General News of Friday, 16 March 2018
The Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Development, CDD-Ghana, H. Kwasi Prempeh, has downplayed calls for a review or removal of the constitutional age restriction for Ghanaians who contest for presidency.
The debate on this subject was reignited after some key personalities including former President John Dramani Mahama and former Chief of Staff, Kwadwo Mpiani, suggested that the country may be missing out on some competent persons by limiting the pool of potential leaders.
Mr. Mahama, who was speaking at the Commonwealth Africa Summit in London on Wednesday, said young people were capable of acting as legislators in Parliament but were restricted from contesting for the Presidency.
“In my country, young people are in Parliament and contesting other positions, but not the presidency. Our constitution says you must be 40 to contest to be president. Some advocacy has started for age restriction to be removed or reduced and I support it,” the President had stated in a tweet.
Mr. Kwesi Prempeh however believes that, generally, there are more pressing areas where age restrictions are a problem, and such must be tackled first.
In his view, the restriction on the age for presidential aspirants is not a pressing need, and that the government must focus on creating jobs for the youth and not giving them more opportunities to contest for political office.
“There are a lot of age-related discrimination and exclusion in our systems that should be handled first. I do not rank not allowing 18 year olds , 20 year-olds to run for President as one of them. I don’t see what existing problem there is that this proposal seeks to solve”.
The lawyer further argued that the real challenge former President and Mr. Mpiani sought to highlight with their proposal was the high rate of youth unemployment which had not been tackled by successive governments.
He indicated that it will be arbitrary to scrap age limits to pave way for younger ones,while the major challenge of youth unemployment remains.
“I think it is really about finding jobs for the youth, create youth employment. It is not about making politics attractive to the youth. That is not where we should be headed. We should be really looking for jobs in the economy. Building on an economy that creates jobs for the youth where they can get to experience life and then after some season we should be looking for jobs in the economy and then after a certain season enter politics . One cannot judge one’s qualification to be President at 18. It is arbitrary.”
Ghana’s presidents under the 4th Republic
Under the Fourth Republic, the average age of the presidents when they began their terms has been 59.
Jerry John Rawlings was 45 when he was elected President in 1992.
His successor, John Kufuor, was 61 when he became President in 2001 after the first civilian change of power.
He was followed by John Atta Mills, who was 64, John Mahama who was 54, and the current President, Nana Akufo-Addo, who was 72 years of age, the oldest of the lot.