Our Lethargic Parliament!

Mon, 5 Oct 2009 Source: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw

Yaw Opare-Asamoa


I have always maintained the view that Ghana’s Parliament is underperforming and thereby failing the very people it is supposed to represent. It will serve no purpose for me to begin to list the numerous areas of inaction by Parliament since any such list would be non-exhaustive, but two examples will do for now-Our people die by the hundreds yearly through road accidents and what has our ‘honourable’ Parliament done about it?; Ghana has now become the dumping ground for toxic materials from abroad and Parliament could care less. Parliament is the branch if government that passes laws-laws that should seek to make life better for the people. Parliament is silent as the Executive branch (from one government to the other) continues to ‘toy’ with the lives of our secondary school students. As a country we cannot just decide on what the duration for secondary education should be and there is no leadership or guidance coming from Parliament. Sometimes one wonders whether our ‘honourable’ Parliamentarians really know what their roles and functions are.

Events of the recent past have prompted me to writing this article: First is the decision by government to dole out about $20,000.00 of our money to our Muslim brothers and sisters for their pilgrimage to Mecca. Second is the news report that some Nigerian ‘militants’ are to be resettled in our dear country. Yes, I do know what the Vice –President said regarding that money. He claims it is a loan to the Hajj Council or Board. The question is would the Vice-President be ready to give that kind of money to a group of young graduates who come up with a brilliant business idea and for which they would need some initial capital to start? Religion is a purely private matter. Government has no business in what/who people worship and how they decide to worship. When a group of worshippers decide to go on a pilgrimage, which part of our constitution says the government should commit taxpayers’ money to such enterprise? What if another group decides to visit Jerusalem or the Vatican or some other place of religious significance? And who told the Vice-President that the government has the authority to ‘dish’ out money without Parliamentary approval? So why did the government not go to Parliament to seek approval before giving our money out? Especially if he wants us to believe that it is truly a loan!! How do we know whether it is repaid or not? Or we should just accept and take his word for it when he comes back to announce to us that the said amount has been repaid. And where was Parliament? Missing-in-action as usual!! We could not even get one person in Parliament to draw the attention of the Vice-President and his government that their action was unconstitutional? And by the way isn’t the President a Professor of Law and the Vice-President himself a former Parliamentarian?

For now, we do not even know whether that story from Nigeria is true or not. But wouldn’t it be part of their duties, as Parliamentarians, to call for an enquiry into that story; and establish its veracity or otherwise? How do we know if they are already in the country or not? As taxpaying citizens of this country, Parliament is and should be responsible to us. They should act to allay any lingering fears in our minds as regards our safety. Are these militants already in the country or not? Are there any plans to bring such people here? Parliament should provide answers to the people. The Interior Minister should be invited and made to answer these questions.

These people are public servants and they are being paid with our money; the least we should expect is that they perform their duties. I must commend the President for taking steps to resource the Parliamentarians with Research Assistants. We are expecting marked improvement in the depth of knowledge and quality of their presentations this year. Anything short of that would be unacceptable.

Written and submitted on October 3, 2009

Columnist: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw