You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2010 12 17Article 199552

Opinions of Friday, 17 December 2010

Columnist: Abdul-Yekin, Kofi Ali

The Real Challenges Of The Ghanaian Constitutional Review Commission

.....AND THE LIMITATIONS BY CITIZENS ON THE CONCEPTION OF THE SCOPE OF OUR SOVEREIGNTY (Part 2)
THE UNPOPULAR DEMOCRATIC PRACTICES OF THE AU


In a brief reflection on the democratic practices of the AU, the door to this simple fact for some unintentional reasons has been shut before the eyes of the ordinary Ghanaian and has denied him/her an opportunity to express an opinion on how the relationship with his/her fellow AU citizens should be. Just as it is the case of the Ghanaian internal relationship, the president of the AU Authority is a fellow citizen to every one of the 850 million citizen of the Union and it is very important for the constitutional review committee of Ghana to allow for opinions on how our relationship with our fellow AU citizens should be. As a democratic nation that Ghana is proud to be, it is equally important for the committee to encourage the Ghanaian to consider the principle of democracy of the AU in favour of the kind of democracy in which fellow citizens actively participate in the choice of the president of the Union’s authority, if this standardization we are dreaming about must see the light of the day.
As Ghanaian citizens, our relationship with one another within Ghana and outside Ghana into the Africa Union, are all define by the constitution of Ghana. In defining issues on how we want to relate with one another constitutionally, we are expressing our opinion on how our relationship as internal sovereignty must be. We equally have a duty of expressing the same degree of opinion on how we shall want the external aspect of our relationship with others outside the realm of our conceived external sovereignty to be within the Union.

So by limiting our constitutional review discussion on issues solely relating to our internal concerns which includes the duties and terms of offices of our president, DCs, traditional rulers, Supreme Court judges, MP, etc, we are in a way limiting the kind of choices we as citizens of Ghana want to be making in relationship to our sovereignty.
Technically, the Ghanaian is unconsciously giving him/her self a limited choice on the issue of his/her nation’s sovereignty. This therefore leaves the Ghanaian with a partial choice within his/her sovereignty as against the whole of the nation’s sovereignty.

BRIEF HISTORICAL REFLECTIONS OF EXTERNAL SOEVERIGNTY

In our discussion on this ambiguities relating to our conception or approach to issues on our sovereignty, it can not be conclusive enough without a brief historical reflections on the genesis of this practice. Historically, this was not the practice of our fathers until the advent of the colonial masters. So from those who consult their people equally on all issues; internal or external, our monarchs were turned into those who consult their people only on internal issues. Just as it is the case today with politically corrupt practices that indicates how much an African politician is prepared to mortgage his nation for his/her personal interest, the extent to which a king is able to limit his people’s say on their external issues indicated the degree of the king’s loyalty to the then colonial master. By this practice, traditional rulers of all the kingdoms of Africa as the then custodians of the sovereignty of their people, were transformed from those that consult their people on all concerns into those encourage to deal with the colonial masters without consulting their people in the early days of colonialism. At that time, the colonial master was considered as an external interest and the people, turned into subjects than citizens, were excluded on issues relating to the external aspect of their sovereignty. In fact, the king’s consultations with the people even on internal issues become a privilege than the people’s right, as the colonial masters started making the king see himself as one of the strangers whose higher status frowns on consulting his own people as such practice could result in too much familiarity. Equally, the colonial masters encouraged the kings to consolidate more on this approach as it allows the kings to enjoy an exclusive right on the external sovereignty of the people thereby making the job of colonial interest relating to getting their foothold on the then colonial state’s external concerns very easy. This practice then easily got consolidated and continued when the colonial masters took over the control of the authority of the colonies. By this, the colonial authorities are able to deal with external colonial issues of interest without any interference from the subjects of the colonies. This practice thus came with independence and continued till today even when it is becoming inevitable to allow the people to be playing an active role on decisions relating to their external interest, particularly in the election of the president of the AU Authority.

