Africa Evidence Week celebration underway in Accra

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Ocquaye, has called on academia and think tanks not to sit on the fence when laws are being made by Parliament only to turn round and criticise same.

He said the academia and think tanks were critical partners in development, and their impact must be felt on policies and legislations of the country, instead of unduly criticising and punching holes in the work of Parliament.

Prof. Ocquaye said this in a speech read on his behalf by the Second Deputy Speaker, Alban Sumana Bagbin, at the opening of the Africa Evidence Week being held simultaneously in Accra, South Africa and to other African countries to showcase data being generated by government and civil society organisations to inform policy and decision making on the continent.

The one-week programme being organised by Inter-Departmental Research and Information Group (IDRIG) of Parliament and PACKS Africa, a youth-led think tank, is on the theme, “Showcasing evidence use on the continent.”

The Speaker entreated think tanks and the academia to supply Parliament with their researched evidence and information to help them make laws, and stressed, “They must not wait for Parliament to work only to criticise as some of them sometimes do.”

The Speaker said Parliament, and for that matter Parliamentarians, did not detest research, saying “I encourage them to come closer to parliamentarians to understand the legislative environment, so that both parliamentarians and academia could develop synergies that contribute to framing key policy debates.”

Turning his focus on the African Evidence Week, Prof. Ocquaye said evidence was a crucial ingredient for effective delivery of Parliament’s core function of law making.

“Members of the legislature require research support in a form that is appropriate for their work.  They need access to timely, up-to-date, accurate and well-researched information in order to properly perform their constitutionally mandated duties,” he said, adding that “better access to information and research can help empower legislatures to formulate and pass effective legislation and perform effective scrutiny of government.”

The acting Clerk of Parliament, Alhaji Ibrahim Gombilla, said the role of evidence in the country’s policy making or legislative space could not be underestimated.

He said limited use of evidence in the country’s legislative process could lead to enactments that “either scratch the surface of societal challenges or do not address societal challenges that the enactments seek to cure.”

“Limited evidence information support to members could create monstrous laws that could destroy our society or roll back our democratic gains.”

The Executive Director of PACKS, Kirchuffs Atengble, in his remarks said the programme was to highlight the importance of evidence-informed policy making.

He said the events earmarked for the week-long programme include presentations on initiatives by government agencies to make quality evidence widely available.

By Kingsley Asare

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