Speaker delivering the Alumni lecture
The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, has said that powers given to the President under the 1992 Constitution could easily undermine effective governance and pose a threat to Ghana’s democracy.
According to him, the President’s executive powers are so excessive that it has completely crippled the oversight responsibilities of the Legislature making parliament a ‘toothless bulldog’.
He therefore called for a second look to be taken at the excessive powers given to the President in the Constitution and also assign more powers to the Legislature to effectively check the Executive for good governance.
Speaking at this year’s University of Ghana Alumni Lectures at the Great Hall of the University on Wednesday evening on the topic “Strengthening Democracy and Good Governance in Contemporary Ghana—Some Challenges”, the Speaker said: “There should be effective checks and balances provided in the Constitution so that there is proper check on the Executive”.
He said the President has been empowered by the 1992 Constitution to appoint 50 per cent or more of his ministers from parliament which is indirectly affecting the effective oversight functions of the Legislature on the Executive because most of the MPs would like to ‘dance’ to the tune of the President and try to ‘catch’ the President ‘eyes’ in order to get ministerial appointments – a situation which ultimately affects investigative powers of the MPs.
According to the Speaker, most MPs who distinguish themselves in legislative work but don’t ‘catch’ the eye of the President would never get ministerial appointments.
The Speaker also indicated that it is not right for MPs to be appointed members of Board of Directors of public institutions because they should rather exercise oversight duties over such institutions and when that happens too it also affects their investigative powers.
The Speaker also mentioned that the right of parliament to terminate the appointments of ministers on the basis of incompetence has also been curtailed by Clause 5 of Article 82 of the 1992 Constitution, which avers that ‘where a vote of censure is passed against a minister under the Article 82, the president may, unless the minister resigns his office, revoke his appointment as a minister’.
He said the 1979 Constitution which made the President to appoint all his ministers outside parliament was much healthier and made parliament very effective making parliament to be able to exert its authority on the Executive.
He therefore advocated ministers of state to be appointed outside parliament.
The Speaker said that the authority of the Council of State is also undermined by allowing the President to appoint his ‘favourite’ people to the Council of State after 10 of the members are voted in the regions.
According to the Speaker of Parliament, the Constitution must allow all former Presidents, Vice Presidents, Chiefs of Defence Staff, Inspector-General of Police, Associations of Industries, Auditor-General, Secretary-General of the Trade Union Congress and the other bodies to appoint their own representatives to the Council of State for a tenure of six years.
The Speaker also spoke about the need to give meaning to the affirmative action to allow more women to do politics starting from the district assembly where quotas could be given to women to be assembly members and learn the rudiments of politics.
The Speaker also said that there should be well spelt out punishment for electoral offences because electoral malpractices are potential danger to the country’s democracy stressing further that politicians who encourage their supporters to engage in electoral offences as well as the culprits must be punished by the law.
At the end of the presentation, the Speaker donated GH¢2,000 to the University’s Alumni Fund.
Present at the lecture were some past students of the university, some members of parliament and members of the academia.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr
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