How frustrating could it be to have a professor saying it aloud in public that he will never do anything about common sense? How far will our disguised brothers and sisters whose sole purpose is the protection of the “colonial master’s vested interests” in Africa sell their own conscience in doing so? How rational is it for our well educated politicians with all sorts of academic accolades preceding their names find it easy toeing the lines of interest of their colonial masters? Was education not said to be the foundation of freedom? How free are our own people in their relationship with their colonial masters and its interest on our land to the disadvantage of our poor masses? How many people will believe that until recently, the Ivorian governments of more than 5 different regimes have been paying rent annually to the French government for a building put up by the French during their colonial days in Cote D’Ivoire? How many of us could believe that the Ivorian Parliament House in Abidjan has a tagged rental on it paid by the Ivorian tax payers to the French government? How many of us could believe that all along, this has been kept as a top secrete to the masses of the Ivorian tax payers while the few elite government functionaries who are aware of this have turn a blind eye not to offend the colonial masters? How could one imagine how this people have lived with the information as a sacred taboo enough to cost anyone that dare, to discuss or do anything about this abnormality, his/her job? Imagine how you will feel if you are now to be aware that this is one of the concerns Lauren Gbhagbo and his colleagues are levelling against the French government for mobilizing forces against them to forcefully get them out of office? Imagine how many of these taboos still exist in Ghana that are commonly referred to as “Vested Interest” that the Constitutional Review Commission dare not talk about? Could our voting practices go beyond the Gold Coast Freedom, Colonial version of Democracy and Human Right by extending these into the Ghanaians participating in the election of the Chairperson of the AU Commission? Will this not be an absolute deviation from the Colonial Master Plane of managing the External Affairs of the Ghanaian immediately out of the colonially imposed boarders?
THE CURRENT STATUS QUO
In the current circumstances, it is important to appreciate the fact that the president of Ghana with the assistance of the foreign affairs office plays the role of supervising, coordinating and facilitating the affairs of the external sovereign concerns of the Ghanaian on behalf of his fellow citizens, within and outside the AU.
The big questions that is being asked at this point is; is the current relationship of the Ghanaian in the AU the best possible? If not, can it be improve upon to benefit the Ghanaian? Is the opinion of the Ghanaian individually essential in determining the kind of relationship and the necessary improvements? Is it even important for the ordinary Ghanaian to be educated on the kind of democratic practices of the AU that result in the emergence of a fellow AU citizen to man the authority of the Union every 4 years? Is the average Ghanaian attainment in his/her understanding of democracy good enough for the individual to be able to appreciate this duty?

THE JUSTIFICATIONS AND LOCATION OF THE ACTIVE PART OF OUR SOEVERIGN INTEREST
Naturally, our attention in our interest lies much more where we are more active than where we are less active. We are indeed more active where we are located by our majority than where we are by our minority. So, it is natural for the Ghanaian to be more active in Ghana where we are located by our majority as Ghanaians than anywhere else in the AU. This explains why the Ghanaian is much more interested in the Ghanaian related politics than in anywhere else. It is however very important to note that there are some other very important interest of the Ghanaian in the AU outside Ghana that needs some attention of the Ghanaian. In those interests of the Ghanaian out side Ghana but within the AU, it is in the best interest of the Ghanaian to ensure there is an effective and efficient coordination, supervision and facilitation of these interest, so that they will be much more beneficial to him/her within Ghana. Equally, it is in the best interest of the Ghanaian to be receiving a certain degree of feed back on this interest at regular interval, as he/she does about his/her interests within Ghana. The contention here is has the Ghanaian got any stake as; active or inactive, expected or intended, in the AU? If yes, how much say must the Ghanaian have on his/her interests in the AU? If sovereignty means safeguarding our interest, individually and collectively, how does the Ghanaian go about expressing his/her opinion on these interests in the AU? Is the current mechanism of the expression by the president of Ghana as the head of our state, good enough? If it is not good enough, given certain instances in which the AU could have been much more useful to Ghana and the Ghanaian than is being the case, is the Ghanaian participating directly in the election of the AU Commission Chairperson not the best alternative?

