Ghana’s only living former President who has served the full two-term of eight years, John Agyekum Kufuor, has called for the scrapping of the Council of State.
He indicated that the present times and the relevance of the Council of State no longer seem to align and as such, there is the need to relook at the composition of the constitutional body.
Backing the calls for the body to be scrapped, the former President, who has been part of Ghana’s parliamentary structure from the days of a constitutional assembly till the current parliament was constituted in 1992, explained that it is rather time for the country to consider a second chamber.
“So, I believe the framers of the constitution thought of a body like Council of State that necessarily should be composed in a way that would bring individuals of experience . . . the way the constitutional framers as far back as ’69 when, as I say, I was a member of the constituency assembly, and also then a member of the Majority side – in fact, a deputy Foreign Minister at that time, we limited the uses of the Council of State to just advising the President.
“And the president would meet this council in camera, given the nature of the members of the Council – very matured, experienced, people who wouldn’t go out of camera, after giving advice to the president, and whether the president accepted or didn’t accept, go and tell the public, ‘No, we advised him to do this or that but he rejected us. Perhaps, he didn’t even hear us.’ They wouldn’t do it by just the way they are, and this continued: ’69, ’79. ’92, and currently and I’ve gone through all these periods and I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps, what our constitution should have to temper the extremes of democracy, is not Council of State, but a second chamber,” he said.
Speaking at a Seminar on reviewing Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), which featured him, John Agyekum Kufuor stressed that such a second chamber should be composed to focus more on experiences, more than it would on democracy.
He added that while he acknowledges that this might cost the nation a little more, it is necessary if the country determines to progress.
“A second chamber, well-composed, not on basis of democracy so much; democracy should always be implied in there though, but not directly on democracy, but more on proving experience, proving public spiritedness and prudence, maturity, care for the nation inclusively.
“And then the general public, where they are going astray, there would be people – civil society organisations, or the media, would be able to join in and say, ‘No, Mr. President, take time. You’re after all, our first servant. You shouldn’t manage our affairs this way.
“Or, the Members of Parliament: yes, you may have the majority in the House, but the way you are going, you haven’t taken due account of such and such and such a situation to help stabilize the nation and also make for progress. And then the people advice; these days we hear of populism and grassroots actions, protest actions and all that, people must really get insights.
“And so, this is why I thought instead of our continued Council of State, perhaps the time has come and we should move into a second house. It might cost a bit more and so what: we want quality to serve the ends of good governance and the people at large more… then I’d say, perhaps the days of the Council of State should be over,” he explained.
The IEA engagement with the former president, John Kufuor, took place at his residence at Peduase, and was moderated by the former Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye.
Dignitaries in attendance included the former Chief Justice of Ghana, Sophia Akuffo; Sam Okudzeto, a former President of the Ghana Bar Association; the Electoral Commission Chairperson, Jean Mensa; Dr. Abu Sakara, a former presidential candidate on the ticket of the Convention People’s Party (CPP); among others.