Really? So, our Honourable MPs actually want us to believe that they are honestly outraged at what is happening in Libya? For real? Wow! Well, I don’t believe at all, that they are, and I am tempted to assume that the Ghanaian Times, perhaps, blew their reactions to the recent happenings in Libya out of proportion. Well, maybe not. And I may be wrong. Apologies to our MPs, but they are outraged and so what? How does that save our brothers and sisters?
But, how could they have been outraged? Over something that has always been an open secret? Was it for the cameras and microphones? Or was it just another eventful day in Parliament that required ‘passionate’ contributions from both sides of the House? The question is, how did we get here? And can we ever close this ugly chapter, given our previous experiences and how similar issues have been handled? Well, that depends on a lot of factors and a multifaceted approach that I struggle to see beyond the talk at present. The MPs know that, fluent and lucid grammar rattled eloquently to the admiration of the masses, doesn’t win an election, nor a woman’s heart and would not solve any problem either.
In the heat of this ‘supposed’ outrage and, before it actually cools down, I need all our 275 MPs to point me to a single constituency in this country of ours, that hasn’t seen any of those A4 sheet advertorials splashed all over, inviting determined and luring unsuspecting people to work and earn dollars in Qatar, Libya, etc? I am sure they are aware of the numerous reports of how most of those people are treated even to the point of forcing them into prostitution and so on. While at that, the MPs may also point out to us, what workable strategies they have put in place to see an end to this practice. For the avoidance of doubt, the operational word is workable!
They may also add to this list, a simple line or two as to what our social protection policy standpoint is from parliament’s point of view, and how workable that is, in our case. They better not talk about the fact that the laws are there, because 10 years after Parliament passed the disability law, I am yet to see a single ramp that can aid persons who use wheel chairs to access the honorable house where they are represented! Yes, it isn’t the business of parliament to enforce laws, but I am certain that the laws are equally enforcible in her backyard! And, this is in Parliament, where those same laws were passed. May we never imagine what happens in other places.
I shall pretend not to talk about the huge number of unemployed youth and the much-needed solution of job creation. Why? At least, the synchronized response we get all the time is that “it is not the MP’s job to create jobs and construct roads and do all other things. My job is to legislate and I do that to the best of my ability”.Hmmmm, interesting huh? I can bet you have heard that many times before. Did it make sense? Are you outraged? So why aren’t our MPs outraged about this too?
Too quickly, the Honourables forget that while they were on the campaign platforms, screaming out promises, just to get elected, you and I pinned our hopes on their utterances and so we went to the polls to choose them to manage our affairs. Even if we didn’t choose them, they owe us a duty while in office to keep their own promises because that is the honourable thing to do. Promise and fail without apology is actually very dishonourable.
Too quickly, they forget that nobody held a gun to their different shapes of heads to make those promises, and that even if it isn’t their job to deliver those, they can impress upon the local assemblies (of which they are ex-officio members), to look that direction. Quick question though: how many of our MPs attend those district assembly meetings? Do they even have time? We have heard how some MPs and MCEs or DCEs have been at logger heads based on sharp party lines and how their communities have suffered because two elephants had locked their trunks. In areas where they work well together, its party people first and then all others after them. Very often, the cake gets finished before non-party people are invited to fête. This frustrating vicious cycle of “whom you know” and not “what you know” pushes many young people to find alternatives – legal and illegal. This is what I expect the MPs to be outraged at.
Need I say, that one of the many reasons people travel out of this country, is to seek greener pastures even when they aren’t sure of what lies ahead of them. Our MPs cannot pretend that they do not know this fact, nor can they pretend that they haven’t, at some point, hurriedly endorsed passport forms for some young people to acquire travel passports without asking a question or two.
Our MPs cannot pretend that when they occasionally visit their constituencies, they have to carry money along (in varying denominations), to deal with the long queues of money-demanding constituents, who need “nokofioo” to survive. I guess that gives them a fair idea of how all is not well and that ceremonial handouts would not solve unemployment issues. Maybe not? But, the truth is, for as long as these young people depend on handouts to survive, they will be tied to the apron strings of the hand that feeds them and that hand will never be bitten. Simply put, the MPs who come across as being generous will never lose elections. Have you ever wondered why some MPs who never uttered a word in parliament, never lobbied for roads, schools, hospitals, etc, never consulted their constituents on some serious issues, but always returned home with give aways and handouts have stayed in power without struggling to win at any elections? Again, this is what I expect to read our MPs rage on.
At best, the MPs should be outraged at the state for the meagre budgetary allocation made to the National Commission for Civic Education and the Information Services Department to carry out their national mandate. An integrated public education format is relevant in the solution chain, especially when most of those who are lured into, or embark upon these dangerous trips are unlettered.
Now, beyond the outrage, and a possible invitation to the Foreign Affairs minister to answer to Parliament, what more will be done? Nothing? Will we return to business as usual? And maybe this time, start off with a real or perceived scandal that will dominate our national discourse? I feel terribly sorry for our brothers and sisters in Libya. They are victims of amalgamated circumstances that we brought upon ourselves as a people. What they need now is not English and outrage. They need real help, like somebody getting on a plane to engage Libyan authorities to return them home safely. What they need is a perpetual plan that will safeguard all those who may have nursed similar illegal travel ideas to abort the mission and brighten the corner where they are. – Not long winding committee sittings that will produce a white paper that won’t be implemented. What they need is not tough-talk politicians but men and women who will keep an eye on institutions and ensure that they are working. For the Apostle Paul said ‘faith without works is dead’. May our MPs realize that the campaigns are over. The elections are over. The work is here, let’s do it and while at that, may they keep their promises. For after all, no matter how outraged our MPs are, their combined anger cannot boil a cup of rice to satisfy the hungry youth of this country!
Johnnie Hughes is a Co-Host on #TV3NewDay and #CommunityConnect on 3fm 92.7 on Fridays at 3:00 pm.