Time to do away with retirees as Presidents; Amend the laws to allow the youth to contest

Kojo Oppong Nkrumah
Kojo Oppong Nkrumah

Welcome to the Democratic Republic of Ghana. A beautiful country where the youth can be allowed to decide which older man becomes the president but can’t choose to become the president themselves.

Ghana is an interesting country. We allow pensioners to build the future for the youth. We have set laws to defend what we do. In as much as there are good laws, there can be bad laws too.

By the Universal Adult Suffrage of Ghana, all persons who are 18 years and above, and are of sound mind can register as voters and vote for any presidential candidate of their choice. By the laws of Ghana, they are ADULTS! The understanding I have about who an adult is, is a person who has the maturity to make informed decisions.

Article 62 of the 1992 constitution is the enemy of Ghanaians and must be reviewed if indeed the country has the goodness of the youth at heart. Article 62 (1), subsection (a) and (b) reads spells out who qualifies to stand for president in Ghana. It reads:

A person shall not be qualified for election as the President of Ghana unless—
(a) He is a citizen of Ghana by birth;
(b) HE HAS ATTAINED THE AGE OF FORTY YEARS (Emphasis)

In one breadth, the youth who are 18 years and above are adults and can choose who to lead them, and in another breadth, they have to be 40 years and above before they stand for president (Article 62(b). I struggle to see why they are approbating and reprobating. Travel Blogger Akesse Sanza shared on Facebook why he can take part in process of selecting a President and cannot contest to become a President himself due to age restrictions. He cited the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, who is in his 30s and building France to be a country he would love to retire in while in Ghana, retirees are Presidents and planning a future that they won’t be available to see. See his post below:

It is difficult to understand the spirit behind that very article of the constitution that is placing an unnatural barrier on the youth from carving the future they would like to retire in. In an era where the advancement of technology is fast eluding the older folks, it will only be right and appropriate we have the youth in the highest levels of decision making in the country. The framers of the constitution and the legal luminaries in the country have all failed to provide an acceptable justification of this clear discrimination against the youth of this country.

In any case, can anyone point to me, any research finding which collaborates with the notion that the old are better managers of a country than the youth? I have not found any yet and would be glad to read such. If it is a matter of education, there are much able youth who have attained the same educational status as our presidents.

A one-time investment banker Emmanuel Macron became France’s youngest president in May 2017 at the age 39. And what shows that a Ghanaian of the same age cannot become the president of Ghana? In case you did not know, Emmanuel Macron has never been an apology of his position. He today, stands as one of the world most revered presidents who has fostered the international relations and trade relations with other countries. If he were to be a Ghanaian, he might have still been serving as a party footsoldier whose worth would not even be known.

The 34-year-old Kim Jon –Un of North Korea has been one of the few world leaders who have stood firmly against the tyranny of a superpower president like Donald Trump, who is 74 years. We all know the nuclear war they waged about three years ago. This is an indication the youth are not timid and can equally protect the sovereignty and territory of their nations when they become president.

Other young presidents who are making a strong case for the youth are Lawyer Oleksiy Goncharuk, who was named prime minister of Ukraine in August 2019, aged 35, by President Volodymyr Zelensky, himself only 41, Carlos Alvarado, a journalist and former labour minister, who won elections to become president in May 2018 aged 38 in Costa Rica.

Young leaders under 40 in Ghana who are causing change like Sammi Awuku, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Okudzeto Ablakwa, Omane Boamah should be enough evidence for us to amend our laws. When the laws are amended in the national level, the parties should also play a role buy lifting their age restrictions. Someone like Kojo Oppong Nkrumah can only dream of becoming a President in a decades time, yet he is more capable and could perform better than some of the candidates we are seeing on our ballots.

Let’s add our voices and take charge of our future. Let us rise to Occupy position that will see the youth building a country they would love to retire in instead of leaving our future in the hands of retirees who are only thinking of a befitting burial, and not a future.

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