Try the Teaching Profession, Mr. Kan-Dapaah

Fri, 15 Apr 2016 Source: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Garden City, New York

April 8, 2016

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

He trucks among the cynical pack, and so it is quite understandable that Mr. Albert Kan-Dapaah would be advocating for the doubling of the salaries of Members of Parliament (See “Ghana’s MPs Are Poor – Kan-Dapaah” Starrfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 4/7/16). The reasons that the former Interior Minister under the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) gives for his call, however, do not have legs to stand on. For instance, Mr. Kan-Dapaah thinks that doubling the salaries of MPs would make them more effective. The fact of the matter, even as Mr. Alban Bagbin, the Parliamentary Majority Leader, pointed out is decidedly structural; it fundamentally has to do with a woefully defective Constitution that affords any sitting President too much powers and the Legislature relatively too little of the same.

Consequently, agreeing with the rather lame ratiocinative approach taken by Mr. Kan-Dapaah, the NPP-MP for Afigya-Sekyere, in the Asante Region, would be tantamount to pouring millions of gallons of water into a wicker basket. Then also, Prof. Mike Oquaye, the retired NPP-MP for Dome-Kwabenya, in the Greater-Accra Region, hit the right chord when he decried the hybrid culture of Parliament, whereby the overwhelming majority of cabinet appointees also doubled as MPs. Again, this anomaly is also a structural problem having to do with a deeply flawed constitutional instrument of governance. I have discussed this before and hereby add my voice, one more time, to that of the former University of Ghana’s Law School Dean. In short, in allowing some MPs to double as Cabinet appointees, the entire functionally salutary notion of checks and balances among the three traditional branches of government, namely, the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary is seriously compromised.

But even more significant, Mr. Kan-Dapaah may want to take a cue from trained legal professionals like Mr. Samuel Atta-Akyea, the NPP-MP for Akyem-Abuakwa South, who also maintains an active legal practice even as he represents his constituents in Parliament. The question of whether he has been an effective representative of his people is a different subject for another column altogether. In other words, as a Chartered Public Accountant (CPA), nothing prevents the Afigya-Sekyere MP from practicing his trade as an honest means of supplementing his salary. Reducing the number of MPs currently serving in our august National Assembly may be a very good idea, but the purpose of such numerical retrenchment ought not to be on the cynical basis of using the monetary savings resulting therefrom to double the salaries of MPs who retain their seats in the process; that is morally reprehensible, to say the least.

If Mr. Kan-Dapaah sincerely believes that parliamentarians like himself are poorly paid, by all means, let him try the job of a Ghanaian public schoolteacher. I would rather have whatever savings are made in the process of reducing the number of MPs serving in our National Assembly used for the payment of the outstanding arrears owed our public schoolteachers all over the country. Ghanaian public workers and officials who receive their wages and salaries on a timely basis, like our parliamentarians, ought to be thankful and grateful for their good fortune and stop obnoxiously and greedily exaggerating their functional significance in the scheme of our national life and existence. After all, how many teachers are afforded the generous housing allowances, quadrennial auto-loans (which are actually grants) and the whopping bonuses terminally afforded our parliamentarians at the expense of the economic comfort of average Ghanaian taxpayers, including our teachers?

Part of the problem also stems from the fact that professionally trained chartered accountants like Mr. Kan-Dapaah would so facilely opt to make a full- and long-term career out of partisan politics, rather than use their remarkable professional skills to facilitate the development of employment opportunities for our youths and those in dire need of occupational assistance.

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame