The Majority and Minority leaders in Parliament have asked the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Legon to team up with Parliament to develop the appropriate modalities of assessing the performance of Members of Parliament (MPs).
At a joint press conference in Accra last Thursday, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, and the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said they were not opposed to the assessment of MPs by the University of Ghana or any other institution.
However, they said, such assessments should be comprehensive to represent the true functions of legislators.
Their comments came in the wake of the recent research findings of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, which indicated that many of the MPs were underperforming.
The research, which sought to find out the performance of MPs in their various constituencies aside from their duties in Parliament, noted that only 95 of the 275 MPs stood the chance of retaining their seats.
The research, which was conducted on the theme: “Assessment of 275 Members of Parliament — Perspective from the Constituencies”, captures that only one MP got 90 per cent rating while majority of them got between 30 and 39 per cent.
For his part, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said many people focused on the role of MPs as development agents, alienating their core functions of legislation and oversight.
As a result, he said, the focus on MPs became tainted and then fed into the misconception that MPs were underperforming.
He said the leadership of Parliament would engage with the Political Science Department “to streamline things” since “the focus on development is misplaced”.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Suame, said the general rule was that the more an MP stayed in Parliament, the more experienced he or she became.
He said occasionally there were newcomers who did very well and old ones who did not register their presence in Parliament.
He mentioned the likes of Mr Iddrisu; the current Minister of Education, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh; and the current Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, as some the few MPs who performed exceptionally well in their first term in Parliament.
For his part, Mr Iddrisu, who is the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Tamale South, said Parliament did not intend to gag any institution from assessing legislators.
However, he said, it was important to define the parameters for assessing the work of MPs to include their functions in Parliament and what they did in their respective constituencies.
Mr Iddrisu said aside from the work in the Chamber, MPs worked on committees of Parliament where their voices were not heard but their suggestions had influenced policy decisions.
“We welcome the work of the Political Science Department but let us develop a common framework for you to appreciate the functions and the work we do,” he said.
Mr Iddrisu said every legislator had the intention to promote development in his or her constituency, but they were constrained financially.
He, therefore, called for improvement in the working conditions of MPs to enable them to deliver on their mandate.