THE DUTY OF CARE TO THE GHANAIAN WITHIN THE AU

Well, clearly one can see that the duty of care to the Ghanaian within the sovereign entity of Ghana is in the hand of the president of Ghana as the Carer of the Last Resort. This duty of care by the government of Ghana to the Ghanaian within the borders of Ghana, by degree is relatively very high in efficiency and in its effectiveness. However, this same duty of care to the Ghanaian in the AU is not only very low but contentious. Who can rationally say he/she is in charge of the interest of the Ghanaian in the AU as the president and government of Ghana can say it is in charge of the Ghanaian in Ghana? If such a person exists, is that person the same as the one in charge of the interest of all other AU citizens? If the Ghanaian president is in charge of the duty of care of the Ghanaian in other AU member states and the president of the AU authority is also in charge of the same thing, will this not be amounting to duplication of duty of care? Which of these duties of care to the AU citizen prevails in the event of conflict? Is it that of the Ghanaian government or that of the AU authority?
STANDARDIZATION OF AU DUTY OF CARE TO ALL CITIZENS

Since the conception of duty of care of the Ghanaian government is relatively different from the conception of a duty of care of the Nigerian government to her citizens, is it not in the interest of these citizens to have standardized form of duty of care to all AU citizens, particularly when such citizens are in the AU member states outside their own home state? Is this not therefore reasonable to have a different and independent person of both the Nigerian and the Ghanaian presidents to be in charge of the duty of care of all the AU member states citizens within the Union? Is this therefore not one of the core reasons for the creation of the office of the AU Commission and its Chairperson? Is this not in itself a justification to allow the Chairman of the Commission of the union to be mandated with this task? Is this not enough justification for such person to be getting his/her mandate directly from the people in accordance to the people’s understanding and perception of how the said “standard duty of care” should be? Do we continue to leave our AU duty of care to specifically nobody? Must the constitutional review committee take this into consideration? Is the opinion of the Ghanaian as well not crucial on this?
CONCLUSION
Experiences have proven that every Ghanaian like any other citizens of the AU has an opinion on the AU and if probe a little further, such expectations are easily expressed. Most Ghanaians have got this noble expression suppressed as it is becoming a norm to express them selves within the current status quo and none will like to be seen as odd. This however does not serves as an excuse for the learned and highly respectable persons entrusted with the duty of ensuring that the Ghanaian expressed himself on the matters of his sovereignty, to knowingly limit the Ghanaian choice of views and expression on his/her sovereignty to just a part of his/her sovereignty.

Thus, in our aim at improving on how the supervisory, coordinating and facilitating role of the president, institutions and people of Ghana by our reviewed constitution, it is also our duty to give equally a high degree of importance to that role of the AU president in the life of the Ghanaian and institutions of Ghana, especially outside Ghana in the union. The constitution however shall not be said to be conclusive, like others before it, if it continue to fail to recognize the fact that the interest of the Ghanaian in the AU that lies far beyond the boarders of Ghana in the union is waiting impatiently for the Ghanaian new constitution to allow the Ghanaian a right of voting directly for the president of the union for a more effective enforcement of this interests beyond the boarders of Ghana by a person liable to the judgement of every Ghanaian.

It will be very inconclusive if the Ghanaian constitutional review commission ends its work without creating an opportunity to allow the Ghanaian public to express an opinion for reflection in the reviewed constitution on their relationship with their Union. Knowledge is power and if our people know, they will be powerful! Let the people be empowered by their own constitution.

KOFI ALI ABDUL-YEKIN
Chair/Coordinator of AGA (ACTION GROUP OF AFRICA)
+44-7984445344, +44-2072777119, +233-243377829
Yekali2002@yahoo.com