The New Rush for Parliament

In the last few weeks, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, George Andah, Phillip Addison and Abeiku Santana have expressed their intention to contest in party primaries for the right to be party candidates for parliament in the general elections in 2016. I have heard some commentators welcome the move as an indication that people are becoming more conscious of their duty towards the country and are now willing to directly contribute to governance.

The intention of Kojo and George especially has come under much attention because they were hitherto unknown as members of any political party. Much praise has been given to both men for rolling up their sleeves to take their turn at shaping the political landscape and, hopefully, national policy.

I have a few issues to raise about this seemingly new interest in political office. But before that, I want to congratulate the aspiring MPs for their move. I also wish that the rumours that Gifty Anti may also be interested in public office are confirmed. The current ‘dirty’ tag hovering over politics is counterproductive. It may discourage many qualified people from participating for the fear of having their reputations soiled or alienating sympathisers on the other side of the political fence.

Now to the issues.

Our current parliament is stacked with an embarrassment of riches in qualified people. Celebrated lawyers, chartered accountants, journalists, social activists, economists, business people, educationists and some medical doctors have been or are currently in parliament. The idea that people in parliament have not had successful careers outside politics is neither fair nor supported by the facts. Any failure of parliament to live up to the expectations of Ghanaians cannot therefore be placed on the poor qualification of the humans that make up parliament.

We need to find out why parliament as a whole has been unable to effectively perform its oversight role over the executive. We need to know why our legislators still campaign on building schools and tarring roads. Why do these qualified women and men vote strictly along party lines on major legislations apart from those involving their perquisites? Who do the MPs owe allegiance to first of all, their party or their constituents?

It is my belief that pushing for the adoption of constitutional reforms that will help MPs to sponsor private bills, open up the selection of MMDCEs to the popular vote and removing the requirement of selecting 50% of Ministers from parliament will give parliament the focus it needs to propose and critically review legislations and effectively hold the executive to account.

Structural changes are clearly needed, and many times the duty has fallen on ordinary citizens and civil society to advocate for those changes. If the new class of aspiring MPs win, they can best repay the goodwill they have enjoyed from the public by using the influence they would have to push for these changes.

These people have become a symbol of change. They carry with them the hopes of many people for a new type of politics, one committed first to the people and then the party. This may sound idealistic but it is the burden that they hold. They are not the first people whose foray into partisan politics has raised the expectations of many, but they can be the first to meet those expectations.

I wish them well in the primaries, the general election, their battle against the barriers preventing structural change, the fight to disprove the cynics expecting them not to be different and the challenge to justify the faith which many Ghanaians have placed in them.

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6 thoughts on “The New Rush for Parliament

  1. 1. Gifty Anti has stated she’s not contesting. That should close the rumours unless you’re reviving them.
    2. The call for MMDCEs to be subjected to popular vote is bogus. It doesn’t fit into our governance structure (a unity state) and the reasons for the call (to make them accountable to the people, as if they are not already so, etc) are even more bogus.
    3. of all who have declared, so far, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has a serious question to answer: why did he, as an NPP card bearing and dues paying member moderate the 2012 presidential election IEA debate? That’s corruption.

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  2. A brilliant piece teasing out critical issues. Appointing 50% MPs to be Ministers, election of DCEs should be discussed and amended.

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    • election of DCEs should be amended to what? can you show us? you made this kind of argument recently on facebook and yet failed to show how it should be done even after I challenged you. Perhaps you’ve heard others say this thing so you go about repeating it. if you can’t show then you must admit your argument empty.

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  3. this is being done already. This is what happens: 1. the president nominates. 2. Assemblies vote to accept or reject. 3. if Assemblies reject, then president is to make another nomination, and so on, till Assemblies accept.
    our problem seems more to be that folks jump to condemn our governance structure without even taking the slightest care to understand what prevails.

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  4. Novisi, you are everywhere why?

    I am not expecting anything exceptional from these new crop of parliamentary aspirants. Maybe i am being pessimistic or the piece is too hopeful but we are all in this country and saw “celebrated” social figures who we thought were really going to make a huge impact but then they have nothing to show for almost 4 years. keeping fingers crossed this time.

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