The 2002 Class of the Ghana School of Law on Tuesday launched its 20th anniversary celebration in Accra with a Constitutional Colloquium to commemorate the day.
It was on the theme “Parliament as a Countervailing Force for Effective Governance in Ghana: Challenges, Prospects and Recommendations”.
The colloquium featured the Chairman of the National Media Commission, Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo as moderator, Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, the Deputy Attorney- General, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah and a Private Legal Practitioner and Managing Partner, Sam Okudzeto and Associates, Mrs Victoria Barth.
In his presentation on the topic, Mr Iddrisu conceded that parliament has recorded many failures; the primary one being the intense and excessive partisanship in the legislature.
“Ghana’s parliament has many failings but our primary failing is intensively and excessively partisan parliament.”
This is because the Parliamentary caucuses always want to please the executive president, be it the National Democratic Congress or the New Patriotic Party when in power.
The legislature, Mr Iddrisu admitted, has not availed itself for diligent scrutiny, citing an example where a US$750 million loan agreement gets introduced at 5pm and gets passed after two hours.
“How can you do a due diligence on an expenditure of US$750 million within two hours? At least we should be able to analyse its impact on the economy, our public financial management system, investment returns, among others” he said.
In this regard, the Tamale South lawmaker said it was time the constitution was reviewed to correct these democratic defects.
“The constitution, which exercises the legislative mandate of the Republic of Ghana has served us for the last 30 years but can be improved to improve our governance architecture,” he said.
Noting that the constitution was excessively hinged on a presidential system of governance, the time had come for it to be reviewed in order to reduce the powers given to the president.
“The 1992 Constitution has served us for 30 years well but can still be improved. We should not limit ourselves to just constitutional changes. We should also be mindful of legislative and administrative changes that may be required to improve our governance architecture generally.”
The Deputy Attorney-General, Tuah-Yeboah, pointed out that there was exclusion in the constitution to examine the human resource capacity of parliament.
“This needs to be looked at because there is no qualification criteria when it comes to skills as to who becomes a member of parliament and in view of that, only a few are in the front lines how about the others,” he questioned?
To him, currently, before one could go to parliament, it was dependent the financial wealth to win elections.
Mr Boadu-Ayeboafo, on his part said reviewing the constitution did not hold the magic wand to improve Ghana’s governance structure.
“Whether the constitution is changed or not we would not achieve anything, part of the problems rest with us as individuals. Despite the monarchical nature of the president, we all have a responsibility and a part to play, if we do so, even though the president might have some powers, he would be afraid to use it because he knows there would be resistance”, he said.
The Private Legal Practitioner and Managing Partner, Sam Okudzeto and Associates, Mrs Victoria Barth also cited that, parliament lacked sensitivity and priorities to pass some gender bills.
“Although parliament travel to deliberate on such issues, nothing has been done about all these unpassed bills and that has to change,” she said.
A member of the anniversary planning committee, Mrs Catherine Alloh during the launch said, it was time the group moved to the next level with its engagement to give back their institution and urged other year groups to emulate.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI