FORMER President John Agyekum Kufuor, last week, revived his call for an extension of the presidential term, arguing that the current four-year term is not enough for a President and his or her government to make a meaningful impact
Speaking from experience, he said a Ghanaian President virtually uses the first year to plan and put together a government, after which policies and programmes are fashioned and rolled out in the second year, while the third year is used to monitor the progress of those programmes for the necessary changes in the four-year, but that become difficult in the fourth year due to political campaigning to retain power.
We know a section of Ghanaians agree with the former President’s call, but the Times humbly believes that the country do not necessarily need a five-year presidential term.
Majority of African countries and others in Asia, Europe and The Americas have a five-year and more presidential terms for varied reasons, we believe that at the time the framers of the constitution settled on the four-year term,because of the conditions prevailing at the time.
We would not pretend to have the same experience as the former President but may have influenced as then watchers of Ghana politics, it is hard for them to settle on the four-year term.
The problem we see is the inadequate preparation of parties vying for power, absence of a long-term national development, weak institutions and the polarisation of the Ghanaian society in which everything is unnecessarily politicised.
The governance of a country is not a trial and error activity, but a highly serious business because a mistake through the application of the wrong policies, could adversely affect generations.
That is why, it is critical for parties to build their manifestos through thorough scientific research and planning so that the implementation would be based on well thought-through programmes.
Fundamentally, it should not be a matter of four years or five years for the implementation of programmes and policies that had been designed to last generations to be implemented. Once they fit into a national development plan and in conformity with the manifestos the duration should not matter.
Also, if we have strong institutions that carry out the implementation of national programmes introduced by governments in line with the country’s development plan, without interference, Presidents should not worry too much about their programmes, when their first term is ending.
The problem, however, is that because some programmes are introduced for political expediency, governments would want to get them right before the next elections, but may not have the time to do so.
And because of the regrettably polarisation of the society, the successes or failures of projects become campaign tools without objective analysis.
We appreciate the concerns of the former president and all those who believe in the call, but we dare say that the additional one year would not make any impact, if a four-year term is inadequate.
A cursory look at countries, especially in Africa, with five-year terms does not reveal any significant difference in terms of development as compared to Ghana.
Luckily the framers of the Constitution provided a second term, which a President can seek if he or she feels there is more to offer.
Ghanaians are very discerning and we believe that they would renew the mandate of a President who they believe has performed creditably in the first term and would need a second term to continue the good works.
We believe that when Presidents/government’s concentrate, become action oriented transformational and deliver on the their mandate in an objective manner devoid of politics, there would be better results to show the citizenry in a four year term without the need for an additional year.