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Opinions Sun, 16 Nov 2014

Is Dr. Amoako-Baah Confused Or What?

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Garden City, New York

Nov. 9, 2014

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

Weighing in on the patently needless controversy swirling around the decision by the Chief Justice not to swear in House Speaker Edward Doe Adjaho as Acting-President of Ghana on Nov. 5, 2014, while both President John Dramani Mahama and Vice-President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur were out of the country peforming their official duties, the Chairman of the Political Science Department at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, confused matters even more (See "Swearing In Acting-President: Constitution Has Been Misinterpreted - Prof. Baah" MyJoyOnline.com/Ghanaweb.com 11/6/14).

The confusion resulted because Prof. Amoako-Baah decided to trot in the findings of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC), whose legitimacy has been vehemently disputed among legal experts both in and outside the country. But even so, the KNUST political scientist did not help matters when Prof. Amoako-Baah suggested in principle that although both Messrs. Mahama and Amissah-Arthur were out of the country on "official duties" and were therefore in no way, whatsoever, functionally incapacitated to require being deputized for by the Speaker of Parliament, nevertheless, since the two leaders were not physically present in the country, a deputy needed to be sworn in to perform the official duties of these two gentlemen on state side.

The paradox here is that Prof. Amoako-Baah also refers to the observation of the erstwhile Constitution Review Commission that in the era of instantaneous and globalized communications technology, such as Internet and satellite-propelled telephone systems, President Mahama and his deputy could still creditably perform their official duties, without let or hindrance, even while outside the country. However, within the next breath, Prof. Amoako-Baah also faults Chief Justice Georgina T. Wood for having violated Ghana's 1992 Fourth-Republican Constitution because the Chief Justice had been rather cavalier in not swearing in Speaker Adjaho as Acting-President of Ghana for the duration of some 24 hours.

What the Chief Justice had done was to curiously extend the lifespan or functional duration of an oath administered to Speaker Adjaho in September 2013, when both Messrs. Mahama and Amissah-Arthur were performing their officially sanctioned duties outside the country.

Well, it is quite clear that in retroactively extending the validity of an oath sworn or subscribed more than a year ago, both the Chief Justice and the Speaker had presumed to cherry pick or play fast-and-loose with their constitutional obligations. The Chief Justice may have done so purely out of plain lassitude or abject disregard for Ghana's 1992 Republican Constitution, as some of her critics are charging, or a combination of both. Her longevity at her post may well have caused Chief Justice Wood to become, somewhat, familiarly disdainful of her mandatory obligation to studiously adhere to and interpret the country's most sacred and highest instrument of democratic governance.

What the critics of Chief Justice Wood may be clearly aiming at, of course, is nothing short of her prompt, summary and immediate resignation. But this cannot be either fairly or effectively executed without a logical call on Speaker Adjaho to follow suit. For the Speaker is also a professionally trained lawyer with longtime experience as a legislator, or parliamentarian, who ought to have known and done far better than exemplified by his behavior and attitude to national governance on Nov. 5.

Personally, though, my reaction towards the Nov. 5 constitutional faux-pas on the part of Chief Justice Wood and Speaker Adjaho is mixed. On the one hand, I firmly believe that there are far more pressing issues of national significance for our leaders to concern themselves with, than merely the fact of whether, indeed, Speaker Adjaho had been duly sworn in as Acting-President for the 24-hour period of Nov. 5. Where I concur with the "pharisaic" critics of the Chief Justice and the Speaker, however, regards the extent to which such patently cavalier attitude towards both the interpretation and execution of the tenets of this sacred instrument of governance may well impact the outcome of future elections in the country, as scandalously exemplified by the Atuguba-presided panel in the watershed Election 2012 Presidential Petition.

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame