President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday held his first meeting with the Council of State, saying he will count on the members to assist him to discharge the heavy responsibilities imposed on him by the country’s constitutional order.
“I am counting on all of you to give me the maximum assistance, so that that brighter future that the Ghanaian people are expecting that led them to vote for me and my party on 7th December 2016 will be realised,” he said.
He reminded the members that the principal responsibility that he had as President was to lead a government that was going to get the economy working again, saying that was the way that the country’s young men and women were going to be sure of getting jobs.
The prime issue in the nation today, he said, was the absence of jobs for the youth, noting that if the economy worked well, then that matter would be effectively addressed.
Prior to the meeting, the President had sworn in Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, the immediate past Chief Justice, as a member of the council and urged her to bring the quality of experience to bear on the work of the council.
Mrs Justice Wood becomes the first retired Chief Justice to be a member of the Council of State since the inception of the Fourth Republic.
While urging the council to be forthcoming in offering support for the success of the government’s agenda, he said: “We have to be careful that your activities do not fetter or clog the operations of the government and other institutions of our Republic.”
The President advised the members not to overstep the remit of their powers in the performance of their functions and activities.
Power of the Council
Under Article 91 of the 1992 Constitution, he said the council had the power on its own initiative to proffer advice for any institution or authority without being requested to do so.
He was quick to add that the Constitution also said the advice and recommendations of the council were not binding.
“Nevertheless, it is a very broad remit that you have and clearly you, who are very experienced people, should understand that it is a remit to be exercised with care and circumspection. It should not be a busybody’s charter. Article 91 is not supposed to be a busybody’s charter,” the President advised.
He said it was heart-warming to note that the current composition of the council was of a very broad spectrum of very eminent citizens of Ghana, drawn from political life, public life, traditional authorities, the security services, the world of business and other professions, thereby constituting “a very broad spectrum of people who have come together and collectively meet to give meaningful advice to the President and the various institutions”.
President pledges cooperation
The President pledged his co-operation and that of his government to enable the council to discharge its duties effectively.
“Ghanaian people are those who will benefit if we work well together. My doors are going to be opened to you and I know that you also will open your doors to me. I want us to work together in a healthy and constructive manner and put forward the agenda of Ghana,” he added.
He expressed gratitude to the council for the work it had been doing, even though he had not met them yet, and recounted the council’s expeditious handling of all the appointments that had been brought before it.
The President said he was also impressed about the fact-finding mission that the council had decided to undertake on the galamsey issue.
Council Chairman’s response
Responding, the Chairman of the Council of State, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, said it had taken note of the impressive achievements that the President had chalked up on his recent foreign trips.
“You got our dear country selected to participate among three African countries in the G-20 Summit. You also succeeded in securing an unprecedented €100 million grant from the German government. This was done within a relatively short time,” he added.
He said since the council was sworn into office on February 27, 2017, it had held 24 meetings to deliberate on pertinent matters in relation to its mandate.
While acknowledging the timely manner in which the President constituted his government and appointed his ministers and others, the chairman reminded him of outstanding appointments to councils of tertiary institutions and boards of some state institutions, especially in the financial and land administration sectors.
“Another issue which has been engaging the council’s attention is the spate of acts of indiscipline and impunity in our society, particularly reported acts of extra-judicial conduct. These incidents of misconduct are becoming a canker that must be decisively dealt with to stem its malignant effects on the social fabric,” Nana Siriboe said.