The Constitution of NPP provides that an amendment may be proposed either by an individual member or groups affiliated to the party, prior to its Annual National Delegates Conference, for consideration and adoption.
Out of the 2017 National Delegates Conference held in Cape Coast , so far, there was a 107 pages document, containing various kind of proposals submitted seeking to amend the NPP National constitution, by the Party's Constitutional Committee, Members of Parliament (Majority Caucus), Individual Members and some Identifiable Groups. This 107 pages document is made up of 17 Chapters, whereby each chapter represents each source of the proposals.
I was asked to also comment on the contents of the proposals therein. Reading through the Chapters, at least, some few reasonable suggestions have been made, however, there are some dangerous self-centred bad ones, have also been submitted, especially those submitted by the Members of Parliament (MPs).
The Chapter Two, in the proposed document, was submitted by the Majority Caucus of parliament, and Chapter Three was also submitted individually by the Subin Constituency MP, Hon. Eugene Boakye Antwi respectively. Per this write-up, I will concentrate commenting on Chapter 2 & 3 since both chapters mirror each other in terms of the ideas and presumed purpose and the obvious hidden intentions, and would kindly plead with the party’s National Delegates never attempt to accept or adopt any of those dangerous, undemocratic provisions proposed by the Majority Caucus, pushing to get them inserted into the NPP Constitution.
Those proposed amendments by the MPs, are dangerous and undemocratic, conceived and born out of mischief and in bad faith. If adopted, would hang the spirit of patriotism in the party, and would be injurious to the strength of the party at all levels, would procreate momentous apathy amongst the elected executives at the constituencies at all levels, whereby the invariable principles of supportiveness that party enjoys and it's needed most.
The effects of the ideas proposed would give birth to grave disunity in the party. The well acclaimed egalitarian nature of the New Patriotic Party in Ghana would be impaired if what the MPs have proposed are implemented or adopted. The consequences at long run will be far-reaching for the party at all levels.
As I point out few of the ideas they've proposed to bring to light the latent aim of the MPs, as they seek to obtain absolute powers and authority to dictate to, and control the party at the constituencies and regional levels the way they choose, neglecting the mandate and responsibilities entrusted unto the hands of the party’s elected executives in the constituencies.
Some MPs argue that these ideas proposed, if adopted, would enable them avoid the recalcitrant constituency executive who are sometimes difficult to handle. This aim, if achieved, would be a recipe for ardent dissensions at the constituencies.
Perusing the proposed documents, one thing very clear and needs immediate attention and amendment in the constitution, is the process or the method used by the party to collect the proposed amendments from members, before submitting to the National Delegates Conference. The process is conspicuously anaemic, and not properly structured.
This paves way for anything at-all, called proposals, to find its way to the National Conference for consideration. A situation if diligence care is not taken, such morbid and unhealthy proposals maybe adopted in the heat of the compressed Conference, which would end up serving some parochial interest of certain individuals or some groups in the party.
In fact, the essence of reviewing any policy or amending any national constitution should aim at fixing the ineffective or broken parts identified. A constitution of a political party or nation is not just amended for the sake of amending it, just because some groups or some individuals see that there is readily obtainable opportunity to do so.
The internationally established standards dictates that an amendment to constitution should be designed to be extremely difficult to be amended so as to avoid aberrations. Reasons outlined for amendments to be effected in a national constitution should be salient, broad-minded and uttermost important.
The brainstorms should meet all reasonableness and compellingly necessary before a section in a constitution should be altered, modified or deleted. Such amendments when effected should aim at fixing the apparent broken areas and problematic aspects in the constitution. As the saying goes, “if it isn't broken, why fix it?”
The proposals submitted by the MPs are purported to fix no readily seen broken aspect in the NPP constitution, but to seek ways to serve their inward-looking interest, to enable them entrench themselves in their respective constituencies. Simply, the MPs have not given consideration to the general principles and over-all ideals of the party but ways to serve their egocentric desires.
In my view, the first and uttermost urgent amendment needed in the NPP National Constitution, is a provision therein, to form at least a Three (3) or Five (5) Member Ad-hoc Committee constituted prior to an annual delegates conference, to receive all proposed amendments.
