Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has emphasized the importance of active citizen participation in shaping Ghana’s democratic trajectory.
He acknowledged the need for enhanced civil education and broader inclusion of marginalized voices and advocated innovative approaches involving Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to strengthen democratic institutions and promote accountability.
In his address at the Speaker’s Breakfast Forum on Monday, November 20, 2023, at the Alisa Hotel, Mr. Alban Bagbin observed that the limited engagement between Parliament and MPs, on the one hand, and citizens, on the other hand, has affected Ghana’s democracy in many ways.
He explained, “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 its Members.”
The theme of the meeting was “Thirty Years of Parliamentary Democracy under the Fourth Republic: Reflections on Citizens’ Engagement and the way forward.”
The Speaker’s Breakfast meeting aimed to consolidate the relationship between Parliament and CSOs and explore new ways of working together for accountable governance.
The program was organized in partnership with the STAR Ghana Foundation to commemorate its 5th Anniversary and Parliament’s 30 years of uninterrupted democracy under the 4th Republic Constitution.
Mr. Bagbin observed that internationally, the Parliament of Ghana has been rated 88% as being an effective instrument for keeping the government on track.
However, locally, the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) Afrobarometer rated Parliament at 8%.
“That is how low Ghanaians value Parliament and Parliamentarians in Ghana. So you see 88% internationally down to 8%,” he added.
He urged CSOs and Parliamentarians to collaborate and engage with voters and deliver programs to enlighten the citizenry on the necessity of Parliament and the duties of MPs.
Dr. Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Chairperson of Star Ghana Foundation, in her remarks, noted that Parliament is the ultimate expression of the citizenship of Ghanaians.
She said, “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.”
According to her, despite everything, Ghana has a robust institution that gives the citizenry confidence for the way forward.
She expressed hope that 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.
Emmanuel Armah Kofi-Buah, the Deputy Minority leader, argued 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.