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Opinions of Thursday, 11 January 2018

Columnist: Michael Sumaila Nlasia

Rejoinder: What is Republic Day in Ghana?

There are grounds to say that any state’s attribute presupposes the existence of law. State power operates over a certain territory: its orders and instructions extends to the people living within the state’s borders and those outside who hold allegiance to the state.

An inalienable attribute of state power is sovereignty, i.e. The Republic, which is the legal expression of the supreme power held by the people, of their independence of any other state authority either within the country or on the international plane.

The independence of Ghana on March 6, 1957, marked the birth of our nation with the British crown still parenting. Independence in this regard was nascent; in that it could only partially manifest the idea of a self-governing state.

There is an adage in northern Ghana which says that when your parents give birth to you, you must also give birth to yourself. Thus, one must grow to have self-responsibility and maturity.

Concomitant to this local aphorism was the reason we demanded the Republic which came into being on 1st July 1960, which has been earmarked historically as the Republic Day.

The Republic Day of July 1 is unique, there could not be any other day like it.

It marked the day that the transition of parenting to maturity assumed full sway. It embeds within it the ingredient and the soul of Ghana’s sovereign state endowed with the full responsibility to self-governance.

According to the article written by the Right Honorable Speaker of Parliament, “What is the Republic Day in Ghana”, he generally asserted that we have had the First Republic, Second Republic, Third Republic and Fourth Republic.

Each one had its own Constitution which was different. There is no single continuum in any of the Constitutions. Each was an era of its own. When constitutional rule was restored after each military intervention, a new constitution was established.

Indeed, his observations fly in the face of epistemology. This is because the Constitutions after coup d’états of previous Republics constituted the presupposed laws of the state and they reflected the strength and weaknesses of the former Constitutions. The reason stems from the notion made from historical jurisprudence that laws are found but not made.

The issue is that each Constitution that instates a Republic seeks to achieve the aspiration of the people at a period. Following the renowned statement of Justice Sowah in a Supreme Court case of Tuffour v Attorney General, he said: “The written constitution like that of the 1992 Constitution is a living organism which has a letter of the law and equally has a spirit. It also embodies the will of the people and mirrors their history…. It contains in it the aspirations and the hopes of the people for a better and fuller life.”

Herein, what can be deduced from the dictum is that, ideally, like every living organism, there will be death of the body but not the spirit. The Fourth Republican statutes carries within it remnant constitutional provisions which include the First Republican Constitution. The past is embedded in the present and therefore it would be illogical to distance 1st July from the present.

The article by the Right Honorable Speaker of Parliament has sought and is seeking to falsify history by attacking 1st July, destroying the basis and enthroning farcical reactionary position.

The Republic day on July 1, 1960, ushered in the First Republican Constitution of 1960 proclaiming Ghana a Republic, which symbolically serves as the basic norm from which subsequent Republics and Constitutions inheres from.