Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin, has chastised the Office of the President for failing to communicate three particular names on his recently-released list of Council of State nominees to his office first, as part of the constitutional requirement to consult Parliament on such, before publication in the media of those nominees.
On Monday, 1 February 2021, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, pursuant to Article 89(2) of the Constitution, appointed eleven people to form the Council of State.
They include: Nana Otuo Siriboe II, Juabenhene; Archbishop Justice Ofei Akrofi, Mr Sam Okudzeto, Mr Stanley Blankson, Prof. Ato Essuman, Alhaji Aminu Amadu, Dr Margaret Amoakohene, Mrs Georgina Kusi, Mrs Alberta Cudjoe, Kuoro Richard Babini Kanton VI, and Alhaji Sule Yiremiah.
A statement issued by the Ag. Director of Communication at the Office of the President, Mr Eugene Arhin, to that effect, said: “The President, subject to consultation with Parliament, has also appointed, in accordance with Article 89(2)(a)(i)(ii) and (iii), Georgina Theodora Wood, a former Chief Justice, Lt. Gen. J.B. Danquah, a former Chief of Defence Staff of the Armed Forces, and Nana Owusu Nsiah, a former Inspector-General of Police, to the Council”.
“The President of the National House of Chiefs, Ogyeahohoo Yaw Gyebi II, is ex-officio a member of the Council, in furtherance of Article 89(2)(b)”, the statement added.
It said the “composition of the Council will be complete with the election, due to be held on 12th February 2021, of the regional representatives, in accordance with Article 89(2)(c)”.
However, Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu expressed qualms about the President’s failure to first notify the Speaker and also “consult” Parliament on the appointments specified in by Article 89(2)(a)(i)(ii) and (iii) of the 1992 Constitution, of a former Chief Justice, former Chief of Defence Staff and former Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
“They must respect the institution of Parliament and your good self [Speaker] so that we are not reading from one Eugene Arhin, we are hearing it formally from Mr Speaker as official correspondence from the President of the Republic because the Council of State has a role to counsel him; we should know those who are counselling him so that we can assess whether they will be giving him good or bad advice”, Mr Iddrisu complained on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday, 2 February 2021.
In defence of the Office of the President, Okaikoi Central MP Patrick Boamah, said: “The rules of the house are clear on communications to you [Speaker] and the house as stipulated under Order 51. With your kind permission, I would read: ‘Communications from the President to the house hall be made to the Speaker by written message signed by the President or in the absence of the President, by the Vice-President or a minister acting by command of the President. Mr Speaker, the leader, my good brother Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, raised issues with regard to article 89 and there are two segments in that provision – even three that are relevant to his apprehension. 89 (2) deals with the category of persons that the President must appoint in consultation with your good self and the house and 89 (2)(b) were the names that we’ve seen that the President has released to the public and they are not within the category of persons that the President ought to consult the house on”.
However, Mr Bagbin said: “The concern of the Minority Leader, is with 89(2), which reads: ‘The Council of State shall consist of (a) the following persons appointed by the President in consultation with Parliament. (i) one person who has previously held the office of Chief Justice (ii) one person who has previously held the office of Chief of Defence Staff of the Armed Forces of Ghana (iii) one person who has previously held the office of Inspector-General of Police’”.
“I have not received any communication from the President in this respect neither verbal nor written; formal nor informal and, so, the Minority Leader is right in drawing the attention of the house to this and I’ll direct that this be conveyed to the Office of the President that the proper thing be done. … It’s proper that we do these consultations before we go public. That is the right thing to do”, Mr Bagbin admonished.
He pointed out that “the publication with regard to 89(2)(b) is in the right direction but with 89(2)(a), I think the office of the President got it wrong and I so direct that that be communicated to the office of the President”.
“Anytime that I get the communication properly channelled to me, I’ll let Parliament be aware and we’ll convey our views to the President”, he said, adding: “The President is not bound to accept whatever we’ll say; that you can be sure [about].”