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This national project has been on hold for too long!

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari
Ajoa Yeboah-Afari
Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

In my opinion, one of the most promising developments of the last quarter of 2018, was the restoration of the original logo of the Electoral Commission by new Chairperson Jean Mensa.

On December 4, 2018, a statement issued by Mrs Mensa to other Commissioners and EC staff nationwide read:

“This comes to inform you that with effect from today… the original logo of the Electoral Commission which bears the Coat of Arms and has a ballot box … has been restored.”

Evidently for the avoidance of doubt, the statement added: “Kindly ensure that the most recent logo is removed from the buildings and properties of the Commission ….”

The decision of the former Chairperson Charlotte Osei to change the original logo and replace it with a new one of perplexing design and, in my view lacking ‘soul’, still puzzles me. As I wrote in this column then, Mrs Osei’s decision was quite baffling.

Excerpts from that 2016 article follow:

“The irony, is that despite all the controversies emanating from the EC since Chairperson Charlotte Osei assumed office on June 30, last year, so far nobody has questioned the continued use of the existing logo…Why then change it?

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“In any case … does Election 2016 need a new logo to ensure its success?

(And) “earlier this week, during a TV3 newscast, I heard President John Mahama talking about the logo controversy ….

If I heard the President well, he said ‘every little thing’, they’re attacking the Commission. ‘How is the logo going to affect the quality of elections in this country?’ he asked.

“But that is precisely the point … If a new logo isn’t going to contribute anything to the main activity of the EC this year, which is the general election, why change the existing logo now? (Column of April 22, 2016 ‘EC, ’if it ain’t broke, why fix it’?).

Talking about significant developments, what could have been seen as an equally important event by many people was when earlier this week Ghana observed the first Constitution Day, marked as a holiday. That is, if the publicity had been adequate and if many people had understood its essence.

Media interviews indicated that a lot of people had no idea that January 7 is now Constitution Day, a national holiday; others didn’t know the significance of the celebration.

Yet others, even highly educated people, were asking whether the Constitution Day would be observed once every four years, when a new President is sworn into office, or every year.

Minister of Information Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has explained that Constitution Day has been made a public holiday in recognition of the commencement of the Fourth Republican Constitutional dispensation on January 7, 1993.

The maiden celebration was marked with the inaugural Constitution Day Lecture, delivered by Professor Philip Bondzi-Simpson, Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Accra.

Speaking on ‘Constitutionalism in Ghana’s Fourth Republic: Towards Functional Performance’, Prof Bondzi-Simpson highlighted the need to review some parts of the Constitution. Among other suggestions, he “made a strong case for the scrapping of the hybrid system where Members of Parliament combine parliamentary duties with ministerial portfolios,” (Daily Graphic, January 8).
His idea is certainly not new. Indeed, there were a number of similar concerns running through comments in the media about the observance.

The general view is that some amendments have become necessary to address its shortcomings, after having used the Constitution for more than 25 years, reflecting our ‘wear and tear’ experience.

A current controversy was examined earlier this week by a Daily Graphic contributor based in the USA, Professor Seth Appiah-Opoku. Under the headline, “Can ex-presidents run for office in Ghana? A constitutional analysis” he presented a stimulating evaluation.

Prof Appiah-Opoku argued: “A unique problem that hampers Ghana’s young democracy is the lack of meaningful constitutional checks and balances … we need to clarify the issue of ex-presidents running for office in Ghana ….” (Graphic of January 9).

The above examples have caused me, too, to ask once more: what has happened to the review of the 1992 Constitution, launched with much fanfare and undertaken no doubt at great cost?

In 2017, I had raised some issues about it (column of May 5, 2017, ‘An unfinished business, and a theme to ponder’).

Excerpts from that article follow:

“It is interesting that to mark the 25th anniversary of the birth of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, the National Commission for Civic Education has given this year’s Constitutional Week the significant theme, ‘Restoring the Ghanaian identity: Our values, our passion’ ….

“Doubtless some people have forgotten that there was an exercise by a Constitution Review Commission (CRC) to evaluate how the Constitution had performed in practice and whether any amendments were needed. The CRC, chaired by Emeritus Professor Albert K. Fiadjoe, was established by President John Evans Atta Mills in January, 2010.

“Following the completion of the work of the CRC, a Constitution Review Implementation Committee (CRIC), headed by Professor E.V. O. Dankwa, was inaugurated in October, 2012.

That was under the watch of President John Mahama, after the death of President Mills in July, 2012. Evidently the task of the CRIC was to act on the Government’s White Paper on the report of the CRC.

“So …what happened with the recommendations? Or has the CRIC finished its work unknown to us?” I asked in that article.

Writing in the Ghanaian Chronicle of August 10, 2016, Kwamena E. Adjaye, Ernest Ortsin and Anthony H. Cobbinah noted that although a lawsuit by Prof Stephen Kwaku Asare, also a US based Ghanaian professor, challenging the constitutionality of the CRC and the CRIC had stalled the work, on October 14, 2015, the Supreme Court had dismissed the Asare case.

Yet, the CRIC implementation is still a project on hold! One wonders why.

Now, in 2019, as the nation reflects on the maiden Constitution Day, hopefully deliberating on the lessons learnt to factor into the planning for next year, in my view, what is still outstanding is the CRIC work.

Anyway, it seems to me that the project must be revived, the job completed! There is abundant evidence that many areas in the 1992 Constitution need updating to serve present-day purposes and advances better.

Again, this national assignment has been on hold for far too long!

Or is a new Constitution Review being planned?

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