12 June 2019

Ghana: Engage Research Institutions in MPs' Ratings - Speaker Directs House Committee and Leadership

THE Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has directed the House Committee and Leadership of the Legislature to engage the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana and allied research institutions to establish which subject areas should be used in assessing Members of Parliament.

Speaker Oquaye said if this was done, the annual rift that builds between the House and research institutions anytime a survey was done on the performance of MPs would be resolved.

Professor Oquaye's directive comes on the heel of a research finding released by the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana in Accra on Monday which revealed that only 95 of the 275 MPs had a 50 per cent and above rating by their constituents.

The directive, which was given in Parliament yesterday, followed a 'complaint' by the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who in relation to the recent report, said the criteria used for the assessment was not in tandem with the Constitutional responsibilities of lawmakers.

According to the Bekwai MP, it would be unfair to assess the lawmakers based on their relationship with constituents without considering their contribution both on the Committee level and on the floor of Parliament hence the need to establish the parameters with which they should be assessed.

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, commenting on the matter said the report was unfair to MPs especially at a time both the governing New Patriotic Party and the opposition National Democratic Congress were due for primaries.

Using the Ghanaian Times' Tuesday publication on the survey with the banner headline: 'Approval ratings of MPs: 180 set to be voted out... .in 2020 election for non-performance', the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said "we are not non-performing MPs" supporting the call for criteria for assessment to be set because contribution of Members at committee level is unseen by constituents.

Dr Emmanuel Marfo, MP, Oforikrom, who was at the release of the report at the University of Ghana said the House and Members would always come under unfair criticism if criteria for assessing MPs was not agreed on.

Delivering his ruling, Speaker Oquaye, a former Head of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana said "it is important MPs are understood by research bodies in order not to take delight in the usual MP bashing" stating that "Parliament is not against assessment."

According to Speaker Oquaye, the current Parliament is the most productive of all the Parliaments in the fourth republic having passed more bills, asked more questions and made more statements on the floor all in advancing the cause of their constituents.

"These are verifiable facts and I put my honour on it," Speaker Oquaye said underscoring the need for people to understand the role of MPs.

"No road no vote is not an MPs job. MPs are not given money to construct roads. They can lobby but they don't build roads. Common fund has nothing to do with construction of roads. You can't assess an MP on non-constitutional duties.

"You will be unfair to assess an MP based on roads rather than his or contribution at the Committee level. Without Committee, you haven't properly assessed an MP because the committee is the workshop of Parliament," Professor Oquaye, a former Member for Dome Kwabenya stated.

Worrying, he said, was the misconception of the citizenry about the role of MPs and for academia to fuel that perception, it would be promoting the attrition rate which is already high in Ghana's Parliament and could reduce the quality of the House.

Members of Parliament have in the past questioned research finding on them by Governance research think tank, Odikro and Africa Watch magazine all which cast a slur on the performance on MPs.

Like in the case of the current finding, the lawmakers argued that the reports were skewed in the sense that it did not factor the contribution of MPs in Parliament especially at the Committee level.

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