The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has organized a lecture and panel discussion on the event of 30 years of constitutional democracy since the Fourth Republic in 1992. The lecture was held as part of the 2022 Constitution Week Celebration, one of the Commission's flagship programmes. The programme took place at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) under the theme, “Three decades of uninterrupted Constitutional Rule: Revisiting the Agenda for Reforms”.
In the course of operating the 1992 Constitution for the past thirty years, various segments of the Ghanaian society have called for a thorough review of the document to make it a true representative of a democratic system. In view of this, the objective of the lecture and panel discussion was to enlighten participants on how the 1992 Constitution has fared over the years and if there is truly a justification for its amendment and to create a platform for citizens to air their views.
The Acting Chairperson of NCCE, Ms. Kathleen Addy in an address, briefed participants on the background of the 1992 Constitution, and the functions of the NCCE per Article 233 of the 1992 Constitution. She mentioned that 30 years is a good time to reflect on the Constitution and that processes are underway at the regional and district levels to engage the grassroots on a subtopic, “Sustaining our democracy, Ghanaian values in practice”. Ms. Addy also reaffirmed the stance of the Commission to reject chaos and defend the nation against an overthrow or suspension of the 1992 Constitution.
His Lordship Justice Gabriel Pwamang of the Supreme Court of Ghana was the main speaker for the event. In his keynote address, Justice Pwamang stated that the Constitution should be seen as a living organism that ought to grow and develop. One that is designed to reflect mass values. As a former member of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), Justice Pwamang alluded that the Constitution needs reforms after 30 years of democratic rule. He was of the view that some collective values disintegrate over time and that the living conditions of Ghanaians have to be reflected, especially the teeming youth.
His Lordship Justice Pwamang also admitted that though some are of the view that there should be a complete change of this blueprint, and others, an amendment of some sections, we should not underrate the thinking behind the structure of the Constitution, 30 years of uninterrupted constitutional democracy is a milestone worth celebrating. “It takes time to learn new rules when things change. I am confident we will overcome because Rome was not built in a day”, he said.
The panellists agreed that the advancement of the nation through the 1992 Constitution cannot change merely by political parties taking over, but by the intrinsic values of Ghanaians.
The Executive Director for the Centre for Democratic Development, Prof. Prempeh equipped, “Democracy is not a spectator sport, neither is it a delegatory sport, but a participatory one”.
A lecturer at the School of Law, University of Ghana, Mrs. Clara Kasser-Tee also added, “the Constitution in itself is just a piece of paper, it does not have hands and legs. We, the people make it a living document by implementing its values”.
Significant areas for amendments were Article 195 which talks about appointments of public officers. Prof. Prempeh emphasised, “Ghana has been excellent in the rules of entry and exit of governance but not great in playing the game of governance”. Some other area of concern was that the checks and balances of institutions are weak and that and there is the need to separate politics from constitutional gains; accountability.
Also on the panel was a Senior Lecturer at the Political Science Department, Dr. Alidu Seidu. Dr. Seidu thinks by and large, the development of Ghana’s political culture, over 30 years of parties under this Constitution has actually strengthened our democratic resolve. ‘The political culture of Ghanaians since 1992, has evolved. To the extent that even in the way we vote, we still see the element of monetization and all those things. But what every politician who has contested election, either at the primary level or the national level will tell you is that the Ghanaian delegate or voter is no longer the same’, he added.
In his closing remarks, the Deputy Chairman of NCCE, Operations, Mr. Samuel Asare Akuamoah assured participants of grassroots participation at the regional and district levels as is usually done. He said, “Let’s walk the talk and raise awareness of the topic”. He then encouraged participants to study the Constitution to contribute meaningfully to the development of the country.
Also present at the event were Commission Members, religious and traditional leaders, CSOs, Civic Education Club Members, representatives from the Ministries, the security personnel, students from various schools, staff of NCCE and the media.
On display were copies of the 1992 Constitution, NCCE research materials and other relevant documents made available to stakeholders who visited a Civic Stand by the Commission.