Parliament as a functional arm of government has four (4) main functions: legislation (making laws), representation (acting on behalf of voters and citizens), scrutiny (examining the government), and formation of government (in parliamentary democracies). These functions are so important that parliamentarians are usually sworn into office before the president or prime minister. This is to enable them keep the functionality of the governing constitution alive. It is therefore important that our parliamentarian elections are given the needed scrutiny. Well, you can argue that, this is under an ideal condition, and not our majority takes all system, where the majority will always have their way.
During my four weeks self-imposed exile, I observed with sadness how the parliamentary primaries of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), in some constituencies sailed on cash and other goodies. The monetization of elections in our beloved Ghana, is not only the fault of the NPP, but the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as well. The NDC parliamentarian primaries witnessed similar unfortunate incidence. Persons seeking to represent us in parliament have become cash cows for few greedy electoral delegates to milk. After successfully getting though with the unfortunate milking of the aspirants, these same delegates expect the elected candidates to perform magic whilst in parliament to bring development to their respective constituencies.
If you milk a cow for one milking season, it must regain her body reserves for the next milking to be successful. In other words, the parliamentarians (not all) must also milk the tax payer at the least opportunity to gain body reserves for the next four years of delegates milking. This vicious cycle is a serious threat to our democracy. The highest bidder will always win. Candidates, overnight, will secure dozens of cars, motorcycles, bicycles, fridges, televisions, etc. for the sake of winning elections, with the impression to represent the people.
To quote James Bovard, Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty: “democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”
One cannot fathom what is in the House of Representative or Parliament that many candidates are spending a lot of cash to gain access to the chamber. It is about time we fought this insidious disease of elections monetization. We cannot continue on this tangent. Let us start by naming and shaming the candidates and delegates who trade money with votes. If not, we shall one day witness the trading of democracy on a plate, at the market place—the highest bidder carries the day.
Let us be guided by the words of Paul K. Chappel, an Army Captain, peace activist, and writer, that when people in a democracy are not educated in the art of living to strengthen their conscience, compassion, and ability to question and think critically they can be easily manipulated by fear, money and propaganda. A democracy is only as wise as its citizens, and a democracy of ignorant citizens can be as dangerous as a dictatorship.
Haruna Gado Yakubu