By Christian Kpesese, a Journalist
The Shameful events that began and ended the First Session of the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic of Ghana should be of utmost concern to every Ghanaian and all lovers of Parliamentary Democracy as the House resumes for the Second Session on Tuesday. The 8th Parliament began in a chaotic manner amidst insults, kicking of ballot boxes, the invasion of the chamber by armed military men, chewing of ballots and the eventual election of the Speaker a year ago, on the night of January 6 into the early hours of January 7, 2021. In a similar manner, the First Session ended in a similar manner but this time, a bloody manner where Members of Parliament exchanged blows and wounded themselves. It is an undeniable fact that the failure of our Members of Parliament from both sides of the political divide to appreciate the uniqueness of the 8th Parliament is responsible for the unfortunate incidents that marred the First Session of Ghana’s Legislature. You cannot answer a question if you do not understand it. It is therefore important for our representatives (MPs) to understand the nature of the 8th Parliament to enable them to find solutions to the problems that come with it.
Ghana’s 4th Republican Parliamentary Democratic history
For the first time in Ghana’s 4th Republican Parliamentary Democratic history, both the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) have an equal number of seats, 137, 137 and an Independent Member who decided to do business with the NPP, making it the majority group in the House.
Interestingly, for the first time, there are an equal number of female Members of Parliament, 20 each from NPP and NDC making a total of 40 female legislators. Again, for the first time in Ghana’s history, the elected Speaker is not one proposed by the governing party but comes from the opposition party. All these features of the 8th Parliament come with its own dynamics that must be understood by our lawmakers as compared to the previous seven (7) Parliaments of the 4th Republic.
Our MPs must therefore wake up from their slumber and be willing to make compromises for the ultimate good of citizens. As our lawmakers prepare for the start of the Second Session of this 8th Parliament on Tuesday, January 25th, 2022, they should be guided and mindful at all times of these guiding principles that define the institution of Parliament where they represent their constituents.
These principles are embedded in Parliament’s vision statement, its Core Values, Mission Statement and the oath Members of Parliament swore to serve mother Ghana. The Mission Statement of the legislature among others mandates MPs to perform problem resolution functions when arise whilst the Vision Statement envisages Ghana’s Parliament becoming a model Parliament that works towards securing for citizens and posterity the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity. The core values of the Legislature also remind our representatives to exhibit traits of patriotism, integrity, accountability, openness, responsiveness, professionalism, and teamwork in their parliamentary duties at all times. Our MPs also swore to uphold, preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the republic of Ghana and faithfully and conscientiously discharge their duties. These guiding principles should be the watchword for the lawmakers as they resume Parliamentary work to serve as role models and worthy representatives of all citizens for the good of the country. Nothing short of these is worth pursuing by our MPs. Our MPs must rise above the pursuit of partisan and individual parochial interests for the interest of the people they represent and the national interest at all times. The days where parties in government both NPP and NDC in the past have bulldozed their way through the legislature with their numbers are over. The NPP majority group should understand that it has a country to run, ministers of state who are lawmakers must work, they will, by all means, have to travel outside the jurisdiction sometimes when necessary, if that happens, they may not always be available in the chamber in their numbers to vote on every decision.
The days of absolute majority decisions on the floor has eluded this current Parliament by the electorate who voted for teamwork. The Minority NDC should also understand that the people of Ghana could call on them to govern the country in future with a similar Parliament. They must not be seen to be antagonizing government business undeservedly. If that happens, what is good for the goose today, will equally be good for the gander tomorrow. It is a shame for a Parliament which is supposed to be a place for talking to have failed to talk in order to resolve misunderstandings but rather result in verbal attacks and exchange of blows leading to injuries. Never again should this happen again. Both the NPP and NDC sides should be ready and willing to compromise their entrench positions and embrace dialogue, collaboration and consensus-building at all times for the good of the citizens and the country as a whole.