17 September 2012

Ghana: Creation of New Constituencies Now Threatens Peace


Thank God our nation is still in peace. This peace has come about through the blessings of God and the dedication and commitment of all the social classes of our society to walk the talk of peace and prioritise it over and above all the numerous challenges we face.

People of all walks in society have made it their responsibility to intercede in prayers of all forms for the peace of our nation believing that once peace is sustained there is nothing that the human mind cannot conceive for its own development and progress. That is why any time peace and stability are threatened, sacrificial efforts are made for peace and stability to prevail.

It is on this basis that I note that if care is not taken and parochial interests and benefits are not sacrificed, the peace we crave for will be a parody of its own. What we see today is deliberate attempts by some people of privileged positions to, on one hand, purport to work for the progress and development of Ghana while, on the other, attempt to undermine the embodiment of the Ghanaian society, i.e. the 1992 Constitution.

The developments leading to the creation of the new 45 constituencies give credence to this belief I have. The rush and speed with which the Constitutional Instrument (CI) regarding the said constituencies leading to "Unprecedented" errors upon errors with no shame from experienced public officials and the collaborative network of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in driving the Electoral Commission (EC) into their web in committing some illegalities against the spirit and letter of the Constitution as well as the conduct of elections in Ghana can only buttress my point.

For instance, the fact that Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and his EC duly went to perform a responsibility at the wrong platform in the election of NDC candidates for the proposed 45 constituencies in itself defeat any good intensions of the EC and clearly dent their image and credibility built over the years.

They know very well that they have contravened Article 11(6) of the Constitution which state that: "The existing law shall be construed with any modifications, adaptations, qualifications and exceptions necessary to bring it into conformity with the provisions of this Constitution, or otherwise to give effect to, or enable effect to be given to, any changes effected by this Constitution." In this regard and to give credence to the essence of time and maturity of directing the spirit and letter of the Constitution, it goes further to say in Article 11 (7): "Any Order, Rules or Regulation made by a person or authority under a power conferred by the Constitution or any other law shall - (a) be laid before Parliament; (b) be published in the Gazette on the day it is laid before Parliament; and (c) come into force at the expiration of twenty-one sitting days after being so laid unless Parliament, before the expiration of the twenty-days, annuls the Order, Rule or Regulation by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of Parliament."

So clearly the EC erred; for whilst it sought Parliament to support the laying of the CI, it was unfortunately exposing its own ignorance by happily declaring NDC parliamentary aspirants winners in constituencies that have no basis of existence legally.

Clever as he has always been, at times in a seemingly adamant and arrogant manner, Dr Afari-Gyan, instead of explaining to Ghanaians why two fundamental things have not been done, i.e. the 21 maturity days or two-thirds of votes of Parliamentarians whichever comes first in the first step of law application in Ghana, had his officers supervising an illegality. He chose to woo the public's sympathy by stating that his life is under threat. Much as I condemn such faceless cowardice and irresponsibility, I believe the EC Chairman's comment is a bit of irony!

The spirit of Article 11 (6) and (7) acknowledges that the letter of the Constitution and the laws are not expected to be static but to be refined appropriately to suit the changing dynamics of our society. That is why it called for adaptation, qualification, modifications and others with the sole intent to maintain the integrity and dignity of our country through conscience and guided principles.

Let us find out whether the NDC and the EC have shown any practical conscientiously regarding the proposed 45 constituencies. Are the elections and declaration of NDC parliamentary aspirants regarding the controversial constituencies by the NDC and the EC guided by conscience and principles? I believe clearly that with the kinds of insults and attacks on some of our cherished institutions which embody our democratic traditions, conducting affairs in such a manner undermine the Constitution.

Article 47 (5), which states that any time a review or alteration takes place, its application, i.e. when it can become legal and operational is after "the next dissolution of Parliament". Hence, the Constitution makes it clear the essence of time if development of whatever magnitude is expected. Recall the statement that Dr Afari-Gyan made in reference to the biometric register when he questioned its suitability to his mother. This perception by the EC sought to indicate that Ghana is not ready for such efficient and effective scientifically driven electoral process. His comment energised the NDC's Asiedu Nketia to, some extent, question the suitability of the biometric voter register because "more than 50% of Ghanaians are illiterate."

Some of us took Dr Afari-Gyan's comment as one of his usual humorous comments when he is under pressure and that of Asiedu Nketia as one of his propaganda and political gimmicks. But looking at the positions taken by these same personalities on the timing of the creation of the constituencies with specific emphasis on their operationalisation, leaves much to be desired.

There is no law that has no time frame. But there some people who think that their membership or otherwise of a party or church matters more than upholding and defending the letter and spirit of our Constitution and all appropriate laws.

*The author is a Lecturer at Regent University College and Project Co-ordinator of Centre for Liberal Youth Networking (Celynet).

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