Don’t blame 1992 Constitution for corruption – Ayikoi Otoo

 Mr Joseph Ayikoi Otoo, a former Attor­ney-General and Min­ister of Justice, says the 1992 Constitution is not to blame for corruption among the political class.

While acknowledging that the Constitution required periodic reviews to improve its performance, he said the provi­sions of the Constitution were informed by historical events and experiences of previous governments.

Speaking on a news pro­gramme monitored by the Ghana News Agency, Mr Ayikoi Otoo kicked against calls for a total overhaul of the 1992 Constitution.

He was responding to con­cerns raised by some analysts that the constitutional provision, which enjoined the President to appoint more than half of his Ministers from Parliament undermined proper checks and balances and fueled corruption.

“There is a history behind the Constitution. Dr Hilla Limann lost his budget because he did not have the numbers to support it. So there is history why the president appoints some of his ministers from Parliament.

“But if after 30 years we find issues with it, then we can review it; we should not say that is the cause of corruption,” Mr Ayikoi Otoo said.

He said the country must continuously work to improve the Constitution by amending por­tions that may appear problematic at a particular point in time.

Article 527 was an Act that was passed to amend the Consti­tution. So the Constitution is not rigid; it can be amended,” he said.

Since 2019, every December 7 is observed as Constitution Day, a public holiday set aside to mark the coming into effect of the 1992 Constitution and the birth of the Fourth Republic.

Contributing to the discussion, Dr Amoako Baah, a political scien­tist, called for a total overhaul of the 1992 Constitution, saying: “the Constitution is not working and has not worked for a long time”.

He said the Constitution must not be based on history, but should be about principles to ensure that it served the interest of the people at all times.

“You cannot write a constitu­tion then later try to put in checks and balances; you put in the checks and balances while writing the Constitution,” Dr Baah said.

Mr Martin Kpebu, a private legal practitioner, said the 1992 Constitution offered so much powers to the president such that it undermined the ability of parlia­ment to check the activities of the executive.

He said the remuneration arrangements for Article 71 Office Holders was unfair, adding that the independence of the commit­tee that determined the remuner­ation of such office holders was questionable.

“The real problem is the disparity in salaries and not the ex-gratia they receive after every four years,” Mr Kpebu said. -GNA

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