethics, and integrity which made him successful while in office,” the CHRAJ eulogised him in a statement that was issued on March 27, 2024 to announce his death.

The Deputy Commissioner, who was popularly known in the anti-corruption ecosystem as Mr. Quayson, was survived by a wife and two children. He would have been due for retirement in December of this year, 2024.

The CHRAJ statement signed by Commissioner Mr. Joseph Whittal highlighted that Mr. Quayson’s death “has created a big vacuum within the ambit of the Commission with staff still in shock.”

Commissioner Whittal’s reasons are that Mr. Quayson was a man who mirrored the “ethics, anti-corruption, everything of the mandate of the Commission.” Therefore, he was visibly present at critical meetings, conferences, training programmes of anti-corruption and ethics bodies, training almost all the top-level public servants, members of boards, and so on.

A Pioneer Staff of CHRAJ

Mr. Quayson had expertise in human rights promotion and protection, administrative justice, and corruption prevention and investigations.

He was called to the Ghana Bar in 1987.

He joined CHRAJ as Senior Legal Officer in 1993, having worked as Legal Officer of the predecessor institution of CHRAJ, the Office of the Ombudsman, from 1987 to 1993.

During his years at CHRAJ, Mr. Quayson became the Regional Director for Western and Central regions prior to being appointed as Deputy Commissioner in August 2005. In his role as a Deputy Commissioner, he had oversight for Anti-Corruption, Public Education, and Research till his death. He also became Acting Commissioner in November 2015 when the then Commissioner Justice Lauretta Vivian Lamptey was removed until Mr. Whithal’s appointment in December 2016.

Contributions to anti-corruption legislative reform

There is an endless list of testimonies about Mr. Quayson from colleagues, associates, and friends about his contribution generally to the fight against corruption in Ghana. There is an agreement that posterity will judge Mr. Quayson favourably for the role he has played, for instance, in bringing several policies, legislative, and systemic reforms to bear in order to facilitate the anti-corruption agenda. The following is an enumeration of a few initiatives that can be credited to his hard work.

  1. The development and implementation of NACAP

Mr. Quayson spearheaded the development of Ghana’s National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) as Chairman of the National Working Group.

The greatest strength of the NACAP is that it has been directly integrated into national development planning, making the plan an integral part of the activities of institutions including Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The NACAP was commissioned by the government of Ghana in 2009, finalised in 2011, presented to Parliament for adoption in 2013, and was adopted by Parliament in 2014. The tenure of the NACAP was from 2015 to 2024.

In the architecture for the implementation of the NACAP, Mr. Quayson was the Vice Chairman of the High-Level Implementation Committee (HiLIC) and Chair of the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MONICOM) of the NACAP. Before his death, he had been working with other stakeholders to develop a NACAP II, which would take effect from 2025.

‘The energy you have brought to HiLIC and the commitment you continue to show on all our issues and activities tells me we are likely to succeed and make progress as to override the time and opportunities lost over the years.’ “This is what Quayson told me when I became chairman,” recalls Hon. Emmanuel Adumua-Bossman, Deputy Chief of Staff. “I’ll never forget it as it signalled the expectation of a very decent man with the anti-corruption fight deeply embedded within his calm persona. I shall personally miss him dearly,” he said.

CHRAJ Commissioner Whittal commented that “Now, NACAP had its own spill overs and all those spill overs in the fight against corruption are also attributable to him. You can’t take that away from Mr. Quayson,”. The “spill overs” include the introduction of a Public Service Integrity Programme, which seeks to promote integrity in the public service. This has in turn resulted in the development of CHRAJ guidelines on conflict of interest and the conduct of public officers.”

In addition, he pointed out that “These are legacies this man really worked his heart out to achieve. Of course, it’s a commission-wide activity but when somebody leads something, you give him his due.”

  1. Review of Ghana’s Implementation of UNCAC

Mr. Quayson is further recognised for his role in the successful review of Ghana’s Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) due to his role as Chair of the National Working Group responsible for that Review. Mrs. Florence Dennis, former Executive Secretary of GACC, recalls that during the UNCAC review process in Ghana, “Mr. Quayson was so much on board and that led to Ghana being assessed successfully, and also Ghana showcasing the need for strengthening the fight against corruption through networking and coalition building.”

  1. Promulgation of OSP Act

Mr. Quayson was also instrumental in the promulgation of Act 2017, (959) which established the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) as the flagship specialised anti-corruption institution in Ghana. Nana Osei Bonsu, Chairman of the Board of GACC, recalls that he had a conversation with Mr. Quayson about the relevance or otherwise of the OSP. “I found it superfluous. I thought that the Attorney-General’s Office had enough tools to fight corruption if we were serious about fighting corruption. But he convinced me that emphasis was being put on fighting corruption with the establishment of the Office.”

