The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has sworn into office members of the Council of State, charging them to give him impartial and objective advice.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “it would be easy for the Council to fall into the well-known temptation of telling the President what you think he wants to hear. It would be equally tempting to tell the President he is the best thing that ever happened to Ghana and it would be even more tempting to tell the President to ignore his critics.”
The President was hopeful that the 24-person Council “will not walk this road”, urging them to emulate “the intellectually vibrant and active” Council of State that worked with former President, John Agyekum Kufuor.
“I look forward very much to working with a Council that will offer me straightforward advice, based on unvarnished truth. I look forward to working with a Council that will help all of us deepen our democracy, and I look forward to working with a Council that will help us deliver a prosperous Ghana,” he said.
The President continued, “Such a Council should not give advice to a President, the effect of which is to undermine the independence of any of the other arms of government, especially the Judiciary.”
President Akufo-Addo noted that the broad scope of the Council’s advisory functions in counselling the President will include, “the appointment of high officials of state, like the Chief Justice of the Republic, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, the heads of the nation’s security services, officials of the President’s office and other critical officers of the State.
Again, according to Article 90, the President can request the Council to consider amendments to bills either before they are passed or even after they are passed by Parliament. Article 91(3) of the Constitution also gives the Council an unfettered remit to advise other bodies like Parliament or any other authority.
This, nonetheless, in the view of the President means the Council “is not meant to be a busybody charter, but, on matters of significant national importance, the Council can let its views be known.”
On the President’s commitment to create new regions, the President noted that “the Council is to advise the President on the suitability or otherwise of the creation of a new region. The Council’s advice is an integral part of the process for creating new regions”, stressing that “this function is certainly going to be exercised during my Presidency”.
With the Council of State mandated to meet at least four times in a year, President Akufo-Addo stated that with the volume of work piled up for the Council, including approving some of the President’s appointments, “it might well turn out to be more like four times in a week that the Council meets to be able to deal with the work on its table.”
The President bemoaned the state of disrepair of the guest house for the use of Members who come from out of town, the poor state of the vehicles for the Council and the lack of a full complement of staff to help the Council perform its duties. Additionally, work on the building started under President Kufuor to house the Council has been abandoned.
“This is an unfortunate state of affairs. I shall do my best to ensure that these matters are rectified promptly and the Council is properly equipped to do its work,” he assured.
At a time of difficulty in Ghana’s history, the President told the members of the Council that “I expect you to be proactive partners in our efforts to find solutions that will improve the lives of our people.
I look forward to a vigorous exchange of ideas between us, and it is my fervent wish and hope that this Council will help enrich my presidency for the benefit of the Ghanaian people so that, together, we can help realise the dreams of the founders of our nation to build a free, united, prosperous and happy Ghana on the basis of the principles of democratic accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law and the dictates of social justice.”