Nemesis of the 1992 Constitution: -Wisdom of the Framers for Selecting of Ministers from Parliament

Feature Article Nemesis of the 1992 Constitution: -Wisdom of the Framers for Selecting of Ministers from Parliament

The Constitution of Democratic Republic Countries including Ghana is basically about Sharing Power and provision of Rule of Law to ensure Civil Rights and Civil Liberties among others and it is framed upon the notion of human nature which acknowledged and anticipated both bad and good human nature and motives. This emanated partly from the Tragedy of Julius Caesar by Shakespeare which says it all and which has been and is the source of inspiration about human nature to most framers of a Constitution.

So, the 1992 Constitution has been designed as a framework for sharing of sovereign (supreme right to take decisions on internal and external matters) power which is partly based on the doctrine of Separation of Powers with the associated Checks and balances which characterized unique Ghanaian prototype with the selection of Majority of the Ministers from Parliament. Consequently, the Constitution fused the Executive Ministerial Office with the Office of Member of Parliament and ensured only the Judiciary Arm of Government must enjoy an unqualified Independence.

This is situation, is so due to our historical, sociological, ethical and political aspects in order to ensure stability and the rule of law and not necessary to conform to a tryout or practiced constitutional model, and thus making the 1992 Constitution as unique one in the World.

Consequently, it is the only Constitution of Ghana that has sustained and is sustaining the Ghana’s democratic credentials for over 31 years effective 07 January 1993 that anchored a Republic (Democratic System) designated as the Fourth Republic which is characterized with the reign of Five Executive Presidents in contrast to the previous constitutions of the First, Second and Third Republics, with each associated with one regime and thus linked to one named Head of State who even did not complete the Constitutional provided tenure of office due to Military Coups.

So, one of the pillars which has helped and is helping to uphold the 1992 Constitution is the Constitutional Wisdom for Selection of Majority of the Ministers of State from Parliament as stipulated at Article 78 (1) of the 1992 Constitution as a measure to ensure stability of a poor Country called Ghana. This was/is based on the history of Parliament of Ghana especially Parliament in the 1979 Constitution which had the all Ministers of State appointed outside from Parliament which contributed to a stalemate with the budget of 1982 as prepared by the President’s Liman Administration which was defeated or rejected by the then Opposition Party and thus caused contributed to the stability of the poor Country.

As indicated the framers of the Constitution took cognizance of human nature and thus acknowledged and anticipated both bad and good human motives. So to kill two birds with one stone or simultaneously that is by ensuring the competencies and the comfort of MPs/reduce cost whilst also ensuring good governance was the reason for the selection of Ministers from Parliament to ensure the Policies of the Government are approved by colleague MPs after good debate on the program and voting by the Minister and his fellow MPs and thus reduce the possibilities of Government paying very huge bribe to MPs to vote in favour of controversial policies.

Whether we like it or not some MPs will act in a manner to induce Government or a lobbyist to offer them bribe to vote for a deal, so Google for ‘Some Members of Parliament take Bribe, this is no laughing matter’ an Article by Ace Ankomah written in 2014 with Hon Bagbin, then Majority Leader, who reportedly responded with a clear, unambiguous and unequivocal Yes to a question by a questioner when he said among others MPs take bribe to vote for unpopular Government policies or controversial matters.

Furthermore, the issue of bribe paid to MPs to vote in favour of controversial policies was made in an unsubstantiated allegation by a Hon Appiah Ofori, a member of the Third Parliament of the Fourth Republic that MPs were given five thousand dollars by the Office of thee Chief of Staff to vote in favour of the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone, Google for MPs bribed to vote in favour of the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone.

It has been found that the competence of a common MP to appraise intricate technical project presented by a Minister to Parliament is highly diluted. Thus making him to be outstripped and flabbergasted by the Minister from the Executive Arm of Government, who as part of the Executive Arm of Government is well equipped with a number of experts, civil servants, consultants and international institutions. For instance the Ordinary MP, lacks sufficient expert support and research team and resources to sponsor or initiate bills to be well scrutinized for deliberation and approval by Parliament, acts regarded some of the main functions of MPs in contrast to a Minister who has the benefit of experts/advisors both local and International. So the Constitutional wisdom for selecting Ministers from Parliament is a better option to good debate, save time and money (cost).

So, besides ensuring stability and rule of law, the wisdom of the Framers of the Constitution for selection of Majority of the Ministers of State from Parliament was based on the risk assessment otherwise the cost benefit analysis on whether to nominate Ministers from within or from outside Parliament. So they were informed that a measure to control the associated risks is the Constitutional wisdom of selection of Ministers from Parliament thus seemingly fusing the Legislature Arm of Government (Parliament) with the Executive Arm of Government but they ensured the Judiciary Arm of Government to enjoy unqualified Autonomy.

So, the combination of Executive Ministerial office and the Legislature Office or membership of Parliament, was regarded by the Framers of the Constitution as the better option for among others for cost reduction or measure to prevent our brand of adding cost to cost like we have done with the superfluous and illogical Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) without any meaningful achievement. It is high time we abolish the OSP to arrest further waste of State funds.

