News that the President, His Excellency Mr. J. A. Kufuor, has given assent to the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill (ROPAB), passed into law last Friday February 23, 2006, is set to receive mixed reactions. First, there is no doubt that proponents and supporters of the bill, would feel elated, just us many of the Ghanaians in the Diaspora.
At the same time however, those who have opposed the bill as well as those supporting it and yet would want to see consensus built around its passage, would be very disappointed. They would not be disappointed because the President had acted ultra vires. They would be disappointed because there are still moves to try and build consensus around the law before its assent by the President.
There is no doubt that for a policy, which when implemented would have far-reaching effects on our democratic process, consensus was needed.
Unfortunately, that was not the case; rather, the level of acrimony that characterized the debate of the law when it was a bill, could only be equaled by perhaps the ill-fated Value Added Tax (VAT) of 1995, that had to be withdrawn by the then National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, to be re-introduced later in a more acceptable form.
The dispatch with which the President has assented to the law, even when there are consultations going on to reduce the tension generated on the road to the passage of the law, suggests the premium he puts on this law.
The President may be fulfilling an electoral promise. But there are still many very important bills, some of which have been recited by him times without number, as indicating his commitment to fighting corruption.
Those that readily come to mind are The Whistleblowers' and The Freedom of Information bills.
Again, the Disability Bill and the Domestic Violence Bill, have both attracted national attention and calls by stakeholders to be turned into laws.
Strangely, our lawmakers are not in a hurry to expedite action on these laws, in spite of the various concerns that have been expressed and the escalation in domestic violence cases, for instance.
It is the hope of The Chronicle that the President and his lieutenants would attach importance and attend to these bills cited above, with the same alacrity as was devoted to the passage of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill (ROPAB).
The Chronicle awaits government's response to these Bills, and asks, if ROPAB, why not these bills also?