At last, the lack of office space for Members of Parliament (MPs) has been solved with the inauguration yesterday of the refurbished Job 600 multi-purpose office complex for official use.
Since 1993 when the country returned to democratic rule, MPs have had to use their cars and libraries and rented places as their offices or they met their constituents or held other important meetings in the lobby of Parliament.
The Job 600 office complex was first inaugurated by Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in 1965 to serve as the venue for the meeting of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) that year. It was estimated to cost more than £4 million.
However, after the OAU meeting, the building was left to deteriorate due to the poor maintenance culture which has been the bane of the country’s development. It was after much hue and cry that it was renovated with sponsorship from Fidelity, Cal and Standard Chartered banks.
The total cost of the project was $62.8 million but due to expansion in the scope of work, it became necessary to source additional funding of $39 million to complete it.
The little snag, however, is that the 13-floor office complex has 252 offices, while the MPs are 275. Fortunately, the leadership has found a way to deal with the challenge by giving priority to MPs who do not hold ministerial portfolios and some ministers may have to pair up.
In the final analysis, however, the important thing that the MPs must strive at achieving is to let the huge investment in the office complex count by letting their output in the august house translate into the development of the country.
They can do that by using the space they have been allocated to work for the electorate who voted them as their representatives and the state, by scrutinising government contracts, loans contracted and the expenditure of government, to ensure the people are not short-changed.
Yes, the ultimate duty of the MP is to work on laws that will benefit the country but aside that, our parliamentarians must not lose sight of their oversight responsibility over the Executive in the running of the country.
That is why they have been given the office space at great cost, so that their work as legislators would not be hampered in any way.
MPs who hitherto were hardly found in Parliament with the excuse that they did not have any space to operate from when they were not in the chamber, would now have to prove that they truly have their constituents and the country at heart by devoting time to work in their offices.
Two other things that we find to be of utmost importance are the maintenance of the facility so we derive the utmost benefit from it and the use of local fittings for the offices since we have all been preaching the use of made-in-Ghana goods.
Nobody will develop our country for us but ourselves and the more we import furniture and other fittings to use in the building, the more we service the economy of other countries and make ourselves poorer.
We urge our legislators to rather push for legislation that would see to the building of the capacities of local artisans rather than neglecting them and going for foreign materials because they lack capacity. Parliamentarians are key to reforming our society and they must lead by example.