Being MP and where our politics is headed + a little disclaimer and a response

Disclaimer for the Dumb

Hello. My name is Kwame Gyan. I was born in Tamale in Northern Ghana and both of my parents are natives of the Brong Ahafo Region. I am writing this piece as a Ghanaian with an opinion. Read it with the background that it is coming from a Ghanaian who has an opinion. If I were writing for and on behalf of anybody or any entity I would state that from the onset. If you cannot accept that a Ghanaian with a voting right among others should have and express an opinion, please stop here. You have no business to read on.

BEING MP AND WHERE OUR POLITICS IS HEADING

The NPP has pulled off yet a very commendable democratic exercise. Ghana  should be proud of the party. I have said it before that we need a very credible opposition party in this country. I even wish we had a strong 3rd force or at least an influential one. In the absence of that we should be happy to have a good opposition. Of course the opponents of the NPP and others who may love the idea of a one party state regardless of the form it takes may disagree.

Prior to the NPP primaries there had been talk about ‘protecting experienced and first-term MPs’. I disagreed with that assertion largely because I think people should allow democracy to work. They should earn their seats and they should not feel they own the seats nor are they doing their constituents a favour.

MONEYCRATIZATION OF OUR POLITICS

At a meeting with the Parliamentary Press Corp a few months back the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Edward Doe-Adjaho complained about how we have made money the fulcrum of our political endeavours. As citifmonline.com reports;

” The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho has expressed serious concerns over the dominance of money in Ghana’s politics.

He observed that Ghana’s democracy has got to a stage that money rules rather than seeking the interest of Ghanaians.

“We have monetized politics, all of us. If you don’t pay they won’t vote for you,” the Speaker of Parliament stated.

This he said have had a negative effect on the country’s democracy because those who have good intentions but may not have money to spread would not get the chance to go into politics.”

Now information I am privy to indicate that what went on during the primaries was a case where ‘money cried’. It was as though what mattered most to these delegates who have the enviable right to determine who represents their people in parliament was who could dole out the most cash but not who per their thinking was a better candidate. No matter how good you are, if you couldn’t pay the most money then you had a slender chance of winning. On the flipside, having money was closer to a guarantee of winning even if you were clueless of what your role as an MP will be.

Yes I am also aware that some people that were perceived to be more pro-Alan than pro-Nana also lost their seats. So yes, we can point to several factors why some people won and others lost. And yes, competence probably played a huge role as well. But from where I sit, the game changing factor was the money that changed hands.

There were perhaps on the average 400 delegates per constituency. Even if an aspirant had to give out 100 cedis to each delegate, that alone amounts to 40,000. Now, I am told in some areas, delegates received allowances for breakfast, T&T, table top fridges, motorcycles, mobile phones and of course more cash. In some cases 500 or 800 cedis per delegate. Do the math.

I don’t want to ask how these aspirants got these monies from. I won’t ask how or if or when they will pay back. I won’t ask any questions on that.

Lots of questions that need answers must be asked about this trend. I am not competing in in a popularity contest so I care less how unpopular I will be for asking the questions that must be asked. And again, this is is a common scenario in our two major parties.

Are we going to say that it is just okay to allow money to determine who our political leaders and law makers are? Is it suprising that our people expect so much from their MPS? I am told that the sort of things constituents expect from their members of Parliament include; school fees for wards, nsawa for virtually every funeral in the constituency, build schools and wells and roads and ICT centres, foundation money for a business and the weirdest I heard from from a respectable journalist was a request for money to go abort a girlfriend’s pregnancy.

Folks, per out constitution the job of the MP is basically to make laws. That’s it. But if a constituent is aware that you found 1000 for him and 400 people before a party primary does it not make sense that he expects you to have monies for him especially when he considers it a need?

THE ISSUE OF A 22 YEAR OLD STUDENT HEADING TO PARLIAMENT

I have been called a hater. Some say I am jealous. Others say I’m exhibiting the clear Pull Her Down syndrome.

I few years ago a lot of people were breathing down the neck of my friend Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa when he stood and won the Parliamentary seat on the ticket of the NDC. They said he was inexperienced and accused the party of fielding a lot of boys without any experience. Ablakwa at the time had completed the University of Ghana. During his time at Legon he won and served a full term as NUGS President. Anyone how understands the NUGS of yesterday will appreciate  that holding that position gives you a tonne of political and diplomatic experience. Even if i didnt know him, i knew how thr terrain was with NUGS.

Now to me the issue of experience of sorts is very important in public office. It is not the terrain to come and learn. It is the platform for you to deliver and serve. I have no problem  with any qualified person standing for public office. Just as I was being bombarded and praised in equal measure (perhaps more of the former), I got this in my Facebook inbox;

” Please what about all the current ministers and MPs who have been studying at GIMPA, law school and even in the UK whilst hanging on to their posts? No one appears to be concerned about it. Ask the delegates who took cash for votes. It had nothing to do with experience or women just cash, plasma televisions and gold watches etc. That is Ghana politics for you. What experience does the person who won against Isaac Osei and the rest have? Have they even been at the assembly? Let us have a debate about this. Pastors and politicians need no qualifications in Ghana. That is the trend. Even those with several degrees often are there to look after their own pockets. What is the solution?”

I don’t even know the young woman. I haven’t heard her speak nor read anything she may have written. I believe same goes for the 100s of people asking that we celebrate her. What I do not know is what I am supposed to be celebrating.

Are we celebrating her decision to stand for MP at 22? Are we celebrating the fact that she won her primaries? I am not going to speak about the how especially as I have touched on it previously. Are we celebrating her because she is going to be entering Parliament as the youngest ever and with the weakest qualification, i.e. SSCE certificate? People want my head because I am expressing concern about what she may not bring to our democracy. Yes she’s in school and as some have argued getting a first degree does not matter (funny thing is that virtually everyone lambasting me on my wall has at least a first degree). They don’t say the fact that technically all she has now is an SSCE certificate. And before you say it, those MPS currently pursuing GIMPA programmes have some work experience and they are allowed to do evening school. May be same as her.

We were on the neck of a Ministerial nominee who boasted that he was a Dining Hall Prefect.  The same people have a problem why I am questioning why an SSS leaver with practically no work experience is going to be making laws for us.I know people who finished University at 20 with first classes. That is a case of finishing a tertiary institution. Once again, we may want to ask and so what! But if we ask that, then we have absolutely no reason to demand that from anyone else. Yes I am sure there is some very elaborate plan on how she finishes her LLB whiles making laws and what happens afterwards. Fair and good.

We want to downplay this important fact but yet we have swift mouths to ask how some of our current MPS got into the House. Is it that it is ok for young people without the things we say are important to be MPS but question those older? The idea of experience comes in largely because after having gone through certain things it opens your understanding about a lot of things. Whether or not we like it, most of us got to where we are because our employees thought we had some relevant experience. If we didn’t have the experience, our employers thought we had the requisite training to thrive.

The discussion we should be having now should go beyond this young woman;

1. What do we require from our MPS?
2. What type of persons should we entrust the task of lawmaking to?
3. What role do political parties have in ensuring that the persons we choose as MPS have what it takes for that role? Is it just merely having influential sponsors within the party or it  goes beyond money, money, money?

We should have a debate on this, and whiles at it, find ways of ensuring that we don’t turn our politics into only those who have money. In fact, most of us do not. Does that mean we are banished from politics as a result?
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