This Ad-hoc Committee must have powers and authority to scrutinise each proposed amendment, sieve them, debate them, and scale them down before submitting the final screened proposed amendments' to the General Secretary for circulation. This would ensure that only tangible proposals worth presenting to the National Delegates Conference would find their way to conference for consideration and acceptance.
As it stance now, the General Secretary (GS) receives all proposed amendments directly, the General Secretary then compiles them for submission of the same at the National Delegates Conference. This process is easily to face objectionable and condemnatory feelings by some concerned delegates at the conference, just like what happened at the just ended delegates conference in Cape Coast.
As observed, the General Secretary has no powers to reject any, or exude the proposed amendments or to scale them down but to compile all and submit all. Leaving this process to the outfit of the General Secretary alone, makes it quite dicey for him since he has no powers to object to or filter them. Moreover, the General Secretary wouldn’t like to offend anybody by rejecting or altering any particular proposal since he maybe presenting himself before the same people for re-election.
Some of the mind boggling proposed amendments found in the 107 pages document by the MPs are as follows; and these should have been questioned by a team of competent jurisdiction even before they could find their way to the national Delegates conference.
CHAPTER 2 – PROPOSED AMENDMENTS BY PARLIAMENT, MAJORITY CAUCUS.
ARTICLE 6 - CONSTITUENCY ORGANIOSATION.
The Majority Caucus of NPP propose that the Constitution should be amended as follows:
1. The existing Constituency Executive Committee structure in Article 6(1.a) be removed, and be replaced with what they term “Polling Station Executive Committee of (5) Five members per polling station, in Article 6(2.a). That, the Polling Station Executives will form what they term, “The Basic Unit of Organisation of the Constituency”. No more Constituency Executive Committee.
The Article 6(1.a) of the current constitution states that, “Each Constituency shall have a Constituency Executive Committee by the elected executives and their appointed deputies, to form the Constituency Executive Committee”. They are to manage the day-to-day activities of the party in the constituency, but the MPs propose to replace this with what they call “the Polling Agents Executives Committee”.
2. The MPs propose that, “all Constituency Polling Station Agents must be appointed by the MP or the Parliamentary Candidate (PC) upon his or her election at primaries conducted, as Article 6(2.b). By all standards, the Constituency Executive Committee must remain the sole management body of the party in the constituency, not this potentially chaotic ideas proposed by the MPs.
3. MPs proposed also that, the Members of Parliament or the Parliamentary Candidate elected should be given powers to select Nine (9) Members of his choice in the constituency, to form a Constituency Executive Committee, whereby the MP or PC would be the executive head of the party in the constituency.
That, the Nine members the MP or PC would appoint will include at least three (3) elected persons. The elected persons for purposes of the quorum, shall include the Chairman or one of the Vice Chairpersons in the constituency.
In the proposed Article 6(3.xvii, b,c,d), The Nine (9) Members, “Who shall be chosen by the parliamentary candidate within one month after he has been elected at the constituency annual delegates conference from within the membership of the constituency party”.
Basically, this very proposal renders the elected constituency executives virtually powerless and useless. By this happening, will procreate huge division and would make way for the MP to dictate his terms solely, a recipe for acrimonious tendencies.
4. The MPs seek powers through the constitutional amendment to allow them appoint all the Polling Station Agents in their proposed Article 6(2.b). This very proposal contradicts their proposal in Art 6(1.a.iv), which states: “the Polling Station Committee members shall be Appointed by the MP or the PC elected at the primaries, but in Article 6(1.a.iv) also states that, “the Polling Station Agents of five (5), shall have duties including, to perform any other functions that would be assigned to them by a constituency Executive Member”.
The question is, as the MP appoints the Polling Station Agents, how could they take instructions from the Elected Executives in the constituency? Would these appointed Polling Station Agents also have voting powers to elect the same PC at the constituency's annual delegates conference? How could this be possible if the same are appointed the MP or the PC?
The Constitution of Ghana demands that, the President elect should appoint a sizeable percentage of his Ministers of State from Parliament. This means that, when an MP becomes a Minister, he or she would have daunting responsibility to act as law maker with its responsibilities, and also to observe responsibilities of a Minister of Sates.
In agreeable to sound judgement, why on earth, should an MP seek to take up the responsibilities of running and managing the day-to-day activities of the party in the constituency he represents, neglecting the comprehensive responsibilities in parliament and/or as Minister of State? This is overwhelmingly mind-boggling, if not for circumscribed intentions!