Contributions to improving institutional coordination and collaboration

Besides policy and legislation, Mr. Quayson made immense contributions to improving institutional coordination and collaboration.

  1. The Key Accountability Institutions MOU

As part of the activities of NACAP, CHRAJ initiated the idea that key accountability institutions should enter into a multi-institutional MOU on building relationships to foster greater collaboration and coordination. The concept around it is that all the state institutions have been established by a law which would not have anticipated relationships between these institutions. Thus, such MOU would enable them collaborate, exchange information, and undertake joint investigations regardless of the laws establishing them.

Until his death, Mr. Quayson led this process of getting CHRAJ, OSP, Parliament, Attorney-General, Ghana Audit Service, Internal Audit Agency (IAA), the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), and the Office of Economic and Organised Crimes (EOCO) to work together under such MOU.

  1. Vice Chair of GACC Board

The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) is very clear in its mind that Mr. Quayson had an “unwavering commitment and dedication to the fight against corruption in Ghana, and the affairs of GACC.

Mr. Quayson’s close working relationship with the GACC began in 2011 when he was nominated to represent CHRAJ on the Board of the GACC. He subsequently served as the Vice Chair of the Board until his demise. The GACC is a unique cross-sectoral grouping of the public, private and civil society organisations with a focus on promoting good governance and fighting corruption in Ghana. Mr. Quayson, was instrumental in the development of the current strategic plan of GACC, and the yet to be adopted amended constitution of GACC. Mrs. Beauty Emefa Narteh, the Executive Secretary of GACC, described Mr. Quayson as “…a man with unwavering dedication to upholding integrity, and steadfast in his pursuit of a more just and equitable society.”

On the whole, GACC evaluates that Mr. Quayson’s tenure as Vice Chair of GACC was marked by a profound commitment to the fundamental principles of fairness, accountability, and transparency. With a tireless spirit, he championed the cause of the marginalized and held power to account.

  1. Other assignments

It is noteworthy to highlight that Mr. Quayson was also a Member of the National African Peer Review Mechanism Governing Council of Ghana, having served two terms as an Eminent Member of the Governing Council.

Furthermore, Mr. Quayson ably represented CHRAJ to partner with the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) and with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to conduct a nationally representative population survey on corruption in Ghana. It culminated in the publication in 2022, of a report titled: Corruption in Ghana – People’s Experiences and Views, which was co-signed by Mr. Quayson.

Eulogies from the Fraternity

This is a man about whom testimonies are not lacking because there is unison that Mr. Quayson was a good man.

Justice Emile Francis Short, a Former Commissioner of CHRAJ, says “One of the things I remember him for was his humility…He was a gentleman in every respect. Those are some of the qualities that he possessed which I found admirable. I found that he was competent…He took his work very seriously. He was also a solid Christian in word and in deed.”

Hon. Kwami Edem Senanu, Board Member of AUABC, says CHRAJ and Ghana have lost a man who was “affable, mild-mannered, always smiling, but enthusiastic about getting results.” He was “a gentleman’s gentleman.”

Mrs. Mary Addah, Executive Director of Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) extols that “He encompassed the virtues of integrity, transparency and accountability and he called on all to be resilient…he was a man of God and, so, it is not surprising that he so effortlessly brought people close to him.”

According to Mr. Kwesi Boateng Assumeng, a former staff of GACC, said “He was one of the few public officials who never made the power of position get in his way or in his head; very humble to the core, accommodating, a professional any day, always advocating for integrity and ethics of the job that we do.”

Dr. Kojo Asante, Director for Policy Engagement & Partnerships at the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) reflects that “One of the most cherished characteristics of Mr. Quayson was his willingness to engage in a respectful way even on issues where there are strong disagreements to try to move forward.”

Mr. Jerry Sam, Executive Director of Penplusbytes, eulogised that Mr. Quayson’s ethics, diligence and eye for details were exemplary. He will be sorely missed and Penplusbytes will feel his absence in our anti-corruption work.”

Mr. Charles Ayamdoo, former Director of Anti-Corruption at CHRAJ, testified that “He was loyal to his work…CHRAJ will miss his diplomatic approach to resolving problems. He also had a gentle heart that CHRAJ will surely miss.”

GACC Board Chairman Nana Osei Bonsu sums up the mood of the entire governance and anti-corruption fraternity as follows: “We’ve lost a great soul and a mighty stalwart in the fight against corruption.”

Nonetheless, our hearts are at ease because we believe firmly that Mr. Quayson will answer confidently to his maker that: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” – 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (New International Version).

Adios, man of professionalism!

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