A governance expert, Dr. Kodjoe Sumney, has added his voice to the calls by a cross-section of Ghanaians for the cancellation of the payment of end-of-service benefits otherwise known as ex-gratia to Article 71 holders.
He also advocated that the Council of State be abolished.
According to the expert, the Council of State may no longer be relevant in today’s governance architecture of Ghana.
He described the continuous payment of over 30 people as Council of State and ex-gratia to Members of Parliament and key government officers every four years as insensitive and irrelevant.
Dr. Sumney, who is also a human rights activist and philanthropist, made the call in an exclusive interview with GBC Ghana Online after his presentation on the topic “The Effectiveness of the Legislative Arm of Government for the past 65yrs” at the 2022 Edition of the National Christian Forum in Accra on Friday, August 27, 2022.
According to him, the payment of ex-gratia and other emoluments to Article 71 office holders amounts to squandering the country’s resources and should be scrapped.
“We are a poor country, going around the world begging and borrowing, yet we have money to waste on unproductive institutions. Can you tell me the use of the Council of State Members? They are about 30 or 31, and we are paying each of them about ¢26,000 every month. So how can we go about begging? What is the use of that council of state? As I have said, the handlers of this country are just wasting resources,” he said.
Dr. Sumney further revealed how the elites in this country are dissipating the country’s scarce resources, stressing that members of the Council of State, Members of Parliament, and ministers of state are already well-resourced and, therefore, their work should be purely voluntary.
“Just take a very good assessment of all the 31 or so people constituting the Council of State, and you will realise that these are people of accomplishment in their lives.
Most of them have retired from their various organisations as Chief Executives or head top positions with their pensions and emoluments paid to them, and then they come on to the Council, and as I said in my earlier statement, you pay them regular salaries every month with other privileges, and then after all that, you send huge money of over GH¢300,000 to each one of them as ex-gratia?”
Dr. Sumney, therefore, called for an overhaul of the policy, describing it as a drain on the economy, pointing out that there is a need for the citizenry to invoke their constitutional powers and call for a referendum to change the constitution.
He said when the citizens rise, they would succeed because, “Those who are in the position to change the system will not do so, because they stand to benefit. Today, we are running a system where the elites continue to exploit the country. Go to other state-owned agencies and the kinds of packages they have to walk away with, and we can’t pay our workers, and they have to demonstrate that we can’t pay our teachers. I think we need to overhaul the system,” he reiterated.
Dr. Sumney also called for a paradigm shift of national focus from all, especially Christians, and said that if the Christian majority sits unconcerned for the few who, in his view, do not have the mindset of nationalism and patriotism to lead the nation, the entire populace would continue to suffer.
He charged Christians to rise, take an active role in politics, and have the deciding right as to who leads the nation, emphasising that the role of a Christian is to stand for the right and moral thing to be done.
“Ghana finds herself at the dead end of the road because many Christians with integrity stand unconcerned and allow those who have no heart for the nation to lead and loot the state resources,” Dr. Sumney alluded.
When asked if the current “hung” Parliament of Ghana was doing what is expected of the legislative arm of the government, Dr. Sumney said that so far, legislators have distinguished themselves creditably and have been able to hold the government to account to some extent, though citizens, particularly those from the ruling party, are not always satisfied.
Dr. Kodjoe Sumney is a Ghanaian American. He has continually served as a human rights advocate, a philanthropist and a missionary in the USA since 1989. His advocacy has taken him around the globe to many countries.
He also commended the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin, for the good work so far, saying, “so far the speaker has been able to steer the affairs of parliament very well and I think this is due to his experience and a long stay in parliament”.
Dr. Kodjoe Sumney holds Doctor of Religious Studies and a Ph.D. Degree from Trinity College and Seminary, Indiana, USA.
He graduated from Simon Greenleaf University of Law, International Human Rights and Apologetics with a Master’s Degree.
The Council of State in Ghana is a small body of prominent citizens, analogous to the Council of Elders in the traditional political system, which advises the President on national issues.
The Council of State was established by Articles 89 to 92 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana: “There shall be a Council of State to counsel the President in the performance of his functions.”
Read Also >>> THE COUNCIL OF STATE
Article 71 officeholders include the President, the Vice-President, the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Justice, and the Justices of the Supreme Court.
The rest are Members of Parliament (MPs), Ministers of State, political appointees, and public servants with salaries charged to the Consolidated Fund but enjoying special constitutional privileges.
Article 71 (1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution stipulates that the determination of the salaries and allowances of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary paid from the Consolidated Fund would be determined by the President, on the recommendations of a committee of not more than five persons appointed by him and acting upon the advice of the Council of State.
In determining the salaries of the President, his Ministers, and political appointees, as well as the members of the Council of State, the Constitution states that Parliament will determine that based on the advice of the same committee.
Read Also >>> THE 1992 CONSTITUTION OF THE FOURTH REPUBLIC OF GHANA