Constitutional amendments must cure ills in society – Mrs Addy
The Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Ms Kathleen Addy, says there is the urgent need for the country to ensure that the proposed amendment of the constitution “cures the ills we want to eradicate.”
Despite it shaping and improving the country’s democratic governance in the last 30 years, Ms Addy pointed out that the constitution had failed to fully address the many social problems faced by societies.
Ms Addy was speaking at a seminar on constitutional review organised by the Professor Mike Oquaye Centre for Constitutional Studies at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra on Tuesday.
The seminar, on the theme “Reviewing the 1992 Constitution: Viewpoint of the NCCE,” was chaired by Dean of the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Professor Vladimir Antwi-Danso.
Ms Addy, however, noted that amending the constitution alone would not resolve all the pertinent challenges faced by the citizenry, hence, the need to look beyond just amendment.
“The 30 years of constitutional democracy marks a truly watershed and milestone in the history of our democracy. Our country’s economic performance for the last 30 years under democratic rule is vastly superior to the 30 years of largely military rule which preceded it. This is undisputable,” Ms Addy said.
“That said, it is also undisputable that we live in a time of restlessness and discontent, with a unanimous clamour for constitutional amendments that will ostensibly solve all our problems.
However, let’s also make sure the amendments actually cures the ills we want to eradicate. Truth is, we could set ourselves up for great disappointment if we proceed as if constitutional reforms will resolve all the pertinent challenges we faced as a people,” Ms Addy added.
According to her the country over the past couple of years had made similar attempts towards the amendment of the constitution which included the setting up of a constitutional review commission by the late former President John Evans Atta Mills in 2010.
Similarly, in 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo initiated the process that would have led to the devolution of the power from the presidency by reducing the number of appointments the President gets to make, thereby fulfilling the requirement of Article 35 (d) of the constitution.
She, however, noted that despite these attempts by the past and current governments, the objectives to reform or review the constitution had failed, hence, the need to identify the challenges that led to the failures in order to avoid similar pitfalls.
Ms Addy explained that the NCCE was interested in ensuring that the voices, hopes, and aspirations of the citizenry reflected in any reform, as it did not hold a hard position on what should be amended in the constitution.
As the only institution explicitly mandated to propagate the content of the constitution, Ms Addy said her outfit would play a key strategic role in disseminating the outcomes of any reform process.
She also urged government officials, and the citizenry to be guided by the spirit of the constitution when applying it and not just by its words.
“Perhaps part of the reason we have so many clamouring for constitutional reform is not that the constitution is defective,” Ms Addy said.
“Perhaps we the people have not been diligent enough in applying the constitution in a manner that is more in consonance with its spirit,” Ms Addy added.
Prof. Antwi-Danso in his closing remarks stressed on the need to ensure that the amendment of the constitution was in consonance with the aspirations of the citizenry
BY BENJAMIN ARCTON-TETTEY