Parliament is a key symbol of democracy which has elected representation from the citizenry.
It is, therefore, important that those seeking to represent the people must themselves be prepared and ready to carry out their functions in such a way that it reflects the collective will and interest of the people.
Anything short of this could undermine the institution of Parliament and consequently bring its work to public ridicule.
That is why political watchers are always interested and keen to find out who gets into Parliament and who gets out.
NPP, NDC open nominations
Currently, Ghana’s two dominant political parties - the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) - have begun this all-important nationwide intra-party process of selecting their candidates to contest the 2020 parliamentary election.
It has always been amusing and interesting when political parties begin this process of electing their parliamentary candidates. There are avalanches of opinions, either for or against, as the parliamentary aspirants and would-be candidates and their supporters go out in the field to campaign.
Sometimes, the aspirants engage in convoluted political debates that end up even confusing the voter. A lot of heat is raised in some constituencies as there appears to be some underhand dealings and manoeuvres to undo one aspirant against another.
But as the scramble to become an MP rages on, the question that should engage the attention of voters is: ‘Who really qualifies to become a
Member of Parliament?’ What are the requirements needed for one to become a parliamentarian? The country’s Constitution is clear on the qualification criteria of a Member of Parliament. Aside from the constitutional demands, the various political parties also have their own criteria.
Why the scramble
But as aspirants seek the mandate of the citizenry and go to any length to become parliamentarians, few things must be made clear from the perspective of the citizenry.
Do the aspirants have what it takes to become legislators? What are they bringing on board as MPs? Between country and the political party, where does an MP-aspirant lean? Can the aspirant deliver when given this onerous mandate by doing what his or her political party expects and at the same time balance it with meeting the high expectations of country and constituents.
Displeasure of constituents/Citizens’ expectations
Many parliamentarians have incurred the displeasure of their constituents for their inaction or poor performance.
They have been accused of failing to meet with constituents to discuss and address community issues and not being up to date with both local and national issues.
Another charge against them is that when they are also seeking the position, they come in with the glass windows of their cars rolled down and wide open but immediately they assume power, they sit in tainted window glasses that are always rolled up.
Yet an additional allegation is that all these make them inaccessible, look selfish and seen as not sacrificing for the constituents.
Once again another opportunity has come the way of citizens to elect their Members of Parliament, and the citizens might be wondering what to look out for before casting their vote for the ideal MP who is seeking the high office of a legislator.
As citizens, there is the need to look for a candidate who knows the prior history of the constituency and has the interest of the constituents at heart, has the ability to deliver on the job and champion challenges confronting the constituency and constituents.
For me, a would-be MP must be an agent of change both in the House of the legislature and in the constituency, as well as offer an opportunity to make real political difference in the country.
Work to be done
After attaining political independence many years ago and practising multi-party democracy for decades, Ghana is still struggling to attain economic freedom.
Many of our MPs are quite knowledgeable in their professional endeavours but one wonders what they have got to show after all these years in politics.
Ghana is still struggling to manage sanitation and enforce laws, and yet, politicians still stand on high grounds seeking the mandate of the people.
It is time to encourage every citizen to examine what to look out for in a politician before casting a vote for an aspirant or candidate.