For how long will honourable men misbehave?
Feature Article of Monday, 4 March 2013
Columnist: Okofo-Dartey, Samuel
How can men and women who call themselves honourable descend into the gutters? For how long will these men and women who represent us understand that their business is to legislate and not degenerate into something shameful? For Christ’s sake, when at all will they realise that the tax payers who pay them expect quality service in parliament and not for them to be at each other’s throat?
The first time that I heard the report that Murtala Mohammed and Frank Annor Dompreh who are MPs have drawn daggers, what came to mind was when will these needless verbal exchanges cease? The other time it was Ursula Owusu and Murtala Mohammed who threw unprintable words at each other without regard for decorum.
It appears some persons in parliament are gaining notoriety for the wrong reasons. One thing our honourables must bear in mind is, it is not everything that the eyes see that the mouth must say. There is time for everything. Best words are reserved for the right time. Silence is indeed golden. So they must restrain themselves from the temptation of needlessly reacting to situations.
For my money, there was not the need for Murtala Mohammed to have ridiculed the minority by demanding why they boycotted the state of the nation’s address only to struggle later with others to enjoy sumptuous khebabs after the presentation. And the reaction from Annor Dompreh was equally wayward. Over the years, I have learnt that experienced legislators are not associated with hasty declarations when they know they can better spend their time analysing issues that are of national interest.
Fame, therefore, is not the preserve of the garrulous but the tactful. When Kennedy Agyapong loosely placed his tongue where it was supposed to be, he was not spared by well meaning Ghanaians. The call for MPs to be circumspect in their speech is no joke looking how polarised our country is.
I am so proud there are young men in parliament who are ambitious to carve a suitable name for themselves. However, it will be in their own interest to tone down on their careless outbursts for the sake of their political career and the youth who are being wrongly educated by their mannerisms.
A worrying phenomenon that has erupted out this political blunder is the two MPs questioning each other’s integrity. This is not the time for these honourable men to engage in trifles. Their constituents are expecting them to strive in attaining more projects to alleviate their deplorable plights. By the way, they are not the only MPs whose integrity has been a suspect.
When one takes a walk down memory lane into our parliament, there are series of serious comedy of errors. In the previous parliament, do you remember when an NDC MP slapped his colleague NDC MP? I am told it was a test of strength and the victim was never the same. It was a humiliating experience because his peer had soundly reduced him to nothing.
Another parliamentarian who would somehow be remembered for the wrong reason is the man who is famed for his economics acumen, hence the nickname Asaganomics. We are told he battered his wife for reasons best known to him. That did not end there, the affable Alban Bagbin took the baton by marrying the wife’s younger sister. As an intellectual, the only reason he could proffer was that their custom sanctions it.
At any rate, we must also hold ourselves responsible for over dignifying these honourable men. Sometimes people see them to be out this planet. Some are even prepared to do whatever it takes to win their favour. We forget that they are human beings like us. They are not infallible. So we should not overly be taken aback whenever they act irrationally.
Nevertheless, they cannot also conduct themselves in an unbefitting manner. Parliament is a place for serious minds. It is not also a court for settling old scores. It is the platform where emotions are relegated to the margins for the sake of common sense. If our MPs will appreciate the fact that parliament is the heart of the nation, then, they will appreciate the need for them to channel their energies to promoting matters that are of national interest.
I sincerely think that some of our MPs have not come to terms with the fact that the political season is over, therefore, there is the need for them to act as parliamentarians and not as politicians on campaign platforms. Some of them blindly pursue and debate issues along parochial party lines. They magnify their political lenses when they are supposed to narrow their focus on projecting national interest.
The dignity of parliament is at stake here. There is respect for a chief, his palace and his elders if they learn to respect their status. Likewise if our MPs are refusing to respect themselves, then they should not expect any favourable modicum of respect from Ghanaians. And how dangerous it will be for parliament to lose its dignity when through the conduct of some parliamentarians, it is perceived to be a theatre that houses a bunch of clowns.
History has opened our eyes to the knowledge that in ancient Greece and Rome, when senators were perceived to be corrupt and their rationalisations were geared toward their own interests, the commoners or plebeians never spared the patricians or aristocrats from deadly uprisings.
Already perceptions are rife that our honourable men and women are fattening their pockets with unprecedented pay rise and a ridiculous proposed house rent. And the speed with which they rally behind their common interest is very shocking. But when it is about national issues, our wise men are divided along party lines, thereby, dragging development painfully backwards.
The least we do not we expect our legislators to do is for them to act as bitter enemies. Two mad men have never made sense and will never be reasonable in their state of insanity. Therefore, if one MP seems to be mad in his actions or words, it should take the other sane MP to whip his seemingly insane honourable member into line. It is not proper for them to compete among themselves as to who has the higher degree of madness.
The privileges committee of parliament must be active in restoring sanity in parliament. This unfortunate incident should be a clarion call to curtail any further commotion of this calibre. We cannot bear or count the cost if sanity does not prevail at where sanity must be the hallmark.
SOURCE: OKOFO-DARTEY SAMUEL