Constitution Day

Professor Philip Ebow Bondzi-Simpson, the Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Monday said the Constitution Day must be an occasion for sober reflection and public education to re-orient Ghanaians to improve on public service and constitutionalism.

The Day, he said, should not just be a national holiday and for public lectures, but be preceded by citizens’ forums where the district, municipal and metropolitan chief executives would render account of their stewardship to the people.

He suggested that the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) should facilitate the celebration by engaging teachers, students and pupils to conscientise them on the path of constitutionalism, while think tanks, representatives of the civil society organisations and the media be allowed to ask questions and critique the performance and activities of the local assemblies.

These, Prof. Bondzi-Simpson said, would provide the platforms for the people to come out with suggestions and innovative ideas that would improve upon the quality of public service delivery.

The astute legal practitioner was addressing the maiden Constitution Day Public Lecture, under the topic: “Constitutionalism in Ghana’s Fourth Republic: Towards Functional Performance”.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was the special guest of honour, at the event, attended by Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament, Ministers of State, Parliamentarians, chief executives of public institutions, representatives from civil society organisations and academia, and the public.

The lecture was held to commemorate Ghana’s Constitution Day in recognition of the commencement of the Fourth Republican Constitutional dispensation on January 7, 1993.

It is also set aside to acknowledge Ghana’s collective efforts at ensuring the tenets of democracy, rule of law and principles of constitutionalism are upheld.

Prof. Bondzi-Simpson said deepening the relevance of the Day would afford the opportunity to do retrospection and plan the way forward towards enhancing political and socio-economic development.

Marking constitutionalism should not just be a jargon, but a reality that reflected the principles and values of modern democracy, he stated.

Constitutionalism should also improve on the rule of law, respect for human rights, grassroots participation in the decision-making processes and ensure probity and accountability.

While acknowledging the benefits of the 26 years of the Fourth Republican Constitutional dispensation, Prof. Bondzi-Simpson called for the review of some of the provisions in the 1992 Constitution, and thus, urged the Akufo-Addo-led Administration to ensure the implementation or review of the recommendations made by the Constitution Review Commission in order to bring finality to the work of the Commission.

He called for the abolishment or review of the mandate and membership of the Council of State to be more answerable to the people, instead of just being an advisory body to the President, which the public was not privy to the admonitions offered.

He also called for a legislation to cap the number of parliamentarians to the Legislative House and suggested a formula that would ensure that the parliamentarians elected corresponded with the population in a particular region.

Members of Parliament, he said, should not be appointed as Ministers of State in order to afford them sufficient time to work on international agreements and the numerous bills presented to the House for passage and to execute their responsibilities as required by the State and their constituents.

Additionally, the qualifications and quality of human resource presented by political parties as parliamentary candidates must be seriously scrutinised so that the individuals elected would be up to the task and not become a waste to the public purse.

Prof. Bondzi-Simpson acknowledged the contributions of some prominent Ghanaians, who advocated and fought tirelessly for Ghana’s constitutionalism, aiding the entrenchment of the current Fourth Republican Constitutional dispensation.

He singled out the contributions of J. B. Da Rocha, J.H. Mensah, Prof. Albert Adu Boahen (all of blessed memory) as well as former President John Agyekum Kufuor and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

He also commended some personalities who yielded to the demand for constitutionalism and mentioned Justice D.F. Annan and Paul Victor Obeng (both of blessed memory) as well as former President Jerry John Rawlings and Captain Kojo Tsikata (RTD).

Prof. Bondzi-Simpson recounted the country’s trajectory from colonial rule through to the period Ghana achieved a republican status in 1960 and the various military interruptions and military regimes as well as the short-lived second and third republicans to the fourth constitutional republican dispensation.

A retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Constance Owusu, the Chairperson of the Civil Service Council, who presided over the event, said the Constitution Day should serve as an advocacy platform to rekindle the supremacy of constitutionalism in Ghana.

She emphasised that the rule of law must be strengthened to sustain the democratic gains for socio-economic development.

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