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Feature Article of Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Columnist: Darko, Otchere

The Ever-Increasing Number Of MPs In Ghana ....

Can The Nation Afford The Trend And The Cost?

By Otchere Darko

Now that the 2012 elections are over, it is time, I believe, for the whole nation to examine article 47 of the 1992 Constitution in a non-partisan way, to enable us to ask the question as to whether Ghana can afford to increase the number of MPs every seven years, or every time there is a population census in the country that changes the constitution of the existing population variables in relation to the “population quota”, as defined by this article (47).

The decision of the Electoral Commission (EC) to create 45 more constituencies just before the last general elections met stiff opposition from many angles, for various reasons. Some of the reasons, especially those coming from the opposition NPP, were political; but other reasons were non-political. One of the non-political reasons was that the creation of 45 more constituencies would imply increasing the number of MPs from 230 to 275 which, in the opinion of such critics, would be too costly for the nation. The critics, who included this writer, felt that the nation could not afford the extra money needed to pay the 45 new MPs, without having to cut down spending on the provision of essential services, such as provision of health care facilities and the building of new schools for many of our rural communities.

It should be noted that the EC acted fully appropriately within the powers conferred on him by article 47, when he created the 45 new constituencies. The problem that I had [and which I still have], concerning the creation of more constituencies, is not with the EC. It is rather with article 47 of the 1992 Constitution itself. The purpose of this write-up, therefore, is to go beyond the EC’s powers and look at article 47 of the 1992 Constitution itself; and then ask the question as to whether this article [47] should not be amended to enable an upper ceiling, or limit to be placed on the number of constituencies, and therefore the number of MPs that can be created within a given period of time, to ensure that the number of MPs does not unduly place a strain on the nation’s resources and, thereby, retard its growth and the overall wellbeing of its people.

To expand and illustrate the immediate paragraph above, I refer readers to the following facts about Ghana’s population demographics:

(1) The number of MPs has increased from 200 in the year 2000 to 275 in the year 2012; that is an increase of 75 MPs, representing an overall national MP growth rate of 7.5 additional MPs per year; or 30 new MPs per every four years.

(2) Ghana’s population grew by approximately 6.33million over a relatively short period of 12 years from 2000, when the total population of the country was approximately 18.91 million, to the 2012 estimate of approximately 25.24 million, based on the last population census enumeration figures that were officially published in that year; representing an average population growth of 527,500 more Ghanaians added to the total population of Ghana every year; or 2.11 million additional Ghanaians added to the total every four years. By a simple arithmetic projection, every time Ghana’s population increases by 2.11 million, 30 new MPs are added to the total number of MPs in Ghana. By the same simple arithmetic projection, by the time Ghana’s population increases by 21.1 million; that is, by the time Ghana’s current population doubles to approximately 50.1 million in less than the next 50 years’ time, the size of Ghana’s Parliament shall have exceeded 630 MPs, excluding the Speaker; assuming, of course, that the Electoral Commission intends to continue to use the same formula stipulated by article 47 of the 1992 Constitution, with absolute “military obedience”, and without considering other ‘commonsense’ factors that have not been mentioned by article 47, but which are equally important in defining democracy in its domestic and practical sense.

The rudimentary question that begs for answer is: “will the resources of Ghana be able to absorb the extra financial cost to the nation as a result of an estimated, [and just an estimated] total number of MPs in Ghana of approximately 630 before the year 2062, without the risk of diluting the quality of life of our children, grand-children and our great-grand children that are not yet born?

Sadly, every time the EC, acting ‘dutifully’, like an obedient soldier following instructions handed down to him by his superior officer, in accordance with the powers granted to that ‘exclusive’ public body by article 47 of the 1992 Constitution, creates new constituencies, irrespective of cost implications, Ghanaian politicians who should know better, but who are so anxious to find constituencies to contest for, ‘rejoices’ over the decision of the EC, in the same way that vultures rejoice when they find and surround dying dogs thrown onto rubbish dumps by their wicket owners, even before those unlucky animals breath their last breaths. You always wonder whether such politicians are just selfish, or short-sighted, or both.

Whatever readers make of them, in my opinion, article 47 of the 1992 Constitution should be amended as soon as possible, before those “greedy bastards” that constantly parade the political corridors of Ghana, praying unceasingly to their notorious African ‘god of greed’, and assisted by the over-zealous and ‘zombified’ staff of the Electoral Commission, push the Ghanaian child down to the very bottom of the world’s most deadly “fiscal cliff”, from where he can never again get out financially and economically.

Source: Otchere Darko; (My Political Views {Domestic}).

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