Article 7 – REGIONAL ORGANISATION.
1) The MPs propose that, the Regional Officers should also be elected by the MPs elected in the region. In Article 7(1.a) proposed, it states, “Each region shall have a Regional Executive Committee. The regional Officers shall be elected at a meeting convened for that purpose by the members of Parliament in that region, five members of region’s council of patrons and the founding members of the party in the region”.
I guess the question one would ask is, what is wrong with the current method used to elect the Regional Executives/Officers? The question is, in the Regions where New patriotic Party may have no MPs, who will be in positions to elect the Regional Officers as proposed by the MPs if accepted? I am seriously struggling to see the sense in all these propose amendments. It appears that, all the MPs seek to achieve, is to have absolute powers in the constituencies/regions to manipulate and control affairs in the party the way they want.
This is very undemocratic and does not support the liberal principles and ideals of the party.
AMENDMENT IN ARTICLE 11.
1) In Act 11(6), the MPs propose that, “the Member of Parliament shall be the leader of the party, provided that where he or she loses the primaries, the Parliamentary Candidate elected shall become the leader”.
The question is, who becomes the leader if the Parliamentary candidate loses the general elections in the constituency? Again, what is actually the problem with the current provisions in the constitution, reasonably defined that, “the Regional Chairperson shall be the executive head of the party at all times and convenor of Regional Executive meetings?
Why can’t the MPs concentrate on their parliamentary duties and responsibilities, than rather seeking to control the party’s activities at the constituency?
Honestly, the MPs proposed amendments would make the whole constitution too clumsy to follow.
CHAPTER 3 – THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT BY Hon. EUGENE BOAKYE ANTWI, SUBIN CONSTITUENCY MP.
REQUEST TO AMEND ARTICLE 6.
1) Hon. Eugene Antwi also proposes that, Article 6(2) be amended to read as follows:
Each Constituency shall have a constituency executive Committee which shall consist of; i(i) the MP, (ii) the PC (iii) the Chairperson, Vice Chairpersons…and the rest of the elected and appointed executives.
2) That, Art 6(7) be amended to read as follows: That, the MP for the constituency shall be the Executive Head of the party in the constituency and convener of Meetings of the constituency executive committee. Where there’s no MP, the PC shall the executive head of the party in the constituency and shall convene all meetings. Again, what would be the role of the Chairperson in the constituency?
Hon. Eugene Antwi seeks that the following should also be inserted in the institution as article 11(6). This proposal, is the most ridiculous and senseless aspect of of all the proposed amendments.
"Ministers, Deputy Ministers, CEOs, Deputy CEOs, MMDCEs and other government appointees, who are not members of parliament, and who intend to contest parliamentary primaries, shall Resign their respective positions, at least one (1) year before the date of the parliamentary primaries."
Inasmuch as I may not be privy to the reasons why the MP proposes this, but just looking at the face of the proposition, one can easily conclude that the idea and the spirit behind it is ill-conceived and born out of bad faith, with the aim of making things extremely difficult for anybody or government officials to contest the sitting MPs. This suggestion by Hon. Eugene Antwi smacks of fear of fair fiercely contested election, and it depicts self-indulgence.
Even when the Ministers of State, intend to contest the Presidential primaries when in power, do not resign one whole year before the date set for the primaries, they only resigned after picking their nomination forms to contest. We are interested to know the reasons why must one intending to contest MP primaries resign one good year before the date set for parliamentary primaries? This is absolutely absurd, and it is contrary to all reasons and common sense.
Are the MPs who becomes Ministers also going to resign one year before or are exempted? Why only the CEOs, MMDCEs & other govt officials? Already, the MPs have an undue incumbency advantage over whoever intends to contest a sitting MP, wherefore, introducing this one resignation in a liberal Democratic party like NPP, would be injurious to the democratic principles of the party and will lead to many independent candidates.
It is worrying why would the Members of Parliament insist that these venturesome and reckless ideas be inserted into the constitution. To serve what purpose? The MPs have been utterly unconcerned about the consequences of their proposed amendments but their self-centred interest. Their proposed amendments should not be entertained at-all.
Peter Antwi Boasiako.