1992 Constitution not to blame for corruption – Ayikoi Otoo

Accra, Jan.Mr Joseph Ayikoi Otoo, a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, says the 1992 Constitution is not to blame for corruption among the political class.

Whiles acknowledging that the Constitution required periodic reviews to improve its performance, he said the provisions of the Constitution were informed by historical events and experiences of previous governments.

Speaking on a news programme monitored by the Ghana News Agency, Mr Ayikoi Otoo kicked against calls for a total overhaul of the 1992 Constitution.

He was responding to concerns raised by some analysts that the constitutional provision, which enjoined the President to appoint more than half of his Ministers from Parliament undermined proper checks and balances and fuelled corruption.

“There is a history behind the Constitution. Limann lost his budget because he did not have the numbers to support it. So there is history why the president appoints some of his ministers from Parliament.

“But if after 30 years we find issues with it, then we can review it; we should not say that is the cause of corruption,” Mr Ayikoi Otoo said.

He said the country must continuously work to improve the Constitution by amending portions that may appear problematic at a particular point in time.

“Article 527 was an Act that was passed to amend the Constitution. So the Constitution is not rigid; it can be amended,” he said.

Since 2019, every December 7 is observed as Constitution Day, a public holiday set aside to mark the coming into effect of the 1992 Constitution and the birth of the Fourth Republic.

Contributing to the discussion, Dr Amoako Baah, a Political Scientist, called for a total overhaual of the 1992 Constitution, saying: “the Constution is not working and has not worked for a long time”.

He said the Constituion must not be based on history but should be about principles to ensure that it served the interest of the people at all times.

“You cannot write a constitution then later try to put in checks and balances; you put in the checks and balances while writing the Constitution,” Dr Baah said.

Mr Martin Kpebu, a private legal practitioner, said the 1992 Constution offered so much powers to the President such that it undermined the ability of Parliament to check the activities of the Executive.

He said the remuneration arrangements for Article 71 Office Holders was unfair, adding that the independence of the Committee that determined the renumeration of such office holders was questionable.

“The real problem is the disparity in salaries and not the ex-gratia they receive after every four years,” Mr Kpebu said.

Source: Ghana News Agency