Experts call on Parliament, Judiciary to emulate periodic media engagement

General News of Wednesday, 19 July 2017



Both19Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo (L) and Speaker of Parliament, Mike Ocquaye

Two experts have called on the Legislature and Judiciary to render an account of their performance to the public through the media, just like the Executive has been doing.

Dr. Eric Oduro-Osae, the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS), says Ghana’s democratic dispensation would achieve significant gains if the other two arms of government meet the media periodically to discuss issues pertaining to their constitutional mandates.

“I think it is a conversation that we need to start having as a nation because Parliament is made up of Parliamentarians, and it is true that they represent various constituencies, [but] whether or not they will account to them [public] at the various constituencies is another matter.

“Nationally we should have a way of getting Parliament to account to us for what they have been able to do in terms of passage of laws, in terms holding other arms of government by way of checks and balances in the governance arena,” he said.

The respected political analyst was speaking Tuesday on current affairs programme, PM Express, on the Joy News channel on Multi TV.

The programme focused discussions on President Nana Akufo-Addo’s first media encounter with selected journalists and civil society groups at the Flagstaff House on Tuesday.

The Presidency organised the event to mark the Akufo-Addo-led six months old government.

In the past, Presidents have held similar engagement at least one year into their term of office, however, the Nana Akufo-Addo becomes the first President to meet the press in six months.

The discussion focused on the economy, security, health among others, with some journalists demanding answers to very tough questions.

Dr Oduro Osae’s assessment of the performance of both the Journalists and the President at Tuesday’s presser was “satisfactory”, however, he wants the conversation to move from what he calls “Executive Accountability” to when the other two major arms of government can offer the public the same opportunity to scrutinise their work.

“When it comes to the Judiciary too, the Judiciary is an important arm of government. The extent to which they have performed these functions [interpretation of the law]…they are also expected to account to us. So we shouldn’t always look at Executive accounting to us,” he told show host, Nana Ansah Kwao IV.

He suggests that in the future, the Legislature and Judiciary should be officially represented at such press encounters so that media personnel – who frame their questions based on public interest issues – can direct their queries at them.

Dr. Oduro Osae’s suggestion resonated with another guest on the programme, Dr. Vladmir Antwi-Danso, a security expert and the Director of Academic Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College.

Dr. Antw-Danso said the presence of all three arms of government would be novel and would ensure “collective accountability”.

He said the presence of all three arms of government at a media encounter will help them to find ways of curtailing their deficiencies.

“I believe that when we talk about accountability, we must look at the totality of governance and not just the Executive,” he said.

Nana Akufo-Addo took office in January 2017 after a first round victory in December last year, ending his party’s stay in opposition after eight years.

He has, however, faced criticism over the handling of activities of political vigilante groups such as the Delta Force and Invincible Forces that have been responsible for some unlawful activities.

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