The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), has launched the Professor Mike Oquaye Centre for Constitutional Studies to help broaden the understanding and application of constitutionalism at all levels of governance in the country.
Through its programmes, the centre will also help Ghanaians to appreciate that constitutionalism is the pathway to peace, development and good governance.
The centre is also mandated to promote good governance in public affairs, civil society, political and economic institutions.
It also has the mandate to undertake a thorough study on proposals for review of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and make appropriate recommendations.
Work leading to the establishment of the centre started in 2006 when a former Executive Director of the IEA, Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa, commissioned a group of scholars to review and identify deficiencies in Ghana's democratic practice and to submit a report including proposals for practical reforms.
The report became part of the basis for nationwide consultations and a few scholars and consultants, with Prof. Oquaye as the lead consultant, worked closely with the IEA to produce a report called the Democracy Consolidation Report.
Some of the scholars were Prof. Yaw Twumasi, former Chairman of the University of Ghana (UG) Council, and Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi, a lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).
The report identified a number of challenges affecting the country's democracy and constitutionalism. The issues included the Winner-takes-all syndrome, the overwhelming power of the executive and what the fate of a presidential candidate will be if he or she wins the presidency but his political party fails to win a majority in Parliament.
The challenges identified by the report have become some of the fundamental issues that Prof. Mike Oquaye, a former Speaker of Parliament, will devote his time to studying at the centre.
Delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the centre, Prof. Oquaye stated that the centre would assist to bring constitutionalism “in all we do, translate the Constitution to the simplest terms and local languages with illustrations. It must be taught in schools, churches, mosques and civil society generally, to live by the tenets therein”.
“It should be the guidepost to every activity and the yardstick to maintain or replace successive governments,” he pointed out.
Explaining the rationale for the establishment of the centre, the Board Chairman of IEA, Dr Charles Mensa, observed that the issues identified in the report were among other issues that had been agitating Prof. Oquaye, hence his resolve to spend time after his work as a Speaker of Parliament to study those challenges in order to offer advice on them.
The Chairperson for the launch, Justice Sophia Akuffo (a former Chief Justice), said there was more to having a written constitution.
She said the centre was expected to spark and galvanise the public’s interest in constitutionalism and how to support its review to serve its purpose.