Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Rt Hon Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin Speaker of Parliament, has called for an 3hqnced citizens Engagement as part of the process of building a strong and resilient democratic system.of the country.
According to him, the active citizen participation in parliamentary businesses would go further to shape and direct Ghana’s democratic trajectory.
Rt Hon Bagbin made the call at the 2023 Edition of the Speaker’s Breakfast Forum on Monday, November 20, 2023, in Accra.
He expressed the need for an enhanced civil education and wider inclusion of the marginalized voices and advocated innovative approaches involving Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to strengthen democratic institutions and promote accountability.
“This has created a disconnect between Parliament, MPs, and citizens and has also led to a lack of appreciation for the work and value of Parliament and it’s members,” he explained.
The theme of the meeting was “Thirty Years of Parliamentary Democracy under the Fourth Republic: Reflections on Citizens’ Engagement and the way forward.”
The meeting is aimed at consolidating the relationship between Parliament and CSOs and explore new ways of working together for accountable governance.
The Breakfast Meeting was organized in collaboration with the STAR Ghana Foundation to commemorate its 5th Anniversary and Parliament’s 30 years of uninterrupted democracy under the 4th Republic Constitution.
This, the Speaker observed that, engagement between Parliament and MPs, on the one hand, and citizens, on the other hand, has affected Ghana’s democracy in many ways.
He noted that, internationally, Ghana’s Parliament has been rated 88% as being an effective instrument for keeping the government on track.
But locally, the Afrobarometer of the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) rated Parliament at 8%, a situation he attributed to the limited engagement with citizens.
“That is how low Ghanaians value Parliament and Parliamentarians in Ghana. So you see 88% internationally down to 8%,” Rt Hon Bagbin added.
Rt Hon. Bagbin however urged CSOs and Parliamentarians to get a collaborate and engage with voters and deliver programs to enlighten the citizenry of the necessity of Parliament and the duties of MPs.
On her part, the Chairperson of Star Ghana Foundation, Dr. Esther Ofei-Aboagye, said Parliament is the ultimate expression of the citizenship of Ghanaians.
According to her, “Parliament has evolved over the past three decades in line with the realities of the vicissitudes and the changing socio-economic and technological events. This Parliament has survived it all.”
She noted that, notwithstanding the challenges, Ghana has a robust institution that gives the citizenry confidence for the way forward.
She believed the adoption of the new five pillars of engagement by the legislature, which includes information, education, and communication, will bring Parliament closer to the citizenry.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Hon Emmanuel Armah Kofi-Buah, noted that the dividends of a stable democracy, despite all the weaknesses, have paid off, as Ghana has seen better and faster development.
He questioned how Ghana’s democracy can be consolidated and all the attendant development in the next 30 years, especially Parliament, which is at the forefront of this journey.
The Clerk to Parliament, Mr Cyril Kwabena Oteng Nsiah, commended the CSOs and other stakeholders for their pivotal role in strengthening parliamentary democracy.
He said the Breakfast Meeting would continue to be a rally point by which Parliament could explain its achievements and the challenges to enhance democracy.