In recent weeks, Alhaji Asoma Banda, the distinguished Ghanaian businessman and member of the Council-of-State, has been unduly subjected to vitriol for daring to aptly suggest that our Members of Parliament sometimes “behave like boarding school children who always want their parents to provide everything for them” (See “Asoma Banda Is Short-Sighted Regarding Activities of Parliamentarians – MP” Peacefmonline.com 2/20/11).
Needless to say, those of us who have been studiously watching parliamentarians receive $50,000 (Fifty-Thousand American Dollars) auto-loan advances every four years, for which full repayment is not expected, even as doctors and teachers go without their pittance of salaries for months on end, perfectly appreciate the logical anger of Alhaji Banda.
But what is even more risible is to hear the MP for Lower Manya (in the Krobo district), Mr. Michael Nyaunu, presume to lecture Alhaji Banda on the supposedly thankless job that is the lot of the Ghanaian parliamentarian. In a recent interview that he granted Citi-Fm radio, this was what Mr. Nyaunu had to say in riposte to Alhaji Banda: “Alhaji Banda is entitled to his opinion. Regarding the Legislative arm [of the government], we are on contract basis. Ours is not like the Judiciary where you are promoted through the ranks; we are on contract for four years and after every four years, you are paid your entitlements and then you go away. If you go back [i.e. get reelected], it is a new contract that you go in to sign. It is unfortunate, but I don’t agree with his position, even though he is entitled to his position [sic].”
First of all, it is a sheer wonder what business such a pitifully inarticulate man like Mr. Teye Nyaunu has to do in our august National Assembly, pretending to be representing the people of Lower-Manya Krobo. Second, (it) must also be wistfully observed that the most significant job that Parliament ought to have undertaken recently, that of Constitutional Review, was stolidly and criminally ceded to the President who, rather cavalierly, proceeded to name the members of a Constitution Review Commission (CRC), charged with conducting nationwide hearings as part of a fact-finding tour, and then making the necessary recommendations to President John Evans Atta-Mills, regarding what ought to be amended, emended and sustained as our constitutional provisions or rights and responsibilities.
Needless to say, as I pointed out in an article published in the wake of the establishment of the CRC, the initiative for the latter ought to have been tabled in Parliament, duly debated by a parliamentary sub-committee so designated, and then taken up by the full-house before the CRC resumed formal/official sittings. What is even more disturbing is the fact that almost none of our legitimately elected MPs played any key role in the activities of the CRC, aside from shamefully putting in sporadic appearances like private citizens in order to offer suggestions and opinions to the CRC.
If such gross and abject lack of professionalism is what the Lower-Manya Krobo MP prefers to chalk off as constituting the unique or nonesuch activities of our national assembly representatives, then, no doubt, it is definitely worthwhile for many a Ghanaian voter to pitch tents with the purportedly “ignorant” likes of Alhaji Asoma Banda.
It is also quite amusing that whereas for the most part, both the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) routinely vote strictly along party lines, when it comes to blindly milking the Ghanaian taxpayer, such as the recent outrageous demand of a 300-percent salary hike by our MPs, all discrete ideological proclivities and publicly proclaimed principles gave way to a one-party state of National Pocket Liners (NPL).
With such ramshackle state of affairs constituting the virtual dietary fare of our Fourth-Republican parliamentary culture, one cannot but unreservedly concur with Alhaji Asoma Banda that under no circumstances ought the salaries and benefits of our MPs be made tax exempt (See “Asoma Banda’s Comment on MPs’ Ex-Gratia is Unfortunate” Citi-Fmonline.com 3/22/11). The four-year faux-gratuity system ought to be either immediately proscribed or extended to a minimum of at least eight years, for the current system inordinately encourages parliamentary careerism and rank corruption, as quick money patently appears to be the guiding principle.
Needless to say, only a piddling few Ghanaians could confidently boast of rubbing elbows with Alhaji Asoma Banda, where both the theoretical and practical concept of “hard-earned money” is concerned. Which is why we strongly believe that Mr. Michael Teye Nyaunu does not advance his sectional/sectarian cause very far by intemperately presuming to lecture Alhaji Asoma Banda on parliamentary diligence or exceptionalism.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011).