In a heartfelt ceremony during the opening event of the High-Level Seminar of the ECOWAS Parliament in Winneba, Ghana, the retiring Secretary-General of the regional legislature, John Azumah, was honoured for his outstanding service.
The award, described as the “highest award of excellence for dedication, devotion, meritorious, and selfless service” to the ECOWAS Parliament, was presented by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, marking the culmination of a remarkable career dedicated to parliamentary administration.
The citation read in his honour during the event on Friday provided a comprehensive overview of Azumah’s life and contributions to the ECOWAS Parliament, situated in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital. It began by highlighting his educational journey, from early education in Ghana to obtaining an MBA in International Public Service from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, in 2001.
Azumah’s commitment to continuous learning, the citation explained, was further demonstrated by his postgraduate Diploma in Leadership from the National University of Singapore in collaboration with the University of Columbia Graduate School, USA, in 2022.
Azumah’s professional journey, as highlighted by the citation, included teaching accounting at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, from 1987 to 1989, followed by roles as an audit supervisor and senior accountant at various organizations. “John Azumah, the retiring Secretary-General of the ECOWAS Parliament, is retiring as he has reached the mandatory age stipulated by ECOWAS staff regulations,” it announced.
It went on to state, “He was regarded and is still regarded as the linchpin of the ECOWAS Parliament. John is a problem solver, a living memory, and the backbone of the ECOWAS Parliament. John is an effective risk-taker par excellence.” The citation added, “It is indeed the dawn of a new era in the ECOWAS Parliament. A new chapter would have to open with John’s exit from the Parliament. The parliament would certainly not be the same again without John.”
Throughout his tenure, Azumah played pivotal roles, including Acting Director of Administration and Finance and Chief Accountant, effectively building the finance and budget division of the ECOWAS Parliament. His dedication extended to participating in various training courses and parliamentary workshops, further enhancing his skills and knowledge.
The citation also praised Azumah for his unique ability to navigate the complex dynamics of parliament, demonstrating a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional language spoken by parliament members.
“John’s exit will no doubt create a void that may not be filled,” it said. His leadership and willingness to take risks for the effective functioning of parliament were highlighted.
Without mincing words, the citation then made a bold statement: “If the success or otherwise of a Secretary-General at the ECOWAS Parliament is measured in terms of executing approved programs and activities of Parliament, relating effectively with other equal institutions, relating effectively with Member States, relating effectively with other interparliamentary bodies, providing effective leadership to all staff of the General Secretariat, then John Azumah can be regarded as the best of the five consecutive Secretaries-General of the ECOWAS.”
The retiring Secretary-General managed two consecutive speakers, fostering harmony and cooperation within the ECOWAS Parliament, which had been challenging for some of his predecessors. “John Azumah managed two consecutive speakers, the Right Honorable Mustafa Sisilu and the Right Honorable Dr S. M. Tunis, where his predecessors couldn’t manage even one without rancour,” it said.
Over his 21-year service to the ECOWAS Parliament, Azumah became a central figure in the development of the parliament, involved in numerous critical issues and initiatives. His exit from the ECOWAS Parliament was acknowledged as the beginning of a new era. His retirement would undoubtedly create a void that might prove challenging to fill, given his longstanding contributions to the organization.
“It is indeed the dawn of a new era in the ECOWAS Parliament. A new chapter would have to open with John’s exit from the Parliament.”
Before joining the Eccowas Parliament, Azumah served as an administrative staff of the Parliament of Ghana. It is, however, not clear what Azumah intends to do upon retirement.
As John Azumah retires from active service, the ECOWAS Parliament marked the end of an era, with the parliament poised to open a new chapter in its history. His legacy and contributions to the organization, according to members, staff, and experts meeting in Winneba, will be remembered with “deep gratitude” and “respect.”
Taking the stage to make brief comments after receiving his award, Mr Azumah said he was humbled by the honour done to him. He expressed intense “gratitude” to the ECOWAS Parliament, its members, and its staff for supporting him throughout his years of service to the region.