“I look forward to working with a Council that will help all of us deepen our democracy and I look forward to working with a Council that will deliver a prosperous Ghana.”
President Akufo-Addo made the above statement yesterday when he swore in a 24-member Council of State under the Fourth Republic at the State Banquet Hall in Accra.
The president asked members to be frank and bold in offering constructive criticisms and practical counsel to him.
He said the council is not an extension of the Executive and therefore should be independent and draw the respect that would make institutions rely on it for sound advice.
He admonished the council not to be a rubberstamp, only interested in telling him what he wants to hear, and asked the members to offer advice based on “unvarnished” but “straightforward” truth.
“The Council of State is not an extension of the Executive and will not be representing the president or his ministers of State…I look forward very much to working with the council that will offer me straightforward advice based on unvarnished truth.”
“I look forward to a council that will have all of us deepen our democracy; and I look forward to working with a council that will help us deliver a prosperous Ghana,” he underscored.
The 24-member Council are Nana Otuo Serebour II Juabenhene; Sam Okudzeto, former Ghana Bar Association President; Nana Kofi Obiri Egyir II, owner of Sanaa Lodge; Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson, former Mayor of Accra; Alberta Cudjoe; Alhaji Aminu Amadu; Margaret Amoakohene of the School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Legon; Alhaji Sahanun Moqtar; Georgina Kusi; Alhaji Sule Yiremiah; Paa Kofi Ansong; General J.B. Danquah, former Chief of Defence Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces and Nana Owusu Nsiah, former Inspector General of Police with Togbe Afede XIV, President of the National House of Chiefs, as an ex-officio member.
The rest are Eunice Jacqueline Buah, Western Region; Kwadwo Agyenim Boateng, Brong Ahafo Region; Yakubu S. Nantogmah, Northern Region; Agona Akrofosohene, Nana Owusu Achiaw, Ashanti Region; Richard Babini Kanton IV, Upper West Region; Dr. Nii Kotei Dzani, Greater Accra Region; Robert D. Mosore, Upper East Region; Obrempong Appiah Nuamah II, Central Region; Francis Albert Seth Nyonyo, Volta Region and Nana Somuah Mireku- Nyampong, Eastern Region.
After taking the oaths of allegiance, secrecy and the official oath, President Akufo-Addo, who has already indicated his determination to put the country back on a sound footing, could not but give them a charge, “I expect you to be proactive partners in our efforts to find solutions that would improve the lives of our people.”
Coming at a time when the nation’s economy is in poor shape, challenges of governance relative to corruption in public life, President Akufo-Addo insisted, “We need to enhance the efficiency of the state administrative machinery.”
Even though Article 92 (1) of the country’s Constitution requires the council to meet at least four times in a year, the president indicated, “At the moment, I fear that there is a lot of work piled up for the council and it might well turn up to me more than four times in a week that the council will meet to be able to deal with the work on its table.”
“Between the council and the presidency, we have a lot of work to do to get all the appointments in place to get the government machine to work.” He added, “We shall not insist on standing ceremony but get to work rapidly and efficiently.”
Considering the work load at hand, he told the council members, “You can, if you so choose, quickly get into the Honourable and Excellency mode and you will find many people to play you up to that role; you can, if you so choose, make your council a rubber stamp; you can, if you so choose, make this council one that is widely respected and seen as the place to go for advice by all institutions, and I’m hoping that this council will choose the latter part.”
That aside, President Akufo-Addo expressed concern about the deplorable state of the building that houses the council which is said to have been abandoned while the guest house for the use of members who come from out of the capital is also reported to have fallen into disrepair, not to talk of vehicles used by members which are also said to be in a poor state.
Also, the secretariat of the council is reported not have an existing chief director and the full complement of staff to help perform its functions.
For the president, “This is an unfortunate state of affairs” while promising, “I shall do my best to ensure that these matters are rectified promptly and the council is properly equipped to do its work.”
After almost 25 years of the Fourth Republic, President Akufo-Addo recounted, “I think it is fair to say that the most effective Council of State we have had, has been the one that worked with former President John Agyekum Kufuor.”
“We saw an intellectually vibrant and active council that took its responsibilities seriously; we saw a council that kept its members well-informed and kept government officials on their toes,” he insisted.
On his part, the Omanhene of the Juaben Traditional Area, Daasebre Otuo Serebuor II, who spoke on behalf of his colleague members of the council, thanked the president for the opportunity given them to serve the government and the people of Ghana.
The Juabenhene was unanimously elected as the Chairman of the Council.
“We are also fully conscious of your commitment to rebuild the economy, create jobs for the unemployed, cleanse the system of overpowering corruption and impunity, as well as preserve and enhance the values of freedom, the rule of law and good governance; in this endeavour, Mr President, we pledge our unflinching support,” he emphasized.
He also assured, “Mr President, we shall not be a rubber stamp; we shall tell it as it is,” expressing hope that the president would also take their counsel as it is.