Becoming a Member of Parliament: the weird and corrupt pathway


The New Patriotic Party (NPP) ended its parliamentary primaries last weekend, selecting candidates to represent the party in this year’s forthcoming December general elections.

The campaigning, election processes and results of the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) parliamentary primaries on Saturday, January 27 have brought to bear the citizenry’s perceptions on politicians’ rush to parliament.

The primaries were characterised by intense competition, alleged vote-buying, clashes between opponents, assaults on journalists and commotions in declaring results at some polling stations.

The elections were held in 105 constituencies across the country, and have come to an end in most voting centres across the country where the NPP has sitting Members of Parliament (MPs)

In the end, the primaries resulted in defeat for several incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) who sought re-election.

Apart from the 19 incumbent New Patriotic Party (NPP) members of Parliament who before the elections decided not to return to the House, 28 others lost their bids in Saturday’s primaries.

Another video showed a huge number of 32-inch smart television sets branded with the image of current Member of Parliament for Yendi, Farouk Aliu Mahama.

Even though the place and time of recording the TV sets video was established and circulated barely 72 hours before the NPP parliamentary primaries, no one came to clarify the branded TV sets’ purpose. This has unfortunately rebirthed the conversation around vote-buying and increased monetisation of ballots.

The situation might have also led to the degeneration and confusion that marredthe elections in Yendi constituency – where a journalist is reported to have been molested by one of the contestants’ supporters.

According to reports, NPP supporters who had gathered at a polling station where counting votes was being done caused chaos; bringing the electoral process to a halt.

Also shameful was a report on the Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa, Kobina Tahir (K.T.) Hammond – who threatened to beat the Deputy Chief Executive Officer-Ghana Library Authority mercilessly, for allegedly using macho-men to attack his supporters. He said this in full view of a group of police officers but nothing was said or done to him.

These are but a few of the unfortunate incidents reported over the weekend from the NPP parliamentary primaries. Yes, in every human institution some of these may happen; but this appears to be giving signals that people are doing everything within their power, by fair or foul means, to get into parliament. People holding enviable, prestigious and respectable positions, such as CEOs and the Accountant General of the Republic want to be in parliament.

This is so disappointing and shameful in our quest as a nation to establish decent democracy; it is obviously resulting in the gradual departure of proficient legislators, potentially impeding parliamentary proceedings – thus facilitating corrupt cheats, dishonest and incompetent personalities into our August House of Legislation.

Above all, it erodes the legislative body’s effectiveness and undermines public confidence and trust.

One would ask, what is it about parliament that people want to sell their properties to buy votes to get into it? It is also reported that some people paid huge sums of money to delegates who lost the elections. What then becomes their fate? This is so with all political parties in the country.

What kind of society and democracy are we building? Today’s society places great emphasis on influence, money and power. It’s logical. Being able to persuade others to do what you want might make your dreams become a reality. Money and influence lead to power, which allows people to influence others, organisations and communities where they find themselves. It is obvious that politics in Ghana easily provides an avenue to this.

Many people who entered into politics have overnight become very rich and powerful. Is this the trajectory we have to continue as a nation? President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as flagbearer of the NPP, sounded a note of caution to persons hoping to serve in his government with the sole aim of amassing wealth to look elsewhere. What do we see today?

Speculations are that some of the 19 NPP sitting members of parliament who did not contest for re-election in December withdrew because there was an influx of individuals who planned to pump more resources into competing with them.

In the process of becoming a member of parliament in Ghana, one has to go through several herculean financial tasks. The lobbying to be accepted costs money, as you need to convince the party supporters, party delegates, opinion leaders, traditional leaders and sometimes the clergy among many others.

One essential factor – and very important – is the high amount charged at the political party level for nomination forms and filing fees.

The contestant then has to pay for campaigns, party workers, media and advertisement, and donations for both the party primary level and during parliamentary election campaigns. An ability to spend the most money is, by and large, a critical factor for successfully winning a seat in elected office.

Groups and individuals benefit from the many possible candidates at different stages of the electoral cycle. During the party primaries, candidates seek address the demands of community interest groups; while during the parliamentary poll these groups are ignored in favour of party officials, foot-soldiers and needy individuals. In the end, much money is spent. Most sources for these fundings appear weird.

Apparently, some lost their election bids chiefly due to the ‘the highest bidder factor’ that severely affected them.

A widely circulated video, showing one of the aspirants speaking to media, indicated that parliamentary primary elections have become so expensive it will be extremely difficult for people to recoup what they put in during campaigning for parliamentary primaries.

Can we do something better than this to enrich our democracy?

Leave a Reply