Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu punches holes in the Fourth Republican Constitution, review necessary

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The ace legislator, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (Hon MP, Suame), who doubles as the Majority Leader/Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business of the Republic of Ghana, yesterday, Tuesday July 12, 2022, put-up a stunning performance in delivering his public lecture on the theme ‘Constitutional Review; Perspective of a Legislator’ held at the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi.

The Lecture, which was organized to commemorate the University’s 70years of Academic Excellence, was held under the Chairmanship of its Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo.

In his opening remarks, the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo, gave a brief background on why the university settled on the theme. He indicated that 30years of experimentation under 1992 fourth republican constitution seems enough for introspection, and deemed the timing as opportune for revisiting the stalled Constitutional Review process started some years back.

In what was later described as a 360degree delivery, the Guest Speaker, Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu presented one of the most thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating lecture on the subject matter, devoid of political biases, to admiration of all present. He started by appreciating organizers of the program and expressed his elations in coming back to the alma-mater to deliver such first public lecture years after graduation.

Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu took the audience through the genesis of the longest serving constitution, the 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution. He admitted one cannot, in anyway, downplay on positive contributions of, what he termed, ‘My African Bible’ to steering affairs of our nation over the past 30years. He, however, punched many holes in the currently constitution, which, to him, calls for a national discourse on sustainability of the country’s democracy.

His lecture was centered on which of the three presidential system (the Presidential, the Westminster, or the hybrid) would be good for the country in order to curtail the ever-alarming cost of political campaigns, the high attrition rate in Parliament (which deprive the nation of quality human resources), and corruption. He also discussed composition of the National Development Planning Commission (whose end product serves as an important national document defining the collective destiny of Ghanaians as a nation), the style of appointments to independent public institutions of state (such as the Electoral Commission, the Auditor General, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, the Police Council, and the high number of public appointments required of the president after every 4year term of office, amongst others).

The astute legislator queried sustainability of the current dispensation if some aspects of the constitution is to be left unattended. He cited, for instance, increase in the number of Constituencies after every population census, and wondered whether it is sustainable to build a new Chamber for Members probably after every 20years by virtue of increase in the number of representatives.

Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also wondered why the country cannot limit the number of ministries to reflect that of the constitutionally mandated ceiling for Cabinet. He gave an instance in the constitution where ministers without Cabinet membership portfolios cannot lay bills before Parliament. And wondered how effective such a minister can assist the President in policy formulation at their respective ministries.

The Guest Speaker could not hide his admiration for the Westminster System, but quickly added that remains his personal opinion but not that of his political party or the Parliament of Ghana. He supported his argument with how such a system can help reduce cost of political campaigns, which in return, would reduce and/or eliminate satisfying ‘campaign sponsors’ and ultimately deal with the menace of corruption in the country.

There was lively interactive session after the presentation where audience asked questions to seek the Guest Speaker’s views on them. The Guest Speaker, however gave utmost respect to divergent opinions and contributions expressed by his audience and said, ‘these are the reasons, I think, a National Consultative Dialogue must be initiated with all major stakeholders so we can discuss what is right for our current dispensation’.

The Pro-Vice Chancellor in a closing remark expressed gratitude to hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu for such in-depth presentation and presented a gift from the university to him.

Source: Richard

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