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Opinions of Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Columnist: Atta-Boakye, Ken

Ghana Elections – 2012: Constitutional Review.

While the Ghana Election 2012 is slowly coming to a close, I ‘m tempted to ask how much has been said about the 1992 Constitution? This question has become necessary because the constitution is an albatross hanging on our neck. Instead to be a living-document of hope to promote progress it has rather succeeded in retarding progress. Ex-President Kufour, promised to review and revise it but it became a lip-service. The late President Atta Mills appointed a review committee to collaborate ideas for amendments. After spending millions of dollars at home and abroad, their report has not duly impacted the nation. Of course, it has been pushed aside. For the many flaws in the constitution that give the leaders the “mandate to kill” I strongly request that the political parties by way of wrapping up their campaigns should address the efforts to solve the problems. It is important because of a difficult amendment procedure.
The leaders have exploited the flaws and the weakness of the constitution to rape the nation of the resources. They have abided by and stayed within the constitution to produce bad leadership. There are several instances that justify my claim:
1. The Presidents at the end of their service appoint a committee to consider their service package. It is not right for the Presidents themselves to appoint such people. When President Kufour appointed his own people we talked too much about the package because the package was not realistic. But this problem is still there staring us in the face.
2. We are struggling with the provision of decentralization in the constitution. Right now the President appoints his cabinet ministers, regional ministers, DCE, MCE and so on. At least, we have been talking of the provision of a full democracy where the regional ministers, the DCE’s and the MCE’s could be elected but we still operate with the winner takes all.
3. The President again appoints about 50% of the cabinet ministers from the Parliament. We copied this from the west minister type of administration (British) but we don’t have bi-camera legislature. It is not convenient for these MP’s to be cabinet ministers.
4. The Electoral Commission determines when to add more constituencies to the existing ones. There is no limit to the number of constituencies at any point in time. When NPP was in power they asked for 30 new constituencies to be added. NDC is in power so they too have recently asked for 45 new constituencies. This became a tug of war between NPP and NDC. In future when PPP comes to power, they will also ask for more constituencies to be added. Before we are aware every village will become a constituency. Let us have a limit.
5. There is no limit to Supreme Court appointments. America is several times bigger than Ghana their Supreme Court limit is 9. During the Kufour regime he added extra Supreme Court judges to make it 11. Now NDC has increased it to 15. These Presidents add extra judges so they can determine cases in their interest but not in the interest of the nation. It is bad leadership.
6. Fringe benefits. Any out-going cabinet minister can buy their two year old vehicle at the book value. While other people like you and me will have to shop at the cut-throat market. The MP’s are appointed as corporate board members for sitting allowances. They don’t even want the CEO’s to come to their office to discuss issues. They prefer to go to the corporate office for sitting allowances.
7. The MP’s have studied their social commitments and have accordingly hiked their salaries. The public was raged. It did not end there. They proposed another pay hike for the President, the Vice and the cabinet ministers. It was alleged President Mahamah was not happy with the pay rise. But what did he say when the MP’s increased their pay? Let them chop and go. Ghana will always remain Ghana and continue to exist. If the leaders will not show a little bit of integrity posterity will judge us. Tell me who amongst our leaders: MP’s, Cabinet Ministers, CEO’s, etc is poor? But like Oliver Twist, they continue to ask for more, just to be greedy.

These are burning issues that need to be addressed. If the IEA has time on its hand it would be an interesting debate for these leaders to show their commitment to solving the constitutional flaws. We can’t get to our destination with the wrong road map. Alternatively, the political parties will do the nation a great service to wrap up their campaigns with their commitment to solving the constitutional problems with a difficult amending procedure.

Ken Atta-Boakye, Virginia,