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Opinions of Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Columnist: Atugiya, David

The shame of the Minority NPP MPs

It is despicable and affront to democracy for members of parliament who are feeding fat on the tax payer to shamelessly boycott parliament because of someone who has taken his free speech too far. The case of Nana Darkwa, a 27-year-old New Patriotic Party activist, who was arrested from the premises of Top Radio, an Accra-based radio station, for claiming that he knew the former President Rawlings burnt his own house; whose sage led to the minority NPP MPs to walk out of Parliament; is a case of a loose talker who was over enthusiastic and did not know the limits to his free speech as enshrine in the constitution (see Article 208, of the 1960 criminal code). The constitution of Ghana guarantees the freedom of speech of Nana Darkwa and all Ghanaians, but what the constitution did not provide is a licence to go about lying in the name of freedom of speech. Therefore, to allow individuals to go about maligning others in the name of free speech cannot be right or justified in any civilised democratic dispensation.

As a human rights activist I will fight tooth and nail against any infringement, abuse or injustice on any individual’s rights. But in the case of Nana Darkwa what I heard from him through Joy FM, other radio stations; and also through other media outlets, he surely had a case to answer and it was right he was invited by the law enforcement agencies. The process of his invitation to answer for his misdemeanour by the law enforcement agencies was and is still my concern which I will address in another discussion.

It is important for the NPP MPs who think they can make cheap political capital out of a case which is pure and simply a matter for the law enforcers and the Judiciary; the very institutions that some our law makers have established to enforce its laws; to note that they will reap what they have began sowing in this Nana Darkwa’s saga. The argument about what former President Rawlings and other NDC members said while NPP was in government is neither here nor there. If it was the case that some of speeches made by Rawlings and other NDC guys were beyond the guarantees of freedom of speech as embodied in the constitution, it was perfectly within the Attorney General’s powers during the NPP administration to have brought Rawlings and those individuals to book. The failure of the ex President Kufour’s Administration to do the right in this respect, should now not be blamed under a different government, if the law enforcement agencies want to enforce the law against any wrong doing. These senseless NPP MPs cannot profess to be democrats if they cannot be seen to support the enforcement of the rule of law.

The nicked hypocrisy and double standards of the NPP and its MPs have been exposed. As readers will recall that previous high profile court or legal cases involving people like Tsastu Tsikata, Anane, Issah Allah and many others during the NPP government; some of these sycophants MPs of the NPP argued then, that people should allow the law or the legal process to take its course. The question now is what is different in Nana Darkwa’s case that these disgraceful and shameless NPP MPs cannot this time round allow due legal process to take its full course?

In other democracies, the case of Nana Darkwa would have been taken up by his constituency MP and other human rights organisations without the needless boycotting of Parliament thereby delaying the business of Parliament and Government. It is beyond comprehension to see over 100 and so MPs walking out of Parliament on a matter though not trivial but also not significant to warrant such an action by our Law makers. These good for nothing MPs did not walk out of Parliament when they were con into approving the Exgratia awards, they could not walk out on the sale of GT, neither did they not see it fit to boycott Parliament on issues such Talk Tax, the VAT, Taxes on water packaging, utilities etc. These issues raised were or are all of national interest and importance for all Ghanaians and one would have rightly expected to see the MPs flex their muscles on the above issues with the Executive arm of Government. Instead, most of them kept their quiet because they had compromise themselves in one way or other.

As indicated in one of my earlier articles (see www.ghanaweb.com “President Mills and Ministers of State: Less Talking and more Actions” 13/02/10), President Mills should be mindful and equally determined to deal with his detractors. This latest nonsense of the NPP MPs is a classic example of the diversionary tactics of an opposition party that has lost it way. This entire hullabaloo is centred in Accra and the vast majority of voters up and down the country are not amused by the diabolical behaviour of the leadership of NPP; and they should note that Nana Darkwa’s saga is not a vote winner.

Ghanaians and for that matter voters will not forgive these hopeless MPs for causing financial lost to the country. They are boycotting Parliament and yet drawing on their salaries and benefits from the state coffers. This in my opinion is tantamount to stealing from the tax payers and thereby causing serious financial lost. For the fact that Ghanaians cannot seek redress nor do anything about this through the courts as things stand as per current the constitution, they should be prepared to punish these self serving MPs through the ballot box in the 2012 general elections.

The Minority NPP MPs should know that they are suppose to be answerable to the electorates and not lord over them; they are suppose to uphold and defend the constitution; and rule of law; and not to condone wrong doing or criminality.

David Atugiya Secretary, BONABOTO-UK

PS. The views expressed in this article are that of the author and does not in any way represent the views of BONABOTO-UK