President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says in spite of the brouhaha surrounding the inauguration of the country’s 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic, he is optimistic that the two main parties, the governing New Patriotic Party and the opposition National Democratic Congress, will work hand in hand for the progress of Ghana.
Speaking on Kumasi based Opemso Radio on Monday, President Akufo-Addo said his government will see Parliament as a partner in development.
“I see it as a good sign that the two sides are prepared to sit down together and see the way forward. We will deliberate on issues together.
“We have only one Ghana, and we don’t have anywhere else to go. So, we can’t have a situation where the government is going in one direction and then Parliament is going in the other. That wouldn’t help the smooth running of the country,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo expects that at every stage in the work of the House, consensus building will be key.
“The way Parliament has been constituted this time around, we will work on a consensus basis, which means that at every occasion there will be consultations on both sides on the way forward,” he added.
Meanwhile, the President has appointed caretaker ministers to hold the fort pending substantive appointments.
This follows the expiration of his first term and the commencement of his second four-year term on January 7, 2021.
The action is in accordance with the Presidential Transition Act, 2012, (Act 845), to avoid gaps in the running of state affairs.
Sources from the Presidency indicate that Akosua Frema Osei-Opare has been asked to act as the Chief of Staff; Ken Ofori-Atta to act as Finance Minister; Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen as Minister of Trade and Industry; Dominic Nitiwul as Minister of Defence, Mr Albert Kan Dapaah as Minister of National Security.
The rest are Ambrose Dery, Minister of the Interior; Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development; and Kojo Oppong Nkrumah as Minister of Information.
Mr Eugene Arhin is also to act as Director of Communications at the Presidency.
However, the caretaker ministers have been directed not to take decisions involving policy issues.
They have also been notified to be guided by a memo issued by the then Chief of Staff and Chairperson of the Presidential Transition Team, Madam Freman Osei-Opare, in December 2020, which asked ministers not to sign any new loan agreements, engage financial commitments and recruitment of permanent management personnel during the transition period.
However, leader of the NDC caucus in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, says President Akufo-Addo is acting unlawfully for allowing some of his first term ministers hold onto their ministerial positions without following the legal process.
Mr Iddrisu cites the Supreme Court ruling in the J. A Mensah versus Attorney General case (1997), arguing that there is nothing like holding or acting ministers unless they have been nominated by the President and the legislature has vetted and approved them.
Reacting to Mr Iddrisu’s claim, a private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, insists it is legal for a newly-sworn in President to appoint interim ministers until substantive ones are duly nominated, vetted, and approved by Parliament.
Citing the same Supreme Court ruling in the J. A Mensah versus Attorney General case, 1997, Mr Kpebu said the NDC MP got it wrong.
He stressed that to avoid the situation of a vacuum in governance, the apex court has granted the power to the executive to appoint holding ministers.
“The clear provision of the law, per the interpretation of the Supreme Court, is that the President has power to appoint some persons to act as acting ministers pending nomination, vetting and approval of substantive ministers.
“But it makes sense that, naturally, the President should be given sometime to organise a new government, so in the interim some people should be given the power to act,” he stated.
The legal practitioner further noted that until someone challenges the ruling of the Supreme Court in the 1997 case, the citizenry is bound to heed to it.