Holding ministers to account

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Our governments hold power in trust for the people. That is why the foremost United States democrat, Abraham Lincoln, said in the Gettysburg Address: “... that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain ... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth”.

In a similar vein, our Constitution, in the preamble, states in part, “We the people of Ghana, in exercise of our natural and inalienable right to establish a framework of government which shall secure for ourselves and posterity the blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity.”

Clearly, our Constitution establishes that the sovereignty of Ghana rests in the people, in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised.

Elections, therefore, provide the platform for politicians to sign a social contract with the people to fix the challenges of society.

After that interface, politicians who form governments become far removed from the electorate, making it difficult for the people to hold their elected representatives to account in between polls.

The Daily Graphic welcomes the decision by the Government Assurance Committee of Parliament to begin public sittings by October this year to question ministers of state on whether or not they have been able to deliver on their promises and assurances to the people.

We hope, however, that the deliberations of the committee would not end up like the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament whose recommendations have been treated with contempt by public officials.

In some cases, the members of the committee are unable to agree on the gravity of breaches of the regulations because of partisan considerations. It was sad to see members of the PAC disagree on the procedure for questioning Mr Alfred Agbesi Woyome over the judgement debt saga on account of political affiliation of members and not in the national interest.

Members of the government continue to promise the people, even when they know that the resources are simply not available to fix the problems.

The idea of holding ministers of state to account for their stewardship is laudable and must be implemented according to the regulations contained in the Standing Orders of Parliament.

The Daily Graphic, however, pleads with the members of the committee to place the national interest above partisan considerations and put pressure on ministers of state to work hard to fulfil the assurances or pledges they made to the people.

The people would derive the dividends from democratic governance if government functionaries are regularly held to account for their stewardship and sanctions applied for non-performance to serve as a deterrent to others.