Former Senior UN Governance Advisor, Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah believes Ghana’s 1992 constitution may have been rushed hence the challenges it has faced over time, especially in recent years. He says the constitution did not properly reflect the aspirations and developmental needs of Ghanaians.
Prof. Agyemang-Duah was speaking at the 5th edition of the National Security Seminar at UPSA under the theme, ‘Elections and Governance in West Africa: Trends and Lessons for Ghana.’
“The constitutional makers in Ghana and many other African countries appear to have rushed their constitutions. While it is good to have a constitution that indicates our acceptance of the values of democracy, we need to assess how it has reflected us as a people and what are the benefits,” he said.
“Some of the proponents of our constitution are still alive. I think we can make efforts to hear from them and possibly try and understand some of the provisions of the constitution such as the four-year term for our presidents. Couldn’t we have had more to afford our elected leaders more time for development?”
Prof. Agyeman-Duah, who is also a co-founder of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development, raised concerns about the democratic structure of most African countries.
“Democracy has been adopted with little regards to wants and needs in the African context. For the concept of democracy to be understood, it must be seen in two different parts. The two parts are the principled democracy and practiced democracy. While the principle must be embraced the practice needs to be adapted. Adapting means changing and modifying some aspects of it to suit a particular society and it is something the continent of Africa generally has failed to do.
“You realize a clear difference in the practice of democracy in the European, American and Asian countries. Although these countries all practice democracy you see the differences,” he said.
“Britain for example practices the parliamentary system where they still have the Queen as the Head of State with the Prime Minister being the Head of Government. The Americans typically practice the presidential system where the president is the head of the sovereign state and at the same time the head of government. [A constitution] must be carved according to a country’s needs and not like a one size fits all. You cut your coat according to your size. African countries, however, look like they have cut their coats according to the size of others.”