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04.06.2021 Feature Article

The History and Evolution of Ghana’s Council of State- Episode 2

Evolution of Ghana’s Council of State
The History and Evolution of Ghana’s Council of State- Episode 2
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Ghana’s Council of State keeps evolving in terms of membership (personalities and total number), who serves as Chairman of Council of State and how the Chairman of Council of State is appointed. Under the 1969 Constitution, there was a total of 16 members, 27 members under the 1979 Constitution but currently under the 1992 Constitution, there are 31 members of the Council of State. Suffice to say that since the Second Republic, the number of members of the Council of State keeps increasing. The membership of the Council in the Fourth Republic increased to 31 with the creation of the six (6) new regions. Otherwise, the membership used to be 25 under the 1992 Constitution. Each Region in Ghana has one representative in the Council of State.

Per the constitutional formula for electing regional representatives into the Council of State, therefore, the total number of members of the Council will increase any time new regions are created.

The worrying aspect of the increment in the number of the Council of State members from 25 to 31 in the Fourth Republic is that Article 89 (7) and (8) of the 1992 Constitution makes the members of the Council of State Article 71 public officers, meaning that each of them receives ex-gratia after his or her tenure of office. Apart from the ex-gratia, the allowances and privileges of the Chairman and other members of the Council of State are charged on the Consolidated Fund. The Constitution also states that their privileges and allowances shall not be varied to their disadvantage while they hold office. Increasing the membership of the Council of State, therefore, has serious financial implications for the country.

The 1969 and 1979 Constitutions made a former Head of State and a Former Speaker of the National Assembly (legislature) mandatory members of the Council of State. If this was not to cure winner takes all politics in Ghana, then what else could it be? Under the 1969 Constitution, 8 of the Council of State members were presidential appointees. Their appointment was subject to the discretion of the President. This number (8) was maintained under the 1979 Constitution but subject to the approval of Parliament.

Under the 1992 Constitution, the President appoints three members (a former Chief Justice, a former Chief of Defence Staff and a former IGP) in consultation with Parliament. In addition, the President appoints 11 other members. The Fiadjoe Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) appointed by President Mills in January 2010 to review the 1992 Constitution recommended that the 11 other appointees of the President to the Council should be reduced to 5. The reasoning behind this recommendation by the CRC was to increase by 6 (11 minus 5) institutional representatives on the Council of State. However, the Mills-led NDC Administration at the time issued a white paper and disagreed with this proposal by the CRC. Sub-Theme Four (Issue One) of the White Paper states, “…Government does not accept the increase in institutional representation that will be filled by the reduction from 11 to 5 of members of the Council of State appointed by the President.”

Suffice to say that the President currently appoints 14 (45%) of the 31 Council of State Members. He nominates 3 in consultation with Parliament while he appoints 11 discretionarily. The President of the National House of Chiefs and the 16 regional representatives (elected by an electoral college) are not presidential appointees. The non- presidential appointees constitute 55% of the total membership of 31.

In constituting the Council of State, it was only the 1979 Constitution that made a provision for a former Governor of the Bank of Ghana, or a former Vice Chancellor of a recognised University or a former Secretary to the Cabinet or a former Head of the of Civil Service to be included in the Council.

The 1969 Constitution did not make provision for regional representatives in the Council of State but the 1979 Constitution did and so does the 1992 Constitution. However, under the 1979 Constitution, the regional representatives were presidential appointees based on prior approval of Parliament. Contrary to this, an electoral college under the 1992 Constitution elects the regional representatives.

The 1969 Constitution also mandated the President to appoint two chiefs (traditional leaders) to serve on the Council of State and these two chiefs were exclusive of the President of the National House of Chiefs who has been a mandatory member of the Council since its inception in 1969. However, the 1979 and 1992 Constitutions abandoned this provision relating to appointment of two other chiefs to serve on the Council of State.

Under the 1969 Constitution, the substantive Prime Minister, the incumbent Speaker of the National Assembly were members of the Council of State and the President himself who was being advised by the Council of State was the Chairman of the Council [ see Article 53 (1) (a) and Article 53 (5) ] of the 1969 Constitution.

Since 1979, the President ceased to be Chairman of the Council of State [see Article 106 (3) of the 1979 Constitution and Article 89 (3) of the 1992 Constitution. Unlike the 1969 and 1979 Constitutions, the 1992 Constitution has not made any provision for a former President to be included in the Council of State.

Conclusion

In this episode, you have learnt or reminded yourself of the establishment of Ghana’s Council of State in 1969 (Second Republic) and its evolution in 1979 (Second Republic) and the recent evolution under the 1992 Constitution (Fourth Republic). Under the 1992 Constitution, the total number of members of the Council increased from 25 to 31 with the creation of six (6) additional regions.

~Asante Sana ~

Author: Philip Afeti Korto

Email: [email protected]

1969 Constitution Article 53(1) Second Republic 1979 Constitution Article 106 (1) Third Republic 1992 Constitution Article 89 (1) Fourth Republic
(a) The Prime Minister, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Leader of the Opposition, and the President of the National House of Chiefs; (b) not more than four persons each of whom shall have held the office of President, or Chief Justice, or Speaker of the National Assembly , or Prime Minister under this Constitution, and who did not retire or leave office in disreputable or other circumstances importing moral turpitude, able and willing to act as a member of the Council of State, as the President may in his discretion appoint. ; (c) Such other persons not being more than eight in number, of whom at least two shall be Chiefs, as may be appointed by the President in his discretion to be members of Council of State, All of whom shall be persons who are citizens of Ghana (a) any person who has held the office of President or Head of State and did not leave office in disreputable or other circumstances imputing moral turpitude, able and willing to act as a member of the Council of State; (b) not more than five persons each of whom has held the office of Chief Justice, or Speaker of Parliament, or Chief of Defence Staff, or Inspector-General of Police, or Governor of the Bank of Ghana, or Vice Chancellor of a recognised University or Secretary to the Cabinet or Head of the Civil Service, who did not leave office in disreputable or other circumstances imputing moral turpitude, able and willing to act as a member of the Council of State, appointed by the President with the prior approval of Parliament (c) not more than eight persons appointed by the President from recognised professional bodies with the prior approval of Parliament; (d) the President of the National House of Chiefs; and (e) Not more than twelve persons each of whom is a citizen of Ghana of proven eminence and merit, one each of whom shall, at least, be resident in each Region of Ghana, appointed by the President with the prior approval of Parliament. (a) the following persons appointed by the President in consultation with Parliament - (i) one person who has previously held the office of Chief Justice; (ii) one person who has previously held the office of Chief of Defence Staff of the Armed Forces of Ghana; (iii) one person who has previously held the office of Inspector-General of Police; (b) the President of the National House of Chiefs; (c) one representative from each region of Ghana elected, in accordance with regulations made by the Electoral Commission under article 51 of this Constitution, by an electoral college comprising two representatives from each of the districts in the region nominated by the District Assemblies in the region; and (d) eleven other members appointed by the President.
Total : 16 Members Total : 27 Members Total : 31 Members

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