The Executive Director of the Alliance for Christian Advocacy Africa, Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, has entreated President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to implement the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) Report.
“I will add my voice to those of the many people who are calling on the President to, even though he has some few months to end his tenure, pay attention to the constitutional review report,” he said.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra, Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong, who is a former General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), explained that the political tension in the country could not be wished away, and that the implementation of the report could be among the measures to ensure peaceful elections.
He also said although much taxpayers’ money was invested in the constitutional review process and the compilation of the report, its content was not being implemented.
According to him, some of the suggestions in the report included scrapping the winner-takes-all system as currently being practised in Ghana’s democratic dispensation.
Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong opined that the political violence witnessed in the country every election year was being fanned by the winner-takes-all concept provided for under the Constitution, adding: “As a result, when you lose an election in Ghana, it is very humiliating. Losing elections means that you have lost everything, and that is why people fight hard for power.”
He added that under the Constitution, the power to appoint was also vested in the President.
“The person who can take us out of this situation of political violence and hooliganism is a sitting President who will say that ‘even though this winner-takes-all practice favours me constitutionally, I will review this aspect of the Constitution’,” he added.
He, therefore, urged President Akufo-Addo to muster the political courage and initiate processes for the implementation of the report, saying: “I am begging the President not to leave office without implementing this report.”
He said a number of well-meaning Ghanaians had also made similar calls and, therefore, expressed the hope that the President would implement the report before the end of his first term in office.
“For now, it works well for him, but we must be legacy-minded. It is not like ‘something works for me and so long as it works for me, praise God’,” he said, adding that “we must always think about the future”.
Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong said there was the need to sustain the prevailing peace being enjoyed in the country “because there is a thin line between peace and violence and so we need a leader who will think beyond now”.
He said it was unfortunate that when a political party was in opposition it clamoured for the scrapping of the winner-takes-all policy, but when it came into office, it abandoned the idea.
The executive director commended members of the CRC for painstakingly going round the country to solicit views on the Constitution and using their expertise to compile the report to guide the country in its fledging democracy.
President John Evans Atta Mills, on January 11, 2010, acting in accordance with Article 278 (1) of the Constitution, which confers on the President powers to appoint a Commission of Enquiry into matters of public interest, inaugurated the CRC to review the 1992 Constitution with the Constitution Review Commission of Enquiry Instrument 2010 (C.I. 64).
The CRC was tasked to collate the views of Ghanaians on which provisions of the 1992 Constitution required amendment.
Work of the CRC
In executing its mandate, the CRC travelled all over the country to hold consultative fora with Ghanaians of all walks of life. It also received numerous memoranda on what provisions of the Constitution needed to be amended and even on how the CRC should conduct its affairs.
In addition, it also engaged the services of experts to review the Constitution and make recommendations for reforms.
Presentation of report
The CRC worked for two years, and after analysing all the submissions, as well as receiving expert opinions from both local and international consultants, it completed and presented its report to the Government on December 20, 2011.
After receipt of the report, as per Article 280 (3) of the Constitution, the Government, on June 15, 2012, gazetted a White Paper stating its positions on the recommendations made by the commission.
Subsequent to the issuance of the White Paper, the Government set up the Constitution Review Implementation Committee (CRIC) on October 2, 2012 to study further and engage with citizens and then implement the recommendations approved in the White Paper.
But while the work of the CRIC was ongoing, the CRC was slapped with a lawsuit which consequently stalled the work of the CRIC.
A US-based Ghanaian, Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare, in July 2014, instituted a lawsuit at the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the CRC.
However, on October 14, 2015, in a majority five-two decision by a seven-member panel presided over by the then Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood, the Supreme Court affirmed the legality and constitutionality of both the CRC and the CRIC and dismissed the case.
Since the Supreme Court ruling, there have been calls for the CRIC and the CRC to complete their mandates and thereby complete the constitutional review process as soon as possible.
However, very little has been done since.