The National Chairman of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Mr Bernard Mornah, has accused President Nana Akufo-Addo of “lying” to the People of Ghana when he told the country a few weeks ago in Akatsi, Volta Region that he was using the referendum to offload part of his powers to the citizenry so they can directly elect their metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives.
Speaking at the 30th-anniversary celebration of the Akatsi District Assembly on Monday, 4 November 2019 at the commencement of his 2-day tour of the Volta Region, President Akufo-Addo asked the Ghanaian electorate to turnout in their numbers on 17 December 2019 to vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum to repeal Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution and obtain the power to elect directly their own Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives.
“Vote yellow for the ‘Yes’ vote on 17 December”, the President told the crowd, adding: “We want to take Ghana one step forward. We are making progress with our democracy on many fronts. This is one of the last remaining barriers that we have to overcome. Support the initiative that the government has taken to bring greater and greater control over local government to the people in the area”.
The President Akufo-Addo then told the gathering that a ‘Yes’ vote means “you can choose for yourself, directly, the man or woman you want as your DCE”, adding: “No President is going to be involved anymore”.
“I have the power, I say I am giving you the power to choose, and relieve me of the burden. I want you to be the one to make the decision for yourself”, Nana Akufo-Addo added.
In the judgement of Mr Mornah, “The President lied” when he made those comments.
He told Blessed Sogah on Class91.FM’s State of the Nation programme on Wednesday, 27 November 2019 that: “The bottom line is that he [President Akufo-Addo] lied to us”.
Explaining his verdict, Mr Mornah said: “The President, when you say he’s oblivious of what he’s doing, you’re assuming that the President doesn’t know what he’s doing. The President is a lawyer first and foremost and you must grant him that. So, the President is very clear in the content and containment of Article 55(3) and he’s very sure of what is in Article 24(3)”.
“The President goes to Akatsi in the Volta Region and tells the people that he has decided to give part of his power and that they should do a referendum to determine whether they want to elect their own MMDCEs. Really? Must we do a referendum to elect DCEs?”, he wondered.
“By reading the law, do we need a referendum to go and elect MMDCEs? If it’s an entrenched clause that you want to amend, then you need a referendum but in the situation where this Article 24(3) is not an entrenched provision, why would you tell the people that you are allowing them to go and vote YES or NO so as to determine whether they should elect MMDCEs?” Mr Mornah questioned.
“You don’t think that the President lied to us? Because it is not that he’s not aware but he wanted to capitalise on it and let the people know that: ‘Look, I’m giving you power to elect MMDCEs just as you elect your MPs’. You don’t expect a President to be lying in the daylight”, Mr Mornah added.
For Article 55(3) to be amended so that political parties can take part in local government elections, the Constitution requires a turnout of 40% of the electorate, with 75% of them voting YES. As far as the amendment of Article 24(3), is concerned, however, there is no need for a referendum in order to allow MMDCEs to be elected on a nonpartisan basis since it is not an entrenched provision.