By: Henrietta Afful
Panelists on the Breakfast Show on GTV have underscored the need for Members of Parliament (MPs) to have offices in their constituencies to be able to address the needs of their people effectively.
Their assertions follow comments by the Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Alban Sumana Bagbin that MPs must have offices and staff that will support them to perform their duties in their constituencies.
Speaking on the Breakfast Show on GTV, November 23, 2021, a Governance Expert and Director General of the Internal Audit Agency, Dr. Eric Oduro Osae, said if Ghana is developing a constitutional democracy, then MPs are required to touch base with their constituents before coming to Parliament.
“The Constitution or System must create a situation where the MP can have an office in the Constituency where all of us can meet with the MPs or the MPs can even meet with the constituents before going to Parliament”, Dr Oduro Osae said.
He emphasized that though MPs are required by democratic standards to have offices, that should not be the responsibility of the MPs.
“It should be the responsibility of the State to promote democracy”, Dr Oduro Osae stated.
He added that apart from having offices in the Constituencies, MPs must also have standard offices with a research team to support them to work well in Parliament.
This, according to the Governance Expert, will enable MPs to be proactive in discharging their duties.
“I think that it is the duty of the system or government to provide constituency offices so that it will be a permanent office for every MP”, Dr Oduro Osae said to buttress his points.
He noted that MPs renting their own office space is what currently pertains in the country, and they are not of the same standard, a situation he said is bad for democracy especially when the offices are branded in party colours.
He said a national office will depoliticize the activities of MPs and project them as representatives of the entire Constituency.
Dr. Oduro Osae therefore urged the State to take keen interest in the issues by providing a lasting solution.
“The State must take an interest in this if we want to promote democracy and make sure that we have standard offices in all Constituencies for MPs, to facilitate before and after Parliament meetings of the MPs and their constituents”, Dr Oduro Osae added.
On his part, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, University of Professional Studies, (UPSA), Dr John Kwaku Mawutor Mensah said, democracy in its entirety is expensive and the more we think of extending the number of lawmakers in Parliament, the higher the cost we need to invest to run various institutions in the country.
Dr Kwaku Mawuto Mensah said MPs need some form of physical existence in their constituencies in order to have a relationship with the Constituents.
“Once we have opted for democracy as a country, then, we need to also spend more in ensuring that whatever facility we need to provide for our lawmakers to operate and open up to their Constituents is done”, Dr. Mawutor Mensah said.