Business News of 2014-01-18

Comment: Dancing in Parliament to ‘merchantly sang fortized’ song

When the Azonto dance first emerged, reports had it that some pastors banned their members from dancing it in their churches. Some pastors felt the dance was a sort of profane or pagan dance.

However, despite the initial concerns of some of these “over Christianised” and holier-than-thou pastors, Azonto is now performed in many churches by both the youth and adults, including some liberal pastors. In recent times, the President and the First Lady have been doing the Azonto moves at a number of public places.

One thing about our Ghanaian ethnic groups is how some of them are so proud to exhibit their culture wherever and whenever they want.

One group I admire so much when it comes to the consistent portrayal of its culture is the Ewe or is it Anlo (my good friend Togbe Afede should please kindly send one of his linguists to explain the difference to me). The Agbadza dance is in their blood to the extent that no matter what kind of music you play for them, they would end up corrupting the dance with Agbadza.

Recently, the NDC Chairman, Dr Kwabena Adjei, displayed some unique Azonto dance at a function which was captured in a TV news bulletin.

He started the Azonto all right, but in no time, he converted the dance into Agba-Zonto’ (Agbadza plus Azonto).

Another group I admire is the Asante. Just play a highlife or reggae music and the Asante man or woman would soon turn the dance to Kete or Adowa. Such is the culturally inspired dancing habits of most of our Ghanaian ethnic groups; they find it very easy to blend any kind of dance with their own indigenous type.

It was, therefore, very strange to watch on TV how our highly and well-paid honourable MPs in Parliament started to use the floor of the house to dance to a ‘merchantlysang fortized song’ without infusing any nationalism into it. There was no Agbaza or Kete in their dance.

One would have thought that because of the high expenditure we the people of this country make on our MPs ‘honourable’, they would have put Ghana and its people first in all that they do in the house.

Repeated episodes in the legislative house since the inception of our democratic process have shown that our MPs are mostly concerned with the interests of their political parties than those of the state and the people.

For some time now, the issue of the sale of the recently well-performing Merchant Bank to the hurriedly created Fortiz Private Equity Fund Limited has caught the attention of many Ghanaians, especially workers whose monthly contributions the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) is playing what one radio discussion guest terms “Ajana One, Ajana Two” (chacha) with.

While the concerns of Ghanaians continue to rise, forcing a private citizen, Andrew Awuni, to go to court to attempt to stop the sale of the bank, our Parliament has never seen the need to intervene, just as the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has proven to be as useless to workers as one could imagine as far as the Merchant Bank-Fortiz issue is concerned.

When the Merchant Bank sale eventually found its way into Parliament on Monday, January 6, 2014, it rather created a comic relief in the house at the expense of the people of this country whose toil our MPs continue to enjoy life as ‘honourables; living in their comfort zones.

The Minority forced the Speaker to agree that the issue deserved to be discussed in Parliament; hence, he recalled the MPs from their Christmas recess, only for him to realise that the issue was, after all, not suitable for discussion in Parliament.

So why did Mr Speaker recall the MPs in the first place, when he knew the issue could not be discussed in Parliament? Would Mr Speaker tell us if he and the MPs had not caused any financial waste, when we have to bear the cost of their recall only for them to come and perform a comedy?

Isn’t it time for our Parliament and parliamentarians to put Ghana and Ghanaians first in all that they do, and stop the disgusting and dirty politicking they have always engaged in, to the detriment of the good people of this country?

So far, the Minority has not been able to discuss the Merchant Bank-Fortiz issue as a national concern which demands a non-partisan consideration and approach. For that reason, its members have always brought in either President John Mahama or his government, at times even linking him to his brother’s company as if he is a director or part owner of the company, instead of dealing with the Bank of Ghana, the board of directors of Merchant Bank, as well as the officials of SSNIT who brokered the deal.

Strangely, when the Minority links John Mahama and Ibrahim Mahama (his brother) to Engineers and Planners (EP) and the latter’s loan facility with the Merchant Bank, they deliberately forget to link the NPP government under whose tenure Ibrahim Mahama’s EP company took the loan.

In response to the Minority, the Majority has also turned itself into a public relations agency of Fortiz, consistently and constantly defending the company without finding anything wrong with why such a hurriedly created company should be given, on a silver platter, a national bank which was very recently performing as one of the best banks in the country.

Even before Mr Dominic Nitiwul’s motion could get to the floor of Parliament, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka had on January 2 told the media that Parliament would reject the motion. He told Joy News that those behind the motion did not think through it before summoning the MPs, who were “in the middle of important activities in their constituencies.”

Having wasted our financial and other resources on their recall, both the Minority and Majority left the debate on the floor of the house and unashamedly engaged themselves in press conferences, thus taking all of us for a ride.

And how does Mr Speaker, for instance, explain why he says the Fortiz issue cannot be discussed in Parliament because it is in court, while the same Parliament ignored the fact that Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni had a case against him in court and still went ahead to vet him for a ministerial position?

Mr Speaker and our MPs must know that we judge their actions and performance based on the 1992 Constitution and not on their self-made internal standing orders which are supposed only to guide their conduct in accordance with the constitution.

It is, therefore, time for our Parliament and MPs to show some sense of nationalism and patriotism, instead of their party affiliation-inspired intransigence which is not helping our democracy and our people. They should stop this Merbank-Fortiz dance and champion the interest of the people.

By: Dr Frank Asare-Donkoh

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