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18.05.2009 Politics

Alban Bagbin pushes for constitutional review

By The Ghanaian Chronicle
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Majority Leader and MP for Nadowli North, Hon. Alban S.K. Bagbin has stressed the need for a constitutional review, having identified a number of challenges which are impairing the smooth operation of the constitutional systern.

He said after 16 years as a law maker, it had become clear to him and his colleagues from both sides of the political divide that there is the need to have "a complete overview and overhaul of our constitution".

The majority leader explained that 'constitutional articles' for consideration are so many that there was the need to do a review and not just an amendment of the Constitution.

" I am all for it", he told The Chronicle in an interview in Kumasi and hinted that he intends pushing the agenda for a new constitution when he delivers a paper at the impending Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences Forum, where he would point out the challenges facing the 1992 Constitution and suggest solutions.

According to him, his presentation would ignite a public debate and provide the opportunity for the President to push for an agenda of establishing a Constitutional Review Commission to collate views of Ghanaians on how best to conduct a referendum to vote for a new Constitution for Ghana.

Hon. Bagbin noted that Parliament as it stands now is not a separate arm of government. "It is an adjunct to the Executive arm because majority of the Ministers of State are Members of Parliament who come under the command and control of the President," he explained.

As a result, the loyalty and commitment of these Ministers go to the Executive than to parliament, thus taking away a lot of steam and influence from Parliament.

Substantiating this constraint, Hon. Bagbin indicated that the law-making functions bestowed on Parliament is impaired because bills become law only when the President who has the power to disagree with Parliament, has assented to them or made recommendations for consideration by Parliament.

He said because there is a marriage between Parliament and the Executive, with the President controlling the majority side, they are influenced by the President's position to accept the views of the Executive, and not that of Parliament.

"We think that this is not good for our democratic development" and the earlier the two institutions are linked, with Parliament strengthened to perform its functions of not just law-making, but also oversight functions of scrutinizing and checking the executive, including the President, to account for their stewardship to the good people of Ghana, the better.

He complained that the quality and quantum of delivery of parliamentary work is always affected by the lack of requisite number of personnel, while machinery and equipment are absent, which delay the printing of Committee reports.

The Parliamentary leader also mentioned that Parliament does not even have "a library worth its sort", where information can be stored. He also complained of the non-existence of Committee Rooms where committee members can sit and deliberate and record and work on issues.

Hon. Bagbin, however, indicated that some assistance from the Parliamentary Centre of Canada and the Ghana Parliamentary Centre led by Dr. Rashid Dramani, has offered a place at Osu for the Public Accounts sub-Committee and other committees of parliament. He also mentioned that the GTZ is supporting parliament to rehabilitate the GNTC building close to the International Press Centre in Accra, to provide more rooms for committees.

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