The Constitution is said to be sui generis among the body of laws. It is the fundamental law of the law of the land from which the validity of all other laws, commissions and omissions can be ascertained. Besides its legal effect, the Constitution performs a more remarkable role.
In a deep search of the nature and significance of the Constitution, the Supreme Court of Ghana did observe the 1979 Constitution in the case of Tuffour v. Attorney-General  GLR 637 that “A Constitution such as ours…embodies the will of the people. It mirrors their history. Account, therefore, needs to be taken of it as a landmark of the people’s search for progress. It contains within it the hopes for a better and fuller life.”
It is for the utmost significance of the Constitution in the affairs of our nation that we welcomed wholeheartedly the inclusion of the Constitution Day into the country’s calendar of public holidays during its introduction in 2019 through the enactment of the Public Holidays (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Act 986).
Despite the auspiciousness of the public, a majority of people continue to question the rationale for the celebration of the Constitution Day as a public holiday. This piece represents a modest attempt to contribute to the much-needed education to make the Constitution Day more meaningful and purposeful.
Relevance of the Constitution Day
The rationale for the public holiday was espoused in the Memorandum to the Public Holidays (Amendment) Bill, 2018 as follows: “The 1992 Constitution established the Fourth Republic. Which was inaugurated on 7th January, 1993.
“The Fourth Republic has provided the basis for the longest, uninterrupted period of stable constitutional rule in the history of Ghana. It has witnessed seven (now eight) presidential and parliamentary elections. The transfer of power between the two major political parties on [four] occasions has been peaceful. It is therefore worth setting aside the 7th day of January as a national holiday to acknowledge our collective efforts, as a country, in ensuring that the tenets of democracy, the rule of law and the principles of constitutionalism are upheld.”
This holiday has been observed as a public holiday since its introduction. This year’s Constitution Day was the 5th and fell on Saturday, 7th January, 2023.
The writers take the view that the Constitution Day is the most important public holiday in Ghana. This is hinged on the fact that this public holiday projects the country’s long period of political stability achieved under the Fourth Republican Constitution, which commenced on 7th January, 1993. This achievement has earned the country a credential as the oasis of peace on the African Continent. This feat has been acknowledged both locally and internationally. Thus, the Constitution Day is a public holiday that goes to the core of the very existence of our nation as a democratic country.
Among the four Republic Constitutions of Ghana, the longest-serving Constitution is the 4th Republic Constitution. Under this constitution, Ghana has held eight successful Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, with the peaceful transfer of political power between the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Measures to make the Constitution Day more relevant and purposeful
The writers believe that extensive education on the provisions of the 1992 Constitution is crucial to sustenance of the stability of the Fourth Republic, and entrenchment of democracy in Ghana. This belief is hinged on the fact that the people become naturally motivated to defend that which they know to be beneficial to them.
For this reason, the writers suggest that the State should use the Constitution Day as the platform to educate Ghanaians on the provisions of the 1992 Constitution. This realisation informed the framers of the 1992 Constitution to establish the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).
Sadly, however, the impact of this important commission remains largely unfelt by many Ghanaians probably due to funding challenges. Accordingly, it is recommended that NCCE must play a leading role in organising community-based educational campaigns as part of the programme for the celebration of the Constitution Day.
The writers further suggest that the State should establish a system for continuous education about the 1992 Constitution in all the second cycle educational institutions in the country. This must be supplemented by promotional activities on the subject, including holding inter-school quizzes and distribution of miniature copies of the 1992 Constitution.
Indeed, the Constitution Day is the most important public holiday in Ghana as it is fashioned to celebrate the country’s enviable political stability and progress. The 4th Constitution Day, just like the first three holidays, has not been utilised to adequately highlight the relevance of the holiday and to promote the study of the 1992 Constitution among Ghanaians. We hope subsequent once are utilised to educate the citizenry on the constitution.
About the authors
>>>Benjamin Tachie Antiedu, Esq. is a Legal Practitioner & Author.
Email: [email protected]
Goodnuff Appiah Larbi is a Legal Researcher. Email: [email protected]