Dr. Lawer Egbenya, a Lecturer at the University of Cape Coast who doubles as the South Tongu Constituency Secretary for the National Democratic Congress has expressed his views on the trending issues of an alleged betrayal by some opposition NDC Members of Parliament during a secret vote to approve six (6) of President Akufo-Addo’s nominees.
According to Dr. Lawer Egbenya, “to vote or not to vote along party line in parliament: Is there really a dilemma in the six ministerial nominees’ approval voting?
He believes that, there is a raging anger among the leadership and grassroot of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) following the defiance of the national leadership’s express directive by some of the Party’s parliamentarians to vote for the president’s ministerial nominees to be added to the over-bloated government and the addition of a highly politically exposed nominee to the country’s supreme court.
“Admittedly, we have had similar instances of such voting patterns in the past. One, therefore, wonders why the anger of the masses seems never waning days after the current episode. “Does the NDC have the moral right to blame the Nana Akufo-Addo/Bawumia-led administration on its huge government size going forward?”, some queried.”
“Many ask why a member of Parliament (MP) cannot be allowed to vote based on his or her conscience and understanding of the issues at stake. There are such instances, too, but not always the case. In Ghana, for example, the major political parties pay for the filing fee of candidates in the general elections that elect them to parliament. Apart from that, the parties serve as the vehicle that drives the candidate to parliament as some may not be MP had it not been the political party on whose ticket they contested the election. With these and other reasons, parties have a say in how their members vote and do certain things in parliament, at certain times. Ghana’s parliament is no strange place to such occurrences. Both the NDC and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) do the same. For instance, some disgruntled NPP MPs who wanted the finance minister out of government were whipped into line to rescind their plans a few months ago. The whip system mandates MPs to vote along a certain predetermined line on an issue. There are a number of lines in whipping members. For instance, a three-line whip is mandatory and ought to be obeyed by all and its disobedience attracts sanctions in various forms. Indeed, this happens in almost all parliaments all over the world.”
“In John F. Kennedy’s Profiles of Courage, he elaborated on the dilemma and deep self introspection that a number of experienced senators had to endure in deciding on voting patterns in the house. There’s always that mental fight between voting based on one’s conscience and understanding of the issues which may be considered as treachery and betrayal if it goes against the Party’s directive or toeing the Party’s line. In this book, Kennedy recounted the challenges including loss of Senate seats by senators who chose to vote along a particular line. The name calling we are witnessing today occured many decades as the 35th president of the United States recounted in that beautifully written book of his. Courageous senators including John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, Edmund Ross and Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar as well as George Noris who famously stated, “Today, I have come home to tell you the truth”, were all faced with such a dilemma. They had to tolerate hostile attendees at town hall meetings and so on.”
“Indeed, the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, also had instances to share his challenge on some periods like that while being a senator.”
“In the current instance of the NDC MPs, for all intent and purposes, there is a national outcry because of the prevailing harsh economic situation we find ourselves in but with an intransigent president who refuses to cut-down the size of his elephant-sized government. Why would some NDC MPs go against not only the wishes of our party hierarchy but the desires of most Ghanaians? This may stem from a number of factors including the Ghanaian cultural orientation. For instance, we tend to be loyal to persons of the same region, tribe or ethnic and religious backgrounds. Persons who attend the same church are very likely to vote for each other. Then, there is the issue of old “boyism and girlism” i.e., people from the same secondary schools or halls of residence on university campuses are likely to vote for each other. Of course, the bond between persons from certain secondary schools and university halls are stronger than “apartei” (used advisedly). Again, the recent feud that erupted following the Party hierarchy’s change of parliamentary leadership could also be another factor that directed the voting pattern to smite off both the new parliamentary leadership and the national executives. Of course, the possibility of money exchanging hands cannot be ruled out either.”
“Regardless of the considerations, political ideological orientation and the national interest which in the present situation is the call for cost cutting measures by the out-of-touch Nana Akufo-Addo/Bawumia-led government should be the priority. Our Honourable members have failed the good people of Ghana, miserably. Do the principles of probity, transparency, accountability and justice still mean to us today what they meant to our founding fathers? Do our MPs appreciate that without the Party, almost all of them won’t be in that Chamber that fateful evening? To some people, the current disappointment is a foreshadow of the success of the impending CI to be laid by the EC which includes the use of the Ghana card as the sole source document to obtain a voter’s ID card. In fact, others even suggest the current failure will lead to the defeat of the great NDC in next year’s elections. I have no shred of doubt that these won’t happen. The underlying determinants in both instances are mutually exclusive and cannot be the same. For instance, the CI will have a direct impact on the electoral outcome of not only the party’s flagbearer but the parliamentary candidates too including the current MPs. So why will they allow it?”
“Inasmuch as I wholeheartedly agree that the voting pattern to be adopted by an MP may be a source of extreme mental torture and can create a sense of dilemma necessitating deep personal introspection, the six ministerial nominees’ and to a large extent that of the judges approval come no where close to such a dimension. A little clearer, sober reflection would have made our dissenting MPs appreciate the immense boost the ‘right’ voting pattern would have sent to the generality of Ghanaians especially our party membership.”
“To our leaders, the present situation has demoralised not only the rank and file of our party but the generality of Ghanaians. But that’s where leadership comes in. Let’s not forget, it is said that crises of great magnitude lead to men and women producing deeds of courage. This is our moment to rally our people around for the common agenda.”
“Our promise of building the Ghana We Want Together in our lifetime is attainable. With a little more work each day, we will get there. Comrade, let’s not despair for beyond this temporary setback lies the golden shine. Remember, as always, #TogetherWeCan!”