Ghana: Woe betide the nay-sayers!

By IndepthAfrica
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Oct 2nd, 2012
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By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

At long last, political maturity has triumphed over parochialism and 45 constituencies created by the EC will have legal backing.

The NPP followers may be chafing for losing the gamble, but they have themselves to blame for not allowing common sense and good conscience to guide their political manouevres. If the EC could add 30 constituencies to the lot under Kufuor, why should it be prevented from exercising that same legitimate constitutional mandate this time?

Doubtless, there would have been no controversy at all about the creation of the 45 constituencies had the NPP members been circumspect in pursuing their partisan parochial political agenda. But they weren’t, apparently because they thought they had had their conscience seared as if with hot iron and felt too full of themselves as people wielding a political clout to smash the EC’s efforts into nothingness.

Had they been politically mature enough to know that by creating 30 constituencies before the 2008 elections when Kufuor was in power, the EC had already set a precedent to follow, they wouldn’t have gone on this wild goose chase to waste everybody’s time for nearly two months—which even worsens the very time-factor they had sought to use as a justification for opposing the EC’s moves.

Of course, the creation of constituencies has been the preserve of the EC in all these years. One, therefore, wonders why the attempt to create the 45 constituencies should provoke so much anger and vitriol among the NPP and its sympathizers in many segments of the Ghanaian society, including so-called NGOs and the clergy, not to mention the TUC.

The NPP’s only reason for opposing the EC’s move was what it called “bad timing,” implying that the constituencies were being created at a time too close to the December elections and that it won’t have enough time to do groundwork and be ready for the elections in those constituencies. The party claimed that it couldn’t be able to put in place the structures needed for electing parliamentary Candidates, given the short duration.

On a larger level, the NPP was quick to suggest that the EC was in collusion with the government to use these new constituencies as a springboard for rigging the elections in favour of the incumbent. So, everything must be done to thwart that effort; hence, the party’s unbending opposition to the EC’s moves, which all took ridiculous turns in Parliamentary proceedings that saw the initial Constitutional Instrument 73 metamorphose into 78 only to be faulted by the Parliamentary Subsidiary Committee on Legislation and slated for rejection.

The Committee finally laid the report on Friday and recommended the annulment of the C.I. 78, which is to give legal backing to the creation of some 45 new constituencies. Unfortunately for these nay-sayers, their hopes have been dashed and the Representation of the People (Parliamentary Constituencies) Instrument 2012 (C.I. 78) will mature by Wednesday, thanks to the majority decision of 81 to 56 to support the EC’s efforts.

Now that their intransigence has whittled away nearly two months, what do these NPP members think they can do now to be ready for the elections in those constituencies? A fool’s errand being run with this “populist nonsense” just as they are doing with their promise of a free senior high school education?

Let the EC create these constituencies and let the residents choose who their representatives in parliament will be. But the matter doesn’t end there because we have good cause to question how our Legislature has performed thus far. We are not in the least impressed that Parliament has become an avenue for mischief, outright immorality, and a nasty crave for wealth through political connections.

Or with the collusion of people with criminal intent that has exposed some of our MPs as accessories to crimes or downright accomplices in fraudulent acts. Rather intriguingly, none of those MPs caught pants down has been prosecuted to assure Ghanaians that the law is, indeed, no respecter of persons.

Although the number of MPs who debated and voted on the issue (137) fell far short of the total number of MPs (228), the majority decision is binding. Any complaint against MPs who failed to participate in the deliberations and decision-making process may be misplaced at this point, but it goes to confirm public concerns of laxity on the part of our Legislature.

The worry, then, becomes more pointed. Is it really worthwhile to increase the number of MPs, considering the unimpressive performance of the current crop? Are we not sacrificing the national economy just to bloat Parliamentary representation and to deceive ourselves that our democracy is growing, thereby?

Given the shoddy performance of Parliament so far—and the fact that most MPs consider their status as a passport to wealth-generation—isn’t it counter-productive for the country to spend so much on Parliament without getting anything to justify the decision to add 45 more constituencies to the existing quota?

We may all have to make concerted efforts to keep our MPs on their mettle and to use our power to withdraw non-performing ones. We must get our money’s worth and not just be satisfied that we have representatives in Parliament. That’s a footnote to ponder.

The NPP members and their lackeys in the various institutions that have so far voiced dissension over the EC’s action may be biting their fingers at this turn of events to their dismay. But they have themselves to blame for choosing the path of “populist nonsense” to cry wolf all over the place.

The conclusion of this matter should make it clear to them that they can’t hold anybody to ransom just because they think they have a political clout. Power doesn’t reside with them and they shouldn’t deceive themselves that they wield any resounding influence in Ghanaian politics to call the shots.

As the situation is now, good sense has prevailed over mischief and the good people of the 45 constituencies will be happy to be given the opportunity to choose their representatives to work with instead of being sidelined within the workings of the current large constituencies. The narrower the ratio is between the constituents and their MPs, the better chances are that closer interactions will be encouraged. The ultimate goal is to bring the MPs closer to the door-steps of their constituents.

Representation should, then, be given more substance as the people communicate with their MPs to channel their grievances, needs, and demands to the appropriate quarters for attention and redress. That’s the beauty of democracy, which the NPP establishment shouldn’t fail to appreciate.

 

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