Feature Article of Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku
By Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (Voice of Reason)
Do the Math: Let’s multiply their allowances and perks by 275 Mps.
I swear, if I write one more article this year about politicians and their unyielding appetite for money, I’m going to throw up on my computer screen.
With all the political scams that have been tumbling out in Ghana one after the other and the previous governments’ blind rejection of any wrongdoing, one wonders why our politicians will do anything crazy to get unwanted publicity.
Yes, indeed our MPs don’t need housing allowances; they need a day of national ‘Atonement’ and explanations.
And, now the hand-wringing, second-guessing, and soul-searching begin, but where one sits determines where one stands on issues.
Is there a single MP with Integrity in the House to fight against the Ghc50,000 housing allowance, Ghc7,200 salary, car loan, 30,000 gallons of petrol ,top up loans and other perks each MP is wantonly raking while we pan-handle for foreign loans ?
Let’s face it, most politicians everywhere are viewed with wariness and disdain but, Cory Booker, a mayor of Newark, New jersey, USA is one fine politician. And, I mean that in every sense of the word. He rescued his constituents from fires, dug people out of snow banks and opened his home to people during hurricane storms. To top it off, he’s now collaborating with jewelry designers to turn confiscated handguns into $376.00 bracelets and handcuffs. And 20 percent of the proceeds go back to support gun-buyback programs---to take illegal guns off from the streets. What wonderful attributes worth emulating! That is his effective way to combat illegal guns and address gun violence in his city and USA—what an innovative and creative idea! Yes, his ideas and actions are not a panacea to all the problems, but every politician has the power to do something little to make a difference wherever he is…. What went wrong in our part of the world? Please don’t ask me!
It’s said that there are basically four vices that can lead to the downfall of nearly every great person in history: Women, drugs, alcohol and money. If you’re gluttonous and excessive in any of these four areas, you risk losing everything to a few mistakes. I don’t have to mention how many of our past and present politicians who have tragically become victims to one of these vices for you to understand what I’m about to say.
The question is this: Do you know any Ghanaian politician whose attributes and stewardship are worth bragging about? Why fifty- thousand cedis (Gh50,000.00) housing allowance each, for every four years to our Mps while we could build nice bungalows to accommodate them once the Parliament is in session? People are making a career out of politics these days. No wonder, our college graduates are abandoning their career goals and focusing on politics with laser beam because they know that it guarantees their fastest and shortest route to stable social status and acquisition of worldly toys as well as state properties at ‘donkomi’ prices. Democracy doesn’t have to be this affordable.
I can’t be nicey-wicey about this one. I have a solution to cut all the fats out. To encourage people to make a real living in an old-fashioned way, our MPs should be part-timers .That means they would be convened two weeks every other month. The MPs would be housed in nice government -owned bungalows and work every day for the two weeks that they are on the public business then return home and run their own businesses.
To help limit their work load, there should be a limit of Bills that need to be passed every year in the House. I have been thinking of at least six Bills a year as a start. I’m sure that should be enough for them to deal with. It will also help Ghanaians to keep track of what the government is doing to address the needs and concerns of its people.
The point is, the purpose of being a public servant is to serve your nation honorably .Therefore, If you want to be wealthy then use your creative imagination to produce valuable ideas and products or provide a service and meet consumers’ expectations and needs.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that our MPs or politicians should work for free or starve themselves in the name of serving their country. But, when you multiply Ghc50,000 housing allowances, car loans, free 30,000 gallons of petrol, GHc 7,2,000 salary and other perks by 275 MPs then you will see where I’m coming from and why I’m wriggling my fingers in confusion . To me, it’s very difficult to understand the rationale behind giving a huge amount of money to our MPs as housing allowances in a country where most towns don’t have money to replace street bulbs.
The trouble with most of our politicians is that they got into politics not with any inborn desire to make a difference in the lives of the ordinary people, but because it is a lucrative profession. In other words, being a politician in Ghana is now regarded as the fastest career path to upward mobility. Our politicians sometimes become so isolated and insulated from the aspirations of the people who elected them. They have become so intoxicated with material things of the world to the point that they have lost sight of the things that made them who they are and neglected the people in their villages and towns who brought them to where they are today.
It should be reminded that no matter how much money or houses a politician needs, or the prestige his academic achievements may have afforded him, if one is in public service ---either he’s an appointed or elected official, he must always consider his service or post as a means for improving the living conditions everywhere in the country. He must remember that he has responsibilities toward the people and the nation. Therefore, it’s almost inconceivable that some of our Politicians and policy makers have failed to see this self-evident truth.
Nevertheless, there are others who have conveniently resolved not to view the problem in proper perspective. This form of blindness has handicapped Ghana’s ability to fulfill its promises and obligations to its offspring. As a result, the sons and daughters of Ghana have become globetrotters—meandering everywhere on this troubled planet in search for greener pastures.
To safeguard and protect Ghana from our disingenuous politicians, the Ministry of finance should publish the car-loan repayment for the last four Parliament terms. Also to prevent any political mambo –jumbo our elected and appointed officials’ salaries and perks should be constitutionally prescribed and enshrined.
Till that happens, the greed nexus that has Ghana in its grips will continue to revel in its behavior of unabashed abuse of power and pelf. Ghana’s salvation lies in controlling the “unhealthy appetite” of our politicians and their cronies.
As I have always said, the expectations of Ghanaians are soaring, and they are unwilling to negotiate or compromise on them. Would these expectations be realized if our politicians renege on their promises and live as though there is no tomorrow? Sooner than later concerned Ghanaians will meet on facebook to work out a plan to petition the parliament, or take to the street with their peaceful brand of “Arab Spring” to tell the MPs that enough is enough!
Indeed, money is a ‘drug’ and it can easily distort the perceptions of politicians, pastors, police officers, public officials and publishers of Bibles alike.
By the way, speaking of housing, take a trip to the Police stations across the land and check out the housing conditions of our Police personnel. Do our disingenuous MPs have any sense of empathy for these people? Don’t they deserve better living conditions than that? Is their work less important than that of our MPs’?
Now, just multiply 275 Mps by the number of perks they take home….Do you get the drift?
Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (voice of Reason)