Prof. Akilagpa Sawyer calls for public agreement review committees

Professor Akilagpa Sawyer, a Former Council of State Member, has proposed the establishment of a Public Agreement Review Committee to review and check the possible corruption or otherwise in public agreements in the country.

“We must establish a technical review process so that at the end of negotiating any major agreements, there will be an independent technical committee, which would review the agreements with the negotiators and advice government as to it being open or not open,” he said.

According to Prof. Sawyer, also the Former Secretary General of the Association of African Universities, this would enable the country to bring onto the scene an impartial, independent and professional outlook to the way international agreements were carried out.

It was also a way of building an effective oversight function to double check government agreements and ensure that they were done in the best interest of the nation, he said.

Prof. Sawyer, an astute Professor of Law, was delivering the last in the series of this year’s Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Lectures organised by the University of Cape Coast (UCC) on the topic: “The Agreements We Make, Can We Not Do Better?”

The two-day lecture series, the 12th since its institution by the University in 1974, and later inaugurated in November 1976, was on the theme: “Negotiation and Management of Public Agreements: Our National Achilles?”

It was to honour Ghana’s First President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah who would have been 108 years old this year if he were alive.

Drawing examples from recent agreements in the natural resources, security and the power sectors to establish his point, Prof. Sawyer called for the development of procedures and guidelines for undertaking international negotiations.

“Right now our negotiations are completely haphazard, complete disaster so let us formalise it through guidelines and procedures,” he said.

He specifically cited the Defence Cooperation Agreement with the U.S, the AMERI Deal and the Development Agreement between the Government and Goldfields Ghana Limited to advance his argument.

Prof. Sawyer said such agreements were badly negotiated and managed and in many instances, they were tainted with fraud and corruption, which had created public perception that they were not done in the best interest of the state.

He said though the role of government and policy leadership was important in negotiations, technical people must be allowed to lead in technical matters such as engineering, finance and law.

He said there was the need to consciously build a pool of seasoned negotiators in both the public and private sectors who would be available to negotiate on behalf of government at any time.

To achieve this, he said, colleges and universities in the country must be encouraged to run courses on negotiations amidst regular training workshops to empower those who had to negotiate on behalf of government.

Again, Prof Sawyer said there was the need to work towards maintaining records of negotiation processes in national archives because they could be massive learning resource for the country.

“We should at all times keep proper records and achieves of our negotiations. Looking back at the agreements that were made a year ago, there is no record.”

“The documents and records will help us understand the agreement that was signed, check what was done and learn from it” he added.

An honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.), Honoris Causa, was conferred on Prof. Sawyer by UCC for his exceptional and immeasurable contribution to the advancement of knowledge and promotion of good governance in Africa and the World at large.

This brings to 39 the number of personalities the University had honoured since its institution.

Source: GNA

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