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Opinions of Saturday, 18 February 2006

Columnist: Ampofo Ofori

Minority Boycotts Parliament But,

(SAYS THEY ARE COMMITTED TO GROWTH OF GHANA?S DEMOCRACY).

The minority boycott of parliament is all over in the news. Their reason is believed to center around their opposition to the Peoples representation amendment Bill. (ROPAB), which went through a second reading prior to their boycott.

ROPAB OR NO ROPAB, Ghana must move forward. However, I believe, the advantages of the ROPAB if passed, will definitely outweigh its disadvantages. In fact, I don?t believe there will be any disadvantages; and I believe the opposition knows that as a fact. The reason why they vehemently oppose ROPAB is the fear that the NPP Government will use the Bill if passed as a platform to manipulate the 2008 Elections, and retain power. Power that has eluded them for two consecutive terms and which they would like to taste again at all cost.

From all indications, the absolute thirst for power, has dictated and generated the high tension around the ROPAB, notwithstanding all the advantages that the passage of the Bill will generate for our forward march as a country. ROPAB OR NO ROPAB, Ghana will move forward but it would move relatively faster forward if our brothers and sisters and relatives, living outside the boundaries of Ghana called the Diasporas are given the opportunity to vote and be part of the political decision making process in Ghana.

At this time that these Ghanaians are disenfranchised, statistics indicate that their remittances last Year 2005 amounted to about 4.5 billion dollars representing the largest source of foreign exchange earnings of the country, through the Banking system. This is besides the informal remittances that constitute a large proportion of total migrant remittances to the country. 4.5 billion dollars is more than 300% of the total donor aid to Ghana for a year. There is every wisdom and common sense conclusion that given the Ghanaian diasporas the chance to participate in decision making process in their home country, they will inject more and more foreign capital into the Ghanaian economy for our infrastructural development without having to go begging anymore with all the strings attached. Those who are arguing otherwise, are just doing so blindly, without the love of country.

The Minority thinks no matter what they do, the majority will push the Bill through anyway; so I sympathize with their frustrations, but at the same time, I think in the supreme interest of the Democracy which they claim commitment for its growth, their decision to boycott parliament is unfortunate and irresponsible.

At his news conference, the Minority leader informed the public that, their decision to boycott Parliamentary proceedings, was in protect against quote, ?THE WANTON AND FLAGRANT DISRESPECT FOR MINORITY RIGHTS? unquote. If I may ask, what special rights does the minority have to have in parliament? I think they have equal rights as the majority, and that is to participate in debates and Bills in parliament, and finally take up or down vote. Have they ever been denied the right to parliamentary proceedings, or some allowances which they are entitled to? If that has never been the case, then I do not understand Alban Bagbin?s claim of DENIAL OF MINORITY RIGHTS. In any case, if Alban Bagbin thinks he and his group are being denied some rights, and they consider it wrong, why is it right for them to deny citizens of Ghana living outside the boundaries of Ghana a right to vote, where as the constitutional requirement for Ghanaians to vote, makes no mention of boundary? How can he explain this?

In another press conference, the Minority Chief whip Mr. John Tia, among other things said, Quote, ?When the New Patriotic Party( NPP) was in opposition, they walked out on so many occasions and even boycotted the 1992 Parliamentary elections, and stayed away from parliament for four years which was a great disservice to the Nation? unquote. I do not blame Mr. John Tia for making that statement because; it has been the choral tune for both Parties NPP and NDC over who did what first for the other to also follow same. NPP appointed over 80 Ministers and Deputies of state, why? Their answer was, when NDC was in Government they also had over 70 ministers and deputies. NPP pays some Government officials in US Dollars, why? Their defense was that, the practice was started by the NDC when in Government, and many others. Do we have to repeat the stupid economic mistakes that were done during the era of PNDC/NDC rule? Of course not; if the policy will drain the Nations resources. I am not surprised Governments from Independence till today have not seen the wisdom in changing some of the colonial Privileges that were enjoyed by our White masters at the detriment of the Ghanaian economy. GHANA, OH GHANA, A NATION THAT IS CRYING FOR REAL ACCOUNTABILITY, DEDICATION, SELFLESSNESS AND TRUE SALVATION.

