The Head of Research at the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Dr. Franklin Oduro, has condemned the trend where Members of Parliament are assessed based on the direct benefits they provide their constituents.
He is of the view that citizens should be made to understand the core responsibilities of MPs and what they should be held accountable for.
Dr. Oduro’s remarks follow a study conducted by his outfit which revealed that 84 percent of Ghanaian voters make their choices based on what they can directly benefit from a particular candidate.
According to the research, voters do not assess candidates against the performance of their core duties especially in the case MPs.
Dr. Oduro explained that it was not the role of MPs to provide direct developmental benefits to constituents.
According to him, “If you look at the principle of democracy and the tenets of democracy, the role of members of parliament is not to provide direct developmental programs.”
He noted that the MPs common fund was set up to allow the MPs cater for some constituents’ developmental needs, but the MPs could not ultimately replace local government or sector ministers when it comes to catering for the well-being of citizens.
“However, because of the practicality of what is inevitable, of what public expectations are… the common fund was more or less set up to address that. And we do know that this not sustainable. The MPs cannot replace the role of a District Chief Executive or the role of Ministers or the role of the Executive.”
Dr. Oduro believes some efforts should be put into changing the mindsets of citizens who believe that MPs are mandated to provide development for them as that would be more beneficial and sustainable in the long-term.
In his view, “that is more sustainable; If we are able to invest in that kind of civic education and we are able to help voters and citizens to understand that a Member of Parliament has core responsibilities and that is what we should hold them accountable for and not necessarily their ability to provide school fees, or come to your funeral or provide donations.”
The researcher bemoaned the loss of seats by some MPs due to the perception that MPs must provide direct benefits to them whilst stating that they should be assessed by their performance.
“… If MPs are doing oversight functions well, if they are doing the representation well, if they are spending time to look and scrutinize laws that come from the Executive, I think that is what we need to hold MPs accountable for and not their inability to provide those direct goals to their voters.”