Amendment to certain articles in 1992 Constitution necessary
Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the Referendum approving the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
It is recalled that after enduring military rule and its numerous decrees for a decade, from December 31, 1981, Ghanaians went to the polls on April 28, 1992 to approve or disapprove the constitution.
That referendum saw over 90 per cent of the voters approving the 1992 Constitution, otherwise known as the Fourth Republican Constitution.
It is described so because it is the fourth constitution of the Republic of Ghana since the country attained republican status on July 1, 1960.
A republican status refers to a situation where a country is independent and thus runs a form of government in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives.
In that situation, the country is considered a “public matter”, and not a private entity over which the rulers can decide its life and as such control the citizens in ways ordered by decrees as done by military juntas like the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) led by Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, which destabilised the Third Republic government of Dr Hilla Limann on December 31, 1981.
Following the approval of the constitution the ban on party politics imposed since December 31, 1981 was lifted on May 18, 1992 and political party activities resurrected the fourth time after hiatus in 1966, 1972 and 1981.
Presidential and Parliamentary elections were held in 1992 to elect Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings as President as well as the first Parliament of the Fourth Republic.
It is of interest to note that the 1992 Republican Constitution has 26 chapters and captures issues of national interest such as the constitution itself and amendments to it, the country’s territories, natural resources, governance, rule of law, human rights, chieftaincy, security services, public service and conduct of public officials, and miscellaneous matters like claims against the government and oaths.
The Constitution has brought many benefits to Ghanaians, including stability of governance, rule of law, freedom of expression, political participation by the masses and specified tenure of public office holders.
In spite of the benefits, the constitution has brought in its train some challenges.
In his address to the nation to commemorate 30 years of the endorsement of the constitution, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as a politician and head of state, mentioned some of the challenges from his own perspective.
He mentioned land and chieftaincy disputes, rising crime rate and worsening poverty and expressed particular worry about Article 55 Clause 3, which is against making district assembly elections non-partisan.
President Akufo-Addo promised to use the rest of his tenure in office to fight for the partisanship of the district assembly elections.
The reality on the ground is, however, to the contrary as the district assemblies and their elections are de facto partisan affairs.
The government should rather look for what causes the voter apathy when it comes to district assembly elections.
As a paper that speaks for the people, the Ghanaian Times would like to state that the challenges are more than some people would point out.
One is that some important provisions of the constitution are being abused.
For instance, some journalists and members of the public hide behind media freedom and free speech to insult the President, ministers of state and others, sometimes even for things they are alleged to have done.
Concluding his address to the nation yesterday, President Akufo-Addo
The Ghanaian Times agrees with the President’s caution against unnecessary amendments to the 1992 Constitution but believes that the necessary processes should be initiated to amend not Article 55 but hurting Articles like Article 71 on determination of emoluments of top public office holders by the President through the recommendations of a committee he himself sets up.
Which committee to do such work would recommend anything without the promptings of the President or his assignees?
In today’s world when countries are facing economic hardships, the emoluments for Article 71 office holders are a rip-off against the Consolidated Fund and a shortchange of the people.