02.12.2022 Feature Article

We Don’t Need Foreign Exchange to Revise Our Dysfunctional Constitution

We Dont Need Foreign Exchange to Revise Our Dysfunctional Constitution
02.12.2022 LISTEN

He is not the very first highly respected statesman to raise the critical issue of Ghana’s patently dysfunctional 1992 Republican Constitution, which is a mishmash of both the Westminster and the Executive Presidential systems, such as practiced in the United Kingdom of Great Britain (UK) and the United States of America, respectively. In the British system, we have a Prime Minister who is, properly speaking, the Head/Chief Parliamentarian of the party in power. If memory serves yours truly accurately, the prospective Prime Minister, often a Party Leader, must first win a local election in her/his constituency. Once elected Prime Minister, the Member of Parliament Candidate (MPC) so elected, gives up their seat in order to become the Chief Minister of the sitting British Monarch. The system is designed in such a way that parliamentary duties organically mesh with the executive duties of both the Prime Minister and the various cabinet or ministerial appointees of the ruling party. This is what the drafters of Ghana’s “mongrelized” constitution ought to have paid studious attention to prior to clumsily crafting the same.

And, by the way, even more significantly, the Prime Minister also regularly and periodically reports to Parliament or the Representatives of the People to account for his/her managerial stewardship of Government and the People’s Business. On the other hand, under the Executive Presidential System that is presently the governance framework in Ghana, the President does not regularly report to Parliament to account for the stewardship of his/her party and the government. This may appear to be where the functional disconnect exists between the Executive and the Legislative/Legislature in Ghana. Whatever the real or practical case scenario may be, one thing is crystal clear: and it is the fact that the bastardized breed of Ghana’s parliamentary system, headed by an Executive President who is not directly accountable to the Representatives of the People, appears not to be working efficiently. And this is what the 80-something-year-old distinguished lawyer and sometime President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) and, presently, a prominent member of the Ghana National Council-of-State, or The Council-of-State, for short, Mr. Samuel Okudzeto – also spelled Okudjeto – sought to highlight in an interview that he recently granted the “Ghana Tonight” current-affairs show on the government-sponsored and operated TV3 (See “Being an MP is Serious Business; the Responsibility of a Minister Should not Be Attached – Sam Okudzeto” 11/30/22).

In other words, for Mr. Okudzeto, the current socioeconomic problems confronting the country, while they may be significantly tempered by the global reverberations of the China-originated COVID-19 Pandemic and Russia’s War on The Ukraine, may also be equally significantly inflected by the country’s decidedly dysfunctional constitutional framework that makes the cacophonic synchronizing of the executive duties of ministers simply incompatible with the panoply or full-suit of parliamentary duties. Now, the irony pertaining to the preceding authoritative observation made by Mr. Okudzeto inheres in the historically inescapable fact that legal luminaries like the latter and the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, also a notable lambent-witted and sharpshooting legal light of his generation, were bona fide members of the Constituent Assembly that midwifed or delivered the country’s Fourth-Republican Constitution. But we need to also quickly highlight the fact that during the heated process of the crafting of Ghana’s 1992 Republican Constitution, the then ideological opposition, largely composed of many of the leaders and the Founders of the now-ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), roundly boycotted deliberations en masse or as a group on some questions of principles that have never been quite clearly and comprehensively discussed in public ever since.

You see, it would have made for a more incisive and insightful disquisition, if during the course of the widely reported interview that the venerable legal wit granted the host of the aforementioned TV3 talking-heads program, Mr. Okudzeto had contextualized the famous Constituent-Assembly Boycott and explained how the latter “industrial action” may very well have significantly resulted in the egregious functional blunder that is Article 78 (1) of the 1992 Constitution and, in particular, why the erudite and politically astute likes of Mr. Okudzeto waited for 30 protracted years in order to bring this most grievous error to the attention of the global Ghanaian society at large. Indeed, as yours truly hinted at the very beginning of this column, it very well could be that Mr. Okudzeto has incessantly been calling for a critical review of the afore-referenced Article of the Constitution, except that he has not yet received the well-needed and well-deserved attention.

We also, of course, vividly recall the landmark establishment of the Constitution Review Committee by the late President John Evans Atta-Mills, except that it is not clear to many of us studious and avid students of Fourth Republican Ghanaian Political History and Culture, precisely what became of the quite significant expert recommendations submitted to the late President. At any rate, the vehement and politically regressive decision by the leaders of the current main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to scuttle the Akufo-Addo-sponsored December 19, 2019 Referendum on the direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), with the equally regressive and bizarre albeit all-too-predictable support of some powerful traditional Ghanaian rulers, makes one wonder whether as a people, by and large, Ghanaians are the sort of visionary and progressive-minded citizens that the most altruistic and patriotic leaders among us need in order to position our country in the kind of enviable upper-middle-income status where it both needs and deserves to be.

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

November 30, 2022

E-mail: [email protected]