I will not discuss here how many Ministers and Deputies Ghana needs for running the affairs of a country of 20 million Populations under serious economic crises. What I like to discuss is that, if the Minority thinks the NPP parliamentarians have been absenting themselves with excuses that are permissible under the constitution, Of course, that is different from boycotting parliamentary proceedings for some disagreements on a particular bill. THE MINORITY HAVE TO TAKE PART IN DEBATING THE BILL AND FINALLY TAKE A VOTE. DEMOCRATICALLY, THE MAJORITY VOTE WINS THE DAY. IF I MAY ASK, HOW MANY TIMES HAVE BOTH SIDES AGREED ON A BILL THE LAST FIVE YEARS? BESIDES THOSE TIMES THEY HAD TO APPROVE FOR LOANS FOR THEM TO PURCHASE CARS. SHAME UNTO YOU MY PEOPLE.SIT UP AND GET SOMETHING BETTER DOING FOR THE POOR THAT VOTED YOU INTO THOSE SEATS. PLEASE.

If the minority has boycotted parliamentary proceedings until further notice, they do not deserve to be paid salaries for the period they will stay away; and if they stay away beyond 15 days without the consent of the Speaker of the Assembly, they should consider their seats vacated Ref. article 97 c of the constitution. Let me here reiterate to Mr. John Tia that, the NPP boycotted the 1992 elections and stayed away for four years but they did not consider the situation that led to their boycott a condition that should create INSTABILITY, CONFRONTATION, AND POSSIBLE CONFLIT, because of their believes in absolute democratic governance and peaceful societies. If Alban Bagbin and John Tia believe in absolute democratic values as claimed in their press conferences, why do they choose to boycott parliamentary proceedings as the NPP did in 1992 and agitate for instability, confrontation, and possible conflict, if the majority should pass the ROPAB? Do they really want to see Ghana in a conflict of any kind? GOD FORBIDS.

In my candid opinion, I think Alban Bagbin and his minority group should go back to take part in the deliberations on the ROPAB bill and rather fight vigorously for a more progressive way to organize the elections for the diasporas if the bill should pass. In my opinion, the very first one in 2008, should be conducted in all United Nations centers throughout the world with direct supervision by the center officials; in attendance of course, by representatives from the various Political parties.

The biggest concern of the minority has been the possibility of Electoral malpractices should the elections be conducted and supervised by the various Ghana missions abroad and I can understand their concerns. If the NDC was pushing this ROPAB bill with NPP in opposition, they would have the same concerns the NDC have, but probably handle it differently. For the benefit of doubts, and to have all sides eventually hail the results of a Diaspora vote, regardless who wins. Let us vote for the ROPAB; yes, but if the Electoral commission decides to push through in 2008., let it be very transparent, for all in the end to say, yes it was fair.

THOSE WHO FAN CONFLITS IN AFRICA AND WORLDWIDE, ALWAYS GO HIDING BECAUSE, THEY HAVE DIPLOMATIC PASSPORTS. THEY LEAVE THE INNOCENT PEOPLE DYING AND DISPLACED. IS THAT WHAT THE MINORITY WANT TO SEE GHANAIANS GO THROUGH? Please fellow Ghanaians let us jealously guide against our freedom and those who take delight to fan conflicts.

GOD BLESS OUR HOMELAND AND OUR PEOPLE.

If you like to join a group of Ghanaians for real political and economic changes in Ghana, please join Save Ghana Now Association. www.saveghana.org Together we can make a big difference in the lives of our people. Ampofo Ofori. (Chairman, SAGNA)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.