Former Members of Parliament are seen as those who have contributed their expertise, time, resources and energies in strengthening our law-making institution. They were ready to serve the nation when others did not see the importance of Parliament. Our Parliament in the 4th Republic was inaugurated on the 7th January 1993.
The maiden Speaker to occupy the speakership seat was late Justice Daniel Francis Annan. He once served as a member of the Provisional National Defense Council headed by the late former head of the ‘Provisional Government’ Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings.
Parliament is a creation of the Constitution. It is a key principal organ of the state.
It is seen as the nerve center of Democracy. Its absence destroys our nascent democracy. The current one is the eighth Parliament of the 4th Republic. Qualified Ghanaians are elected by the citizens to a 4 year term of office. An MP’s tenure is unlimited unlike that of the President. (President, two terms only). It is a sad spectacle to see the conditions of majority of our former legislators; health-wise, finance and their physical appearances. Their situations are nothing to write home about. Appalling is not an exaggeration. Some of them are seen almost begging to survive, not quite when they leave or retire from Parliament.
Ironically, these our honourable former Members are beneficiaries of the ex-gratia and regularly received their salaries, benefits and other allowances when in office as our representatives. Therefore, they are persons considered under controversial Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution.
Executive, Legislature, Judiciary and ‘the rest’ are not ready to see to the amendment of that provision in our Constitution.
The reason is obvious.
Why Are Our Former MPs Struggling After Parliament?
My observation shows the following reasons;
- Poor planning on the part of the members whilst in office, they hardly plan their departure from the House one day either through losing their seats in national elections or through their parties’ primaries or elections.
- Accumulating loans: most members of the House go for loans from financial institutions to either assist their constituents, or lavishly spend on some ‘daughters of Eve because of some brief satisfaction (utility tasks) Alleged. Others invest in some investment portfolios which do not yield any positive outcomes.
Huge promises made by them during the electioneering campaigns, also compel them to undertake some capital intensive infrastructure or projects which fall under the purview of the central government. Sadly, their private savings go into those projects.
Law-makers have become providers of roads, schools, hospitals and other social amenities.
- Expensive lifestyles: sadly, some members go agog, living in some extravagant lifestyles forgetting where they came from and their future as members of the House.
In a chat with one of the former Members of Parliament, he stated that as soon as he was sworn in as an elected member of the House, it wasn’t long before the financial institutions started offering him juicy loan facilities. He enjoyed them thinking that he had more years to settle them. According to him, by the time he realized, his four years in office as a member of the House had come to an end.
Today, he still pays his loans plus huge interest. The ex-gratia got exhausted because of the loans he had to settle to his creditors.
He also stated that pressure from family members, party apparatchiks, his constituents, and friends contributed in making him a ‘pauper’.
He could not even save to meet his out-of-office life.
This is enough evidence for the current members of the House to learn lessons from what has befallen their colleagues or predecessors, who are out of the House.
Unfortunately, some of them (former MPs) are not professionals and therefore can not do any profitable job after Parliamentary job. They made Parliamentary job their only source of employment and losing their seats is related to the end of their careers.
I pray that the current Speaker of the august House, who has been a pillar in the survival of our Parliament will counsel the current members not to fall into the similar remit of their seniors or predecessors.
Parliament provides other opportunities too. It is up to the members to take advantage to grab those opportunities and plan very well and denounce some unproductive payments and lifestyles. They should try and live simple, modest, and organized lives.
Our members of Parliament must be careful not to make themselves paupers before becoming ex-MPs.
A member of the House should be able to live a reasonable and happy life even after his or her Parliamentary assignment or term.
No condition or office is permanent except the kingdom or office of Allah.
Ahmed Osumanu Halid