November 3, 2015

President John Dramani Mahama has called on the leadership of Parliaments in Africa to educate their respective publics on the duties of Members of Parliament to remove the negative view they have about the MPs.

According to him although Parliamentarians play huge roles in the formulation of laws to deepen democracy, the public usually see them as a group of persons who only seek their own interest as against the general good of the citizenry.

President Mahama made this call while addressing the opening session of the 15th Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers Conference Africa Region in Accra on the theme: Raising the confidence of the citizenry in the legislature: The role of the Speaker.”

The conference, the first in Ghana attracted Speakers and Presiding Officers from Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Lesotho, Cameroun, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia Nigeria and South Africa among other African Commonwealth members.

President Mahama further lamented the practice in which electorates depend on MPs for their livelihood.”One of the increasingly worrying developments in Africa is the misconception of the role of the MP. This has led to worsening public pressure on the Parliamentarians to directly provide public goods and services for their constituents as well as meet the personal needs of individuals.

“This puts MPs under severe strain and has the potential of putting their integrity to the test,” the president said.

Stating the core functions of the MP, the president said the parliamentarians must first represent their constituents in Parliament, contribute to debates on the floor and act as agents of change.

“Unfortunately demands for monies for school fees, fuels for weddings, place the MP in a precarious situation,” he said.

He conceded that though the MPs are partly to blame for the situation because they have not well articulated their role to the public.

“During election campaigns promises must not be aimed at delivering heaven on earth. Promises must be realistic and realizable,” he pointed out.

The week-long conference would among other things enable member countries to discuss parliamentary development and give them the opportunity to learn to serve the people by achieving their lofty goals.