$6m wasted reviewing 1992 Constitution!

The popular and legitimate demand of the people of Ghana for changes in the 1992 Constitution has been so bastardized that it has become populist, a chorus which all of us bleat at, and especially when, our ox is gored by that document as presently couched.  

Were it not so, why do we, in 2024, still clamor for constitutional review when President Atta Mills in 2010 set up a nine-member Constitutional Review Commission to review it?

The commission, which was chaired by Professor Albert Kodzo Fiadjoe, had members, including the present Chair of the Electoral Commission, Jean Adukwei Mensa, with Dr Raymond Akongburo Atuguba as Executive Secretary/Principal Researcher.

An amount of six million dollars (Source: ‘The Fourth Estate’) was spent on this exercise, which involved public sittings during which it received as many as 50,000 submissions from the public – yes, from Ghanaians.

The Commission submitted its Report to the Government on December 20, 2011, and the Government of Law Professor Atta Mills, after studying it, issued a White Paper on it within the stipulated six months.

What a country of prodigals! Six million dollars down the drain.

My beef, however, is not that the review process cost us that much; it is that it profited us nothing.

I say “down the drain” because, like sand in gari, we possibly cannot go pick up the review, as it is, for implementation.

Besides, 12 or so years after the exercise, we might have to re-review it to further add or subtract certain provisions.

For instance, puerile as it may sound, I want the 1992 Constitution, as reviewed, to make it an offense for a President of Ghana to include either directly, in their Cabinet or somewhere in the Jubilee House, anybody who is a blood relation.

The constitutional leeway or silence on employment or appointment of FAMILY AND FRIENDS has been abused.

The revised constitutional provision should offer a bounty (compensation) to anyone with evidence that a President’s blood relation is or has been teleguiding Ministerial and Board appointments, been controlling Ministers (ordering them around with a crook of the finger, with a phone call, or has a say in the approval of any local and international contracts, etc.)

The reviewed Constitution should empower a NATIONAL THINK TANK to set up a Committee that monitors utterances by our Presidents, with powers to PUBLICLY reprimand the use of undiplomatic language.

I have a feeling that current President Akufo Addo often forgets the ethnocentric remark in the 2nd Republic Parliament attributed to Victor Owusu, Attorney General under President Edward Akufo-Addo and Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia, which remark has proved the most costly to the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition since it was uttered.

Whether it was a retort for a similar insult by a Voltaian MP against Ashantis or not, it so happened that Victor Owusu’s statement, of all, got ineradicably etched on the minds of people from that region and has since been an albatross around the neck of that political tradition, costing them precious thousands of votes in the Volta Region, election after election, in the Fourth Republic.

Paramount Chief of the Aflao Traditional Area to “complete the abandoned E-block community day senior high school in the area himself if he is frustrated about the delay.” This was in reply to a four-month ultimatum issued by the chief for the government to finish the building for use.

In a revised Constitution, no President should go scot-free for words to the chiefs and people of Ekumfi, that “Ato Cudjoe was your MP, and I made him a Deputy Minister, and you voted him out in the last elections, and because of that, I did not pay attention to development in your area.”

He should have added: “With immediate effect, the people of Ekumfi will not pay tax!

This same constitutional review should bar John Dramani Mahama, speaking as Vice President in 2011, from uttering the word, “Baloney” in Parliament” during the debate on the Petroleum Management Bill.

The word became popular in Ghana when US President George Bush used it in a meeting with President Kufuor on February 20, 2008, about allegations that the United States planned to set up a military base in Ghana.

George Bush was (is) not our standard inappropriate use of language; even in America, baloney has pejorative connotations, similar to “bullshit”.

If gold rusts, what will iron do? No wonder, party communicators think they score most marks when they are at their insulting best.


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