Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the Minority Leader in Parliament, says the 30th anniversary of Parliamentary Democracy presents an opportunity for Ghanaians to celebrate the myriads of achievements made towards democratic advancement.
“As we take stock of the successes and challenges we have chalked over the last three decades, let us continue to cherish our parliamentary democracy, and work towards building a strong and independent Parliament,” he said.
Dr Forson said this at the launch of the 30th Anniversary of Ghana’s Parliamentary Democracy, on the theme: “The Fourth Republic: The Journey Thus Far”, chaired by Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin.
Among the dignitaries were Madam Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, the Chief of Staff and two former Speakers: Mr Edward Korbly Doe Adjaho and Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye.
Dr Forson noted that three decades of continuous parliamentary governance in West Africa was worth celebrating.
It was trite knowledge that the nation had witnessed a couple of interruptions to constitutional governance, with the turning point being the time former President Jerry John Rawlings decided to give democracy a chance in 1992.
Dr Forson said that eventually led to the drafting of the current Constitution – commonly referred to as the 1992 Constitution.
He said the 28th April, 1992 Referendum, which led to adoption of the Constitution had become a major landmark in Ghana’s political history, and that Ghanaians, through the Referendum, agreed to a new form of governance.
“As we mark 30 years of being on this democratic journey, we indeed, have every reason to celebrate. Mr Speaker, democracy is about Parliament.”
Dr Forson said it was only when Parliament was properly constituted and conducted its business appropriately that Ghanaians could be certain that there was democracy.
“After all, for the years that Parliament was in abeyance, all the other organs of State and their agencies were running, albeit not as expected by the good people of this great nation,” he said.
“The missing organ was the Legislature. One may therefore, ask why did our people feel the need to have a Parliament? Mr Speaker, parliamentary democracy is a representative democracy.”
“It is one that allows a selected few to speak, act and decide for the many others. It is one that allows for a debate, scrutiny, oversight, deliberation, and consensus building. These are the pre-requisites of an effective parliamentary democracy.”
He said Members of Parliament were merely the people’s representatives and, therefore, an honour for elected members to speak on behalf of the people
The Minority Leader reiterated that whereas Parliament performed Legislative, Financial, Deliberative, Representational, and Oversight roles, much more was expected from the Minority Group.
“Beyond the requirement that the Minority proves to the people that they were a trusted alternative to the Government of the day, it seems conservatively, the oversight role of Parliament was reserved for the Minority.”
The Minority members were required to question the acts and omissions of the Executive, raise critical issues, demand answers and hold the Government accountable, which, certainly, was an onerous task.
He said the Minority would, therefore, require the assistance and cooperation of civil society organisations, academia, professional bodies, trade unions, students, and indeed, each and every Ghanaian to enable it hold the Government accountable.
“ It is through this that Ghanaians could all enjoy the fruits of the parliamentary democratic dispensation.”