Council Of State Chair Joins Anti Mahama Agenda?
President John Dramani Mahama is not just facing stiff opposition from his fiercest political rivals in the New Patriotic Party but may also have to contend with grave insurgency from some senior members of his own party the National Democratic Congress.
While simmering undercurrent between the presidency and some elders of the ruling party is no more secret, little did Ghanaians and for that matter supporters of the ruling party expect some of the president’s own appointees to have their apron strings tied to those desirous of seeing the president’s back.
The recent conduct of the Chairperson for the Council of State, Madam Cecilia Johnson, in a matter relating to whether the Speaker of Parliament had to lay in Parliament a document on amendments of some entrenched provisions of the Constitution before forwarding it to the Council of State or vice versa and her pronouncements on government performance and corruption, have left many enquiring if she has also joined the anti-Mahama agenda.
While it would have been expected that the Council of State chair would have consulted the Speaker or at least the Majority leader in Parliament over issues raised by the NPP that the Speaker took unilateral decision to forward the Constitution Review Commission’s recommendations on entrenched positions to the Council of State without laying it in parliament, Madam Cecilia Johnson ‘unilaterally’ and embarrassingly sided with the minority and referred the bill back to parliament.
Strangely, Madam Cecilia Johnson, who is non-lawyer, wrote to the Speaker who is an astute lawyer and legislator with many years of experience, stating that Edward Doe Adjaho has erred in his interpretation of the law, therefore the bill should be laid in parliament as the minority had suggested before it is forwarded to the Council of State.
The Council of State Chair’s letter, which was copied to the minority leader, acknowledged “the position taken by the Minority Leader to be the correct interpretation of the constitution, therefore returning the proposed amendment containing the bill to the Speaker to take it to Parliament.”
Madam Cecilia Johnson’s decision to refer the bill back to parliament was later to be revealed by the Majority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak as her sole decision.
According to the Asawase legislator, the Chairman of the Council of State “acted alone” when she returned the document to parliament, and stressed “I am sorry for her”.
Because the Council’s chair acted based on the letter she received from the Minority Leader, Alhaji Muntaka questioned if she now takes advice from the Minority Leader.
“If she had to take advice, I wonder if she wanted to take advice from the Minority without necessarily even hearing from the Majority Leader or the Speaker”.
He brazenly disclosed that the Speaker has “responded appropriately” to the Council and that the document is assumed to be with the Council, insisting that he did nothing wrong referring the document to them.
The Speaker, he said, has therefore challenged the Council chair to seek interpretation of the constitution at the appropriate quarters, because “he thinks that per his own judgment, his understanding of the constitution, he acted right, and therefore has referred the document back to the Council of State, telling them that so far as he is concerned the document is before the Council of State.
As if bringing the government, the speaker and NDC MPs to public odium was not enough, Madam Cecilia Johnson, whose mandate as Chairman of the Council of State is guaranteed under Chapter 9, article 89 (1) of the 1992 constitution to among other things counsel the president in the performance of his functions joined the ranks of those tongue-lashing the president to fix the country’s almost broken economy, hardships and indiscipline.
As if she has forgotten her role as chief advisor to the president, and also unaware of steps government is taking to arrest the challenges, she admonished President Mahama to take bold and decisive steps to confront the current economic difficulties the country is facing and deal with corruption.
Clearly, the president’s political nemeses are not just members of the main opposition party but some senior members of his own party and government.