President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday sworn into office members of the Council of State, calling on them to be frank and bold in offering constructive criticism and practical counsel to him.
He reminded the members that the Council was 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.
According to the President, times have been when Councils had been rubber stamp institutions where they endorsed every Executive decision.
He expressed the hope that the current Council would give advice based on “unvarnished” but “straight forward” 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 straight forward 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 said at the State Banquet Hall in Accra.
Apart from the President, the 24-Member Council of State is constitutionally mandated to advice the Legislature and other statutory bodies.
The Council of State, established by Articles 89 to 92 of the 1992 Constitution, is a body of prominent citizens drawn from diverse backgrounds, which advises the President on national issues.
The Council plays a high advisory role like the appointment of the Chief Justice, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, the heads of the nation’s security services, officials of the President’s office and other critical institutions of the State.
The Council constitutionally includes a former Chief Justice, a former Chief of Defence Staff and a former Inspector General of Police and the President of the National House of Chiefs.
Each region has an elected representative on the Council. The President also appoints 11 members to the Council. Their term in office expires with that of the President.
The composition of the membership of the Council is drawn from different backgrounds ranging from academia, security, law and justice, communication.
President Akufo-Addo asked the Council members to avoid the tradition of praise singing and grand titles that had entrapped some presidents into thinking that they were all too powerful and could not be contradicted.
He opened his hands to accept impartial advice, saying: “It is important that regardless of whatever your background, you would discharge your duties dispassionately.”
The President reminded members of the Council of the “great responsibility” the nation and the Constitution trust on them and asked them to be cautious in the discharge of their duties”.
“It will be easy to fall into the well-known temptation of telling the President what you think he wants to hear, it will be equally tempting to tell the President that he is the best thing that ever happened to Ghana, it will be even more tempting to tell the President to ignore his critics, I expect this Council will not walk this road.”
President Akufo-Addo recognised that nationhood hinged on the three arms of government working together, and consequently urged the Council members to proffer advice that would promote their cohesion and unity for national growth.
“In my view, the Council should not give advice to a President, the effect of which is to undermine the independence of any other arms of government, especially the Judiciary.”
On the creation of proposed four more administrative regions, President Akufo-Addo told the Council that he would rely on their seasoned advice on the project, explaining that the Constitution enjoined the members to counsel the President in that endeavour.
He urged them to make their views on significant national issues known.
Nana Otuo Siriboe II, the Juabenhene, a member of the Council on behalf of the members thanked the President for the honour done them, pledging that they would discharge their duties deservedly, as required of them.
He pledged the support of the Council in the President’s change agenda of rebuilding the economy, creating jobs, eradicating corruption and culture of impunity, and preserving the values of freedom, the Rule of Law and good governance to benefit all Ghanaians.
The Juabenhene said the Council would fully exercise its mandate and would offer appropriate advice to government to deliver on its commitment to justify the mandate of the people.
“We shall not be a rubber stamp Council…We will tell it as it is and hope that you will take it as it is,” he said.
Members of the Council include Mr Sam Okudzeto, a renowned lawyer, Nana Kofi Obiri Egyiri II, a traditional ruler, former Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson, Mrs Alberta Cudjoe and Alhaji Aminu Amadu.
Others are Aljahi Mogtari, Mrs Georgina Adeopa Konadu Kusi, Alhaji Suleman Yirimea, Paa kofi Ansong, Eunice Jacqueline Buah, Nana Appiah Nuamah II, Nii Kotei Dzani, Francis Albert Seth Nyonyo and Nana Somuah Mireku Nyanpong III.
The rest are Kodwo Agyenim-Boateng, Nana Owusu-Nsiah, Lieutenant General J. B. Danquah, Nana Owusu Achiaw Brempong, Bo-Na Professor Yakubu S. Nantogmah, Robert Nachinab D. Mosore, Richard Banini Kanton, Togbe Afede XIV and Dr Margaret Amoakohene.
The Council would meet to elect its chairperson as mandated by the Constitution.