A legal and governance expert , Felix Ograh has joined the call for the 1992 constitutional amendments which according to him gives more powers to the Executive President to the detriment of the very people who after every four years vote to elect him to rule the country.
Describing, a constitution as an ‘organic and a dynamic’ document which must always be evaluated to see whether it is achieving its intended purpose or not, Mr. Ograh could not fathom why since the inception of the fourth Republic, the constitution is yet to undergo major amendments.
“There are many entrenched provisions in our constitution which make the president more superior to any individual in the country and if this provision is not checked through amendment to make the people have a say in government, it will breed disaffection in the country,” he noted.
Mr. Ograh made these observations on Ghana, Great and Strong, a week-end programme on internet-based radio station, www.hedjorleonlineradio.com in Accra.
Discussing the topic: “Making Our Constitution Work for All Ghanaians,” Mr. Ograh said, it is important we pay attention to the “broader” meaning of a constitution which he explained ought to allow the citizenry and other state institutions to participate fully in governance.
“It [constitution] helps to serve as checks and balances on the President and by extension make the President more accountable and responsible to the people,” he said.
Mr. Ograh vehemently registered his displeasure at the constitutional provision which allows the President to choose majority of his ministers from Parliament.
According to him, the situation over the years has rendered most of these ministers of state appendages of the President.
“How can you expect Members of Parliament (MPs) appointed by the President as cabinet ministers to oppose any bill the President brings to the floor of Parliament for consideration” he opined.
A member of Communication Team of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Mr. Nii Armah Nkunim, who was a panel member on the programme also expressed his support for the need for a constitutional amendment.
He therefore called on President John Dramani Mahama to critically look at the constitutional reforms proposal submitted to the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General by the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee (CRIC).
“Our constitution is full of flaws and until we address the problems devoid of partisanship, Ghana will continue to lag behind in development”, he said.
The Operations Director of PPP, Nana Ofori-Owusu, who was also a member of the panel, was of the view that a constitutional amendment alone is not the panacea for the country’s numerous socio-economic problems.
Comparing American’s Constitution to Ghana, which is about 227 years old, he said, the former has witnessed only 17 amendments and therefore did not see why people should make fuss about ours.
However, he was quick to admit that there are certain provisions in the constitution like the appointment of Municipal, Metropolitan and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) by the President which should be amended to allow the people to elect their own MMDCEs.
For his part, the host of the programme, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom said his experience as elected member of the KEEA District Assembly, Member of Parliament (MP), Cabinet Minister and Entrepreneur has taught him that until changes are made to the 1992 Constitution, the country will continue to be in doldrums.
“Until we change the constitution to remove the dictatorship of the President, our liberties will remain under threat…the economy will continue to benefit a few with the vast majority of the people remaining very poor.
“Our current form and practice of democracy does not enable local initiative or enterprise. Everything revolves around the center, one person, in Accra and promotes dependency of the worst type. For this to change, the constitution must be amended,” he added.