How art the mighty fallen? – Ghana’s 2020 Elections

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By Alexander Nyarko Yeboah

Tema Dec 11, — One wonders why many Members of Parliament (MPs) lost their seats in dramatic proportions in the 2020 General Elections in Ghana. The loss is astronomical because very prominent MPs from the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), some deputy ministers of state, would not be returning to parliament.

This perhaps is reflective of the 2016 General Elections in which a tall list of National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs lost their seats in a row, giving the NPP the majority in parliament.

Some of these MPs are believed to have done many developmental projects in their constituencies, yet their constituents did not take that into consideration in voting against them.

This indeed makes one wonder whether Ghanaian MPs are living up to expectation, not only in the eyes of the law, but also in the eyes of the ordinary voter.

Of course, the conduct and performance of some of our members of parliament leaves much to be desired, and so, irrespective of the good performance of their presidential candidates, they are still punished by the electorates.

First of all, the Fourth Republican Constitution would have to be looked at should one try to understand why the lifespan of the average MP in the Ghanaian parliament is shorter compared to MPs in other jurisdictions.

This is because the constitution also makes a large number of these MPs ministers of state which means they have to fluctuate between executive and legislative functions. This dual role, of course, could rob them of quality time they would have otherwise spent on their legislative duties.

In that regard, whilst they bury themselves in executive responsibilities, they lose sight of their primary function of law-making and championing the issues of their constituents, thereby losing the trust of the electorates.

Secondly, the MPs come into office on the back of many promises, promises they know they may either not be able to deliver, or are not constitutionally mandated to perform. This is because developmental issues at the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly (MMDA) levels of governance are supposed to the implemented by the Chief Executives in such administrative districts, and not the MP.

The MP is constitutionally mandated to champion laws and initiate bills that would create the enabling framework for development in their constituency and the nation as a whole. This aspect of the role of the Member of Parliament is not well understood by the electorate and nobody, including the MPs, is ready to educate the populace in that regard.

In other jurisdictions, MPs conduct research into issues that affect their constituent such as, why poverty is prevalent in a particular area, why particular sicknesses are rampant in an area, why particular youth groups are more prone to violence, etc., and when such findings are made, the MPs champion private members bills to help correct such situations.

Such broader developmental agenda of the MP is more important than the building of schools and markets which are the responsibilities of the MMDA Chief Executives. And yet, our MPs prefer to be drilling bore holes and building public toilets because they feel that would endear them to the electorate.

And so, while they build the schools and the public toilets, their youth are deep into drug addiction and are not even attending the schools built; many of their constituents still prefer practicing open defecation even though public toilets are built, suggesting that the fundamental problems with the people have not be addressed.

It is therefore refreshing to say that society and the MP’s own desire to clinch unto power, have made them abandon their noble role to society and are struggling with the MMDA Chief Executives over the right to initiate monumental developments in their constituencies. In the end, the constituents get fed up with the MP because most of the promises made are lurking with the MP coming around, mostly close to elections, to attempt to fulfill some of the promises.

As such, as sentiments grow against the MP, some of them do not help things by their very nature and attitude; some MPs are clearly arrogant and take their constituents for granted. This is because, most of the times, they come begging for votes, and after winning elections, forget the people who bring them victory. Therefore their car windows are tainted and rolled up, and they drive past the electorates as if they do not know them.

The sad thing is, when they had created the impression that they are accessible and anybody could come to them, some MPs cannot be reached on phone or at home, and some throw their weights about as if they elected themselves into office. In the midst of all these, one even wonders how many times these MPs have Town Hall meetings with their constituents to take their views on issues.

This is why they would continue to fall, elections after elections, because Ghanaians are gradually becoming fed up with the show of arrogance and display of affluence that have come to be associated with their office.

Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, one of the longest serving members of parliament and the MP for Suame Constituency, has always been of the view that the two topmost political parties, NDC and NPP, should amend their constitutions to protect some seats at the primaries so persons occupying them would continue in office, because the continuity of the MP in parliament is vital to the work of parliament.

I disagree with this assertion. This is because, the MP must be elected only on merit and that one would always be elected so long as one did the right thing in the eyes of the people and the law.

It looks like MP-ship in Ghana is becoming a luxury judging from the many advantages that comes with the office. In that regard, a lot of people are jumping over themselves to become parliamentarians even when, by all indications, they did not have what it takes to legislate. What the nation needs are dedicated and patriotic persons, who are willing to sacrifice their time to ensure that they brought lasting prosperity to their constituents and the nation as a whole through effective legislative work.

The MP has a lot of work to do in parliament to safeguard the interest of the nation in the governance process and ensure that Ghana’s democratic process is protected. This they should do with all their might and stop reducing it to building school walls and roads in their constituencies. Ghanaians should scrape the MP’s Common Fund and release the MP to their noble task of legislation, and the nation would benefit from them the more.

As we see the MPs falling like lightening, it is clear that something is wrong; something is wrong with the constitution itself and our understanding of the role of the MP. Something is wrong with the posture of some of the MPs and the kind of promises they give prior to elections.

The falling of our MPs is a wake-up call to everybody who aspires to occupy a seat in parliament to note that the Ghanaian is becoming more enlightened and would throw them out if they are not seen to be performing.

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