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Lawyer kicks against review of Constitution - Advocates discipline, attitudinal change

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson & Yaa Kuffour Senyah
David Ofosu-Dorte (right), speaking during a Constitution Day Public Lecture at the University of Professional Studies Law School. Pictures: MAXWELL OCLOO
David Ofosu-Dorte (right), speaking during a Constitution Day Public Lecture at the University of Professional Studies Law School. Pictures: MAXWELL OCLOO

A senior legal practitioner, David Ofosu-Dorte, has kicked against a review of the 1992 Constitution.

According to him, even though the Constitution had some shortfalls, it was highly effective, and therefore not the cause of the myriad of challenges facing the country.

Rather, he said, the operators and users of the Constitution, including those in authority had found a way of jettisoning its tenets for their own interest, a situation which he said had negatively affected the development of the country.

A total review of the Constitution without a change in culture and mindset of the people will, therefore, be an exercise in futility, the lawyer added.

Mr Ofosu -Dorte, who is the Chairman of AB & David Africa, a pan African law firm, was speaking at the 2023 Constitutional Day Public Lecture organised by a pressure group, OneGhana Movement, and the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) Law School.

Accountability

According to him, the country had a culture of worshipping those in authority without adequately holding such persons to account.

In view of this, he said, no matter the number of reviews of the Constitution, those at the helm of affairs would find a way of sidestepping it, adding that “there is no law, including the Constitution, which is good enough to prevent evil- minded people from doing what is wrong”.

“There is also no law so bad which will prevent a good person from doing what is right. No matter how good the law is if you intend to abuse it, you will abuse it,” Mr Ofosu -Dorte said.
Giving an example of how politicians abused the Constitution, he cited the case of the number of ministers appointed by the President.

He said that although Article 76(1) of the Constitution made provision for only 19 Cabinet Ministers, more than 19 ministers were appointed without being classified as cabinet ministers.

“The politicians have found a nice way of distinguishing other ministers from cabinet ministers. If we have the mind to do the wrong thing, the Constitution will not stop us,” the legal practitioner said.

About event

This year’s Constitutional Day Public Lecture was the third edition.

Previous speakers had been the Dean of the UPSA Law School, Prof. Kofi Abotsi, and the Chairman of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors, Senyo Hosi.

Mr Ofosu –Dorte presented a lecture on whether the Constitution had helped in economic transformation or had contributed to the current economic crisis facing the country.

The event was attended by the 2020 presidential candidate of the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), Brigitte Dzogbenuku; a founder member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Nyaho-Nyaho Tamaklo; the Member of Parliament (MP) for Abuakwa South, Samuel Atta Akyea, and the MP for Bolgatanga East, Dr Dominic Ayine.

Others were lawyer and broadcaster, Samson Lardy Anyenini, investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni , and the Executive Secretary of the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers Ghana, Duncan Amoah.

Powerless citizens

Mr Ofosu-Dorte said although the Constitution had given so much freedom to citizens, the political system seemed to make people powerless after elections.

“In Ghana, no matter the ideas one have, you will not be taken serious unless you are part of NDC or NPP,” he said.

The lawyer also said that the monetisation of politics had made it difficult for people with good intentions to get into politics because of the lack of resources.

“Elections in Ghana are very expensive. On the average, we spend about $200m to organise elections,” he said.

Mr Ofosu-Dorte further said that political parties which were the main beneficiaries of elections in the country had become a tool for disunity instead of using their influence to unite the country for accelerated development.