Prof. Ransford Gyamp writes
On the Proposed Construction of a New Chamber, I have no useful comments beyond what Ghanaians have said. A few almost useless additions may however suffice.
Every nation that develops, also has monumental edifices that inter alia, houses the discharge of key functions of the state and serves as tourist attraction. These are the huge buildings when we see at their “down-towns”. It is not bad for us to build huge infrastructure and and other edifices for the state. There are two issues, however.
First, you do not spend huge sums on such projects at a time when some (not all) people are suffering from deprivation of basic bread and butter issues. You do not propose such initiative for an organ of government that seem to be suffering some legitimacy deficit in recent times, per a survey conducted by Isaac Owusu Mensah of the Department of Political Science.
Putting the challenges of public hospitals and other basic infrastructure aside, the roads leading to the constituencies of some of the parliamentarians are very bad and deplorable. Some constituencies exist as though they have no representatives in parliament, per my deductions from the recent survey conducted by my colleague.
What constituents expect is a radical response to their socio-economic miserization. It is a truism that human beings are insatiable, but they have certain basic needs which when satisfied, could earn their support for investment in huge projects that may not directly benefit them.
Secondly, I perceive the criticism of the proposal to construct a new chamber from another angle of governance. The public criticism of the move exposes our huge unmeasured support for the executive arm of government over the remaining arms of government.
We are united in criticizing the proposed construction of a new chamber of parliament simply because it was announced by Parliament. The question I have been asking myself is: would we have done same if the EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT of the land had announced this? The answer is NO. When the President announced the construction of a national cathedral, what was our response? I know some NPP sympathizers who criticized it only behind the scenes but publicly endorsed it amidst whipping up needless religious sentiments. But when parliament announced the proposed construction of a new chamber, both NPP and NDC sympathizers are heard PUBLICLY critiquing the move.
This kind of support for the executive president, in addition to other constitutional provisions that clearly undermines constitutionalism, upsets the balance of power between the arms of government in favor of the executive and in a manner that makes the president a “political king-kong”.
Party people and indeed, all Ghanaians look up to the President for one favor or the other. Consequently, every idea initiated by the President is supported, even if it requires proper public scrutiny and possible rejection.
If it is wrong it is wrong. If the priority is misplaced, it is misplaced. We must not support the executive when it embarks upon an initiative we consider misplaced behind the scenes, only to publicly critique other arms of government for implementing similar initiatives.
We have done well as a nation by uniting to fight this initiative. I do not anticipate intransigence and blatant disregard of the voice of the people. Gradually we may succeed in building a citizenry who would be empowered enough to vote for regimes and keep the regimes on their toes without sycophancy.
I commend those three gentlemen who went to parliament to voice their concerns. They were very bold and brave. This notwithstanding, we must correct wrongs by lawful means. We can keep parliament in check as citizens but in doing so, we must operate within the rules in order not to have problems with the law enforcement agencies.
Going forward, we must form a constituency of citizens who would keep regimes on their toes irrespective of our partisan coloration. This is the only way we may be able to escape the charge of political hypocrisy.
PAV Ansah Street
Suro Nipa House