Some student leaders have called for a review of the minimum age qualification set by the 1992 Constitution to be the country’s president.
Taking their turns at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Constitutional Review Seminar on Tuesday, the students advocated for a reduction in the 40-years eligibility limit to offer younger people the opportunity to vie for presidential elections.
They argued that the criteria to vie for presidency should not be entirely hinged on experience but the capability and competence of the individual should be paramount.
Professor Mike Oquaye Centre for Constitutional Studies at the IEA offered the student leaders an opportunity to make input into the debate on the review of the 1992 Constitution.
Article 62 (b) of the 1992 Constitution provides that “a person shall not be qualified for election as president of Ghana unless he/she has attained the age of forty years”
Mr Odupong Agyapong Atta-Agyepong, the Student Representative Council (SRC) President, Ghana School of Law, proposed that the age limit to contest for presidency should be reduced to 35 years.
“When you are told that the eligibility is 40 years it appears as though life begins at 40 and so even when you are 21, 22, 23, you still see 40 very far off and I think we should look at it.
“If a person at 21 years can go to parliament and reason and take decisions on our behalf, why not the President because every President takes advice from the Council of State,” he said.
Mr Martin Gyasi-Boakye, the SRC President of the University of Ghana, advocated for an upper age limit to the eligibility to vie for presidency.
That, he said, would ensure that persons who had attained a certain age and could not function effectively, would not become President at the expense of the State.
“If we have set 40 years as the base, can we have a conversation about the ceiling and will that help us in our democracy today.” Mr Gyasi-Boakye asked.
Mr Julius Anthony, a former General Secretary of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), joined calls for the scraping of the Council of State, describing it as a drain on the country’s resources.
He described as worrying the advisory role of the Council of State, whose advice was not binding on the President.
“The activities of the Council of State are shrouded in secrecy because we do not know which is taken or rejected by the President.” Mr Anthony said.
Ms Ewoenam A. Yakor, a former Secretary for Union Development, NUGS, called for a review of the Constitution to compel the President to make women appointees at least half of all public office holders.
She said the current one-third ratio of women in public offices was commendable, adding that more could be done to ensure the full participation of women in governance.
Ms Gloria K. Nyarko, a former Legal Advisor of the University Students’ Association of Ghana, proposed the inclusion of Article 71 Office holders on the Single Spine Salary Structure to ensure equity in public service remuneration.
Mr Michael Acquah, SRC Vice President, University of Professional Studies, said the Constitution should be written in simple langue and translated into the various local languages so that all Ghanaians, regardless of their educational background could appreciate the rules that govern the country.
Madam Sophia Akuffo, a former Chief Justice, said a review of the Constitution “is not an end in itself” adding that the focus should be the achievement of constant relevance of the governing rules.
She said proposals from the Constitutional Review Seminar would be put together into a document and sent to the lawmakers for action to be taken.