Ghana: Constitution Review Meets Interesting Proposals

In 2008, during the presidential elections, candidates promised Ghanaians a review of the nation’s constitution. What made this pledge more appealing was the contenders’ – President John Atta Mills included – intention to involve Ghanaians in the review process. The president seems to have fulfilled that promise, and new proposals now fuel interesting debates.

In an article posted by Ghana Pundit entitled, “Don’t Extend President’s Tenure, ” Prof. Kofi Quashigah, Dean of the law faculty at the University of Ghana, remarked:

A two four year system is long enough to afford a determined individual as president to impact on the democratic institutions. A two five year period will be the beginning of creation of tin gods. It is the strengthening of the institutions of governance that should engage our attention so that the individual does not become the dominant feature…the four year period appears just sufficient so as to avoid the individual staying on too long and becoming complacent.

This comment is a response to one of various constitutional amendment proposals under consideration by Ghana’s Constitutional Review Committee: extending the president’s current four-year term to five.

Quashigah adds:

The status quo should be maintained to avoid creating an aura of indispensability around individuals who become President.

And how is President Atta Mills doing with his promise to involve the people in the review process? Have Ghanaians even welcomed the idea?

Ghana Pundit reports in a February 11 post :

A legal practitioner has suggested that the review of the constitution should ensure that power resides in the hands of the people through well-structured local institutions and organs and a perfected district assembly system.

The legal practitioner, Nana Addo-Aikens, continues:

The constitutional amendments, which Ghana needs today, should therefore not be the surface-scratching or cosmetic or window-dressing type but must be the type of constitution, which will be all-embracing and sweeping enough in order not to waste a rare opportunity for change.

He then adds:

Functional checks and balances as well as workable forms of separation of powers were other issues that needed serious consideration by the commission.

In a piece about the constitutional amendment on Inter Press Services (IPS) News website , Osabutey Anny quotes legal practitioner and executive secretary of the Commission, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, as saying:

Every single petition before the commission will be carefully examined. The issues raised are very valid.

Anny reports:

The petitions received to date vary and include calls for a review of the powers of the executive.

According to Anny, Atuguba remarked that,

The number of petitions received by the commission shows the extent to which the public was looking forward to the review.

It is apparent from reports that Ghanaians are more eager to engage in the burgeoning democratic process of the nation since its constitution commenced in 1993.

Anny commends the African nation in his piece:

The country has made much progress since then. Ghana was ranked the seventh-best country on the continent for good governance according to the 2009 Ibrahim Index of African Governance. The index measured, among other things, the delivery of public goods and services by government.


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