Three traditional rulers have called for a constitutional review to empower chiefs to contribute more meaningfully to the socioeconomic development of the country.
They explained that the country was unable to deal effectively with its development challenges, including the war against illegal mining (galamsey) because chiefs seemed marginalized in governance issues.
The traditional rulers who made the call were the President of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, Nene Sakite II; the President of the Central Regional House of Chiefs, Odeefuo Amoakwa Buadu VIII; and the Osu Gua Wulomo who is also the acting President of the Osu Traditional Council, Nuumo Gbelenfo III.
They were speaking at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) constitutional review series in Accra last Tuesday when they took their turn to contribute to the ongoing discussion on the 1992 Constitution.
The event was on the theme: “Reviewing Ghana’s 1992 Constitution: Viewpoints from the National House of Chiefs”.
Nene Sakite II was of the view that as part of measures to empower chiefs to contribute more meaningfully to the country’s development, a constitutional review must take into consideration the need to introduce a second Chamber of Parliament, with members comprising mainly traditional rulers from all the regions in the country.
“Traditional leadership is crucial in this equation because nations with strong traditional leadership have more secure governance structures than those without strong traditional leadership,” he stressed.
He also touched on the need to limit the excessive powers of the presidency in appointments, adding that “the core purpose of any reforms must be in strengthening governance.”
On the security of tenure of Chief Justices (CJs), Nene Sakite II suggested the need to review the constitution to ensure that CJs were appointed on a more sustainable basis by an independent structure other than the presidency so that successive governments would not tamper with the tenure of their appointments.
Odeefuo Buadu VIII, for his part, stated that when chiefs were empowered by the constitution, it would enable them to “maximize their contributions to the socio-economic development of the nation.”
“The role of chiefs is so broad; they have very high expectations from their people; chiefs resolve issues quicker and they do so with little or no costs. They are the economic agents of the people and development,” he explained.
Odeefuo Buadu VIII said the days when chiefs led their people to war against external aggressors were over, but now they needed to be empowered in law and resources to enable them to contribute meaningfully to addressing the challenges of society.
He observed that modern governance structures seemed to be marginalizing the role of the chiefs in national development.
“This must be addressed before we continue the fight against galamsey; the institution must be clothed with the desired power and resources to promote national cohesion,” he stated.
On national development, Odeefuo Buadu VIII called for reforms to develop a National Development Plan that will bind all political parties and successive governments to avoid the abandonment of development projects.
Numo Gbelenfo III said the powers of the chiefs were limited to the extent that they were unable to tackle head-on the indiscipline among the youth, including hooliganism and drug addiction.
He equally called for reviews that would ensure that politicians do not meddle in the affairs of the chieftaincy institution.
The President of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, Togbe Tepre Hodo IV, suggested the need for a review of Articles 131 (1a) and 144 (1) on the granting of appeals as a right or automatic rights of appeals to the Supreme Court and the appointments of CJs, respectively.
He argued that the Supreme Court must only focus on its core mandate of ruling on landmark cases and shaping policies with their judgments, leaving the Court of Appeal to deal with only appeal cases.
On the appointment of CJs, he said, the constitution must be reviewed by incorporating the past unconventional means of appointing CJs based on seniority and not by presidential appointments.
During an open forum, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Zebilla, Cletus Avoka, said calls for a review of Article 78 of the Constitution on the appointment of majority of ministers from MPs were untenable because the constitutional provision had positively impacted on the quality of intellectual and professional representation in Parliament.
He said the constitutional provision had also improved the quality of laws that were being made in Parliament for the country.