By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
I have not seen them upclose, except for the photograph presented of the same on the Ghanaweb.com website. At first glance, they look like the sort of high-backed executive chairs that one encounters on the Amtrak trains, airplanes and government and corporate offices. And I don’t quite remember how the replaced old chairs in the main chamber of our august House of Parliament looked like. All I can see are their dull beige look, and the rather dour and pallid walls marking their backdrop.
The carpeting also look washed-out red and uninspiring for the National Assembly of the very country that made the ancient Adinkra symbols so globally renowned. And I bet even the Chinee who sold these pieces of rickety furniture to us are laughing themselves hard and silly with amused contempt. For my part, of course, I can only be livid with anger and shame. I have to restrain myself and prevent myself from exploding with the following words: “How clinically stupid could our parliamentarians be?!”
At least three things are crystal clear here. The first is the long-known and recognized fact that our entire parliamentary system is abjectly and hopelessly dysfunctional. And I can only become even more livid to hear several parliamentarians bitterly complain that the new China-made chairs are so flimsy and shlocky that they have already begun creaking and literally falling apart. You see, you would think that the first order of business ought to have been for the full-membership of the House to have foresightedly deliberated on the details and specifications of the new furniture well in advance of their being ordered. But clearly this does not appear to have been the case. We shall also have time to discuss the fact of whether cost-effectiveness or value-for-money was ever tabled up for deliberations.
Increasingly, and sadly as well, I am beginning to believe that our parliamentarians are not people who think any deeply about the well-being of our country and her destiny. I also don’t know what Members of Parliament like Mr. Kwabena Minta Akando, from Juaboso, in the Western Region, who recently lodged a formal complaint with the leadership of Parliament, regarding the utter discomfort of the new China-made chairs, are being paid to do in our august House of Assembly, if they have to wait until a momentous decision on the refurbishment of the House has already been taken and effected before filing a costly complaint to rectify the same.
Mr. Akando wants the new furniture to be distributed to the other offices of Job 600, or the complex of buildings housing Parliament, the Banquet Hall and the offices of the MPs. But the fact of the matter is that the aforesaid chairs were not officially imported for such a purpose and duly budgeted as such. Mr. Akando wants the old Ghanaian-made chairs to be returned to the main chamber of the House. Talk of grossly misplaced and vacuous priorities! Then there is also this nonsense being casually bandied about that, somehow, the old Ghanaian-made pieces of furniture could not be retrofitted to make them receptive to a highly technological and paperless culture. How so, has yet to be intelligently explained to the Ghanaian public by those holding this decidedly bankrupt line of argument.
And if there exists any such parliamentary administrative arm as the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB), as Juaboso’s Mr. Akando claims, what exactly were the contributions of the PSB towards the induction of the present scandalous state of affairs? The Ghanaian taxpayer has a constitutional right to know. And the PSB, as well as the entire House, has a bounden obligation to apprise the public of the same.
It is also quite obvious that Parliament is not in charge of its own affairs, and so it shouldn’t surprise any levelheaded Ghanaian citizen that the judgment-debt caper has taken on such enormous wings and has been flying on automatic pilot for quite a considerable span of time. It is also plain stupid for MPs like Mr. Akando to even half suppose that they can single out their leadership for such mordant criticism, for nihilistically neglecting local Ghanaian furniture manufacturers and facilely get away with the same. It is quite obvious that a revolution is needed in our National House of Representatives. And I don’t mean just voting out a handful of the topmost leadership.