Democracy is well served when Members of Parliament (MPs) spend some time to acquire experience and skills in parliamentary processes.
This, in most cases, helps to improve the quality of debate and work, as well as enhance the work of the House.
It is for this reason that in time-tested democracies such as the United States, United Kingdom and India, a number of the people’s representatives take legislative work seriously, as a career and a full-time job.
However, in Ghana, some people hold contrary views and think the old order must change and yield to the new. No wonder when it comes to parliamentary primaries, many people who contest incumbent members simply argue that such MPs have spent so much time in the House and as such it is time the individuals gave way to new faces.
Notwithstanding the fact that experience counts much in legislative work, we also experience this trend because of non-performance by some sitting MPs. For instance, in the strongholds of the two main political parties — the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), — candidates think once they win the primaries, they become MPs in waiting because they will at all cost win their respective seats in those constituencies.
The situation has brought about intense competition, sometimes unhealthy, leading to parliamentary seats changing hands at primaries almost every four years.
A close examination of the membership of the Fourth Republican Parliament has shown that the leadership in the House have over the years acquired vast experience which has benefited their parties and the legislature, particularly when it comes to debate and the application of the rules and regulations of the House.
The Majority Leader, Mr A. S. K. Bagbin, one of the oldest members of parliament in the Fourth Republic, entered the House from obscurity as he was only known by his colleague lawyers during his private practice from his law firm, Law Trust.
The National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) member for Nadowli/Kaleo in the Upper West Region was first voted to represent his constituency, then known as Nadowli North, in the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic during the 1992 election boycotted by the major opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), after it lost the presidential election.
Since 1992, the Nadowli/Kaleo ‘’Mugabe’’ has been returned to parliament by massive votes even though he had to face other contestants both from within his own party and other parties.
In 1996, Mr Bagbin brushed aside opposition from the NPP to retain the seat for the NDC.
As an ordinary member of Parliament in 1992, he rose through the ranks of the NDC as a result of hard work to the position of Minority Leader when the NDC lost the election to the NPP in 2000. In 2012, when the NDC was returned to power under President John Evans Atta Mills, he was named as the Majority Leader.
He has served on several committees of the House, namely the Subsidiary Legislation and Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Following in his trail is Alhaji Amadu Seidu, the NDC member for Yapei/Kusawgu in the Northern Region. Alhaji Amadu, however, decided not to contest the 2016 election. He explained that “there is always time in one’s life to say enough is enough. For 24 years it is enough, I have served my people,’’ he told the Daily Graphic.
Asked whether his departure would not impact on the House, Mr Amadu said there were equally good and experienced hands in the House to carry on with business and it would be better to give others the opportunity to learn and serve their people.
He once served as a Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways and also as a Deputy Minister for Works and Housing. He served on the Subsidiary Legislation and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Works and Housing, Roads and Highways, Communications, Finance, Public Accounts and the Government Assurance Committee.
For the major opposition party, the NPP, the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, entered the House as a member for Old Tafo Suame in 1996 but now represents Suame since the constituency has been split.
The member for Sekondi, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, who has served his people for 20 years, declined to contest the next election. Dr Richard Winfred Anane, who joined the House as the representative for Manhyia but now represents Nhyiaeso, has also declined to contest. Professor Dominic Kwaku Fobih, the MP for Assin South, popularly referred to as Assin Mugabe, also declined to contest after serving his constituents for 20 years.
NDC veteran and old horse, Mr E. T. Mensah, entered the House in 1997 to represent Ningo/Prampram but had his dream of continuing to serve his people was truncated when he was whipped in the primary by his own chap, Sam George. He has since petitioned the party to go into some irregularities that occurred during the primary.
The next in line is Hajia Mary Salifu Boforo, the NDC member for Savelugu, who first served as the member for Savelugu/Nanton, a constituency which was also later split into two.
Next in line
Next in line is the NDC member for Asutifi South, Alhaji Collins Dauda; Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, a former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and Minister of Health; and Alhaji Rashid Pelpuo, MP for Wa Central.
Others are Dominic Azimbe Azumah, who entered the House to represent Garu Tempane until it was split into Garu and Tempane and Cletus Apul Avoka, Zebilla. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Hannah Serwaah Tetteh, first served the Effutu-Senya Constituency as Mrs Hannah Tetteh Kpodah and served as the Minister of Trade and Industry. The NDC Member for Central Tongu and Minister for Roads and Highways, another long-serving member, lost the opportunity to represent the party during the primary in November last year while Gershon K. B. Gbediame, the member for Nkwanta South since 2000, sailed through the primary to contest the 2016 election on the ticket of the NDC.
Mrs Eugenia Gifty Kusi joined the House in 2000 as the member for Tarkwa/Nsuaem. She will now face stiff opposition from Kwame Djokoto of the NDC.
Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, aka Akom Preko, also joined the House as the member for Assin South, then designated as Assin Central. Mr Kobina Tahiru Hammond, who represented Adansi /Asokwa in 2000 is now in his 16th year as a member of the House and was a former Energy Minister in the Kufuor administration.
The member for New Edubiase, Madam Mary Eugenia Ghan, served the shortest term in the first parliament of the Fourth Republic. She died less than a year into the first term in a tragic road accident on her way to participate in a communal labour in her constituency.
Source: Daily Graphic
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