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Opinions of Friday, 19 June 2015

Columnist: Aboagye, Prince

Parliament is not for toddlers

Opinion Opinion

The campaign by most youth activist for the youth of this country to actively participate in politics especially at both the local and the national level is to advance the development of our politics and that of the country.

Most people are of the view that since the youth of today are the future leaders of tomorrow, there is the need for them to be involved in decision making, especially the ones that affects them.

The debate surrounding the election of a 22 year old Francisca Oteng Mensah, the daughter of Dr. Kwaku Oteng, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Angel Group of Companies for me should be about the timing.

Article 194 (1) of the 1992 Constitution states that:'subject to the provision of this article, a person shall not be qualified to be a member of Parliament unless-
a) he is a citizen of Ghana, has attained the age of twenty-one years and is a registered voter.
b) he is a resident in the constituency for which he stands as a candidate for election to Parliament or has resided there for a total period of not less than five years out of the ten years immediately preceding the election for which he stands, or he hails from that constituency; and
c) he has paid all his taxes or made arrangements satisfactory to the appropriate authority for the payment of his taxes.

It is true Francisca Oteng Mensah (aka Maame Serwaa), the second-year law student at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) who pulled 321 out of 743 representing 43.2% to beat incumbent Member of Parliament Hon. Kofi Frempong who pulled only 187 out of 743 representing 25.2% and other two aspirants qualifies to contest as an MP for Kwabre - East because she is one year older than the constitutional provision.

CONGRATULATIONS. Yes she is a Ghanaian, she is 22 years, and I can confidently say she is a registered voter either for the 2012 general elections or for the impending District Assembly elections and I'm sure she meets the other qualifications.

A lot people have argued that in most parts of the world, people who are either at her age or younger than her have become law makers and there is no need to complain. Examples of such law makers are the following;
Saira Blair, 19 from US, a freshman studying finance at the West Virginia University. Another is Mhairi Black, 20, from UK, is a final year student of politics and public policy at the University of Glasgow who begun politics as a kid. she was a member of those who would march for causes as diverse as support for a Scottish Parliament and opposition to the Iraq war.

Black was also a vocal supporter of Scottish independence during last year's referendum campaign. The least among the youngest lawmakers is Proscovia Oromait, 21, from Uganda who was a teenaged woman fresh out from high school and won the seat in a by-election at Eastern Uganda, though people attribute her victory to her late father who was the parliamentarian and died, so the people voted for her on mere sympathy.

And it is an undeniable fact that Franca will be the next member of parliament for Kwabre-East no matter the candidate the NDC, PPP, NDP, IPP, and the other political will present except a development comes and someone stronger than her emerges and goes independent that can split the NPPs votes because that constituency remains one of the strongholds of the major opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

It is obvious the delegates saw in her the potentials she has and that is why is they voted for her. Is it that I can't see what they saw or vice versa.

My question about her candidature is what she is bringing on board;

1. Does she have any working experience looking at her age and her level in school? Though it is opined that if someone does not do something for the first time, there will not be any experience for the person. But for me not someone who has not done her national service.

Meanwhile, any public office requires a minimum level of experience. I hope she won't tell us she was once a class prefect who was always writing names of talkatives?

2. Will the position not be too 'big' for her? Second year student at KNUST.

3. Will she defer her course and serve her constituency since she will be in fourth year second semester on 7th January, 2017. Or she will ignore parliamentary proceedings and concentrate on her LLB education.

4. Can her candidature be more appealing to the elderly especially chiefs and other opinion leaders?

5. Will she be able to join hands with those who are calling for unity in the party.

This and many more are in the minds of many people like my age. I wish to appeal to Franca to be closer to the experienced ones like the Suame Mugaabe's and others who can coach her effectively.

I strongly believe her performance can motivate other young people who want to be in politics for it will be a chance opener for others.

The writer (Prince Aboagye) can be contacted via
Tel: 0249775522/ 0208935794/ 0262775520