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Four-year tenure of a president too short for a developing country – JA Kufuor

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has reiterated his call for the expansion of the tenure for the President of Ghana.

He believes that for a developing country such as Ghana, when a president wins an election, he comes to meet so many drawbacks which he has to tackle, therefore “four-years tenure is too short”.

He said even though his term of office was too short, he did not think he could tamper with the constitution of the Republic to extend his term of office.

“Knowing the poor countries of the world including our country which want to go democratic and multiparty, you work your way through canvassing for votes and assume that when you get to office you’ll meet [a] national treasury that will enable you do the works, you come and then be confronted with empty chest, no money […] it takes time,” Kufuor said on Sunday Night with Kwaku Sakyi-Addo on Sunday, September 6.

He added that when there is also a majority of first-time parliamentarians, it is difficult for the new administration to get their policies approved and get developmental works that they have promised the people to get executed because the parliamentarians need time to settle.

Former President Kufuor noted that constituting a cabinet of nineteen ministers too is very difficult therefore he proposed that every government gets five years in office.

He explained that an elected government should be able to use one year out of the five-year term to compose his cabinet members to settle in and get the policy formulation getting in place.

“If you allow five-year as I tried to explain, into the second year, the executive would have found its feet, legislature smart people would also know the workings and then be able to hold the executive to account,” he stated.

“Into the third year, the policies laid and passed through parliament would be spreading through the populace, for people to see…[the] fourth year, this government if it is worth its salt everybody will see. Fifth year, everybody is crazy because it is election year. You hardly get ministers at the ministries working. Everybody’s mind is on the electorate and how to get reelected.

“But four years, suppose you’ve used the first year to do as I tried to explain, second year is when parliament itself is getting to know the workings, the executive too getting grip of the trappings, third year as the policies are maturing, fourth-year the craze is on, people are rushing around. For a poor country that wants to really lay solid foundations to support the superstructure that must be built for development, it’s too much and becomes like sprinting in athletes. It’s not good enough,” he explained further.

Asked whether it ever crossed his mind or did anyone ever raise it with him to amend the constitution to enable him to extend his stay in office after 2008, Kufuor retorted: “Never and Nobody”.

“The group in which I was, I don’t think would ever think of talking of violating the constitution of the nation, the foundation of it being the sovereignty of the people. The people are the real sovereign authority and it is through this exercise of their sovereignty that we had a state.

“The people’s constitution defines the state and the people, by promulgating the constitution we define what the state is and the institutions of state and so if the constitution says [a] four-year tenure for you as president unless the people amend the constitution to lengthen the stay you can’t do it.

“If the people haven’t done and you, with whatever group of people or cabal, think you know better than the people whose constitution it is to find a way to stay on because you think you could have made Ghana into something else, then you are violating the constitution, you are staging a coup d’etat against the people.”

A view of President of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor, is captured, during the Armed Forces full honor arrival, on the grounds of the White House, Sept. 15, 2008. (U.S. Army photo by Gregory Jones/Released)


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