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Opinions of Monday, 24 April 2017

Columnist: Prof Lungu

Akufo Addo's too-large-govt. wins Asare-Prempeh

By Prof Lungu

As we said in part 1 of this multi-part paper, President Mills, the former law professor, did not only have the foresight to recognize the need for revision of the Constitution, he had the fortitude to use his own political capital to setup an expert, non-partisan, body to review the issues with all stakeholders and for the team to provide a draft Bill "...for possible amendments to the constitution...".

We state here again, today, that in 2017, as far as governance is concerned, there is nothing more important than completion of the work already started on that Rawlings Constitution, for Ghana.

Why is Akufo Addo not "imperial president" when Mills was?

We must note that the work of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) was completed at significant cost to Ghana, and now sits on a dusty shelf in the executive offices of Akufo Addo's, in Jubilee House, formerly known as Flagstaff House.

As we were able to discern, the main arguments in the Asare-Prempeh paper was that (1) work on the Constitution ought to have been done by/through Parliament, not by/through the Executive Branch, and (2) in selecting a group of non-partisan citizens with requisite skills to manage the consultative process, President Atta Mills, then the leader of the Executive Branch, had transformed himself into an "Imperial President". We were to understnad that was is not merely argument for the sake of argument.

So, if President Atta Mills became an "Imperial President" by simply appointing a 9-member citizen group to merely look into aspects of the Constitution and laws of Ghana that needed revision, then, knowing what we all know now, surely, by sundry manifestations, President Akufo Addo has transformed himself into an "Imperial President" many times the order of Professor Mills.

Today, if Akufo Addo and Ghanaians actually believes in continuity, (and we trust that to be the case), commonsense suggests that in the case of that important mission accomplished at great cost and time to taxpayers, that he, as President, would in fairness to Ghanaians quickly provide that product to the Parliament of Ghana for conclusive action. President Akufo Addo could have done that during the first sitting of Parliament, during the second week, during the third week, during the first month, during the first 100 days, and so on and so forth.

But, President Akufu Addo has not done any such thing.

Nor, have we seen or read any paper of late by Professors Prempeh and Asare about the need for Parliament to now establish a CRC to do the work the professors pushed so hard against merely on process grounds.

Surely, Professors Prempeh and Asare never made a case against review in wisdom, in spirit, or deed.

On the contrary, in 2012, not too long after publication of the imperial presidency paper, Professor Asare himself published an open "Petition to Amend the Constitution of Ghana", suggesting changes and amendments to the Constitution, with "The Speaker of Parliament" as the lead. Then, when results were not satisfactory, Professor Asare caused to be filed in the Supreme Court of Ghana a case challenging the constitutionality and mandate of the CRC. Unfortunately for Professor Kwaku Asare, around 14 Nov 2015, the Supreme Court dismissed the case against review of the Constitution by a body appointed by the President of Ghana.

So, we've been scratching our heads wondering why we've not heard or read much from our lawyers about the "Akufo Addo Imperial Presidency".

Why, for instance, have Professors Prempeh and Asare, individually or jointly, why have they not suggested or petitioned Akufo Addo to complete the work on the wart-infested Rawlings Constitution to date? Given the record and history of persistence on their part on a super important matter of public policy, law, and governance, won't that action on the part of our professors be "dynamic", a la Cameron Duodu?

The case can be no more clearer at this point!

A president and/or Parliament have authority, and Ghanaians, including Professor Asare, have a right, to petition to have the Constitution amended so Ghanaians can begin building and maintaining better performing public institutions for Ghanaians. By the same token, given the history, it is desirable to ask why President Akufo Addo has not done the same for Ghana now that he sits in that same Executive Branch chair, now that the work already done is on that dusty shelf, now that Akufo Addo himself is in fact making the sad case for a government by men a lot worse than he found it.

Professors Prempeh and Asare could be the first to tell Ghanaians nothing has changed to make the wart-infested Rawlings Constitution less wasteful, less regressive, less anachronistic, less imperial-enabling, etc., since 2010 when they wrote that paper and filed that case.

We suspect no "amended" Constitution, one approved by the People, would today command appointment of 110 ministers, deputies, and sub-deputies merely to manage a measly $2000.00 GDP per capita for a population that is only about 26.5 million.

Nor, do we think Ghanaians would provide that rather than consolidating Regions, if they must, that they would rather bless the balkanization and creation of additional regions out of the already existing regions when Ghana's national boundaries and footprint have not increased on land since 1957 when Kwame Nkrumah spearheaded the fight for independence into reality, for a new Ghana Nation.

That would surely nip those foolish and dangerous "Oti Region" and other Ghana balkanization nonsense in the bud!

Surely not when governance in the 21st Century is logistically a whole lot easier in this Global-Age-Ghana, information and data is easier propagated if there is a political will, and most citizens prefer a lot leaner government for the money.


To be continued....

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