Is This the Kind of Parliament We Want?

Mon, 21 Dec 2009 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

December 18, 2009

When some of us write to condemn some institutions of state as a danger to our democracy, it is not because we love mischief or because we have too much time and too little to do. It is because what we see or hear from those institutions are disgusting. Of all the institutions, our Parliament is quickly creating a very nasty impression for itself and making Ghanaians look foolish for sacrificing their lot to support it. The performance of our Legislature is deplorable and does not justify what is spent on it.

At a time when Ghanaians are desperately looking for the opportunity to deepen their democratic experiment and to insist that government business be made more productive, our Legislature is preoccupied with flimsy issues that make one wonder whether it is worth spending all that money to support the Legislature. We may wake up to the reality only when it is too late to reverse trends.

If you read or hear anything about what happens in Parliament at every session and don’t boil up, you must have a big problem with your elements. Over the years, our Parliamentarians have not ceased to annoy the citizens with their lack of seriousness in doing business. More often than not, they are either out of the Parliamentary Chamber to do extra-Parliamentary work or they fail to attend the sittings, thus denying the Legislature the quorum that it needs to transact business.

At other times, if they are not hooting at each other in useless shouting-matches induced by pettiness over someone’s inability to speak “good English,” they will seize the least opportunity to stage walk-outs and cripple Parliamentary functions. Yet, when it comes to any matter concerning their own welfare, they approach business with the zeal of a Spanish matador or Conquistador. They are greedy, lazy, and unprincipled parasites!

Our MPs have lost their bearing and are more wont to indulge in flimsiness than to engage serious issues to move government business forward. If one considers how vibrant other Parliaments are in their tackling of national assignments, one should want to line up all the members of the Legislature for a special punishment. It is nauseating to know what our MPs consider their priorities and waste time and resources on.

The other day, it was a matter of etymology and semantics concerning the English word “shame.” Today, it is about “improper dressing.” In all these cases, precious time and resources are wasted on these trivialities. Here is the latest instance of lethargy from our Parliamentarians (as reported by Joy Fm Online, Dec. 18, 2009):

“Failure by Sene MP to put on his tie on Thursday meant he was improperly dressed and could not present the budget estimates for the Information Ministry.

The MP who is also the chairman of the Communications Select Committee of Parliament was debarred from presenting the estimates on Thursday over allegations he was improperly dressed.

Joy News Parliamentary correspondent Sammy Darko reports Twumasi Appiah was in his usual suit without a tie, a dressing some members of the minority considered improper, more so when he was to present a paper on the floor of parliament.

Former Attorney General, Joe Ghartey and MP for Essikado unhappy with the dressing of his colleague raised a protest on Thursday, and urged the speaker, Michael Ocquaye to allow the Sene MP to put on his tie before his budget presentation.

He argued that as chairman of the Communications Select Committee of Parliament he should be made to dress properly before his presentation.

But Twumasi Appiah was unimpressed with the protests and rejected the ruling by the speaker for him to put on a tie, forcing proceedings to be adjourned.

On Friday when Parliament reconvened, the issue will not be allowed to die a natural death.

This time in his smock, the Sene MP demanded of the Speaker, Joyce Bamford Addo for clear guidelines as to what constitutes proper or improper dressing.

After successfully presenting the budget for the Information Ministry, Twumasi Appiah told Sammy Darko after Parliamentary proceedings that the earlier ruling against his dressing was wrong. He argued his dressing was formal, adding the wearing of tie is even alien to the Ghanaian culture. Other members of Parliament who spoke to Joy News called for the institution of a dress code to show what is permissible and what is not for MPs.” Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? I am damn angry and wish I could get the chance to reach any of those MPs to take a unilateral physical action against. I would love to pump some sense into his/her “blinking” head! This spectacle was created by the Minority in Parliament. These are people to whom “proper dressing” should take prominence over the very crucial issues that the MP was there to transact. For the records, it is worth stating that the Minority in Parliament is dominated by the NPP MPs. What will their insistence on a dress code add to the poor voter’s living conditions?

Indeed, given all these instances of flippancy and trickery in the goings-on in Parliament, one can but say that Ghanaians have really chosen a rough road in life to walk. In this 21st century when countries are sending missions to Mars and exploring several opportunities to make life comfortable for their people, we in Ghana have chosen to elect into office those who have no idea what it takes to build a country. Next time, the MPs may be seeking to know what each other’s underwear is. Such a bunch of idlers! Indeed, with this kind of leadership, Ghanaians still have a long way to go in rebuilding the country… and may never get there unless something drastic happens to change our mentality. Our Parliamentarians are a laughing stock. They are a danger to our society. Is this the kind of Parliament we want to help us rebuild our country? I don’t think so.

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.