Constitution

A body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed.

The constitution gives reverence to the three arms of government by ensuring their supremacy and independence, it ensures parliamentary sovereignty, independence of the Judiciary and the enormous privileges of the executive in terms of functions and roles it plays. To the best of my knowledge and as far as I’m concerned, the makers of the constitution did a great job but there are few flaws that may have escaped them or didn’t realize its future repercussions.

How independent is the Judiciary, legislature and the executive. Independence and autonomy in my own candid opinion should be, no interference if an arm takes a decision. However, to ensure proper checks and balances, there could have been an independent body made up of retired state officials from each of the arms of government to render any tyrannical decision of any arm as null and void where the need arise. The aim of this article is to address two important issues, one has to do with the too much powers the constitution has conferred on the executive and the limitations associated with such and secondly, a clue of what such powers can do to this nation if the constitution is not amended as quickly as we can.

You will bear with me that, it is not appropriate in any way for the sitting president to be the one to appoint the Chief Justice of the land, the same president or government to ensure the appointment of the Electoral Commissioner, the same president does ministerial appointment from within parliament, then where lies the independence of these bodies if their appointments are determined by the sitting government which is the provision of the very document that guides the land.

About 89% of parliamentarians wish to be ministers, with such constitutional provision that, a member of parliament can as well be a minister, don’t you think, members of parliament would implement laws in favor of the sitting president in order to win their interest towards his appointment. Such appointed ministers still in parliament receive double salary, one as a minister and another as a member of parliament, as to whether they perform their functions in these two offices as appropriately as stipulated in the constitution is another matter for discussion. The Electoral Commission in as much as it must ensure free, fair and a violent free elections must be neutral and autonomous in its dealings as pertained to elections and its processes. But the same constitution demands the office of the Electoral Commissioner be determined by the sitting president.

Maybe such conditions in the constitution are stipulated in the western world and is working perfectly but what I believe is that, greater percentage of us are more partisan than being nationalistic and has placed a bigger limitation on such constitutional provision. A sitting president would want to do anything if it even includes blood shed to retain power or for his party. If the president has the power to appoint the EC then, this EC owes his/her allegiance to the president and remember we are humans, professionalism plays a little role here.

I am not surprised what is currently trending in our country, the constitution that guides us is in conflict with itself. The same applies to the Chief Justice’s appointment. If these bodies are to be neutral and autonomous, then in my own opinion, the constitution should be amended to limit the powers of the executive in this regard.

Now let me quickly tackle the possible damages our constitution can cause and is causing at the moment, parliamentary allegiance has been explained already but the thing is, if bills to become laws are always implemented to favor the sitting president and not the interest of the greater percentage of the Ghanaian citizenry, then we can’t call such democracy. Secondly, the electoral commissioner must be credible in its dealings to ensure free and fair elections, now, its appointment pushes her in a tight corner and causes the EC to be indecisive and manipulated by people who should have no say in what the EC must do or not do. Hardly did I hear the EC on the lips of our media men until when it gets to elections but as it stands, from day one since our government gave the nod to Mrs. Charlotte Osei, not even a single day does she rest, that is manipulation and it has caused her to be indecisive, that’s in my own opinion.

A new voter’s register was what majority of Ghanaians hoped for to avoid any party petitioning the court after election based on what happened in the 2012 general elections. If the EC works in any ones interest for the purpose of showing allegiance and gratefulness, in as much as it is an insult to professionalism, it also means that, our constitution failed us. Now let me site a very critical example of the Montie Mahama boys; the media is a very powerful tool in bringing about peace and building a nation, yet some media men have sought to insults using the media and we have people who supports their insults. These boys (used boys because their actions is not deserving of men) sits on radio every day and render insults and accusations without facts on prominent leaders of this nation and because they are given salaries for rendering insults every day didn’t know their limit than to extend their indecency to the chief justice by threatening to rape her.

It was in this very nation that judges were abducted and murdered in a gruesome manner on June 30th 1982. These judges include the late Mr. Justice Fred Opoku Sarkodee,Mrs Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow and Mr Justice Kwadwo Agyei-Agyepong. So threats are not mere jokes especially on a body that has been faced with tragedy of that sought before. With such uncouth, uncivilized and unpardonable behavior, the court in using its powers and based on the 1992 constitution which is the supreme document of the land, Article 19 (12) for ‘Criminal Contempt’ which reads… “Clause (11) of this article shall not prevent a Superior Court from punishing a person for contempt of itself notwithstanding that the act or omission constituting the contempt is not defined in a written law and the penalty is not so prescribed.” And if in the same constitution, article 72 grants the president to exercise his prerogative power of mercy in these forms as “(1) The President may, acting in consultation with the Council of State- (a) grant to a person convicted of an offence a pardon either free or subject to lawful conditions; or (b) grant to a person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, from the execution of punishment imposed on him for an offence; or (c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for a punishment imposed on a person for an offence; or (d) remit the whole or part of a punishment imposed on a person or of a penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to Government on account on any offence.”

In my opinion, the constitution is in conflict with itself if it can give power to an independent and supreme body and as well give a counter power to another body. It demeans the proceedings of our supreme court in my own opinion. Can such a constitution punish offenders of the law and ensure peace? If it guarantees presidential pardon in this regard then it suggest all prisoners in the country deserve the pardon and preference to specific prisoners and offenders of the law is an indication of how confused our constitution is and the danger is, the prerogative power of mercy if exercised would compromise the independence of the Judiciary.

To end it here, my suggestion is that, the constitution needs to be twisted a little to decrease the powers given to the executive because it exhibits conflict of interest in the exercise of its functions as against the legislative and the judicial body.

Author: Emmanuel De-Graft Quarshie
“The non-patisan”
0202927554

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