It is a mistake to allow successive presidents to appoint members of the Council of State and also decide who chairs the council, says Professor Mike Ocquaye, Former Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament.

wpid-NCCE20Logo20new.jpgHe said the framers of the Constitution should have considered the internal Ghanaian traditional systems and norms such as the setup of the traditional council, which ensured that elders and king-makers were already in place before a chief was installed.

?These elders in the traditional system become owners of the land and take decisions with the chief. When the chief fails to perform the elders are quick to reprimand him,? he said, adding that the Council of State should have followed a similar pattern.

Speaking at the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) Dialogue Series in Accra on Tuesday, Prof. Ocquaye said the Council of State currently was not as independent as it should have been and that members were sometimes influenced by the President.

The NCCE Dialogue, introduced this year, with the theme: ?Engage, Educate, Empower,? was aimed at discussing national issues that would empower the citizenry to participate in the processes to sustain Ghana?s democracy.

The topic discussed in the second series of the quarterly event was: ?Balancing the Powers between the Three Arms of Government?.

Prof. Ocquaye said the Council of State should have been constituted from all the identifiable groups like Trades Union Congress, Muslim Council, Christian Council, Catholic Secretariats, Traditional Council, and Academia among others, representing a powerful institutional organisation with members being selected by power of rights, he said.

The council of state should be in place before a president is elected, he said.

He said an interaction with some members of the Council had also confirmed that they had been influenced by successive presidents.

Prof. Ocquaye, together with Dr Dominic Ayine, Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General and Justice V.C.R.A.C Crabbe, a former Supreme Court Judge, discussed the topic, all of them having various views about how power is balanced between the three arms of government.

Prof Ocquaye said the three arms, though had specific roles as assigned by the Constitution, did not work independently as they should be, adding that, the Judiciary and Parliament were all influenced by the Executive some of the time.

He said the Constitution had lots of issues that needed to be re-examined and redesigned so the three arms of government could truly play their distinctive roles more effectively without parliamentarians trying to catch the eyes of the President instead of the Speaker so they could be nominated as ministers.

Dr Ayine, however, disagreed with Prof Ocquaye?s assertion about the Constitution saying all the three arms of government were independent and that the Constitution enjoined separation of powers but interdependency with each other.

?None of the arms work to undermine the other. It is only a perception that the Executive has more power or exercise more power than the other two arms,? he said.

He said Parliament had the power to reject any appointee of the President when it deemed fit, adding there would be a time when a president with a minority in Parliament could face such a situation.

Justice Crabbe, on his part, supported the notion that the three arms worked independently but emphasised the need for persons in the arms of government to be people of integrity and be independent minded.

He said members of the Council of State were appointed on their own merit with high sense of duty and integrity who served as advisors to the President ?who either takes it or leaves it?.

He urged members of Parliament, Judiciary and the Executive to be loyal to the country and the people rather than their political parties.


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