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Opinions Fri, 16 Sep 2011

Prime Ministerial Position: Former President Kuffuor should come again

Before I say my mind, I want to say that by his proposition of scrapping the position of the vice president in favour of a prime ministerial position, Kuffuor found Aliu Mahama incompetent and wished he could get rid of him. This is what you get when the vice presidency is used as a tool to win political support and not a means to find a competent hard working individual to be the president’s right-hand man.

Let’s analyze Kuffuor's proposition carefully because the issue he is raising is not about the effectiveness of the vice president. Underneath Kuffuor’s admission is the subtle wish that the president ought to have the power to sack the vice president which is not allowed under the present Ghana constitution. One may or may not side with him depending on which side of the coin is looked at, particularly with regards to his proposed solution. The question is, what really does the constitution say of the vice president?

The constitution states that the VICE PRESIDENT is the SECOND-HIGHEST EXECUTIVE OFFICIAL in the government. Does this statement means that the actual role of the vice president (quoting Kuffuor) is to sit down aloof and pray to God for the demise of the president or that he is supposed to be the second in command? Does this statement means the vice presidency is supposed to be a ceremonial leadership position alluded to by Kuffuor?

There is a reason why the constitution gives a presidential candidate the prerogative to choose whomsoever he wants to be his vice president: someone he believes can really deputize on his behalf; someone he can trust and can work with; someone who can lead his team of ministers. The only problem here is why the president can’t sack the vice president if he proves to be ineffective. This in my opinion is what Kuffuor is ultimately calling for, not the creation of a prime minster he is suggesting.

In fact what does Kuffuor mean by "Then the Prime Minister and his team would take the laws so-made, back to their ministries to implement them.“ Is he suggesting the president is then going to be a ceremonial figurehead yet with power to do whatever he wants? By his suggestion, what then will be the day to day role of the president? Ghana is a small country and the understanding is that we vote a president into office to roll his sleeve and work his heart out (leading his team of ministers) to help better our lives. We are not voting for the president to come and sit and eat and travel aimlessly.

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Kuffuor should come again because I do not know which of the prime ministerial position he advocating for. Is he talking of the one practiced in countries like Israel, UK, India, Japan, Ethiopia, Italy etc, where the prime minister is ACTUALLY the president with the supposed ‘president’ being just a ceremonial figurehead or he is talking of the one practiced in France, Pakistan, Egypt, where the prime minister is charged with running the internal affairs of the country.

If he is talking of the latter, then I am afraid he is wrong because Ghana does not have much foreign interest unlike France or Pakistan (perhaps due to terrorism) and does not expect the president to be too busy with foreign affairs. Neither does it make sense if he is talking of the former.

Of the subtle question of sacking the vice president, I say this: just as the constitution permits the president to finish his term of office, so also the vice presidency position cannot be tossed around like a rotten tomato because the constitution states the VICE PRESIDENT is the SECOND-HIGHEST EXECUTIVE OFFICIAL in the government. The president should even count himself lucky to have been given the opportunity to choose his own vice president.

There is not much space here, but I want to say this: only unwise leaders will make their vice president sit aloof and do nothing. Of course then the vice president will indeed be praying for the demise of the president because the devil finds work for idle hands.

By Ato

Columnist: Dadzie, Ato
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