By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
Like him or not, Prof. Kwaku Asare is quite a remarkable legal light insofar as Ghana’s Fourth-Republican Constitution is concerned. Nonetheless, in interpreting the “purposive” ( or practical and objective implications) of our nation’s highest instrument of governance, care must be taken in order not to veer into the patently frivolous, otiose, stultifying and downright preposterous. And it is on the strength of the latter that I beg to vehemently differ with Prof. Asare that on Nov. 5 instant, when both President John Dramani Mahama and Vice-President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur were out of the country, and in the words of Prof. Asare “Performing Their Official Duties,” Speaker Doe Adjaho ought to have been promptly sworn in as Acting President of Ghana.
You see, theory does not always work in practice; and this is one striking case in point. Indeed, had Speaker Adjaho been sworn in by Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, even as Acting President, Mr. Adjaho may well have been widely perceived by many a patriotic and levelheaded Ghanaian to be megalomaniacal. For starters, we are told that both President Mahama, who was visiting politically troubled Burkina Faso, and Vice-President Amissah-Arthur, on tour of the Indian sub-continent, were also “on official duties.”
If the latter assumption has constitutional validity (and there is absolutely no reason to presume otherwise), then it cannot be soundly and/or intelligently argued that both Messrs. Mahama and Amissah-Arthur were functionally incapacitated to require being deputized for. In other words, these two elected Ghanaian leaders could not be simultaneously envisaged to have been performing in their respective capacities while at the same time being constitutionally accused of or even “technically” described as having become functionally incapacitated. And so it well appears that the preceding scenario constituted the basis of the decision by Chief Justice Wood not to swear in Speaker Adjaho. For that would clearly have been tantamount to treasonably usurping the democratic mandate of Messrs. Mahama and Amissah-Arthur.
Significantly, Chief Justice Wood and Speaker Adjaho fully grasped this elementary fact of logical functionality which, regrettably, the U.S.-resident Prof. Asare woefully failed to appreciate. What matters here, though, when it comes to brasstacks, is that whether he had been sworn in or not to perform for some 24 hours (or barely one day) as Acting President of Ghana is decidedly beside the point. Indeed, every Ghanaian citizen familiar with the provisions of the country’s Fourth-Republican Constitution, fully appreciates the fact that in the “dutiful” absence of President Mahama and his arch-lieutenant from state side, sworn in or not, Speaker Adjaho was effectively the Acting President.
You can also imagine an apocalyptic case scenario in which Speaker Adjaho, having been duly and promptly sworn in by Chief Justice Wood, President Mahama and Vice-President Amissah-Arthur were shortly reported to have perished in separate plane crashes. Knowing Ghanaians to be the incurably superstitious lot that we are, what do you think would have been said about the two prime political game changers on the ground? At any rate, why is Prof. Asare also not questioning why Justice Wood had not sworn in an Acting Vice-President of Ghana, as well as an Interim-Speaker of the House?
Yes, he may choose to riposte that the First-Deputy Speaker was right on state side. But the fact still remains that the First-Deputy Speaker would have had to be officially sworn in, in order to substantively assume his functional upgrade.
Anyway, as I read Prof. Asare’s rather quaint and purely academic and theoretical article, I was also reminded of an admonishment issued by renowned New York civil rights activist, and most recently talk-radio host, Rev. Alford (Al) Sharpton, in the wake of the 1989 brutal and deadly assault of Mr. Yusef Hawkins, an African-American teenager, by a primitive and racist gang of Italian teenage thugs in the New York City suburb of Howard Beach. “Don’t be so intellectual that you are not intelligent,” Rev. Sharpton had told a packed audience in the Aronow Theater Auditorium on the campus of the City College of the City University of New York.
Indeed, one can become so intellectual and philosophically removed from the reality on the ground that one begins to sound like the proverbial broken record. Yes, I unreservedly agree with Rev. Al, as Mr. Sharpton is affectionately called, that “You can become so intellectual that you are not intelligent.”
Sometimes common sense is the genius.