Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana Prof Ivan Addae-Mensah has expressed his disappointment in government’s decision to institutionalize January 7 as a public holiday in commemoration of the country’s 4th republican constitution.
Government in the Public Holidays (Amendments) Bill currently before parliament is seeking to scrap 1st July which is the Republic Day as a public holiday. The day will henceforth be only a commemorative day.
Government maintains the move is to celebrate the 4th republic constitution which has endured for 26 years. Speaking on the holiday edition of the Morning Starr with Lantam Papanko, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah argued the first republic evaporated with the overthrow of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
“On the 1st of July 1960 Ghana promulgated a constitution which ushered us into the 1st republic and that’s what we call the republic day, 1st July 1960. And it was our hope that that republic would exist even up till now so that we can build on it. Unfortunately somewhere around 1966 in February it was overthrown.
“It is not to downplay any other day, of course the 1st of July represented the 1st republic that for all intends and purposes is gone, it was even replaced with the 2nd republic and a 3rd republic but what we have today which we need to commemorate is the 4th republic,” Kojo Oppong Nkrumah stated.
Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah however, disagrees with the assertion of the Information Minister. He told Lantam Papanko on the Morning Starr the relevance of the republic day can never be overemphasized.
“To say that we have a new republic, that one I bet to differ. We have had only one republic, July 1 and that republic has had several constitutions with military interregnum. That’s it!”
According to him, no amount of explanation from government can justify the decision to water down the relevance of the republic day.
“During the military governments; we were even celebrating July 1 as a holiday. In fact what we used to do was to have the school children have their parade on Independence Day and the armed forces and the other security services as well as certain recognized institutions having the republic day parade.
“We were celebrating republic day even during the military regimes which means that even the military regimes recognized that we became a republic on that day,” he added.
The former Vice Chancellor did not hide his disappointment in the decision adding the constitution day cannot replace the republic day given the history of the country.
“Frankly and honestly I am disappointed to say that you just commemorate it. If anything should be commemorated it is probably this 7th January thing that we are talking about because July 1 was the day we finally broke away from the Queen of England and I feel very strongly about it. We were under the Queen of England; we ceased to be under a monarch on that day,” an emotional Prof. Addae-Mensah said.
The academic predicted the decision to scrap July 1 as a Public holiday will suffer a similar fate as all the controversial decisions that are reversed with a change in government.
The Ministry of Information is holding a Public Lecture today, Monday, January 7 as part of the maiden celebration of the Constitution Day.
The lecture will be delivered by the rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Professor Philip Ebow Bondzie-Simpson, at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on the topic “Constitutionalism in Ghana’s Fourth Republic: Towards Functional Performance”.