Four political parties — the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the Great Consolidated People’s Party (GCPP), the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) — have shared varied views on the celebration of January 7, Constitution Day, as a public holiday.
While the NDC thinks other holidays should not have been scrapped to pave the way for the celebration, although the reason for the celebration was monumental in the country’s history, the NDP believes marking the day as a holiday is appropriate and should offer reminders of the causes of setbacks that the country had suffered in the past in the governance process.
The GCPP also sees the celebration as laudable, as it gives true meaning to the democratic journey the country has decided to embark on, just as much as the NPP defends the commemoration, saying it lends credence to instituting the rule of law in the country and marks a radical change from the way the country has been celebrating its Republic Day.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Deputy General Secretary of the NDC in charge of Operations, Mr Peter Boamah Otokunor, said while it was not out of place to celebrate the day as a holiday, in view of the fact that it was monumental in the history of the country, taking off Republic Day, which signified the day Ghana attained full Republican status from Britain, was highly unacceptable.
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Again, he said, the deletion of the holiday in honour of the First President of Ghana and appeasing him with a holiday on his birthday was a “funny thing”.
Mr Otokunor said what the current government had set out to do was to re-write the history of the country in a manner that the NDC found inappropriate, saying that the party, through the Minority in Parliament, had raised issues in that regard and was hopeful that when Parliament resumed, the Minority would raise those issues on the floor.
He added that other holidays instituted by the current government were irrelevant.
The General Secretary of the NDP, Mr Mohammed Frimpong, said the choice of January 7 as a holiday should have the specific purpose of being a reminder of how far the country had travelled and the fact that after a series of coups d’etat, the country had now come to a point where Republican values were respected.
For him, appropriate as the day might be, it should offer reminders as to the causes of setbacks in governance that the country had suffered in the past.
In that regard, he said, what Ghana needed was a determined leadership which would not only pay respect to the written constitutional wishes but also be innovative in leadership.
“As a nation, there is the need to have some guiding values and principles which can only be instilled by leadership. We must have a paradigm shift to governance that places at its core selfless leadership that will curb corruption, use the nation’s wealth profitably and make sure that the wealth goes into projects that will enhance human development,” he said.
The First Vice-Chairman of the GCPP, Mr John Amekah, was of the view that the Constitution Day celebration was laudable because it brought better focus to what the day was meant and gave true meaning to the journey that the country had decided to embark on as a democracy.
So far, he said, everyone was aware that Ghana was being governed by a constitution, but not much premium had been placed on how far it had come as a nation and the direct import of constitutional governance, hence the institution of the day as a holiday would bring better understanding.
“But we need to put certain procedures and mechanisms in place to make the celebration of the day relevant by setting a proper agenda for the occasion, especially among politicians, because there are many politicians who know only about the constitutions of their parties,” he said.
At his turn, the Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, defended the celebration and said it also lent credence to instituting the rule of law in the country.
He said the focus that was given to the celebration of Independence and Republic days by the celebration of the Constitution Day had shifted to the content of the Constitution.
“It is a very significant departure from the kinds of holidays we are used to.
This is a holiday to determine a functional Republic; how best to use the law to build the Republic; how best to use the supreme law of the country to boost the Republic and how best all of us can respect that Constitution and abide by the law,” he stressed.
NCCE endorses day
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has endorsed the institution of the Constitution Day to commemorate the commencement of the Fourth Republic.
In a statement issued yesterday, the commission said the day had been instituted at the right time, especially as the Fourth Republic had marked its 26th milestone, the longest period the country has pursued a Republican status consistently.
“As we celebrate the first Constitution Day holiday, the NCCE calls on all citizens to make the study and application of provisions of the Constitution part of our daily lives.
It is then that we can be seen as upholding constitutionalism in Ghana,” the statement, signed by the Chairperson of the NCCE, Ms Josephine Nkrumah, said.