General News of Tuesday, 31 January 2017
Senior Partner at law firm, Bentsil-Enchill, Letsa and Ankomah, Kojo Bentsil-Enchill
As Ghanaians get the chance to vote to choose those to represent them as members of the Council of State to counsel the president, a Senior Partner at law firm, Bentsil-Enchill, Letsa and Ankomah has lauded efforts at nurturing the institution.
Kojo Bentsil-Enchill believes the institution is one that Ghanaians should not be quick to destroy but rather commit to and look for ways to make it a stronger institution to serve the nation better.
When he took the floor at the 5th Joy FM Thought Leadership Debate Monday, he argued against the motion that Council was irrelevance because its decision is not binding on the President saying, “there is never enough counsel for the president considering the quantum of work he would have to do.”
Drawing admiration and applause from the audience at the Alisa Hotel in Accra, he quizzed why the Council is blamed for inactions mostly when it is a reflection of the president.
“It is the responsibility of the president to appoint the best counsel ever to work with him so if he fails in doing so, people should blame the president and not the Council being bad as an institution,” the astute lawyer said.
Mr Bentsil-Enchill then took his time to carefully weave his arguments pointing out the work the Council puts in behind the scenes to ensure that the governance of the nation is moving smoothly without a hitch.
Prominent among such functions he mentioned includes the Council meeting for close to 100 times in a year although they are mandated to meet four times in a year. He said they set up committees to make sure that a problem does not occur under their watch.
According to him, the fact that it allows people who otherwise would not engage in mainstream politics to serve their nations in diverse ways is a more cogent reason why it should be nurtured.
“The Council has exercised much diplomatic voice, build consensus to dissuade the President on unwise decisions…it has hosted fora in times of conflict in the spirit of building friendliness and willingness to live and let’s live and not all die be die,” he said amidst wild cheers and laughter.
Among their behind the scenes work he noted is interceding when the president is angry with some of his appointees to the point of wanting to remove them from office as well as reviewing appointments.
In this regard, they direct the president to avoid controversial appointments which Mr Bentsil-Enchill said has contributed to some appointments being withdrawn to the good of the nation.
“We live in system environment inconsistent with giving opportunities to stakeholders to discuss legislation before it is being enacted therefore any avenue that exists for the broadening of the scope of discussion must be preserved and nurtured,” he said in defence of the Council of State’s role as a reviewer of draft legislation.
However, in a sharp rebuttal, Junior Partner at Kulendi At Law, Daniel Sagu Osei said the arguments put forth by Mr Bentsil-Enchill were only idealistic adding the Council is outdated and a drain on the taxpayer and national purse.
In his estimation, it costs the taxpayer GHC320,000 a month to pay the salaries of each of the 25 members of the Council. Making a quick arithmetic of GHC15.6 million a year, he’d rather the amount is invested in constructing 80 sets of three-unit classroom blocks across the country in an era of schools under trees.
He said the much-touted work of the Council’s is a duplication of the work of Cabinet and the Attorney-General for which the state is already paying for.
The debate was moderated by renowned criminologist, Professor Ken Attafuah, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Central University College.