When a former Attorney General, Martin Amidu, blew the alarm on corruption among MPs particularly in the 5th and 6th parliament, recently, it was treated as one of his usual rants given little attention, and literally ignored. It was the same way we equally disregarded the corruption claim against MPs by former Asikuma Odoben-Brakwa MP, PC Appiah Ofori.
He alleged how MPs during the Kufuor era, took Ghc5,000 each to allow the sale of then Ghana Telecom to Vodafone. It was even more shocking when corruption claims against Parliament by one of its longest serving MPs, Alban Bagbin, was treated with kid gloves.
And here we are again, confronted with yet another revelation of an alleged corruption scandal in Parliament. It has been alleged that the newly-approved Minister of Energy, Mr. Boakye Agyarko attempted bribing Members of the Minority side on the Parliamentary Appointments Committee, in order to secure an easy approval by consensus. It is obvious that this revelation has presented the best opportunity for Parliament to establish the truth, but the law making body has rather glossed over the matter . As a result of not seizing the moment to clarify the matter much more forcefully, Parliament risks denting its image.
The allegation is so damning that one wonders whether our elected leaders really care about the plight of their electorate or they just use the delegated mandate to enrich themselves by hook or crook! It is disturbing to even imagine that our MPs pocketed the amount alleged to have been given to them to influence the approval process. Word has it that each member of the minority on the Appointment Committee received a GH¢3,000 from the new Minister but through some emissaries on the majority side. According to the whistle blower, Mahama Ayariga, Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, the MPs paid heed to their conscience, and returned the booty when it became clear to them that the money was intended to influence them in the approval process.
It must be remembered that, ending corruption has always and predictably will remain an item in every party’s political manifesto. However, it is disheartening that barely a month after investiture of NPP’s administration, which came to power on the backdrop of fighting corruption, one of its Ministers is accused of committing the very vice that the party swore to fight. Are we back to games of musical chairs?
The corruption canker has been existent in Parliament for years. Apart from Martin Amidu’s revelations, the Member of Parliament for Nadowli-Kaleo in the Upper West Region , Alban Babgin, had alleged that some MPs take bribes to promote the views of some individuals and organisations. And I can predict with almost near certainty that this will not be the last time we will have this discussion on the allegation of graft within the august House.
We’re intelligent but we lack integrity
If these legislators who represent their constituents and play key roles in passing critical bills have lost their integrity then all hope is lost. I believe Ghana has all the intelligent men and women who can make the nation great again, but our main problem has been integrity. We need men and women with great ideas unwilling to sell integrity for money.
The following developments to the alleged scandal are also problematic:
Nana Addo’s hasty decision
The President’s decision to approve a nominee who had been implicated in a corruption scandal was in bad taste. His appointment should have been suspended until there is clarity on the matter, once Parliament has set up a committee to look into the matter.
A Minister Nominee appointed as Committee Chairman
It is also laughable, that a Minister Nominee who had not yet been vetted by Members of the Appointments Committee was appointed as Chairman of an ad-hoc committee tasked to investigate the scandal. How can we guarantee that Joe Ghartey, in his capacity as Chairman of the ad-hoc committee will be fair, bearing in mind that this same Appointments Committee he is investigating, will determine his qualification.
Setting up an internal committee
Resorting to the same body implicated in the scandal for investigations is not the best option inasmuch as it is legal. In jurisdictions that have working systems, an independent investigation mechanism would have been initiated to unravel the truth .The Police or even the Attorney General could have been involved if there was indeed a keen and genuine interest in unavailing the truth.
What is expected of Parliament?
It is imperative on the part of the legislature to use the exposè as a golden opportunity to undertake an introspection and above all address the matter to its logical conclusion.
Ghanaians deserve nothing but the truth. Therefore, in order to regain its smeared reputation, Parliament must get to the root cause of this matter.
By: Marian Ansah/citifmonline.com/Ghana