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24.01.2020 Feature Article

Ya Na’s Call For Second Chamber

Ya Na’s Call For Second Chamber
LISTEN JAN 24, 2020

Dateline – Saturday, December 14,2019. The venue was the Akyem Abuakwa capital, Kyebi and the event was the ongoing super glamorous cultural fiesta: Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II, the Okyenhene was celebrating his 20th anniversary on the stool.

The crowd was a mammoth jam of visitors, invited guests, tourists and of course the indigenous Akyems, residents of the populous Kyebi town. The “Guest of Honour” was the newly installed overlord of the Dagbon-Kingdom who stormed Kyebi from Yendi ON HORSEBACK!!!!!

It was a most colorful scene, never before seen in Kyebi.

When it was time for the Guest of Honour to give an address, the ecstatic paparazzi all beamed their cameras and recorders on the Ya Na, but no – in typical cultural style, the Ya Na decided to speak though a spokesman – OKYEAME!!!

Reader, far back in the 14th Century when the Akwamu Empire flourished as the first major black empire in the west coast of Africa, the Akwamu King, Ewurade Basa, decided that as a king, chief or ruler of his people, with accolades bordering on divinity, he should NOT speak direct to his people, but through a spokesman – OKYEAME – Linguist.

You see, reader, we politicians thrive on controversy. Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary of NDC has said this and that, Dr Mathew Poku Prempah, Minister of Education has said this and that, Haruna Iddrisu, Minority leader in Parliament has said this and that…

Controversial politicians are the front runners in politics, and the background politicians are those who keep quiet, never saying anything in Parliament or even at rallies.

The allure of controversy is popularity, reserved for politicians, NOT Nananom. If you like, let us ask Pastor Mensah Otabil, Teacher… General of the Holy Bible: apart from Moses whom God talked to one on one several times, how many times does God speak like that to any other mortal? I know of Job, then also the first murderer in the world, Cain… In all others, “the word of God came to the prophet Elijah; the word of God came to the prophet Isaiah, so on and so on.

Even at the eleventh hour just before his ordeal begun and he was sweating spouts of blood at Gethsemane, God did not speak directly to Jesus, His only begotten son, but through Elijah and Moses…

Unfortunately some of our chiefs feel envious of the popularity of politicians, so they at times descend onto the arena of conflict, making controversial statements laden with half truths, advertising full page, radio interviews, issuing press statements…Nananom, please, NO!!!

Yes, time for guest of honour, the Ya Na, resplendent in oversize colorful costume to speak, and instead of His Majesty, we saw a rather younger chief, in fact the Nanton Na, Divisional Chief for the Ya Na, mounting the rostrum and reading a prepared text.

The call for a second chamber of Parliament in our Fourth Republican dispensation is not new, but since this was the very first time that the Ya Na had a national platform outside his base in Yendi, the Ya Na decided to wallow into the quagmire.

He said we should strengthen the institutions of democracy by dissolving the Council of State and replacing it with a fully directly elected upper house, call it Senate or whatever.

I agree fully with Ya Na.

When the founding fathers were writing the 1992 Constitution they thought that Parliament was vigorously partisan, so let us have a pseudo super Parliament, called “Council of State” suppose to be non partisan – but in actual fact, look at our history when NDC is in power, Council of State members are usually 95% NDC, with one of them as Chairman. It is rumored that when NDC capo, Prof Kofi Awoonar was made Chairman of Council of State, in the initial stages he created quite a series of embarrassments for the usually soft spoken President Evans Atta Mills

Secondly, most, if not all Council of State members are basically engaged elsewhere- university professors, chiefs, professionals – so they come to Accra to live in hotels for business and go back – look at the cost.

What the Ya Na said and I share his view, is that let us have a smaller second full time chamber of directly elected politicians who will come and sit in Accra and as it were “oversee” the work of the usually jammed overcrowded Parliament House.

This practice is common in almost all the democracies; in the UK they have House of Lords, in America they have Senate, in Nigeria they have Senate, in South Africa, in Australia, in India…….why not in Ghana?

Right now we have 16 administrative regions – let every region elect three representatives to the Senate for a six year term, organized in such a way that every two years one third of the house will be up for reelection.

According to the Ya Na, and I agree with him, a smaller Upper House,, fully partisan will constantly reflect the popularity barometer of the ruling party, and our decentralization process will be taken to a higher level.

In addition, the zigzag six year term of elections every two years will give stability to our democracy. By several standards, the second chamber idea looks very advantageous.

I think this is really thought provoking and we thank the Ya Na for bringing it up again for national debate.

From Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey