There’s the need to safeguard the integrity of the legal profession in Ghana but it shouldn’t be the preserve of a privileged few to decide who becomes a lawyer.
The groundswell of opposition to plans by the General Legal Council to handpick who gets to go to the Ghana School of Law has not produced impressive results. The reason being a small number of affluent Ghanaians have substantial independent impacts on Ghana than average citizens and mass-based interest groups. And these groups are ready to go to any extent to protect their interest.
So while a majority of Ghanaians disagrees with the Legal Council’s highhanded and bias admission processes at the Law School, organised interests who benefited from the very system they are now opposed to, get to win at the end of the day.
The position of these people, including current Attorney-General Gloria Akuffo, is buoyed by the strong status quo bias built into Ghana’s political system. On issues when fairly large majorities of Ghanaians favour change, they generally do not get it because their impact on the country is not huge.
It’s clear the attempt by the GLC to make potential law students sit for an exam followed by an interview session flagrantly flouts Legislative Instrument (L.I) 1296, which prescribes courses students are to pass in order to gain admission to the Law School.
Chairman of Parliament’s Subsidiary Legislation Committee, Mahama Ayariga and many others benefited from the system prescribed by the L.I, but are afraid to take a stand.
The Supreme Court in a landmark ruling last year held the Legal Council’s entrance exams as an admission requirement to the Law School is “unconstitutional.” The case was filed by US-based Ghanaian Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare in 2015, challenging the admission process.
A seven-member panel shot of judges shot down the Ghana School of Law admission process and directed it to commence implementation of its ruling.
But a defiant GLC is prepared to bully its way through with the laying of a new L.I in Parliament that is seeking to legalise the processes quashed by the apex court.
The L.I will mature after the 21-day grace period and unless the citizens opposed to it mobilise about two-thirds of lawmakers towards their course, it will become binding in the coming days.
The Legal Council has said its action is based on the falling standards in the legal profession but this reason is purely unintelligent, weak and pathetic.
It’s easy to see a son or daughter of senior lawyers, who are among the privileged few, gets admission to the Law School while students whose parents are not among the elite Ghanaians are handpicked.
Maybe it’s time we admit that we are a classist society seriously threatened by activities of powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Ghanaians.
And maybe it’s time to monitor the decisions and laws our Members of Parliament support by starting with the L.I before them. Let’s take names of lawmakers who will stand with Ghanaians to throw out the L.I from the House with immediate effect.
But we also need to take names of MPs who will endorse what the Legal Council is trying to do and punish these people come 2020 general elections. The children of the rich will forever rule the children of the working class or the poor unless we do something about the class struggle that’s playing out in the form of the L.I.
We must not forgive any lawmaker who supports the L.I, not because he is not entitled to his independent judgment, but that he needs to be sensitive to the plight of a majority of Ghanaians. Those found supporting the General Legal Council on the issue have to be voted out without delay.
The author, Austin Brakopowers is a Broadcast journalist at Joy99.7 and views expressed here are exclusively his and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Multimedia Group Limited or Myjoyonline.com. You can reach him via Brakomen@outlook.com