Well, the National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram, in the Greater-Accra Region, Mr. Samuel George Nartey, is entitled to his own opinion vis-à-vis the call for an investigation into the National Lottery Authority (NLA) scandal, in which some NLA administrators allegedly paid the sum of GH₵ 150,000 (some news reports give the figure as GH₵ 100,000) to get the members of the Parliamentary Finance Committee to pass an amendment to Act 722. I have yet to familiarize myself with both the aforesaid Act and the details of the amendment sought by the NLA operatives. But what amuses me is the call by Mr. Nartey for the investigation into the Finance Committee’s scandal to be either halted or done away with altogether (See “Sam George Dismisses Calls for Probe into 100K NLA Bribery Scandal” MyJoyOnline.com / Modernghana.com 7/2/17).
The former Mahama hanger-on or so-called Presidential Staffer’s argument is that since the amendment to Act 722 was never passed, there is absolutely no need for anybody to call for an investigation into the same. Well, I find this trend of logic to be nothing short of abjectly jejune and facilely sophistic. For starters, at least GH₵ 150,000 of the Ghanaian taxpayer’s money went into the wallets and pockets of the members of the Finance Committee of the 7th Parliament, whose tenure and mandate ended on January 6, 2017. What is even more rankling, we are further told that the James Klutse Avedzi-chaired committee’s members had already been given “sitting allowances” for simply deliberating on the amendment to Act 722. And so whether the amendment passed or not is decidedly beside the point. What is clear here is that the Members of the Parliamentary Finance Committee (PFC) violated both parliamentary protocol and the law by consenting to and/or demanding money for work which they had already been doubly paid, through salaries and sitting allowances.
Mr. Nartey’s argument that the NLA payola racket could be likened to the established culture of many a Western democracy is simply preposterous, because Ghanaian democracy is very distinct from most Western democracies. But even more importantly, Ghana has no tradition or system of specially licensed lobbyists as pertains to American democracy, for example. There is, of course, nothing that prevents Ghana’s legislative assembly from either establishing or recognizing the establishment of the lobbying system. But this must be done based on an extensive studies and a deep understanding of how the system works. To the best of my knowledge, and I have been living here in the United States for nearly 32 years – I don’t know how old the Ningo-Prampram NDC’s MP is – whatever payments in the form of cash that these lobbyists make, often come in the form of contributions to the political campaign accounts of senators and congressional representatives or the coffers of their parties. It is never in the form of direct payments into the wallets, purses and pockets of individual parliamentarians, senators or congressional representatives.
Mr. Nartey is, however, absolutely right to be concerned about the image and reputation of the average Ghanaian parliamentarian. But the proper procedure for improving the gone-to-the-dogs image of the average Ghanaian parliamentarian is not to unwisely attempt to stall a justifiable probe like the one at issue here. Rather, it is for our parliamentarians to pursue a code of ethics that respects the maintenance of fiscal discipline and frugality on the individual level. And a conscientious work ethic that properly recognizes rewards as the direct and logical result of hard work, and not vice-versa, as clearly appears to have been the case of the Avedzi Gang.
Source: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.