Parliament should protect image as sitting resumes Jan 25
Events in December 2021 took me down memory lane to our first year in secondary school in the mid-1960s. The 105 of us were put in A, B and C classes of 35 boys each.
As little boys, mischief appeared to be part of our DNA, varying on a scale of 1-10.
Without doubt, my class notoriously topped our form with a “well-above-average” grade for mischief,despite having some fine gentlemen among us.
Teachers responded differently to our mischief. While those who believed in moral suasion appealed to our conscience, others asked God to give them patience.
In a reaction one day, an angry teacher yelled at us saying, “there are some Sheeps among you” to which we responded with giggles and “sheeeeps! sheeeeeps!”
Our History teacher and master on the other hand responded calmly.
Mr S.K. Odamtten, later Professor Odamtten, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, the University of Cape Coast, aka “Kusum” taught us History.
“Kusum” responded to such mischief by simply saying “I am thoroughly ashamed of you!”
Without doubt,that would have been his statement to our Members of Parliament(MPs) on December 20,2021!
My article Pandemonium in Democracy’s citadels in January 2021 stated as follows:
“Early January 7, 2021 in Accra, Ghanaians watched with total disbelief and shock our Parliament’s Chamber converted into a blend of a rugby stadium and a boxing,wrestling ring where MPs violently displayed their snatching, sprinting, slapping, stampeding and sitting-on-lap skills. In the confusion, armed soldiers and police also entered the chamber.
On the first sitting of the eighth Parliament on January 15, 2021, the Speaker strongly reprimanded the MPs for their “unruly behaviour” and “despicable conduct.”
After his strong words to the MPs, the Speaker apologised to Ghanaians and promised that such disgraceful conduct will not occur again.
Little did Ghanaians think a worse scenario awaited us in December 2021.
The issue of a 1.75 per cent E-Levy tax in the 2022 Budget proposals sparked off controversy soon after it was presented in November 2021.
On December 20,2021, Ghana’s parliamentary chamber was once again converted into a boxing and wrestling arena where MPs displayed skills Spanish matadors would have envied.
MPs boxed, punched, kicked, fought and tore clothes, as attempts were made to snatch the Speaker’s chair in a manner similar to an MP snatching a ballot-box on January 7, 2021.
Was it a case of the quote “as it was in the beginning, so it is now, and so shall it ever be?” for the eighth Parliament.
The Minister for Parliamentary-Affairs agreed with a radio-caller’s description of the conduct of the MPs as “shameful, embarrassing and shocking!”
Indeed, he added “I am scandalised and ashamed to be called Leader of Parliament!”
Having descended so deeply into the gutter, can our MPs have the moral courage or conscience to invite any Ghanaian before the Privileges-Committee for a non-violent verbal comment?
Privilege and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. They, therefore, cannot claim privileges, while reneging on their promises and responsibilities.
Sadly, interviewed teenagers opined that, some MPs have reduced themselves by their misconduct in the glare of the whole world, to the level of rampaging primary-school kids.
An Akan proverb states, “deɛ mmoa adi no, wonni nkɔ. Deɛ aka no, yɛ bɛ bo ho ban!” Using a farming analogy, it roughly translates as, “what has been eaten by animals, is lost. What is left must be protected!”
Doubtlessly, most MPs are decent Ghanaians who were voted for as our representatives in Parliament.
The decent MPs, therefore, owe themselves and Ghanaians a responsibility of ridding Parliament of the few unrepentant kick-boxers, wrestlers and matadors whose actions constantly bring Parliament into disrepute.
It is only when Ghanaians see MPs apply the same standards of hauling Ghanaians to the Privileges Committee to their chronically misbehaving kind, that confidence in the Legislature will be restored.
As the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs said on radio on January 3, 2022, “if only we allow the law to work, things will work!” Charity begins at home!
At my “Manager’s” graduation in 1979 at the University of Cape-Coast, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor S.K. Odamtten ended his address with a quote from Philippians 4:8-9.
“Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any praise, think on these things.
“Those things you have learned and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
I commend this to our MPs. That way, Prof. Odamtten’s ghost will not tell them, “I am thoroughly ashamed of you!”
Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!
The writer is Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya & Council Chairman, the Family Health University College, Accra