Koku Anyidoho asks: Should we continue renewing contracts of public servants due for retirement?

As a firm believer in Charles Darwin’s “Evolutionary Theory, I cannot hold back the fact that if we do not evolve as a nation, we shall surely atrophy and pale into insignificance.

Indeed, it is in holding on firmly to the belief in the theory of evolution, which has sparked my thinking in the direction of the possible need as Nation, to take another look at a particular section of ACT 527 of our 1992 Constitution.

The Five Hundred and Twenty-Seventh ACT of The Parliament of Ghana, entitled, “THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA (AMENDMENT) ACT, 1996, which has 16th December, 1996, as the Date of Assent, made certain amendments but of interest to this written piece of mine, is that which was made to Article 199.

Act 527 reads in part thus; “… Article 199 of the Constitution is amended by the insertion after clause (3) of the following

“(4) Notwithstanding clause (1) of this article, a public officer who has retired from the public service after attaining the age of sixty years may, where the exigencies of the service require, be engaged for a limited period of not more than two years at a time but not exceeding five years in all and upon such other terms and conditions as the appointing authority shall determine”.

It is a matter of public knowledge that in line with not allowing our constitution to be stuck in the mud of a Palaeolithic way of doing things, upon assumption of Office, President Atta-Mills set up a Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) headed by the respected Professor Emeritus Albert Fiadzo, to take another look at aspects of the 1992 Constitution.

As an Aide to President Atta-Mills and also as his speechwriter, I had to be conversant with the workings of the CRC, and because of that, I built a warm working relationship with Dr. (now Professor) Raymond Atuguba, who was the Secretary to the CRC.

If it was possible for the CRC to review the totality of the 1992 constitution; what stops the Nation from re-looking at clause (4) of Article 199 and ask ourselves whether it is serving us well or not?

The major trigger of this written piece, is to ask the question: Does it continue to serve the nation well if we allow politicians to be the “appointing authority” that has the right to give contracts of up to five years to some chosen public servants who attain the retirement age of 60?

More specifically, is it a proper practice for politicians to be extending the working period of police officers or security personnel who have reached the age of 60?

Are we doing our governance process any good by allowing men/women in uniform to be at the mercy of politicians who become the “appointing authority”?

Policemen/women do not get appointed into the Police Service; by and large, they qualify to join the Service after they go through the rigorous recruitment and training exercises and so once they are below the retirement age, irrespective of how they got recruited as well as their ethnic and political biases, we can grant them the fact that they are professional men/women who work in the supreme interest of the State.

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