Feature Article of Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Columnist: Vegas, T.

Why All These Parliamentarians?

Why are politicians in Ghana creating all these constituencies? Is it only in the name of winning elections? God help us.

Ghana is a small country with an area of 92,486 square miles and a population of 24.9 million. Yet, Ghana has 230 and counting parliamentarians. Texas, which is the largest State in the continental U.S.A. and larger than Ghana, has an area of 268,820 square miles, and a population of 25.7 million. Texas has a total of 34 representatives in both the United States House and Senate. Do the math. The United States has a slightly different system of government than Ghana. The U.S. holds a federal system while Ghana takes after a tweaked form of the British system. In effect, we have a President in place of a Prime Minister. Just looking at the ratio of parliamentarians/representatives to population, in Texas and Ghana, the numbers are a bit of a stretch.

A country like Ghana should not have more than 50 members of parliament. Let’s just say we have a unique cultural and tribal system, so we have to push the envelope to between 80 and 100. Today, we have 230 parliamentarians, and we are still creating constituencies. What is the logic in that?

Do our leaders even sit together to find out what is best for the development of our country? Do our leaders even think of the best interest of our country and how to utilize our available resources? With the resources that we have in Ghana, we should not draw a budget and open our exposed hands to Europe and America for their support to meet our budget needs. We have public sector workers whose salaries have not been paid for months. Who and what are these parliamentarians representing? In this day and age, government officials are still commissioning bore holes and primitive toilets. We have been blessed with several rivers, but most people who live close to these rivers do not even have running water in their houses. Only about 34% of the population has flush toilets. Thrift (2007) states “Ghana presents an interesting case for the ecosan programme: in several districts, there are already competitive markets for faecal sludge, the most common sanitation technology in urban areas is a double-vault composting VIP latrine, and there is ample private-sector involvement in sanitation provision. There are many well organized actors involved in the sector (government, civil society, and private sector), and sanitation policies appear well developed on paper. Yet sanitation coverage is clearly inadequate: 38% of Kumasi’s population relies on public toilets, over three-quarters of the population rely on shared toilet facilities, and tens of thousands of urban residents rely on open defecation. There is little treatment of faecal sludge in Ghana.”

When it comes to electricity, you can not even go there. The President of Ghana announced a few months ago when he was then Vice President that he was going to use part of a grant the country secured to erect a traffic tower in Accra to monitor traffic. How do you achieve that when most of the traffic lights do not even work, and there is power outage all the time? What kind of thinking is that? Are our leaders going to examine our problems and deal with it from the core, or they are going to keep picking what ever pleases them in the interest of 10% going into their pockets so they can purchase ten houses in Trasacco Valley?

It is a shame that after over 50 years of independence we do not have a development plan. Our leaders use ad hoc projects to fool the citizens. Projects are being abandoned because it was started by the political party that is no longer in power. Just take a look at Flagstaff House. A presidential complex with an initial budget of 30 million dollars has risen to more than double and still counting. I cry for my country.

The question still is: “What are these 230 parliamentarians debating about in parliament?” I bet if you ask most of these so-called law makers what the budget for their constituency is, and the developmental goals for the next five years, they will not be able to answer. Yet they sit in parliament and take ‘free’ car loans and advocate for big salaries.

Maybe, just maybe, a whole new generation of selfless individuals will be able to reclaim our country and guide it to the direction that we should have gone decades ago.

God bless my people.

T. Vegas Free Thinkers, Inc


Encyclopedia of Nations (2012). Ghana. Retrieved August 27, 2012, from http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Africa/Ghana.html

Plocheck, R. (2011). Texas Almanac. Retrieved August 27, 2012, from http://www.texasalmanac.com/topics/facts-profile

Thrift, C. (2007). Sanitation policy in Ghana: Key factors and the potential for ecological sanitation solutions. Retrieved August 27, 2012, from www.ecosanres.org/pdf.../SanitationPolicyInGhana-CharlesThrift.pdf