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Opinions of Friday, 16 February 2018

Columnist: Michael Jarvis Boko

Is Mike Ocquaye adding to the woes of Ghana's Parliament?

Folks, there is no speck of doubt in my mind that Ghana's Parliament is woefully incompetent. In fact, its inability to do what can help us grow our democracy is astounding.

Apart from its failure to actively put the other branches of government on their mettle and to help solve Ghana's systemic problems through its oversight responsibilities, it is adding more woes because it is made up of those not fit to be there. Indeed, it has become an avenue for job seekers and self-centered characters pursuing their own instead of fighting for all.

What about car loans? Agitations for improved service conditions while turning a blind eye to the fate of poor public sector workers living in narrow circumstances because of poor remuneration?

How about End-of-Service Benefits to them, which Rawlings had abolished for public sector workers? Self-seeking is the lot of our Parliamentarians. And there are 275 of them being supported at the behest of the poor tax payer who can't tell where his/her next meal will come from!!

How about other privileges that these non-performing MP's enjoy, even as some of them have found crafty but criminal means to maximize benefits? Is it visa racketeering? Security for drug traffickers? Or what else? You just name any vice, and you will see the hand of a Ghanaian MP in it.

So, when more happens to indicate that Parliament is tearing itself apart and sending disturbing signals to the public, we have no option but to take it on. That's exactly what i seek to do here.

And I will mince no word to say that the bad blood relationship that has surfaced is worse than disturbing. Never in the history of Parliament in this 4th Republic have we been given to see the rancour, enmity, and bitterness that exists between the Minority side and none other but the Speaker of Parliament.

Not long ago, the NDC Minority took on Speaker Mike Ocquaye, accusing him of bias and unhealthy attitude in handling proceedings on the floor of the House. The allegation was that he was wont to privilege the NPP Majority to the disadvantage of the Minority and thus hurt feelings.

In one sense, the fracas between the Minority Leader (Haruna iddrissu) and the majority Leader (Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu) was traced to the Speaker. We know how the Minority Leader threatened to deal with the Majority Leader.

As if that's not enough, Mike Ocquaye has now turned himself into the bull's eye for the Minority leader. And the archer that he sees himself, he has vowed to meet the Speaker squarely (See https://www.ghanaweb.com/…/I-will-disrespect-you-if-you-inv…).

Too bad. Are these people really mature to be where the tax payer voted them to be?

Not only that. The Minority is threatening to go beyond disrespecting the Speaker to filing a motion for his impeachment. A long haul, one may simply describe it.

What is unfolding now is disgraceful. Nothing of this sort has happened before. The Previous Speakers did their best to ensure camaraderie in the affairs of the House, even if they had their political biases to defend. Here is the picture:

The late Justice F.D. Annan, the first Speaker, was admired by all sides for his sound handling of affairs, although he had been a member of the PNDC, meaning that he was heavily invested in protecting the Rawlings cause. In his tenure, things went on well in Parliament.

Peter Ala Adjetey was an avowed hater of the Rawlings cause but exercised his powers as the Speaker of parliament to the admiration of all. In fact, he still stands tall.

Mrs. Bamford Addo (I hope I have the name right here) also did her best to preside over a united Parliament despite her political leaning toward the NDC. She entered the House with a heavy heart because of how she was "maltreated" in her professional legal career by Kufuor, which forced her to resign and move on to head Parliament. She didn't allow her personal inclinations to influence or damage Parliamentary work.

Begyina Sekyi Hughes also did a good job to keep parliament united, even if his stealing of public property in the residence that he used eventually eroded public trust and respect for him. He ended up as a thief.

Under Doe Adjaho, tempers flared; but he maintained his hold on affairs to give us a Parliament that worked seamlessly anyhow!!

Why can't Mike Ocquaye follow suit? What is it about him that is the problem? Too much political poison or what? A personal ego gone astray? Or an obsession with vigilantism, even in his dotage?

Eventually, one wonders whether he should even have been made the Speaker. Records of his public service donh't recommend him for the position. We have heard horrible stories about him when he was Ghana's High Commissioner in India (a position that Akufo-Addo has given to his son, a failed politician at that).

In his legal profession, he might have chalked some successes. Who cares? After all, in Ghana, the Judiciary is nothing but a club for old boyism and "whom-you-know" (Where is Anas Aremeyaw Anas?).

As a scholar, he did his best. But he can't be said to be consistent in his political thoughts. I had the opportunity to read the book that he wrote about Ghanaian politics over a period that ended with Jerry Rawlings. In that book, he praised Rawlings to high heavens as a saviour. But in his actual political stints, he quickly damned Rawlings as an anathema. So, what is what, Professor Mike Ocquaye?

Folks, characters of this sort can't help us solve problems to ensure a bright future for Ghana. They are bloated and too full of themselves for our comfort. Eventually, they aren't immortal. When they pass on, they will go away as good riddance.

As the situation stands now, I foresee more rancour in the affairs of Parliament. The worst thing to ever happen is for MP's to disrespect the Speaker of the House. Na who cause am?