Yes, that is what under normal circumstances should be the case, but what needs to be pointed out is the fact that the current structure of parliament which makes it more or less a blockade to the party in government can equally become a dangerous recipe for bribery and corruption.
First of all, the legislature has not been able to satisfactorily purge itself of the corruption perception the public has held about it over the years which has been underscored by some allegations by not just its own members but leading ones for that matter.
In 2008, former Member of Parliament (MP) for Esikuma-Odobin-Brakwa Constituency, Paul Collins Appiah-Ofori alleged that members on the then-Majority side (NPP) had been paid $5,000 each by the government to push forward the Vodafone deal.
“They refused to give me my share of the bribe because they were scared I will blow their cover. It was an NDC MP who told me what they had received”, he revealed on Diamond FM in Tamale.
READ ALSO: Quiz: How well do you know women who’re trailblazers in diverse fields
Then, in 2014, the then majority leader in parliament who happens to be the current speaker of parliament, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin stoked controversy when he said: “The reality is that MPs are Ghanaians and there is evidence that some MPs take bribes and come to the floor and try to articulate the views of their sponsors.
“This is because in Ghana we have not developed what we call lobbying. There are rules; there are ethics regarding lobbying and we in Ghana think that lobbying is taking money, giving it to MPs and writing pieces for them to go articulate on the floor. That is bribery.”
The bribe-taking allegation was further strengthened by Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga in 2017 when he claimed on an Accra-based Radio Gold that the then Energy minister-designate Boakye Agyarko gifted the Joseph Osei Owusu led Appointment Committee the sum of GHC100,000 to be shared to members.
He added that National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs on the Committee were offered GHC3,000 each out of the GHC100,000, but they rejected it after they were told of the giver.
The then Speaker Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye was compelled to set up an ad-hoc committee chaired by Joe Gartey to probe the allegation following pressure from Civil Society and anti-corruption organisations.
The committee concluded that Mr. Ayariga’s allegation was baseless saying he failed to substantiate it. It then charged him with contempt of parliament.
After several efforts to get him to apologise and withdraw the claim against his will, Ayariga who appeared dissatisfied with the committee’s work and its conclusion rendered a semblance of an apology.
“Mr. Speaker if you say I should apologise, I apologise,” he said in parliament.
READ ALSO: “She is stronger than me, so she beats me mercilessly” – Man justifies killing wife with pestle
As if the earlier allegations were not damning enough, the current majority leader of parliament Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu further gave them more weight when he said earlier this year that his counterparts on the NDC side attempted to bribe the NPP MPs-elect to vote in favour of Alban Bagbin as the speaker.
“I heard rumours that the NDC was trying to bribe some of our members to vote against Speaker Oquaye, so I quickly called those whose name was mentioned to speak with them; others too had some unresolved issues with him and had said they would not vote for him. I met all those members in the hotel and spoke at length with them to rescind their decision, but it practically fell on deaf ears,” he is quoted as having said in an interview in Kumasi.
His claim was concerning the dramatic and hostile voting in parliament on January 7 that resulted in Alban Bagbin succeeding Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye to become speaker of the 8th parliament.
If all the allegations by no other than the parliamentarians themselves are anything to go by, then the nature of this 8th parliament with both the NDC and NPP having an equal number of seats (137 – 137 +1 independent) makes the legislature a fertile ground for bribery and corruption to become the order of the day.
The executive arm of government and private individuals and organisations would always want to find ways and means to get bills and agreements brought to parliament approved, and there is high likelihood of sponsors and parochial beneficiaries of such bills and agreements to offer bribes to some MPs especially those on the opposition side to betray their caucus and the nation at large through secret voting.
Attempts to bribe MPs will increase in this 8th parliament due to its hung/balanced nature, and whether the lawmakers on both sides of the house have what it takes to stand their grounds and reject the temptations is another matter.
Already, some people are suspicious that the same thing may have happened during the recent approval of some ministers-designate when over 20 NDC MPs betrayed Ghanaians by voting in approval of some ministerial nominees that were generally deemed unfit for the positions they were nominated for, following their performances during their vetting.
It remains a mystery to both the the Ghanaian public and the NDC side of parliament which of its MPs chose to vote in the plenary in favour of the ministerial nominees who had been rejected at the Appointment Committee level, and what was their motivation.
Although some of them have debunked the allegations that they took bribes from some quarters to secretly approve the controversial ministers, it is unbelievable to majority of Ghanaians.
The focus seems to be on the NDC caucus because it is assumed that the NPP MPs would support anything that comes from the government weather in the national interest or not.
All eyes are on parliamentarians especially the NDC caucus to see whether they will further underscore the perception of being corrupt and a rubber stamp or live up to the expectations of the Ghanaian voters who elected them to work for the interest of the nation.
It is worth noting that there are still some lawmakers who will be guided by the national interest and will do their work without being influenced, but there are miscreants among them too.