Feature Article of Thursday, 5 April 2012

Columnist: Osabutey, Daniel

Council Of State Is Significant

BY: Daniel Osabutey ( 0277-722587)

(Initiator of Get Together Movement ( GETOM))

The call by Professor George Ayittey ( a U.S based Ghanaian economist) for the expunging of council of state from our constitution and scrapped from our system is generating interesting debates. According to Prof. Ayittey council of state is a duplication of Parliament and therefore a drain on the state coffers. He claimed council of state became relevant in 1992 when NPP boycotted Parliament thus the need for that vacuum to be filled to avoid a one party state. He believes council of state has outlived its usefulness with our current multi-party Parliament. Even though Prof. Ayittey made this suggestion in good faith, I disagree with him on the following grounds.

The forth Republican constitution was made on 8th May ,1992 and gazette notification was on 15th May, 1992. The council of state as an institution was enshrined in our constitution before the NPP boycotted Parliament in December, 1992. This clearly shows that council of state could not have been created because of the absence of NPP from Parliament. Council of state is not a duplication of Parliament. Parliament and council of state perform distinct functions. The legislative power of Ghana is vested in Parliament which they exercise in accordance with our constitution. Council of state only serve in an advisory capacity. They counsel the President in the performance of his functions. Their activities are normally held in camera which create the wrong impression that they are not functioning. The role they play in our governance structure is very significant. The bible says in Proverbs 15: 22 "…. in the multitude of counselors there is safety". The constitution demands that council of state should consist of a retired chief justice, a retired chief of defense staff of the armed forces, a retired Inspector General of Police, the President of the National House of Chiefs, one elected representative from each of the 10 regions and 11 other members appointed by the President. This is a cream of experienced, tried and tested men and women of this land. Such a high calibre of people would be more likely to rise above partisan or other parochial interests in the assessment of issues bothering on the national interest. Thus the advice that the president is likely to receive from this crop of people would help him to make decisions and take actions that would be in the best interest of Ghana. This sort of approach to addressing national problems is what the Get Together Movement ( GETOM ) has been advocating for all the time. Using state resources to ensure that the President gets the best of advice in executing his agenda is value for money if he (President) decides to implement their wise counsel.

Instead of scrapping council of state from our system, I would rather suggest we enlarge the scope to include all former Presidents of Ghana ( If they are able and willing). Their inclusion will foster national unity, reduce Political polarization and also bring to bear their vast experience in governance.

Let’s engage in a fair and constructive critique of opinions and recommendations to enhance the best decisions for our country’s advancement. God bless our homeland Ghana.

SOURCE: Dennis Narterh Adzigodi.