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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Columnist: Abdullah, Abdullah

A thing worth doing is worth doing well

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By Abdullah Abdullah

Gentlemen, once I was arguing with a fellow Muslim. The issue of the argument was really trivial, but tempers were rising; now that I come to think of it, I really wonder why. But my friend was better than I, and if even I probably was better than him in presenting my point.

During the heat of the argument he suddenly stopped and asked me this question “How many times does a Muslim pray in a day?” I quickly answered five times. He then said “at least we agree on one thing, and let us part on a point we agree on”. How smart he was, and certainly we parted without ill feelings. That was real smart of him.

And I am talking of the mid-term elections and adopting the dual-house legislature system; where we have two chambers for the legislature with the Executive.

So as it is today, I may support Mahama, you may support Akuffo, and the other reader probably supports Greenstreet, the other guy supports Edward Mahama and then Ndoum. Did I forget someone?. Aah Konadu – no problem no one supports her. Granted, we all have our differences but we all agree on one thing and that is, corruption and incompetence are right up there when we evaluate our legislators.

Very often too, every opposition believes or at least accuses the President of abuse of power, and during election time the mantra will be “abuse of incumbency”. We all agree on this. The only way we can discipline them in my opinion is through Mid-term elections and a two-house legislative system.

Come on do not tell me we cannot do it. It is done in Liberia; it is done in the Philippines, so why can it not be done in Ghana? This is the only way we can get our elected bodies to hit the ground running and reduce corruption. Cheat me for two years but not four years.

The dual house system will be a great way to strengthen our democracy. And bet you, The executive will not have it as easy as it is today simply because he has a majority in parliament. At least he will have to pass whatever he proposes through the two chambers. We’ll have proper checks and balances and the President will not have a field day anymore.

Mid-term elections is not only a referendum on the sitting President, but it is also a referendum on his party. And most of all on the legislator himself. Why do I allow a do-little legislator four years to do little while enjoying all the pecks that come with being a legislator? A party must just be destined for disappointment to lose all three houses. And here is the interesting thing, as we all know, today in USA Mr. Unqualified’s party has beaten Madam Qualified in all three houses! But that is not the end of the story.

The story ends when with all your majorities you did not “make America strong again”. Boy, you have a lot of explanation to give.

Similarly in Ghana if a party wins all three and Ghana does not see progress, it will tell a lot of the party. It is only through this system that real undecideds can help change things. But with this present system and our entrenched positions nothing real good can come out. Today we select our President for all the most stupid reasons. He is from my tribe, he is handsome, he is short, and even he is my father’s friend.

If a majority of the voters are stupid, then a stupid guy can become President (I do not mean America) and the president can bully us all. But if there is strong mix, he can be checked properly. Friends come to think of it. If a legislator knows that his mid-term election is around the corner, he’ll deliver up front and won’t play around until when the next election is drawing near after four years.

With this system of four year cycle, we get so easily deceived with single achievement coming close to election time. The problem is, we easily forget the beginning. So they cheat us with new projects getting to election time and say they’ll complete them after the next elections – if voted into office. If they are not voted, God help us. It was our choice.

In the US the ruling party very often loose in mid-term elections. So a legislature will have to be really result-oriented and honest to be re-elected. He will have to prove something. Not empty rhetoric as we see now, but palpable progress. Something worth doing is worth doing well. Ghana has lot of brilliant people and our constitution can be easily restructured.

When I meet Ghanaians and have a look at the country, the suffering and the intelligent people, I just stand in my shoes and wonder. And I ask myself, with such brilliant people how did all come to this? Is it the system?

One might argue that the two chamber system is practiced in countries that are Federations, but we have unitary states such as The Philippines, The Netherlands, Ireland, Romania the Czech Republic and Italy which are not Federations but which is practice the dual system. This is because of it’s relative efficiency. Did I give my message?

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