A former Member of the Council of State, Dr Nii Kotei Dzani, says Togbe Afede XVI’s decision to return ex-gratia paid to him has reignited a sense of patriotism across the country.
He said though the payment of the ex-gratia to Council of State members was a constitutional requirement, Togbe Afede’s decision to return his to the State was worthy of emulation.
He said this in an interview with the media over the weekend.
Togbe Afede XVI, the Paramount Chief of the Asogli State, and a former Council of State member, returned GH¢365,000 to the State as ex-gratia paid to him for serving on the Council.
The decision, the Paramount Chief said, was because it did not feel right to enjoy such an amount for a position, he considered a part-time job.
That decision has generated reactions, with some questioning the rationale behind it and the appropriateness of paying ex-gratia to article 71 office holders.
Speaking on the issue, Dr Dzani said the payment of ex-gratia to article 71 office holders, specifically, Council of State members, was appropriate as it was backed by the constitution.
He said any member who decided to return his benefits to the State must be commended.
“I think that Togbe has provoked our conscience. He has raised some very important issues that we have to look at as a country,” said Dr Dzani.
He added that: “What I’m not comfortable with is the use of the word inappropriate, because it is a constitutional provision so neither the President nor Parliament nor anybody can alter it, unless we deal with the root of the issue, and that is the Constitution.
“But I think that, Togbe has raised our conscience and we all have to look at it.”
Dr Oduro Osae, a Local Government Analyst, said it was about time Ghana reconsidered the functions and roles of the Council of State in its governance architecture.
“If we sincerely believe that we cannot allow the Council of State to advise both Parliament, the Judiciary and the Executive, and the decisions should be binding on them, we should scrap it.
“There is no point having a Council of State that would advise and the decision is not binding,” he said.
Dr Osae advocated a second chamber, which was apolitical to give objective advice on matters of national importance.
“Considering what is happening, I think that we should rethink whether or not we need a second chamber that is neutral, that is made up of professionals, that is made up of people who would be apolitical and give us objective advise as far as legislation is concern,” he proposed.
He also reiterated the need for a review of the 1992 Constitution to make it more development-oriented, saying the current constitution was a transition one, which had served its purpose of bringing stability to the country.
The Local Government Analyst explained that, reviewing the constitution to make it more development-inclined would facilitate the country’s development.