Opinions of Wed, 17 Mar 20042

Cut Out The Petulance And Just Legislate

If there ever was a bunch of crybabies in Ghana's parliamentary history, it is the current group of legislators in Accra. A collection of lawyers, ex-military types, businessmen and former school instructors, this motley crew of lawmakers makes me want to scream, "Oh brother, enough already."

Over the last three years, I have followed with a certain unease, legislative deliberations in Accra and to tell you the truth, I am troubled by the sheer bravado and chutzpah of our political representatives.

Despite philosophical and political differences, these lawmakers share some common characteristics; they are chronic whiners, profligate spenders, unfailingly contentious, and demonstrate an unwavering proclivity of turning minor flaps into raging controversies.

It is utterly amazing the lengths to which these lawmakers will go just to be in the spotlight. Indeed, there have been times in the past when I felt compelled to dismiss these politicos as disengaged dolts. But..........

Anyway, for the sake of discussion, let's revisit some of the most "crowning" moments of these august fellows to bring the issue into sharp focus.

Not so long ago, the Speaker of the House, Peter Ala Adjetey, lamented bitterly over the "paltry" salaries of parliamentarians. This, after he had returned from an overseas vacation financed by Ghanaian tax payers and an earlier medical touchup in Britain supported by the same taxpayers he is disparaging.

The speaker's audacity is especially galling, given the pauper take-home pay of the average Joe in Ghana. Serious legislators care more about the needs of their constituents than whining about remuneration..

Some legislators have even become less sanguine of our democratic process to the extent that they have mouthed the dreaded C - word -- coup.

Miffed at the NPP for keeping him on the sidelines in the lead up to the aborted vote on amending the Representation of the People Bill, Edward Doe Adjaho, representative for Avenor, reportedly threatened the NPP with brimstone and fire.

"Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable," Adjaho thundered on a local radio show.

Phew!!! What a loaded statement. I just hope the honorable member of parliament was caught in a fleeting moment of anger and wasn't exactly finagling a deal with some knuckleheads in khaki drabs.

But wait, it gets interesting. A few days ago, lawmakers ganged up on the poor editor of a little known Accra newspaper, the Independent. All the huffing and puffing was over a harmless editorial in the paper describing members of the Privilege Committee as "Ala Adjetey Boys and Girls."

Minority whip, the supercilious Alban Bagbin, who alerted his colleagues to the editorial was said to be livid over the description. And for once, there was a brief moment of bipartisanship as Speaker Adjetey demanded an apology and a retraction from the editor, Egbert Fabil Junior.

Incredible stuff, and petty, too. Folks, this is intimidation, pure and simple. For chrissakes, no lawmaker's reputation was impugned. Would someone, please, tell these legislators to get off their high horses and run the nation's business minus the petulance?

It is radiantly clear that these modern day lawmakers are obstinately ignorant of the fine things of democracy. Society thrives on a responsive government complimented by a free press. Absent these, and society starts drifting inexorably towards crisis.

The lingering question is: are lawmakers trying to rein in the press? Probably not. Even if certain sections of the media are gung-ho over their new found freedom, it is wrong to haul a scribbler in front of a parliamentary committee and laced into him for something as trivial as a boneheaded editorial.

It sets all of us back.....we have made remarkable strides in our long, torturous march towards a pluralistic society, let us not give up these achievements.


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