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Opinions of Friday, 27 November 2015

Columnist: Akwah, Nana

The Need For Referendum On Excessive Presidential Powers, A Necessity

The power of the presidency has long been subject to debate. Although some presidents are certainly worse than others, and recent decades have called greater attention to what historians have referred to as the problem of the imperial presidency, the office has always concentrated so much power in the hands of one person that it, by its very design, tends to promote civil liberties abuses.

There is an assertion or theory by which most societies bide by, that the person at the top of the food chain is in the end held responsible for stewardship no matter what occurs during his or her watch – be it in government or a private company or even in one’s home.

Again it was U.S. President Harry S. Truman, who said, "The buck stops here” a phrase that was popularized as he kept a sign with that phrase on his desk in the Oval Office. This phrase refers to the fact that the President has to make the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions.

In Ghana however, the buck never stops at the President’s door. The Executive President of Ghana is virtually immune from prosecution for life, and as a result, there is zero accountability for anyone who holds this office.

This is an insulation from responsibility and a complete warped and twisted law that has been put into place by Jerry John Rawlings and the P/NDC. No other head of state within the West African enclave enjoys these protections from prosecution.

My point of view on this issue is that this specific law allows the President and in the end the government of the day to improperly use the powers granted to their office without consequences, as these laws are a catalyst to bad behavior by the ruling party of the day.

We have seen over the years that it does not matter whether it is the NDC or the NPP that is in office, and frankly it does not matter even if the CPP, PPP or PNC is elected, they also would behave badly and abuse the powers of their office as long as these powers are in place allowing a President to get away with libel, abusing the rights of innocent citizens, etc.

Human beings want to believe in the good of mankind, definitely we should, but we all know too well that, this same goodness can quickly turn into evil, if persons are put into a certain position of authority to lord over others with no mechanisms to restrain or contain their exuberance.

We all owe it to ourselves to protect all citizens in this country from future abuses of power by politicians, regardless of whether it is your politician or not. We have seen a party that embodied many of the ideals we respected and we fought actually evolve into an entity indistinguishable from Rawlings' NDC.

As a matter of fact, we now have politicians who are so bold that they state they see nothing wrong with the current constitution and powers bestowed upon the Presidency. This has got to be the height of arrogance; it is incredibly shameless of these politicians to in the same breath curse the NDC while simultaneously they wallow in all the worst parts of the NDC’s history.

The big problem with power, of course, is obsession. Once you get some of it and feel it, it dominates your whole life and it's all you can think about. That doesn't have to happen.
Without wisdom, power tends to destroy the one who wields it. This lack of virtue is definitely missing from our body politic.

What prevail now is an affront and embarrassing to watch. It is an abuse of power, when you are President - to use incumbency to single out individuals, and castigate them and try to delegitimize them is a disgusting loathing. As a result our premonitions should be geared at abusers of power and what I fear most is power with impunity. I fear abuse of power, and the power to abuse.

Think about this deeply and be concerned. If you understand and recognize that what causes adolescents to rebel is not the assertion of authority but the arbitrary use of power, with little explanation of the rules and no involvement in decision-making then it is the recipe that gives rise to rueful dissenters.

Involving the adolescent in decisions does not mean that you are giving up your authority. It means acknowledging that the teenager is growing up and has the right to participate in decisions that affect his or her life. So it is in governing.

Conventional wisdom says that when willpower is not guided, it's terrible. Think of it! Hitler had a lot of will. But he used it for destructive purposes because he lacked wisdom.

We should be asking ourselves questions and to get rid of these autocratic powers assigns at the presidency, as responses at times do point to a direction which they become dictatorial?”

In the case of the President, most of his responses has proved him to not be a strategic thinker.
It is up to us, for the future of this country today, to answer Mahama’s question and say yes, we think your party has the elements in it that would become and have become dictators, elected dictators.

The opposition and the whole civil society has a duty to this country and its citizens to immediately start political agitation in the the parliament as a prelude to passing laws to repeal the powers that allow the President and any other to abuse the powers of their office and stomp on the rights of citizens.

For a change, the politicians in this country need to put the people of this nation first. We are demanding that you remove these powers that allow any President to be immune from prosecution, it is a direct assault on democracy and it is an affront to good governance.

Furthermore, let us leave level the playing field and insist on having respect from a President of this country to respect us the electorate. I sincerely think this won't be too much to ask?

The excessive powers vested in the Presidency tend to undermined the country’s democracy because they are dictatorial in nature.

There needs to be a referendum in the country on eliminating these powers that are enablers which create autocratic and dictatorial leaders in this country. We must put our people first and demand that a referendum be held after the 2016 elections on this issue of Presidential powers of excess and abuse.