Speaker blames MP absenteeism on hybrid system

The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, has blamed absenteeism of Members of Parliament to perform parliamentary business on the floor of the house on the hybrid system of governance the constitution allows.

He has, therefore, called for a constitutional amendment to remove the clause and articles which allowed majority of ministers of state to be appointed from parliament.

The speaker said this on Thursday when he hosted media practitioners and editorial leaders at a forum to address how best to create a relationship between the legislature and media (the fourth estate of the realm) to promote social changes through mutual cooperation in re-enactment of some laws.

The hybrid system of governance refers to a democratic system in which two systems of governance in two different constitutions are merged into one system of governance to create a hybrid system.

The best example of such a constitution is Ghana’s 1992 constitution which merged the British Parliamentary system of governance where by convention, all the MPs and Prime Minister come from Parliament and conduct business of state from within the House, and the American Presidential system where, by their constitution the secretaries (minsters) are appointed from outside the House to create a clear separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature.

Therefore, the hybrid system in the 1992 constitution Created a situation where the President is vested with absolute  power of appointments with Article 78(I) requiring the President to appoint majority of his ministers from Parliament.

Prof. Oquaye advocated the need to amend Article 78(1) to free Parliament of ministerial appointments so that it can play its oversight role more effectively.

He said Parliament was expected to serve as a check on the powers of the Executive, therefore if MPs served in the same government, they could not carry out an effective oversight responsibility required from parliament.

“I must be frank with you because the president knows my opinion on this matter,” he said.

Prof. Oquaye said the absenteeism of the MPS stemmed from the fact that once a MP was chosen to serve as a minister, he might be faced with the herculean task of attending to Parliamentary business and performing his effective function as a minister who needs to attend several meetings between travels.

“I have been there before and I know definitely one area may suffer at the expense of the other and in this situation it has always been parliament,” he said.

He said in order to curtail such challenges faced by an MP who doubles as a minister, it would be better to stop the appointments of MPs as ministers to allow them to perform their legislative functions effectively.

The Speaker said in addressing the punctuality and the regularity of MPs, Parliamentary had decided to introduce a mechanic system of validating the punctuality and regularity of all the MPs.

Prof. Oquaye said a tender had been put out to procure the machines while the leadership from both sides had been whipping their members to attend to parliamentary duties.

It would be recalled that just a few days ago when the debate on the 2020 Budget Statement and Economic Policy began, the absence of the MPs on the floor was sharply felt when proceedings were delayed for over an hour, a situation which caused the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu to ask the Majority Caucus, whose members were mostly ministers to take Parliamentary business serious by joining the debate.

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