Happy Constitution Day?  Not from me!-Papa Kwesi Nduom

The citizens have been informed  today, that Monday, January 8 2024 is a national holiday – Constitution Day.  There is nothing happy about this day.  But it gives me the opportunity to get back to the crusade I believe is most important if we the Ghanaian people want to taste real freedom and prosperity.

The following is the same presentation I have been making for years.  The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) also champions the same cause.  It matters not who becomes President and how much they try to improve the country’s economy; nothing will work very well to improve the lot of many citizens if the Constitution remains the same as it is today

The 1992 Constitution legitimized an elected dictatorship and centralized our system of governance in a way that has left other arms of government weak to act and too poor to serve as an effective source of checks and balances.  It is in our best interest to change the current situation.  The most important solution we need in Ghana today is to amend the 1992 Constitution to change our governance structure and empower our people to solve our problems where they really reside – at the local level.

“The executive power of the State of Ghana is conferred upon the President, the Head of the State. In the exercise of his functions the President acts in his own discretion and is not obliged to follow advice (tendered by any other person (Art. 8). The effect of this provision is that the President is not bound by the advice of his Ministers, but, subject to the provisions of the Constitution, is master of his own decisions. 

The President of Ghana combines the functions of the Queen and of the Prime Minister, as they exist in the British Constitution and as they existed in the Constitution of Ghana of 1957.  He is Head of State and Prime Minister.  His position is different from that of the President of the United States in several important respects, owing to the fact that the Constitution of Ghana has not adopted the American system of checks and balances and of the strict separation of the executive and legislative branches of government.”

From an Article in The American Journal of Comparative Law:  “The Republican Constitution of Ghana.”  EGON SCHWELB

We live in a country where everything centers around one position, President of the Republic, and therefore one person, in our case today, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.  This one person selects Ministers of State, Ambassadors and Representatives to foreign countries and organisations, Chief Executives of State Organizations such as ECG, VRA, COCOBOD, etc., Regional Ministers, One-third of all Assembly Members and all District, Municipal and Metropolitan Chief Executives and many, many others.  So everything revolves around Accra.  Power comes from Accra and so does money so nothing happens without Accra.  And since Accra has limited capacity and resources, not much goes around to push development in the local areas.  

In comparison, Kenya, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, Japan, USA and many, many others elect their own local administrators.  Indeed, a check of well-performing towns and cities world-wide shows that where the people elect or appoint their own mayors or administrators, they tend to be rewarded with development.

Our local Assemblies are today used as political agencies rather than tools for development.  It is this plain truth that has prevented NDC-Rawlings, NPP-Kufuor, NDC-Atta-Mills, NDC-Mahama, and NPP-Akufo-Addo from allowing amendment to the 1992 Constitution for unfettered election of our Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and all Assembly Members.  This political approach to local government has led to very slow development in our villages, towns and cities. The next President of our Republic should put partisan politics aside, choose a strong path to development and join those of us engaged in the crusade to elect our own MMDCEs without interference from the President.   

Our local areas remain underdeveloped mainly because the leaders, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives are selected by one person – the President based on political patronage.

The election of MMDCES and Assembly Members is only one agenda item.  There is the separation of Parliament from the Executive/Presidency and other items on the change the constitution agenda to be tackled.  

So “Happy Constitution Day” is not for me .  Neither is it for the majority of our citizens.  We should use the day work on making the changes we need to happen to the 1992 constitution.

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