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Opinions of Monday, 7 January 2019

Columnist: Osei Agyemang

7th January is undemocratic and not worthy of recognition

In its real sense, Hon. Prof Mike Oquaye may be right when he says that Ghana's Republic day should fall on 7th January and not 1st July. 1st July as a republic day has no constitutional basis whereas the former has, since the 1992 constitution is the Supreme law of the land and not the 1960 constitution.

But one thing must be made clear, the constitutional vacuum created by the abrogation of the 1960 constitution following the1966 illegal overthrow of the government of Kwame Nkrumah, cannot be filled, in anyway with the 1992 constitution, and the same applies to other past constitutions of Ghana, as they are unfit for the purpose by virtue of their illegitimacy and the undemocratic means through which they were written and enacted.

1. As a common knowledge, Ghana's current 1992 constitution came into force on 7th January 1993. This day not only signifies when the 1992 constitution was promulgated, but also a day impunity and injustice reigned over accountability and justice. And Ghana's so called 4th Republic leaders pride themselves with the 1992 constitution as if to say the constitution is the Holy Bible or the Holy Quran when in reality, it is the devil's handiwork, a mockery to true democracy and an insult to the conscience of the good people of Ghana.

There should be no indemnity in democracy, democracy and justice go hand in hand. People must be made to account for the crimes they have committed no matter its longevity. It is in light of this that we cannot fathom why a constitution that is credited to have ushered Ghana into democracy would indemnify the abrogation of the 1960 constitution by a violent military junta known as the National Liberation Council (NLC). The NLC usurped the mandate of Ghanaians with the violence of the gun. They killed those who resisted and were never made to account for this crime all the members took their turns visiting the land of no return.

Nobody is calling for their skeletons to exhume from where they lie in peace in order to be tried, No! That's insanity. What we are calling for is to allow justice to take its course. Many are those who are suffering and continue to suffer because of that crime and invariable, the progeny of the few who took part in committing the crime continue to enjoy from the loot of their fathers and grandfathers as a result of the crime. And this is exactly the injustice the 1992 constitution is perpetuating and preventing Ghanaians from dealing with, by indemnifying those (covering the loot) who took part in it, all in the name of national reconciliation. What constitution tampers justice with indemnity?

2. 7th July is a day military dictatorial legislation took precedence over the will of Ghanaians.

With a sharp deviation from the normal procedure for the drafting and promulgation of constitutions, the PNDC headed by Flt Lt. J. J Rawlings as a military dictator, appointed a consultative assembly and paid them to write the 1992 constitution under the intimidation of the gun. We all know that by the fear of death, you can coerce anyone to do anything, with a gun pointed to their head. Armed robberies would be impossible without that. How do we trust the consultative assembly (who are supposed to be elected, not and I repeat, not appointed) to have done a yeoman's job when Rawlings had the gun in his hands pointed to their heads. And by the content of the constitution it becomes almost a given to know that members of the consultative assembly wrote to massage the ego of the dictator and escape his wrath. What is my evidence? The constitution indemnifies the dictator from any legal action for the crimes he has committed against the Ghanaian people from 1979 to 1992. But today he parades himself as the father of probity and accountability. Let strip him off that indemnity and let him account for the crimes he and his gang perpetuated and certainly the current 1992 constitution wouldn't fit for that purpose.

The referendum held for the constitution was a time when all political activities were banned. This means no political party could rally support against the constitution as it should have been the case in a real democratic sense.

President Akuffo Addo's father, Edward Akuffo Addo was made the chairman of the constitution committee of the NLC in 1966, with Ofori Atta, victor Smith Et Al as members. Their recommendation to the leaders of the NLC was to allow for general elections of a Constituent Assembly to draft the next constitution since the 1960 Republican constitution was abrogated. His recommendation was strongly objected to and therefore a few people were appointed to write the 1969 constitution. The 1992 constitution is not so different from the 1969 with regards to their content, and very similar with regards to the procedures used in drafting the constitution. So I ask, which constitution is Prof Mike Oquaye infatuating with to the extent of proposing we mark the day of its promulgation as our Republic? A constitution that Edward Akuffo Addo and other pacesetters of the Dankwah-Busia-Dombo tradition won't be happy with? As to why our speaker of parliament would go this far is something also that I don't understand because he knows better than anyone else.

But what befuddles me more is when the NPP who want us to believe they are men of rule of law, join the bandwagon to deepen the constitutional mess. Do they join out of ignorance or fear of the fury of the dictator? No Ghanaian would believe me if I say it is out of the former, but I can bet my pocket on the latter. If that is the case, let me serve a reminder to them, the dictator has no gun anymore.

Or is it in line with the grand plan to undo anything Kwame Nkrumah, which they do passionately even when it runs contrary with their own principles. What is a man without principle?

That notwithstanding, the constitution was subject to one man's approval before it was presented to a minority to be voted upon and forced on Ghanaians as their new constitution. Do you call this a constitution?

If there's anything we should be ashamed of as Ghanaians, our current constitution more than qualifies because it is blister to our trademark as Ghanaians.

WHY 7TH JANUARY MUST NOT BE CELEBRATED BY GHANAIANS?

We have stressed earlier that all independent sovereign states must give their own independent definition of democracy and its related terminologies. Is Republic defined as total freedom and sovereignty from any form of external and illegal occupation and dominance or defined as the replacement of indigenous military dictators by civilians under the guidance, dictates and direction of the same military dictator in power.

The Speaker of Parliament, Mike Oquaye argued that, the 1969 constitution ushered in the second republic. The 1969 constitution was not mandated by the Ghanaian electorates.

The constitution was drafted by a constitutional commission appointed by the NLC under the NLC decree 102, “Constitutional Commission Decree,”( It states in article of N.L.C.D 102, “ There is hereby established a body to be known as constitutional commission(in this decree referred to as ‘the commission’) which shall composed of such persons and shall be charged with the exercise of such functions as are provided for in this Decree) which was chaired by Edward Akuffo Addo, the biological father of our current president, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo.

The commission recommended that the constitution must be subjected to a national plebiscite, which was rejected by the NLC and instead forced the constitution as the law of Ghana by NLC Decree 380, the ‘Constituent Assembly Amendment Decree.

It states, “Subject to the provision of this Decree, the Constituent Assembly established by the Constituent Assembly (NO. 2) Decree, 1968 ( N.L.C.D 299) shall have full power to enact and bring into force a Constitution for Ghana and the Assembly shall ensure so far as practicable the enactment and coming into force of the constitution shall take place on or before Friday the 22nd day of August, 1969”.

It is certain that these conditions do not portray any republican and democratic trait.

The 1992 constitution, which was emphasized by the speaker as the gateway to the 4th republic of Ghana exhibits similar military dictatorial characteristics. J. J. Rawlings, the Chairman of the PNDC appointed a Consultative Assembly under the P.N.D.C LAW 253, ‘The consultative Assembly Decree,’ which granted the Consultative Assembly, chaired by SKB Asante the power to draft the 1992 constitution without any mandate from the Ghanaian electorate.

The 1992 constitution “came into force on 7thJanuary, 1993 after a referendum which presented Ghanaians with a choice of either agreeing to the imposed constitution or continuing under Rawlings military dictatorial rule.

There is even evidence to attest that the date for which the said action was supposed to take place was declared before the election and its results, so it was bound to happen with or without the referendum because military dictators do not submit to the mandate of the people. 7th January is a mockery to democracy and an embarrassment to all Ghanaians and is not worthy of celebration.