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09.07.2019 Feature Article

Parliament Backs Down

Parliament Backs Down

Parliament couldn't stand the heat in the kitchen, let alone use this headless seafood---crab to make its planned sumptuous soup.

What happened?

Its proposed new Parliamentary Chamber that sparked controversy over the last few days is going back to the stable until it's possibly giving free rein.

The state-of-the-art project that's estimated to cost US$200 million is reported to have caused extreme exasperation and annoyance in the capital city Accra.

It also saw the arrest of two vociferous protesters who burst their anger and dissatisfaction at the legislators from the public gallery of the Parliament House.

In the wake of the controversy, some civil society groups had vowed to continue to bring pressure to bear on the legislature until it backed down.

The fault line was proving to be devastating as the seismic shock rummaged the House through to the Jubilee House. Earlier, one local newspaper had reported that President Akufo-Addo wanted the new Chamber project to be dropped.

Did the President prevail on the legislature to back down?

It's unknown whether that played a part in the latest development. Yes, Parliament has backed down. It's softened its stance and the red tide has retired to its base. This believe the posture some of its members exhibited awhile back on the floor of the house

Will Parliament stage a comeback?

On Monday 8, July 2019

the Parliamentary Service Board issued a press statement to the effect that it was suspending the building of the facility upon careful reflection.

"The Board, has, upon reviewing representation made to it by well-meaning Ghanaians, it's accordingly taken the development of the new chamber block out of its present agenda "

It went on to explain that "the development of the Parliament enclave and a new Chamber block and offices shall however, remain an essential and integral part of the future plans of the legislature, in a bid to provide a strong accountable, responsive and transparent parliament to serve the purpose of Parliament."

What does this mean?

It means Parliament is on retreat mode but will regroup and possibly stage a comeback. But as to when and how, I think the answer is in the postmortem.

Remember the greater the pressure the deeper the revelation. We will know if this is a listening Parliament or not. But the bottom line is, the horse will surely be let out of the stable at the appropriate time at their own choosing.

Maybe at a time when Ghanaians have gone back to sleep. Honestly, we are good at that. Someone said, read my lips...

Ghana has the 54th largest legislature in the world by number of members 275 in total. The top 10 legislatures include China, the UK, Italy, France, India.

Of course, making an unpopular decision is like selling the wrong product. Obviously, the market will reject the product and the seller will more likely become unpopular too.

And do you remember this controversial one from Kobina. Tahir Hammond, MP for Adansi Asokwa Constituency?

"MPs cannot sit under trees."

Yes, MPs cannot sit...But who can?

Wasn't parliament barking the wrong tree?

That was obvious, but they desperately tried to justify why there is the need to build such edifice. It's understood security is paramount.

Two is space. Parliament argues that the current chamber isn't spacious enough to accommodate its members. And I think the third argument advanced has to with it catching the Speaker's Eye. The columns have been blocking some of the legislators view.

So it's almost impossible for the Speaker to see them. The columns!

But why would one consider to expend US$200 million on a Chamber?

If course that shouldn't be a priority when you have children that are considered the future leaders studying under trees and makeshift structures. When you virtually have bad roads, bad drinking water, bad health care facilities and bad housings units them you need to set your priorities right.

A word to a wise is enough.

Gordon Offin-Amaniampong
Gordon Offin-Amaniampong, © 2019

This author has authored 284 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: GordonOffinAmaniampong

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