A Political Science Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr. Aggrey Darko, has argued against calls for an extension of Ghana’s presidential term limits
According to him, a longer tenure in office might give persons in power a sense of entitlement which could translate into the inappropriate use of presidential authority.
His comments come on the back of calls from former President Jerry John Rawlings for a five-year term instead of four, for the country’s Heads of State.
According to him, in most four-year terms, the first year is used in getting acclimatized to the office, and the last year turns into a political crusade of campaigns, leaving about a year or less depending on the political climate.
Speaking at a meeting with a delegation of Ugandan Members of Parliament on Thursday, Mr. Rawlings said five-year terms allow for a greater chance of achieving the President’s desired development agenda.
“Much as we belong to different geopolitical circumstances on the continent, I suggest that we shouldn’t be going beyond two five-year terms,” he said.
However in an interview with Citi News, Dr. Aggrey Darko, while admitting that four years might not be enough to completely address all the challenges that exist, insisted that increasing term limits is not the right way to go.
He argued that government will always have unfinished projects no matter how long they stay in power.
“I concede that four years is quite short. It gives the President less breathing space to be able to deal with the fundamental problems of society.”
“With a very long tenure, it will be too much to endure a bad President. It becomes a burden to live under a bad government. It also provides an avenue for people to think that the state belongs to them. There is the tendency for the use of power capriciously and whimsically.”
He stated that it is more important for new governments to continue projects started by their predecessors.
“The key thing and why I would disagree with the former President is that there will always be unfinished business. So it is important for us to task our President to, as much as practicable, continue projects started by previous administrations so that we can derive the maximum benefits from them. We can have seven, eight or ten years but there’ll still be unfinished business. What is important is to what extent are we holding our leaders accountable?” he queried.
Rawlings is not the first former President to make such a suggestion.
John Agyekum Kufuor has consistently called for an extension of the tenure of presidents, saying the framers of the 1992 constitution may have overlooked the fact that a four-year presidency is not enough for effective development.
According to him, the constraints of leading a developing nation like Ghana require more than four years to make any meaningful impact in terms of development.
Just before he ended his tenure in 2008, Mr. Kufuor suggested that the presidential term should be increased to five years. But speaking two years ago, he indicated that a six-year term would even be preferable.