Samson’s Take: Let’s get these MPs out!

Samson’s Take: Let’s get these MPs out!
Source: Ghana| Samson Lardy Anyenini
Date: 28-04-2018 Time: 09:04:54:am
Samson Lardy Anyenini

This morning I should be repeating my crusade of long ago, more intellectually fortified by Professors H. Kwesi Prempeh and Stephen Kwaku Asare over the years, for constitutional and statutory limits or restraint on a Ghanaian President’s power of appointment. Yes, it is obvious we are in for trouble unless we cap and place effective checks on that power. We can’t rely on the Council of State, Parliament to ensure moderation that truly protects the public purse. I should, more importantly, be celebrating OneGhana Movement again for launching the “adopt a bin campaign” as part of its clean Ghana project.

But I have decided to provoke all to some other action while OneGhana works to get us a clean environment. Tuesday, after my normal court work and going to UPSA to deliver a lecture, I was at the Kofi Annan ICT Centre as guest speaker for Odekro’s BrownBag lecture series. I share some of the points of my presentation. To conduct business, parliament requires a quorum of one-third of MPs – i.e only 92 of the 275 members. Guess what? It’s been difficult to get this small number and you have seen and heard speakers and this Speaker weep and cry over this conduct. Lack of quorum led to the postponement of debate of the 2016 budget, not once, twice.

In fact, between January 2013 and July 2014, the average MP missed 1 in every 4 sittings of the house. This increased by 58% by 2015. On June 12, 2015, only 83 MPs were in the house. Over 22% were absent for many sittings without permission. In 2017, 27 MP-ministers and 21 MP-deputy ministers absented themselves more than 15 times during some 80 sittings. Don’t get surprised! They absent themselves without permission; that’s a conduct in complete disregard of the Constitution and their own rules. But while those who double as ministers may give the obvious excuses, it is scandalous to find that opposition MPs are equally guilty and NDC MPs constitute 28% while 72% of NPP MPs form the list of absentee MPs. Visit www.odekro.org to see the MP who begged for your vote but is not representing you. 

Both the Constitution in article 97 and Order 16 of the Standing Orders of Parliament prohibit this conduct. An MP may only absent himself for such long period within three months (a meeting of the house is a period of three months) by seeking permission in writing from the Speaker. The Constitution dictates that MPs who violate this rule must vacate their seats, and the orders empower and require the Speaker to declare such seats vacant. The Speakers won’t do it! Please don’t tell me that’s what happened to Eric Amoateng.

Any serious MP has Erskine May and would have read that, as in their own orders, disobeying the rules is conduct referable to the Privileges Committee, and could attract a reprimand, admonition, suspension, suspension of salary among other sanctions. So the leadership is complicit in this for the obvious reasons, and nothing will happen until citizens get angry enough to take actions to ensure compliance with article 97.

So here is my verdict:     

- People who beg to be employed by the State should never be allowed to keep their jobs when they absent themselves at will and for more than 15 times within a quarter

- People who are started off work with two years rental advance at locations of their choice should never be allowed to keep their jobs when they absent themselves at will and for more than 15 times within a quarter

- People who are started off work with four-wheel drive car loans should never be allowed to keep their jobs when they absent themselves at will and for more than 15 times within a quarter

- People who are paid some 20,000 a month by the State as salary only should never be allowed to keep their jobs when they absent themselves at will and for more than 15 times within a quarter

- People who get various fat allowances and many privileges as employees of the State should never be allowed to keep their jobs when they absent themselves at will and for more than 15 times within a quarter

- People who are handed power to ensure government runs but don’t should never be allowed to keep their jobs when they absent themselves at will and for more than 15 times within a quarter

- People who are handed power to serve as a check on the executive but don’t should never be allowed to keep their jobs when they absent themselves at will and for more than 15 times within a quarter

- People who are handed power to make laws to govern a country but don’t should never be allowed to keep their jobs when they absent themselves at will and for more than 15 times within a quarter

- People who get several hundreds of thousands of Ghana Cedis every four years (irrespective of the fact that they not going on retirement) should never be allowed to keep their jobs when they absent themselves at will and for more than 15 times within a quarter

In 2006 Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare sued Speaker Sakyi Hughes et al over this conduct but it doesn’t seem the lessons have been learnt at all. We are simply not angry enough! What else is corruption?!

Samson Lardy ANYENINI

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