The Chief Director of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Dr. Evans Aggrey-Darko, has emphasized the need for Parliament to be empowered with the requisite resources, both human and material in aid of discharging its constitutional mandates under a democratic governance.
According to Dr. Aggrey-Darko, It is critical for democratic institutions including Parliament, to be capacitated and their roles effectively explained to engender the needed support for institutional building and development.
He reiterated that in building participant political culture, citizens are expected to have adequate knowledge of not just the functions of the institutions and individuals who populate them, but also the limitations that undermine the effective delivery of their mandate.
In view of this, he said, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs have identified tension between the various functions performed by Parliamentarians.
He indicated that while expecting MPs to pass laws that enable Ghana to preserve itself over time, they also serve as effective representatives consistent with division of labour in politics, ratify treaties, serve as debating chamber and exercise effective oversight over the executive for accountable governance among others.
These same Parliamentarians are also expected to be in their constituencies regularly to deal with new and wide demands, akin to social welfare functions.
Dr. Aggrey-Darko, opined that one has to be extremely resourceful to be able to strike this balance, otherwise he is voted into the sun set by his or her constituents.
The Chief Director of MoPa, made these remarks at a media engagement between the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA) and members of the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC), on the theme ‘Enhancing the Visibility of Parliament: the role of the Media’.
He explained that democracy must enjoy legitimacy to the extent that both the elite and the masses believe that the democratic rule is the most appropriate system of rule.
He was of the view that while Citizens expect institutions such as Parliament and other political institutions to function optimally to continue to enjoy high approval ratings from the public, it is also important for the public to continue to appreciate the workings of such institutions so they can continue to support them to grow.
Parliament, he said, is the bulwark of Ghana’s democracy, according to Article 93 (2) of the constitution which states that “subject to the provisions of this constitution, the legislative power of Ghana shall be vested in Parliament and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution”.
Reiterating that apart from law-making, Parliament has deliberative, representative, policy making and oversight functions, making it arguably, the democratic face of the country.
“Part of the mandate of our Ministry is to support the operations of Independent Governance Institutions to function effectively, hence this collaboration with the National Media Commission.
Our commitment is that through these collaborations, issues of common interest especially those that have the capacity to support the development of our democracy are brought to the fore and possibly put on the public agenda”. Dr. Aggrey-Darko revealed.
Acknowledging the roles of the media in our democratic dispensation, the Director of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, said the media is a vehicle that can increase political participation and achieve greater public engagement with Parliament.
He emphasized that a healthy relationship between the media and Parliament is critical to the building of a legitimate Parliament and subsequently, a vibrant democracy.
He stated further that for Ghana’s democracy to be fully consolidated, high level of education by the media is an imperative.
The Chief Director also revealed that the Ministry would expect the Media Commission, which is a regulatory body of the State, to continue to insist that standards are maintained, and those who decide to undermine the profession and pursue other parochial interest at the expense of the public good, are forced to be free.
Underlining objectives of the engagement, Dr. Aggrey-Darko, said the programme seeks to enhance the understanding of citizens on the role of both Parliament and Parliamentarians in a democracy; it was to empower the media to educate the citizenry on the role of the Members of Parliament; it was also to examine the challenges that confront Parliament, and recommendations that would enhance the credibility of Parliament and Parliamentarians.
The engagement which was also held to strengthen the relationship between Parliament and the Media in order to enhance the capacity of the Media in Parliamentary reporting, also sought to deepen engagements between Parliament and its stakeholders.
In his turn, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, who is the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Majority Leader, bemoaned the modus operandi formula adopted by the Auditor General, Mr. Daniel Domelevo.
He pointed out that increasingly, the country is faced with situations where the Auditor-General after finalizing his findings before transmitting it to Parliament, organizes press conferences and scandalize persons involved.
“In many instances when the report has come to Parliament we find out that many times the Auditor-General has gotten it wrong and yet he has gone out there to scandalise and vilify personalities, what happens? This causes a bit of tension.
When Parliament has taken a decision on that, Parliament then rounds up civil society organisations and indeed media practitioners to enforce whatever they will uphold in the Auditor-General’s report”. He indicated.
Present at the dialogue section were seasoned academic Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, who is the Dean of the School of Information and Communication Studies (University of Ghana); Lawyer Ebenezer Ahumah Djietror; a Principal Assistant Clerk and Head of Table Office, who has been with Parliament since 1994; Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC) Mr. Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh; The Minister who double as Majority Leader, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu and the Minority Leader and Member for Tamale South, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu.
The listed above academicians lead the discussions on what the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs expected of the Parliamentary Press Corps, as they serve both their media Houses and Parliament, the democratic face of the country.