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General News of Saturday, 17 December 2016


Let’s strengthen public institutions - Quashigah

Member of Parliament for the Keta Constituency, Mr Richard Quashigah, has urged Ghanaians to make conscious efforts to streamline processes that can strengthen public institutions.

He explained that public institutions ought to grow to the extent that public office holders were not demonised, vilified and to some extent rendered insecure when a governing political party lost an election to an opposition political party.

"For us and as a nation to effectively make progress, it should not only lie in our wisdom to make polling day democratically successful, but also a conscious effort must be made to streamline processes that can strengthen our public institution,’’ Mr Quashigah stressed.

A statement signed and issued by Mr Quashigah noted that the December 2016 general election had come and gone, with Ghanaians demonstrating to a large extent their democratic and political maturity which was rare in not just sub-Saharan Africa but Africa as a whole.

Stable democracies

He further stated that with some degree of certainty, one could aptly say “we have joined the league of mature and stable democracies of the world.”

What, perhaps, was missing, he said, was the effective functioning of institutions devoid of political interference and absence of apolitical personnel manning those institutions.

He said that was a palpable minus for the glowing and admirable constitutional development which Ghanaians counted as a pride.

“Were these not true of our institutions we would not have had young men of a victorious party just days of the declaration of the NPP as winners of the presidential polls rampaging and illegally taking over public establishments because those running these establishments are perceived wrongly as necessarily members of the vanquished political party even at a time when the vanquished political party is still in charge of government business,’’ he observed.

Mr Quashigah said the attendant chaos in the wake of those takeovers were better left without comment but what was most surprising was the lackadaisical attitude of the Ghana Police Service to act against what was an obvious criminality, which was a clear manifestation of systemic and institutional failure.

Outgoing President

He said that sad development reminded him of the statement made by the outgoing President of the United States, Barack Obama, when he said ‘‘what nations need is not strong men but strong institutions.’’

Mr Quashigah said the wobbling state institutions accounted for the public pronouncements from Mr Osafo Maafo, former Minister in the erstwhile Kufuor administration who is the leader of the Transitional Team of the President-elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, when he expressed apprehensions about ongoing recruitments into the security services and award of contracts.

“The question I ask, is government not a continuum?” Mr Quashigah asked.

He wondered whether those pronouncements and misgivings by Mr Osafo-Maafo suggested that government machinery ought to grind to a halt within the transition period.

“We must admit that the recruitment exercise started months before the general election that was won by Nana Akufo-Addo,’’ he explained.

“Should it be truncated simply because a new government has won political power and is expected to assume the reins of government in some three weeks to come?” he asked.

Mr Quashigah noted that Mr Osafo-Maafo’s concerns was a ressult of lack of trust in weak public institutions.

“Therefore in stretching his logic, it should have been appropriate for the Single Spine Salary Policy and other related ones and contracts signed by the then exiting Kufuor administration during the transition process to have been annulled by the then Mills-led administration that took over the reins of government but if my memory serves me right, that was not the case.’’

Political actors

He recalled that in 2001, when the NPP won and took over the reins of government, it sent shivers down the spine of many non-political actors when it embarked on the mantra of “proceed on leave” across all state institutions, some eventually ending up in the law courts.

He said the ‘Delphic judgements’ which accompanied such cases involving some public and civil servants remained a blot on the conscience of the nation. He said some public and civil servants were made to remain on “leave” for eight years despite the courts making determinations in their favour and only resumed work when another government took over.

“This is the dark aspect of politics and democracy and to demonstrate that we have transcended the nascent stages into a full-fledge democracy, we need to depart from these unhealthy tendencies,’’ he explained.

Mr Quashigah said the only way by which the repeated use of the phrase by leaders ‘’to make Ghana great and strong’’ could rhyme with sincerity was to grow the institutions in the country.

“For those who think that when a political party to which they belong wins an election, then members of the vanquished party must be attacked, cowed and subdued to feel insecure should understand that it is a display of infantile and immature behaviour.”

“We need to build a nation that is based on trust, respect for human rights and tolerance. Political actions and behaviours must be informed by the tenets that guide its practice and not acts of bestiality and criminality,” he concluded.