Happy 29th Constitutional Day
…How Do We As A People REDEDICATE Ourselves To Achieving More For Our Children & The Youth Who Will Continue With The Nation-Building After Our Exits.
“The 1992 Constitution came into force for the Fourth Republic of Ghana, on January 7, 1993, following its overwhelming approval in a referendum held on April 28, 1992.
The Constitution defines the fundamental political principles, establishing the structure, procedures, powers and duties of the government, structure of the judiciary and legislature, and spells out the fundamental rights and duties of a citizen.
Constitution Day of Ghana is observed every 7th January, the day new Heads of State are sworn into office in Ghana after the presidential and parliamentary elections and election of a new president and new members of the Parliament.
This day is intended to acknowledge Ghana’s collective efforts at ensuring that the tenets of democracy, rule of law and principles of constitutionalism are upheld.
The Fourth Republic has now endured far longer than any of the three previous republics, which were all cut short by military interventions.
Constitution Day is a new Public Holiday, which was observed for the first time in Ghana on January 7, 2019. This day has been declared as an additional holiday under Section 2 of the Public Holiday Act, 2001 (Act 601).
The newly designated holiday is intended to remind Ghanaians of their commitment to uphold the tenets of the rule of law, constitutionalism and democracy.
More importantly, the day is to remind the citizens of their collective commitment to a regime of uninterrupted constitutional order.
The addition of Constitution Day relegated Republic Day (1st July) from a public holiday to a commemorative day.” (www.officeholidays.com)
It also marks the first day of a new Parliament after every election year when the old Parliament of Ghana is dissolved at midnight on the 6th of January, after elections.
Thus this day, 7th January, 2022 should mark the 29th edition of the CONSTITUTION DAY under the Fourth Republic, just a year to three decades under this dispensation.
I believe we have every cause to celebrate this occasion and to wish ourselves well, saying: ‘EBENEZER, THUS FAR THE LORD HAS BROUGHT (HELPED) US’ (1 Samuel 7:12).
However, if at this point we are tempted to pat ourselves on the back without recourse to any assessment of our walk so far, together as a people and as a nation, over the last twenty-nine (29) years, and still pretend that we have done so well with our achievements, then we are really lost as a people with no clearly defined expectations of the 4th Republican dispensation going forward.
Worse still, we will only end up not appreciating the failings of the First (1st), Second (2nd) and Third (3rd) Republics nor learning the lessons therefrom to perfect the Fourth (4th) Republic even as we start the lap towards the 30th anniversary in the year, 2023.
Personally, there are quite a number of issues that I will count as requiring some reflections on, including the compulsive need for a review of the 1993 Constitution to bring it in tune or alignment with the ever-changing aspirations, rights, commitments, wishes, desiderata, longings, exigencies and demands of our people, particularly in the areas of development, be it education, health, transportation, decentralization, equitable allocation of resources and employment.
Just as the framers found it prudent to look for regional representation at the Cabinet level of national decision-making so that critical regional needs are catered for under fiat, so will it be prudent for us to consider a REVIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION now against the background that some work has been done so far by the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) set up by the late President, Prof. J. E. A. Mills. We could either set up a new Committee to start the issue of Report with a corresponding White Paper or direct the new Committee to review the previous work as part of its Terms of Reference (TOR) so that by the 30th Anniversary next year, 2023 we would have had a document for us to adopt going forward.
For me, there is one particular clause that I would wish and pray it forms part of any review and that is the IMMUNITY granted any President after three (3) years exiting power: does it mean that the former President John Dramani Mahama has an immunity now and what then happens, perchance he wins re-election in 2024, we reopen for a three (3)-year post-leaving office before granting him yet another immunity? I think in the true spirit of all of us being equal before the law, knowing that each president offers himself or herself in service to the people, expecting to render accounts of his stewardship after leaving office, then we sincerely and in all fairness do without this clause, especially as it will then impress upon each highest office holder to be mindful of this sacred clause to act in the supreme interest of the people and beholding to all tenets of the Constitution.
Another area that I would expect a look towards possible review is the area of the composition and terms of office of the COUNCIL OF STATE, considering the fact that many of our people have had cause to question their specific role and relevance in the general administration of our motherland, Ghana. I think it might be worth another look, including a possible expansion to include other representation, tightening their terms of reference (TOR) or scope of work.
Yet another area that would also require a constitutional re-alignment would be the NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLANNING COMMISSION (NDPC). One funny occurrence that lent the body to extreme ridicule was during the last elections in 2020, when the two major parties reached over and above itself to promise ‘heaven on earth’ without recourse to the body, which for the last how many years had been drawing up a 40-Year National Development Plan for our nation and us, as a people, My beef is: why shouldn’t the parties be compelled by the supreme law of the nation, the CONSTITUTION OF THE FOURTH REPUBLIC, to take their Manifestoes from the Plan prepared by the NDPC in terms of their parties’ priorities for the elections. My viewpoint – if we are not ready to be compliant with this, then we should collapse the Commission as a conduit for wasteful resources.
There are new issues arising, especially with the increase in the number of regions, youth unemployment, and equal opportunities for all Ghanaians irrespective of region or tribe, fair distribution of national resources to the district and constituency levels, so we all see ourselves in national development at the unit or assembly levels.
Free Senior High School (SHS) is a wonderful principle worthy of support by all, especially with the possibility for a FREE TERTIARY EDUCATION and therefore it will be prudent that, these are entrenched well in the proposed provisions of the Constitution Review in the manner that makes it sustainable over years with some identifiable benchmarks.