We should have wised up with other options of strengthening existing or other State Agencies for combating corruption and corrupt related matters aggressively when we found that we could not and cannot easily separate the Office of the Attorney General from that of the Minister of Justice due to the provision of this combined Office under Chapter 8 of the Constitution which is an entrenched Chapter.

Furthermore, when we found that it will be unthinkable and or premature to provide CHRAJ with the power of arrest and prosecuting powers, we should have conducted cost benefit analysis on strengthening other available State agencies like the Internal Audit Service and or EOCO to include fighting Corruption and corrupt related issues etc. That is to say, we should have strengthened EOCO by granting EOCO the same conditions as given to the Office of the Special Prosecutor especially unqualified autonomy with a Board, security of tenure office, sufficient budget, a seasoned lawyer as the Special Prosecutor with adequate Investigators and other supporting Staff, good compensation to the Staff and effective Prosecuting Powers. Unfortunately, we rather opted for a wasteful and superfluous Anti-Corruption Agency with the cost code of the Office of the Special Prosecutor to the National budget, as part of our brand of always adding cost to cost, some may say jobs for the boys and girls or a measure to loot.

So selection of Ministers from Parliament, so as to combine the Office of a Minister of State and the Office of Membership of Parliament to be provided with or to enjoy the necessary and adequate support as against nominating Ministers outside Parliament helps a poor Country called Ghana to reduce massively the wage bill as well as Office expenses, cost of logistics on the Office of the Majority of the Ministers if selected outside Parliament since Ministers who are MPs could be paid the same compensations as Ordinary MP but made enjoy only the benefit of Office of a Minister of State, supporting Staff, accommodation, vehicle, security for protection, driver etc and not the wages of a Minister..

Consequently, by selecting a Minister from Parliament, the political clout of the MP is strengthened. It raises the level of political authority of the MP which is initially obtained from winning the Parliamentary election and enhanced when elected afterwards as a Minister under the ruling Administration.

When Ministers are selected from MPs who are duly elected by the people, it thus also implies that the Ministers are directly accountable to the people with public influence which unlike Ministers selected from outside Parliament who can easily loss their political authority when removed by the President for not kotowing to him or her. Thus, those selected from Parliament will have the confidence to resist Executive President’s dictatorship since when removed from the Office of a Minister, it does not mean total loss of political authority since he or she will still retain his or her Political authority as MP.

By selecting the Ministers from Parliament, beside making them available for Parliamentary deliberations and answering of questions on policies from his or her Ministry, it makes the Ministers to be in touch with Representativeness since they will be in the same room with other MPs, they will meet at the Coffee Shop, cafeteria, meetings of subcommittee, workshops and carry out informal discussions on National issues.

By selecting the Ministers from Parliament, thus the Ministers double as MPs and Ministers, they are therefore forced or inspired to be in regular contact with the electorates both from their Constituencies and outside their constituencies thus familiar with the needs of the people when coming out with policies and when taking part in the deliberation and approval of the policies.

By selecting the Ministers from Parliament, If helps to prevent or reduce the President from appointing family and friends to Ministerial Offices unless they are MPs.

By selection of Ministers from Parliament gives the resemblance of Parliamentary system of Government where the Head of Government and the cabinet continue to be in Office based on the Confidence (political support) of majority members of Parliament (MPs) to carry t the desire policies by the people for the people otherwise the President and his Ministers can loss power in the next election on condition of vote of no confidence by the Electorates to vote against the return to power for the President’s eligible next four years as happened in 2016.

Appointment of Minister from Parliament MPs has the tendency to induce competent persons from amongst the Intelligentsia, Lawyers, Medical Doctors and other professionals to opt for the Office of MPs through participating in the Parliamentary election with the hope of or assurance that he or she may be selected as a Minister.

Let me end by saying that the Selection of Ministers from Parliament is a better option provided by the framers in the 1992 Constitution, which like any other Constitution in the world is a supreme law to guide people of the Country with a framework for the sharing of sovereign power for the stability of the Country and for the rule of the law to ensure civil rights and civil liberties.

The Constitution may not be all that perfect but the fact that it has anchored the Fourth Republic for over 31 years, we need to maintain it but we need to tweak (amend) some of the provisions since we have navigated from the Analog era to a Digitization and Digitalization era to help us arrest the bad human nature especially corruption and acts of aggressiveness especially in our electoral and political systems.

We should take cue of the legendary Reggae Maestro, the late Bob Marley who passed away on 11 May 1981 that ‘If you quarrel every day, you are saying prayers to the devils so we should make way for positive conducts’ implying let us ensure social fabric/national cohesion by good conduct including but not limited to constructive criticism of the good work of the framers of the 1992 Constitution , constructive Communication through positive public discourses on the Constitution and other National issues towards fostering understanding and collaboration thereby driving positive change. So, our motto should be Think Positive and Think Big otherwise ‘It is Possible’ should be our Slogan.