Opinions Sat, 20 Feb 2021

Why the Appointment Commitee of parliament does not need permanent or regular membership

An objective appraisal of the Appointment Committee of Parliament (AC) of the 8th Parliament gives a glimmer of hope as ministerial nominees so far have been grilled with questions with the view to assessing their capabilities in respect of the portfolios they have been appointed to work as ministers if approved.

In view of this, it is not surprising that many renowned people have had cause to commend the members of the 8th PAC for the thorough research and the zeal with which members of the committee have attached to this very important duty as the representatives of the people.

To mention but a few, Hon. Muntaka Mubarak, Smuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and the most distinctive phenomenon which seem to be far from the norm is an instance where one finds Hon. Afenyo Markins as a member of the ruling party, asking very critical questions as if he were an opposition member.

In spite of the strength of the AC of the 8th Parliament, I hold a very strong view that the honourable members can go a step further than they are doing if we are to reconsider the composition of the AC as one very instrumental committee of parliament.

There are several committees of the chamber some of which are the Subsidiary Legislation, Finance, Education, Communication, Health Committees among others.

All the honourable members of the respective committees are selected based on their profession or areas of operation and so they are well-positioned to ask relevant questions relating to the ministries in their jurisdiction.

For example, one cannot be a member of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee if he or she was not first a lawyer. It goes without saying that a committee like the Committee on Education is largely composed of teachers and members with work history within the educational spectrum.

In much the same way, doctors, nurses, psychiatrists etcetera are also selected to fill the Committee on Health and this applies to all the other committees.

In sharp contrast, the composition of AC has been composed of members who are articulate, have command of the Queen's language and generally members from different professions such as lawyers, doctors, media persons etcetera but not necessarily members with professional background that match the profession of the nominee before them.

My view is that, unlike the other committees which have regular or permanent members, the AC must not have a regular or permanent membership. The crux of my view stems from fact that the members from other professions other than the profession of the nominee before them 'may not' be in the better position to ask critically relevant questions with the view to elicit information on the basis of which assist them to form an opinion as to whether or not the nominee is equal to the task.

This could be done by recycling the members of other committees whose professional background and expertise match the portfolio of the nominee before them. For example, members who have worked in the health sector could be brought together temporarily to form the AC to deal with the minister of health nominee and leave immediately when they finish with him or her for other members to reconstitute the AC to deal with the nominees in their areas as well.

Imagine an ordinary member of the AC who is not a lawyer clothed with the duty to not only ask questions but also assess the legal capabilities of an Attorney General designate as to whether or not he or she is fit for the job.

Your guess is as good as mine!
Columnist: Daniel Yiadom Boakye