There are calls for the Council of State – a constitutional body established to advise the President, Ministers of State, Parliament, and other public agencies on issues of national importance to be given another look.
The call follows the return of over GHS365,000 ex-gratia paid to a former Council of State member, Togbe Afede XIV, who had served on the Council of State from 2017 to 2020.
The decision has sparked renewed debate over remunerations paid to public officials, including members of the Council of State and Members of Parliament (MPs) at the end of their service to the nation.
Contributing to discussions on an Accra based radio station, Mr Martin Kpebu, a private legal practitioner, said: “This Council of State needs a drastic overhaul because from the way they operate, we are not able to get that kind of credible, independent advice that we wish in a democracy such as ours.”
“The Council of State, the institution as created by the Constitution, doesn’t live up to the billing. We’re expecting a robust Council that counsel the President,” he added.
The lawyer said unfortunately, the President was not legally obliged to the advice provided by the Council and that it was problematic that the Council of State was still in force, noting that such counsel could be provided by experts in various fields at no cost.
“We have so many experts but because they are not willing to say things against opposition, usually the ruling government will not take them. Because to get a seat at the table, you have to throw dirt at the opposition. You have to be very partisan,” he said.
Dr Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, Director, Research and Policy, Trades Union Congress (TUC) said: “I think the Council of State is a useful institution, but it needs some reforms.”
“In fact, the Council does a lot of things outside of the public view. The Council of State needs to let the public know some of the important duties they do for the country.”
Mr Sulemana Braimah, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), stated that: “The composition of the Council of State doesn’t serve the purpose for which it was created.”
“We know that a Member of Parliament takes GHS 28,000, and someone on single-spine takes less than GHS 3,000 and the person receiving GHS 28,000 says when they go out, they live a miserable life so pay more.”
“If you have a President committed and determined that the right things are done, we will begin to see some steps in confronting the things we are dealing with,” Mr Braimah noted.
The 1992 Constitution of Ghana states in Article 91, Clause One that: “The Council of State shall consider and advise the President or any other authority in respect of any appointment, which is required by this Constitution or any other law to be made in accordance with the advice of, or in consultation with, the Council of State.”
However, the Constitution Review Commission set up in January 2010, among other things, recommended the scrapping of Article 89 of the 1992 Constitution, which established the Council of State.