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27.08.2004 Politics

Our MPs Are Falling

By Chronicle

THE MPs of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) bred here in Ashanti are falling one after the other at the primaries now on-going. The scene could be likened to the fall of the Knights by King Arthur's round table in the legendary times of the United Kingdom. Yes, they are falling like some termites sprayed with as insecticide. Their fall is complete, and nerve-racking.

This is because they have not been able to graduate from the primaries into the "secondaries" and move from there to Parliament, and to maintain their seats in there. And to wave goodbye to parliament that way definitely deserves of barrels-full of tears. Every parting is difficult, and parting scenes are bitterly so difficult to bear.

And who caused their fall? The fashion of reaching Parliament as an expression of one's personal political ambition is here with us.

More and more people want to become MPs of their constituents in the evolving parliamentary and democratic system. More and more contestants have emerged to do politics that way. Our sitting MPs must beware.

The school system has imperceptibly polished up more and more eligible candidates for democratic service in the parliamentary system. So those who cannot measure to the name of MPs, and yet would not be advised to measure that measure should be prepared to fall off like falling leaves in the dry season. And the MPs' dry season is here in fact - they are falling without measure.

We had expected all our MPs to be up to the task of parliamentary practice, that is in the main, standing up, and talking seriously in parliamentary debates. Our people would wish to identify themselves with such "free" talking MPs, whose wisdom, courage and industry should make all of us proud. When the expectation is frustrated, the end-time of such MPs should be near.

And who says that most of our fallen MPs cannot write and read simple statements in the House to lift us up and prove to us the caliber that makes them the honourable MPs they are. Yet they sit, dumb, speechless and remain sitting! No doubt, they must be literally "sitting" MPs in love with their singular description.

And who doubts that? As we are saying, they reach the House to sit, and practically so, and warm their seats to such boiling degree as to make the kitchen coal-pot envious.

And who cherishes the sitting MPs who so sit to add to the number of those who vote, and not the number who talk. And how do they "talk" developments for their constituents?

They are so glued to their seats in Parliament that they hardly visit their constituencies to tell them the goings on in Parliament. Some of them would not even appear at the usual fora outside Parliament when such meetings are organized to explain the direction of one or the other Bill to the electorates. Parliament therefore becomes their everlasting home, and no other, where they sit, and doze off, and do almost practically nothing apart from voting "aye" or voting "nay".

And most of them are very knowledgeable men whose academic titles and related CVs can fill up a full ten-page brief.. Well, if they cannot translate that much into action, they should deserve to be shown the way out, which has just been done.

They must be going back to their towns and villages by the very dusty and un-motorable roads along which they came. The source of drinking water in their respective villages must be still running otherwise they are going to join the queue to ration muddy water for their drinking convenience.

And it is so satisfying to the people to pull such an MP back to base. Our MPs must be seen to be development oriented, and be very active in that respect.

And if in that regard they fail to satisfy their constituents' aspirations, do they dare to rebel against their party's policies on one or the other policy issue which demands common sense and tact to handle? It has happened on several occasions on the floor of the House, and outside it where some of the MPs among those who have lost the primaries put the whip at the back of their own party as it were instead of getting whipped themselves.

And when they so whip the party, the party on the ground is likely to whip them, which has been done, and more painfully so, with the order of "go and come no more at least not for this time ... " The dishonour in that respect is painfully unbearable. The people have the democratic right to honour and or dishonour the MP who cannot toe the party line. It is the practice everywhere.

We cannot tell much of all the causes that must have led to the loss of their seats. But we can safely say that the people's awareness of parliamentary practice and the politics of it is high, higher than before, in fact. We are growing by leaps and bounds.

All in all, our MPs need always to exhibit the necessary humility and willingness to serve the best interest of their constituents. The concern is such. The people love their politics. They love their MPs also so much, and wouldn't wish to be frustrated by the lack luster performance of their MPs.

What some of our MPs lack, seriously, is the discipline to learn always so as to be in the position to excel themselves in that endeavour. The MP who is worth his name and title cannot afford to lack basic knowledge of our politics, past and present, and of our economics, its strength and weakness, and of our diverse social norms and appeal. They form the key to any responsible subject matter of debate in the House. Parliamentary life and practice cannot be a pastime or a leisure like a tea party to enjoy and be done with. It demands much commitment to succeed. And their "As" should be piled up very much like the university student who aims at a first class degree. The crown of success comes by hard work.

We are saying that such physical and mental exertion, however, cannot continue forever. There is limit to everything, and therefore time to call it quits. But to quit should be honourable enough; losing at the primaries is not honourable at all. Such an exit is tantamount to dismissal, which should be the last thing to befall the honourable Member of Parliament.

But their fate should be bearable. Some "dismissed" MPs before them did not have it easy. They were mowed down in the prime of their parliamentary life by the coup bombs we know of in the political system. They were much hurt and bruised and humiliated especially where they had to be thrown into detention in the prison cells for long periods of time.

But every pain is relative in its intensity by the period of the pain, and by the individual enduring the pain. Our fallen MPs will miss their Parliament no doubt. They will miss the breaks for tea, which also turns to be gossip time. They will miss much in-fighting within their ranks which is common. Such is the life in there.

It is not all rosy in there. There is much prejudice, much animosity, and much rancour amongst them as it relates to who is whose favourite for whose recommendation for what appointment to ministerial position or to some leadership position in the House. It is not easy to "carry" oneself even in the company of politicians who share common ideals in a common political party. It could be so frustrating to the weak kneed.

And such individuals at the least opportunity resign their posts, and or call it quits, and in some cases say goodbye to politics entirely. The MP, however, should be able to carry himself through the problems that come his way. Parliamentary life could be war to fight and conquer.

Whatever the constraints, our fallen MPs will miss session of formal debates in the House. The respected call of "Mr. Speaker" that is interspersed in the MPs' address in the House has its own charm to delight us. It is on Mr. Speaker to call for a chance to speak; it is the very self same name to mention to end a submission ... Mr. Speaker ...

Indeed, most of the fallen MPs may not miss debating sessions. The pain to experience in the lack of initiative on their part to contribute to debating sessions cannot be wished away. It is real. The "self-reproaching self" in their lack of courage and preparation to talk on topics in which they feel they could have acquitted themselves, keeps haunting them all the way. They definitely are better off without their presence in the House, especially where some of them refuse to talk.

But they will surely miss the occasional foreign trips that come their way. It is one feeling of recognition here that makes the day for the dumb and speechless MPs. They invariably call for 'encore' for such "accidental" fortunes. It is heaven-like.

They will generally miss the entire parliamentary life. The sense of service at that high level could be as humbling as it is exciting.

It is worth the experience to taste a little of parliamentary life. It is rewarding emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Parliament is the place where many things of the law of governance are made to happen.

It is in the House where all Ghana sits and makes our unity real. It should be for this reason that one government MP in the early days of the 1st Republic wondered why there should still be opposition even in the sitting arrangement when Independence had been won for all of us. It is a place of many saying and many events.

It is the place where historically, the motion for Independence was tabled and moved. It is the place where the approval of the Independence motion was received. Parliament continues to be the living symbol of our Independence, the vicissitudes notwithstanding.

We do not have to reach parliament for service to the nation and miss the boat so soon by a "no" majority vote in the primaries as witnessed in the great fall of some of our great MPs. It is a great miss. But that is all about the democratic vote. It puts some in Parliament, while it shows others the red card, out.

Well, fortunes change. But the fall is usually not in our Stars; it has been our own creation. The consolation we do not have to miss is that the mighty also fall. And how are the mighty falling!

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