Maybe what we, as Ghanaian citizens, need to do is to put to a referendum the question of whether to abolish the payment of salaries for all of our 275 parliamentarians, and instead permit them to draw “Sitting Allowances,” which they already draw in addition to their regular salaries, for work which is already part of their mandate, or terms of reference, as the representatives of their constituents. We cannot have our parliamentarians double-dipping, any more than we want to see our teachers and nurses drawing undeserved extra-incomes from the school fees of their pupils and the health-insurance premiums of their patients, respectively.
This patent case of entrenched parliamentary culture of abject corruption came to light about 4 months ago, when Mr. Mahama Ayariga, the main opposition National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for Bawku-Central, in the Upper-East Region, flagged the Speaker of the House, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, and the general Ghanaian public, to the effect that his colleagues on the Parliamentary Appointments Committee (PAC), including Mr. Ayariga himself, of course, had been offered the payola sum of GH₵ 3,000, each, to promptly confirm the nomination of the then-Energy Minister-Elect Mr. Boakye-Agyarko.
A parliamentary investigative committee, headed by Mr. Joseph Ghartey, the Minister of Railroad Transport, would be established to enquire into the allegation, which had been vehemently denied by both Mr. Joseph Osei-’Wusu, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Appointments Committee, who also doubles as the First-Deputy Speaker of Parliament and the ruling New Patriotic Party’s Member of Parliament for Asante-Bekwai; and the Ranking Member of the PAC, Mr. Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka, who is also the Parliamentary Minority Chief Whip and the National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for the Kumasi-Asewase Constituency.
The Ghartey Committee would conclude that Mr. Ayariga, the former Minister of the Environment, Science and Technology, had lied to the committee and, in effect, brought the name and reputation of the august House of Parliament into contempt and abject disrepute. But, of course, we all know that Mr. Ayariga had told the unvarnished truth, not because he had conscientiously intended to, but rather primarily because he had taken umbrage at some uncomplimentary remarks and accusations that the former Akufo-Addo Campaign Manager had made against former President John Dramani Mahama. Mr. Ayariga would be ordered by Speaker Oquaye to officially apologize to Parliament and be of good behavior from hence. The notoriously imperious Mr. Ayariga would reluctantly comply with the same.
In reality, it was the members of the Ghartey Committee who had lied to Parliament and the Ghanaian people, at large, through the teeth vis-à-vis the deeply entrenched parliamentary payola culture of “Sitting Allowances,” which has increasingly been making the quality of the legislative work of our representatives as good as worthless. Now, we are also being told that the members of the Parliamentary Finance Committee (PFC) of the just-dissolved 7th Parliament took the payola sum of at least GH₵ 100,000 – some accounts give the figure as GH₵ 150,000 – in order to amend parts of the National Lottery Act (See “MPs Who Took NLA Cash Can’t Be Punished – Parliament” MyJoyOnline.com / Modernghana.com 6/29/17). The quiddities of the NLA Act was not clear to yours truly at the time of this writing.
But what is even more disturbing is the fact that the bribe money came from the coffers of the National Lottery Authority (NLA), which is a state-owned corporation. In effect, what the Parliamentary Finance Committee members did amounts to having directly stolen the people’s money, in much the same way that Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome is alleged to have done. But now, here comes Ms. Kate Addo, the Parliamentary Public Relations Director, telling us that the members of the Parliamentary Finance Committee of the just-dissolved 7th Parliament cannot be punished or disciplined because their tenure elapsed on January 6, 2017. This, of course, is sheer hogwash.
Now, what can be done immediately is to have any present members of the Parliamentary Finance Committee who were also members of the same committee during the 7th Parliament promptly removed from their membership of the Parliamentary Finance Committee of the 8th Parliament, while an independent committee of enquiry is established to investigate the alleged criminal scamming of the National Lottery Authority by these indisputably cynical and inexcusably impudent parliamentary scam-artists. Of course, the NLA executives involved in this scam must also not be spared.
And for the instructive enlightenment of Ms. Addo, the Parliamentary Public Relations Director, there is something legally and judicially defensible called “Retroactive Discipline” or punishment, by which the payola recipients can be compelled by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms. Gloria Akuffo, to immediately return their ill-gotten bribe monies, or face the revolutionary music of justice. “We no go sit down make them cheat us every day, oh no!”
Source: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.