Summary : Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus .
The Council of State has initiated talks with leadership of Parliament to find a way to activate its unexercised powers captured in the 1992 Constitution.
In Article 91(3) of the Constitution, the body is mandated to contribute to any matter that is under consideration by Parliament or other state agencies.
But some 25 years into the 4th Republic, which started in 1992, this function has not been put to test by the past Councils.
Dissatisfied with what has been described as armchair function, the current Council members said they want to take part in national discourse as prescribed by the Constitution.
In a meeting with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Tuesday, the Council said its Legal Committee has met with Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Ocquaye and other leaders to find a way the two bodies could work in a harmonious manner.
Chairman of the seventh Council, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, told the President, the Speaker and other members of Parliament’s leadership indicated their preparedness to see the two institutions working together.
Some governance experts have said the activation of Article 91(3) will see the Council of State becoming almost like a second Parliament in the country.
This feeds into persistent calls by former President John Agyekum Kufuor for the Council to be made a key institution.
At a forum organised by the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung Foundation in Accra Wednesday, the ex-President renewed his call for constitutional changes that will give the Council part of Parliament’s lawmaking powers.
“Left to me, the Council of State should be turned into the second house,” he said.
The 1992 Constitution in Article 89 establishes the Council of State and empowers it to counsel the President in the discharge of his functions.
“The Council of State shall consider and advise the President or any other authority in respect of any appointment which is required by this Constitution or any other law to be made in accordance with the advice of, or in consultation with, the Council of State,” Article 91 of the Constitution said.
But it could do more than merely advising the President on his decisions and programmes.
The Council of State may contribute to content of bills and programmes before Parliament and any state agencies, the Constitution in Article 91(3) has said.
President Akufo-Addo has said he has no reservation to the calls by the Council but urged its members to exercise the powers in a “responsible manner.”
But former North Dayi MP, George Loh has told the Council of State to be satisfied with its powers as designed by the framers of the country’s Constitution.
“The framers of the Constitution were clear…where they wanted a direct consultation they said so [and] where they wanted it to be just an advisory capacity [it was stated],” the former lawmaker said.
He said calls for the Council to be made a second chamber will create role conflict with Parliament as former President Jerry John Rawlings warned against.
The ex-President said any attempt to give additional powers to the council will create a “political clutter.”
Mr Loh urged the Council to make public, how it wants its powers in Article 91(3) to be operationalised. “If they want to be a second chamber then there should be a constitutional amendment.”