Amend party constitutions to stop primaries every four years – MPs Demand

Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (left) Mr Haruna Iddrisu (right)

Members of Parliament have urged political parties to initiate reforms in their constitutions that require they conduct parliamentary primaries every four years.

They said the democratic practice of opening up all the 275 constituencies for primaries every four years served as the “genesis and seeds of corruption”.

Besides, such primaries also caused Parliament to lose some of the best and experienced legislators who were needed to strengthen the functions of the legislature.

The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu; the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, and the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, made the call prior to the House adjourning yesterday until Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

The adjournment was necessitated by the absence of many members of Parliament, especially those from the Majority side who are preparing for primaries in their constituencies on Saturday.

Given the absence of his colleague legislators in the House, the Majority Leader called for adjournment until Friday.

But the MP for Wa West, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, said due to the absence of most Majority MPs, who had upcoming primaries to contend with, the House had not been able to do any business since last Wednesday.

He, therefore, suggested the need for the Speaker to adjourn sitting until Tuesday next week.

Responding to the call for adjournment, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the adjournment due to primaries should teach the House and political parties lessons about the need not to hold primaries when Parliament was in session.

Interrogating the purpose of opening up primaries for newcomers to contest primaries, he said such practice never existed in any entrenched democracy in the world.

“The two major parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), should bite the bullet and do serious introspection into the operations of their constitutions and proffer the necessary amendments.

“We cannot pretend this way; we are walking a very slippery road and let us not bury our heads because what is happening is not the best,” he said.

In a bid to tackle the challenge, he said the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs had been engaging the various political parties who had all acknowledged and called for measures to address it.

MPs need protection

For his part, Mr Iddrisu stressed the need for experienced MPs to be protected.

“Mr Speaker, my heart is out there for every incumbent MP seeking a return. The more experienced MPs, the stronger our Parliament will become,” he said.

Order of the day

Alhaji Muntaka expressed worry at the manner in which the privilege to serve as an experienced legislator in the House had become “like a crime”.

He said in the western world, not every constituency was opened up for contest during primaries, allowing legislators to gain so much experience after decades in Parliament.

Currently, he said, newcomers in the House constituted 50 per cent of legislators while the most experienced who had stayed for more than four terms were less than 30, “and we do not see the danger coming?” he asked rhetorically.