'Don't play with economy'
A former First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Freddie Blay, has cautioned politicians and political parties not to play politics with the economy as it has the potential of eroding the gains of multi-party democracy in Ghana.
Chairing a seminar organized by Forum of Former Members of Parliament in Accra yesterday, Hon. Blay noted that whether in opposition or in government, all politicians must have a collective interest in developing the economy in a way that will give hope to the people.
This, according to him, will encourage Ghanaians to safeguard the country's democratic culture, believing that their conditions of living can only be improved under multi-party democracy.
“We need to nurture our democracy because if we let it go, it could degenerate into something else,” Hon. Blay told former and current MPs and civil society groups at the seminar organized under the theme: The Role of the Former Member of Parliament in Promoting and Strengthening Parliamentary Democracy in Ghana.
He admonished politicians not to sabotage the growth of the economy with the assumption that governments would be in power in perpetuity when the economy is improved under their reign, adding, “governments are sometimes booted out even after improving the economy,” due to other factors.
The former First Deputy Speaker of Parliament was quick to point out that although the preoccupation of every government is to ensure that people have decent lives, life is not just about “bread and butter alone,” noting that some people would be content with having their freedom of speech and fundamental human rights respected, all of which are possible under democracy.
Hon. Blay who is also a former three-term Member of Parliament (MP) for Ellembelle in the Western Region called on Parliament as an institution to have a memory of others who have contributed in diverse ways to deepen Ghana's democracy.
“After retiring from the Legislature, people must be encouraged to continue to express their opinion and give advice for the entrenchment of democracy in the country,” Hon. Blay suggested.
Giving his opening address, the President of the Forum, Kosi Kedem who is also a former MP for Hohoe South urged Ghanaians to resolve to have nothing to do with coups and undemocratic governments.
“The Forum is extremely anxious to play an active role in promoting, sustaining and strengthening parliamentary democracy by not just adopting and adapting the best experiences and practices from America, Europe and India; but we are also determined to create our own roles and identity, unique and relevant to our society,” he hinted.
Hon. Kedem was grateful to God for ensuring relatively peaceful and uninterrupted democratic governance in Ghana for the past 16 years, acknowledging the tremendous roles successive governments and rulers have played upholding these democratic tenets since 1993 amid serious challenges.
Further urging governments not to relent in their efforts to sustain democratic governance in the country, Hon. Kedem noted that although the rule of law, democratic and constitutional governance may be slow, expensive and even frustrating, it is without doubt the best form of government practiced by mankind.
“However, we must caution ourselves not to be too slow otherwise we would frustrate the high expectations of the people.
Notwithstanding its complexity and inherent problems, democratic governance remains our only hope. We must, therefore, hold onto it and fearlessly defend it because it is the only sure way of building a better Ghana,” he urged.
Hon. Kedem appealed to President Atta Mills to as part of the review of ex-gratia include MPs of the Third Parliaments of the Fourth Republic with the view to making the lives of all former MPs a bit comfortable.
He thanked the sponsors of the seminar including Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Parliamentary Centre of Ghana and the European Commission for their continued support.
By Awudu Mahama