Do MPs represent the people?

On Thursday, December 9, 2010, Parliament voted by 97 to 87, to amend Clause Five of the Management of the Oil Revenue Bill. The vote comes after Parliament had been told that at least 70 percent of Ghanaians were not in favour of using the about-to-be-exploited oil revenue as collateral for loans. It is even said that between 60 percent and 70 percent of the remaining 30 percent, wanted a kind of ceiling on the amount that could be mortgaged for loans.

Clearly then, Ghanaians wanted Clause Five to be retained, so that governments would not misuse revenue from the new oil fund. By voting to change Clause Five, Parliament, clearly, has rejected the voice of the people. The Chronicle is not amused by this development.

The vote goes to prove that members in the House, particularly, those on the majority side that voted in favour of the amendment, failed to represent the people. In other words, they refused to carry out the instruction of the people who sent them to Parliament. Elsewhere, the constituents would have been at the back of their representatives to demand how come they had refused to represent their interest.

The 97 people who voted for the amendment have a lot of explaining to do.  We did not send them to the House to disobey the instructions of the people. We are aware of the veiled threat from Vice-President John Dramani Mahama, who mounted a platform and described opponents of the amendment in a language that cannot be said to be complimentary of the second gentleman of the land.

We sense desperation in the voice of the Vice-President. We are beginning to nurse the feeling that in their wish to appease the entire executive, the Majority in the House behaved as if individually and collectively, they do not owe their positions to the people of this nation. The Chronicle would like to emphasise that they were sent to the Castle and the House by the people, to respect their wishes.

If we have got to the stage where the voice of the people does not matter anymore, the day of reckoning will surely come. We do not also believe that the Minority did well by failing to shore up their numbers. The New Patriotic Party alone has 107 representatives in the House. Where were the 20, when the vote was being taken?

Parliament cannot insulate itself from the wishes of the people. By failing to respect the will of the people, Parliament has exposed its nakedness. When the day of reckoning comes, members who fail to get the nod of their constituents should reflect on their vote to amend Clause Five. They may believe they are untouchables in the House. But every dog, they say, has its day!

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