Ghana’s Constitutional Review Commission is slated to be in Toronto for its national exercise of consultations with Ghanaians in the diaspora from April 2 to 4, 2011. The Committee, which is embarking on a supposedly overseas tour for â€œconsultationsâ€ with Ghanaians in the diaspora has already visited Washington DC in the United States.
Among its schedule of activities in Toronto is a Town Hall meeting to receive submissions from â€œstakeholdersâ€, and rounding up their â€œconsultationsâ€ with a Dinner to which a select few from the community is invited. We hasten to dismiss this overseas â€œconsultationâ€ by the Constitutional Review Committee as a hollow exercise that means absolutely nothing, and will infact have no impact on the lives and fortunes of Ghanaians in the diaspora in the affairs of the Land of Our Birth, Ghana. We know that the Commission has finished its work in Ghana and is in the process of writing its final report. We therefore regard the overseas tour and â€œconsultationsâ€ with Ghanaians in the diaspora as at best a last-minute thinking and attempt to placate Ghanaians in the diaspora with a semblance of being taken seriously in the affairs of Ghana. At worse, we believe that the Committee is undertaking the tour as a well-deserved holiday after their grueling schedule of activities in Ghana over the past year or so.
Before anyone dismisses our concerns, we need to pose this question to Ghanaians in the diaspora and the Constitutional Review Committee: Since when did governments and people in Ghana take the views and opinions of Ghanaians in the diaspora seriously? From Rawlingsâ€™ (P)NDC through Kufourâ€™s NPP to Mills/Rawlings current NDC governments, no government in Ghana over the past thirty years has paid any serious attention to the opinions of Ghanaians in the diaspora. We have a Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, written by the members of the current ruling party and government, promulgated in 1992, which strips most Ghanaians in the diaspora of their Ghanaian citizenship because of their â€œcrimeâ€ of taking the citizenship of their host countries. In fact it is the acquisition of other citizenship by Ghanaians in the diaspora that has helped develop and strengthen the economy of Ghana.
Over the past thirty years, governments and people that live in the homeland seem to have declared war on Ghanaians abroad. At best they tolerate us and want us to bring in money, goods, services and build houses at home. When it comes to contributing opinions to the affairs of the state, we are either ignored or told to shut up. Apart of stripping us of our Ghanaian citizenship, the same Constitution written by Rawlings and his cronies offers us an â€œopportunityâ€ to re-apply for a â€œDualâ€ citizenship status but that citizenship effectively and constitutionally confers second-class citizenship on Ghanaians in the diaspora who take dual-citizenship. The Constitution lists a number of positions, including the Director of Prisons, which dual citizens are not allowed to hold in Ghana. In 2005 and 2006, Ghanaians abroad lobbied hard to get Parliament to pass the Rights of Persons Abroad Act (ROPAA) to vote in elections in Ghana. The Act passed but nothing has come out of it.
We welcome members of the Constitutional Review Committee to Toronto, but we wish to be placed on record that we are not enthusiastic about their mission here. What they need to do to right the wrong the nation Ghana has done to its citizens abroad is right there in the Constitution that they are reviewing. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand those sections that are insulting and unjust to us. The Committee did not need to buy air tickets to come abroad to hear these concerns: they are right there in Black and White in the Constitution. They should go back and review them and recommend their immediate repeals and get them scrapped. That way, we will take their next visits seriously.