Furthermore, we need to enshrine in the Constitutional Review, making it mandatory for succeeding governments not to undertake new projects in the first year of their term but to concentrate on uncompleted projects left by the previous governments with the clear understanding that, none of them use their own personal resources in place of state resources; and worse, the new provision should make it possible for a charge of causing financial loss to the state to be proffered personally against the respective Minister responsible for the sector that does not abide by this law.
I will also call for indemnifying the Office of the Special Prosecutor against government interferences through an amendment to its Act, whereby a sitting government advertises a vacant position for the Office, shortlists three candidates and subjects them to the Parliamentary processes before a re-engineered, empowered by law Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for one to be selected by two-thirds majority of members voting for confirmation from the floor of Parliament, in order to insulate the Office from undue manipulations, especially as the Office would only be subject to the control of Parliament during the tenure of office. The same process should go for the office of the Auditor-General.
Closely related to the Office of the Special Prosecutor, to my mind, is the Office of the Auditor-General, which would also require such independence of operations and therefore the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) as proposed, should consider a natural working link between the two units in order to curb corruption.
There are two issues that I would wish that any constitutional review work would consider: conduct of public officers and curbing corruption.
First is the issue of CONDUCT OF PUBLIC OFFICERS CATERED FOR BY THE CONSTITUTION, who amongst their stated works or assignments, are also expected to act as role models and inspire the youth of this nation so that they in turn could aspire to the highest levels of public or private lives,
The first issue is, during the election of the Speaker of the 8th Parliament of the Fourth Republic, particularly the invasion of the House by armed police and soldiers, as well as, the supposed chewing of ballots by a Member of Parliament, whilst the second is the altercation during the consideration for the adoption of the Electronic Levy (a.k.a. E-Levy) that brought the House into disrepute. I pray there will be official investigations into these with some sanctions applied, within the House or officially to serve as deterrent to others who might consider repeating these scenes, especially as they paint a picture of IMPUNITY for our youth to emulate in future.
There are also other issues within the Legislature: the allegation of bribery against some judges where some individuals in the country, consider themselves above the laws of this nation; or better yet, the ability of some people to request for judges of their choices in cases pertaining to them. In my candid opinion, whilst these could be considered as isolated cases, there would be the need for the judiciary to purge itself in a way to amend the alleged breach of confidence, as a way of maintaining or restoring public confidence.
Finally, is the eternal canker of corruption, which we are told, is as old as mankind, that it can never be eradicated totally from life itself for good reason, especially as it is not restricted to only Ghana or Africa but stretches everywhere, including even Europe and the Americas, except in these areas, the Law works on both the top and the bottom. My prayer is that, the same law as we have in Ghana, should also be seen to work. I know in other countries, Presidents and Prime Ministers have been jailed, after due processes, for corruption whilst in office.
Otherwise, HAPPY 29TH CONSTITUTION DAY, GHANA, it is my prayer that the BLACK STAR OF AFRICA will assume her rightful place in the comity of nations and continue to be the ‘beacon of hope’ for others to emulate always and for our Presidents to continue to win continental and or global acclamation that will inure to making our lives better. This way, our people will always be ready to die for our nation and our youth will have such role models, who will inspire them to DREAM BIGGER for the advancement of our MOTHERLAND.
To the YOUTH OF OUR DEAR NATION, GHANA, never ever forget that the future and destiny of this nation lies in your hands to mold it as you desire; you are the ‘POTTERS’ with the clay in your hands, to create the kind of future you would wish to bequeath your own children and children’s children. You can only do a better job when you depart from the MISTAKES of your forebearers and your fathers, to safeguard a better future for your children so ‘ARISE GHANA YOUTH’, for we are at the precipices of life, which is virtually going out of control as a result of the mistakes we have made in the past and we beseech you to depart from the old ways of selfishness and lack of faith in our own abilities and talents to make this nation greater than you came to meet her.
I implore you to inculcate the values of INTEGRITY, SINCERITY, HONESTY, LOVE, MUTUAL RESPECT, TOLERANCE, COURAGE, HUMILITY, SIMPLICITY and MODESTY in all your dealings with one other and with all strangers who come visiting, but continue to open your eyes, even as you sleep so that you aren’t caught pants down to send you into another SLAVERY journey. Let the past guide you in all dealings with foreigners, who only come to exploit and steal your God-given resources of all sorts from you, as you swear that till the next millennium, you will fight all exploitation from foreigners and your own kind, who might think they are smarter as in the ‘ANIMAL FARM’ to want to be and live like the exploiters, your forebearers fought to redeem the land from, for you.
Learn to protect state properties always because they were developed with your own resources, avoid profligacy or ostentation, stay away from dishonest lives and definitely, endeavour, as you pass through this life, to leave Ghana a better place than you met it.
Always remember: CHANGE IS GONNA COME, sooner than later…
ARISE GHANA YOUTH FOR YOUR COUNTRY,
YOUR NATION DEMANDS YOUR DEVOTION,
LET US ALL UNITE TO UPHOLD HER
AND MAKE HER GREAT AND STRONG!
HAPPY 29TH CONSTITUTION DAY, GHANA!!
By Magnus Naabe RexDanquah, the Ghanaian – is a Land Economist & Appraiser, Events Architect & Planner, SportBusiness Consultant, Social Commentator and an Author