Ghanaians are observing the Constitution Day as a public holiday today, January 7, 2020, to recognise the Fourth Republican Constitution, which came into effect on January 7, 1993.
The celebration is to remind Ghanaians on the need to maintain and sustain the country’s democratic dispensation, which is widely touted as the beacon of Africa’s democracy.
However, some constitution and political pundits have downplayed the relevance of the Constitutional Day celebration, arguing that, the 1992 Constitution had lots of limitations that do not promote democratic rule and, therefore, called for serious amendments to some provisions in it.
They argued that the Constitution conferred powers on the Executive arm of government and upsets the required balance of power to other countervailing authorities-the Legislature and the Judiciary.
They averred that the mere existence of a Constitution did not necessarily promote constitutionalism and that it would serve the nation better if political actors reviewed and amended portions of the Constitution to bring it at par with the principles of contemporary constitutionalism.
Even though a National Constitutional Review Commission was established by President John Atta Mills on 11th January, 2010, to review portions of the Constitution, and subsequently submitted its report to Government on 20th December, 2011, not much has been achieved so far.
The country adopted a Unitary Republic with sovereignty residing in the people and designed to ensure probity, accountability and the rule of law and ensuring power-sharing among the three arms of government- the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.
The Constitution, according to constitution pundits, reflected the lessons learnt from the previous constitutions of Ghana such as 1957, 1960, 1969 and 1979, which incorporated some provisions and institutions drawn from British and the United States constitutional style.
Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, a retired Airforce pilot, who for 10 years, presided over the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) won the 1992 presidential elections and subsequently sworn into office as President of the Republic on January 7, 1993.
Ghanaians remember Former President Rawlings for his charisma, championing the principles of discipline, probity and accountability although some of his critics believe he was not in favour of a constitutional regime at that time.
President Rawlings’ administration was credited to have led an economic recovery programme during his 10 years as the Head of State under the PNDC administration and eight years as the first President under the Fourth Republic.
Rawlings was criticised extensively for presiding over a society characterised by so many human rights abuses and atrocities, while freedom of expression by the media, the judiciary and other members of the public were suppressed.
Some of his admirers also applauded him for championing media pluralism in the country and allowing the establishment of private radio and television stations.
After serving two terms in office, President Rawlings handed over political power to John Agyekum Kufuor on January 7, 2001.
Mr J.A Kufuor, an economist and a lawyer, popularly known in political circles as the “gentle giant” became the second President under the Fourth Republic after emerging victorious in the 2000 presidential polls.
He was sworn into office on January 7, 2001, marking the first peaceful democratic transition of political power in Ghana since independence in 1957.
President Kufuor was fondly remembered by many for his courageous decision to take Ghana to the Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC), which cancelled the country’s foreign debts, restored the national economy and put it on the path of growth.
He introduced some innovative programmes under the five priority areas, including; the pursuit of good governance, modernisation of agriculture for rural development, private sector development, enhanced social services and vigorous infrastructural development,
It was during the administration of President Kufuor that the private sector was touted as the engine of growth and created the Private Sector Initiatives for cassava and oil palm plantations, which harnessed the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of Ghanaians.
President Kufuor’s administration extended credit to some small-scale businesses and made the realisation of all-inclusive government a reality through the appointment of some minority political party members into his government and created positive image for the nation globally.
He also introduced the Metro Mass Transport system, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the development of model senior high schools, the School Feeding Programme and the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP).
After serving two terms in office, President Kufuor bowed out of the political scene as the Constitution of Ghana demanded.
The Ghanaian electorate, through the ballot box, elected Professor John Evans Atta Mills, popularly known as “Asomdwee Hene” into power as the third President of the Fourth Republic.
Ghanaians liked him for his much-touted humility, which resonated through his speeches and relationship with his fellow Ghanaians.
President Atta-Mills showed his Godly character by defiantly declaring to the Western countries that Ghana would not legalise homosexuality.
With his vast knowledge in taxation, President Atta-Mills introduced economic programmes and policies, which reduced inflation to a single digit, ensured a stable currency and increased the country’s economic growth rate to 14 per cent in 2011, following the production of crude oil in commercial quantities.
After President Prof. Atta-Mills’ sudden demise in 2012, his Vice, John Dramani Mahama was sworn-in as President and led the country through a successful and peaceful election on December 7, 2012, which he eventually won.
Although the then opposition political party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by its Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo disagreed with the Electoral Commission’s (EC) verdict on the outcome the elections and subsequently went to the Supreme Court to challenge the election results.
