Following President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo’s naming of his backroom staff, some have suggested that he may have breached portions of the Presidential Office Act, but a constitutional lawyer and Dean of the GIMPA Law School, Dr. Kofi Abotsi, says such claims are unfounded.
The Act states that, a president of the republic appoints the presidential staff team in consultation with the Council of State, however, Dr. Abotsi’s rebuttal to this is that, the President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo remains just the President-elect till he is sworn in, and is not bound by the Act.
“The Act is specifically dealing with the President, the person who is in office as President,” he indicated on the Citi Breakfast Show.
Dr. Abotsi also explained that, the announcements Nana Akufo-Addo made were also simply a proposal which only becomes effective once he assumes the office of the President.
“What Nana Akufo-Addo has actually done now is more or less a preparation towards entering the office. Now, until and unless he becomes the President, he actually has no office to appoint anyone to, and so technically all these persons who have been appointed, they have been appointed by him in anticipation of him becoming the President.”
Consultations with Council of State
Another point called into question has been which Council of State Nana Akufo-Addo will be taking counsel from; the current one advising the John Mahama administration, or the one he is yet to set up.
“At any given point in time, there must be a Council of State and that Council of State must be consulted,” Dr. Abotsi said.
This notwithstanding, he noted that, “In principle, the Council of State being a constitutional body continues. But that is in principle and the reason is because the Council of State is supposed to be an advisory chamber to the President… in practice, you hardly find members of the Council of State moving from one regime to the other.”
Dr. Abotsi further expounded on the doctrine of necessity which comes into play if there is gap between the formation of the Council of State between two regimes.
He explained that “if it happens that there is no Council of State, the doctrine of necessity would either allow the previous Council of State to continue in office until such a time that there is a new Council of State or a person whose office requires him to consult the Council of State will have the authority to act without the Council of State if the action to be taken is of such a necessity that the opposite can simply not be countenanced.”
“Whichever way you look at it, there is no prospect of Nana Addo having to consult Council of State which is not in existence and by reason of which his hands will be tied. That cannot happen.”
In essence, Dr. Abotsi said Nana Akufo-Addo is “allowed to act without having to consult the Council of State.”
“Either there is the Council of State by the doctrine of necessity or there is no Council of State. But he will be allowed to act in accordance with his own thinking once there is a statute that requires him to make certain appointments.”