Prof. Akilagpa Sawyer calls for public agreement review committees

By Afedzi Abdullah, GNA   

Cape Coast, Sept. 30, GNA – Professor Akilagpa
Sawyer, a Former Council of State Member, has proposed the establishment of a
Public Agreement Review Committee to review and check the possible corruption
or otherwise in public agreements in the country.

“We must establish a technical review process
so that at the end of negotiating any major agreements, there will be an
independent technical committee, which would review the agreements with the
negotiators and advice government as to it being open or not open,” he said.

According to Prof. Sawyer, also the Former
Secretary General of the Association of African Universities, this would enable
the country to bring onto the scene an impartial, independent and professional
outlook to the way international agreements were carried out.

It was also a way of building an effective
oversight function to double check government agreements and ensure that they
were done in the best interest of the nation, he said.

Prof. Sawyer, an astute Professor of Law, was
delivering the last in the series of this year’s Kwame Nkrumah Memorial
Lectures organised by the University of Cape Coast (UCC) on the topic: “The
Agreements We Make, Can We Not Do Better?”

The two-day lecture series, the 12th since its
institution by the University in 1974, and later inaugurated in November 1976,
was on the theme: “Negotiation and Management of Public Agreements: Our
National Achilles?”

It was to honour Ghana’s First President,
Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah who would have been 108 years old this year if he
were alive.

Drawing examples from recent agreements in the
natural resources, security and the power sectors to establish his point, Prof.
Sawyer called for the development of procedures and guidelines for undertaking
international negotiations.

“Right now our negotiations are completely
haphazard, complete disaster so let us formalise it through guidelines and
procedures,” he said.

He specifically cited the Defence Cooperation
Agreement with the U.S, the AMERI Deal and the Development Agreement between
the Government and Goldfields Ghana Limited to advance his argument.

Prof. Sawyer said such agreements were badly
negotiated and managed and in many instances, they were tainted with fraud and
corruption, which had created public perception that they were not done in the
best interest of the state.

He said though the role of government and
policy leadership was important in negotiations, technical people must be
allowed to lead in technical matters such as engineering, finance and law.

He said there was the need to consciously
build a pool of seasoned negotiators in both the public and private sectors who
would be available to negotiate on behalf of government at any time.

To achieve this, he said, colleges and
universities in the country must be encouraged to run courses on negotiations
amidst regular training workshops to empower those who had to negotiate on
behalf of government.

Again, Prof Sawyer said there was the need to
work towards maintaining records of negotiation processes in national archives
because they could be massive learning resource for the country.

“We should at all times keep proper records
and achieves of our negotiations. Looking back at the agreements that were made
a year ago, there is no record.”

“The documents and records will help us
understand the agreement that was signed, check what was done and learn from
it” he added.

An honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.),
Honoris Causa, was conferred on Prof. Sawyer by UCC for his exceptional and
immeasurable contribution to the advancement of knowledge and promotion of good
governance in Africa and the World at large.

This brings to 39 the number of personalities
the University had honoured since its institution.


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