The Supreme Court, after eight months of hearing the feuding parties, upheld the EC’s decision.
President Mahama, who continued the policies and programmes of his predecessor, steered the country to achieve some successes, including; infrastructural development such as the construction of roads, community senior high schools, health facilities and electrification projects.
However, his administration witnessed prolonged electricity crisis, otherwise, known as “dumsor”.
He was defeated in the 2016 general election and ushered-in Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led government into office on January 7, 2017.
The former President also constructed the Kwame Nkrumah Circle interchange that was nicknamed, ‘Ghana Dubai, embarked on expansion programmes at the Tema and Takoradi Port expansion programmes and the Kotoka International Airport Terminal three expansion programme.
Nana Akufo-Addo came into power on the back of many juicy electoral promises, which were outlined in the NPP manifesto, including; “One District, One Factory, “One Constituency, One Million Cedis”, “One Village, One Dam” and the Free Senior High School Policy.
The government plans to create jobs for the numerous unemployed youth, stimulus package for collapsing, but viable businesses, protect the public purse and fight corruption.
He reiterated his intention to fulfil those promises during his inaugural address on January 7, 2017 and gave the assurance that, he would not disappoint Ghanaians.
At the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA, 2018, President Akufo-Addo told the world that Ghana was determined to realise her potentials and ensure a prosperous nation.
“We want to build an economy that is not dependent on charity and hand-outs but we want to build an economy that looks past primary commodity and position our country in a global market place.
“We’re not disclaiming aid, but we do want to discard mindset of dependency and living on hand-outs, we want to build a Ghana beyond aid,” President Akufo-Addo assured.
President Akufo-Addo named his ministers and other appointees in record time, but some Ghanaians castigated his government for appointing 110 ministers, which is the highest number in any of the Fourth Republic governments.
The government rolled out its Economic Policy and Budget Statement in March 2017, with bold ambition to stabilise the local currency, reduce inflation, undertake debts profiling and ensure stable macroeconomic indicators and create a conducive business environment.
The Akufo-Addo-led government has so far performed creditable with three years in office and implemented some social interventions, including; the Free Senior High School Policy, which has benefitted 1.2 million BECE candidates and sunk over three billion Ghana cedis into payment of school fees and provision other basic needs of beneficiaries.
It has also rolled out the Planting for Food and Jobs, supporting more than 750,000 farmers with farm inputs, which enabled the nation to export 19 different food items to some neighbouring countries, including Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Northern Nigeria whilst Ghana, for the first time, did not import maize.
The Rearing for Export and Rural Development is also ongoing to ensure self-sufficiency and make the nation globally competitive in terms of exports. In this vein, free cockerels and piglets have been distributed to farmers across the country under this programme.
The government also backed the Bank of Ghana in embarking on the banking sector clean-up, leading to the closure of insolvent and non-performing banks and financial institutions, with government sinking over GHc13 billion in paying the depositors’ funds.
Even though the exercise led to some 3,000 job losses, it has saved over 4.5 million depositors from completely losing their savings and resuscitated the ailing banking sector.
It has successfully taken the nation from the three-year International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme and employed more than 350,000 people into the Public Sector, whilst about 100,000 unemployed university graduates have been employed under the Nation Builders Corps (NaBCo).
It also re-introduced the teacher and nursing trainee allowances after being cancelled by the previous government, implemented the paperless ports system, e-registration of businesses, National Property Addressing System and e-licensing of vehicles, while the National Identification System for issuance of Ghana Card is ongoing across the country.
The Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, announcing the 2019 Budget Statement last year, said Government had chalked some great successes regarding the macroeconomic indicators, with the growth rate hovering an average of seven per cent up from 3.6 in 2016.
The monetary policy rate declined from 26 per cent to 20, the year-on-year inflation declined from 15.4 per cent to 7.6 per cent as of September 2019, and for the first time in over two decades, the nation witnessed a surplus trade balance.
The country’s budget deficit declined from 9.3 to GDP to 6.3 per cent by the end of 2017, while government has enacted the Fiscal Responsibility Law and Fiscal Council to cap the budget deficit at five per cent annually.
Government has declared 2020 as the year for road infrastructural development and thus, started cutting sod for various road projects across the country and expected that, it would bring relief to millions of Ghanaians who commute on deplorable road networks daily.
Ghanaians have high expectations and would not take any excuses from Government.
They expected government to mobilise resources both within and outside to add value to the country’s primary commodities so that Ghana would work again and ensure prosperity for all.