Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu has called on President Akufo-Addo to lead a debate on the need to place a cap on the size of the legislature.
According to Mr Iddrisu, Parliament cannot continue to expand its membership in perpetuity.
In his view, the continues expansion of members of the house has implications on the public purse.
There used to be 200 members of parliament. This figure was increased to 230 and then 250. Today, there are 275 members in Ghana’s parliament.
The growing number of parliamentarians Mr Iddrisu says is worrying
Speaking at the commissioning of the tower block (Job 600) annex on Tuesday, 3 November 2020, Mr Iddrisu said: “The Job 600 Renovation Project initially started with the provision of at least 200 offices and meeting rooms for the then 200-Member House.
“The Membership of the House was, however, increased to 230 compelling the Engineers to remodel the Project and increase the number of offices to 250.
“Unfortunately, before the project could be completed, the Membership of the House was increased to 275.
“The work on the Project had, at the time, advanced to the extent that the Engineers could no longer re-configure the project to accommodate the additional numbers.
“Your Excellency, I have decided to recount this short history of the Job 600 Project, which you are already aware of, to reiterate the point which a number of experts and opinion leaders have already canvassed, that we need to place a cap on the size of the legislature; that we cannot continue to expand the membership of the House in perpetuity.
“The continuous expansion has implications on the public purse and the Leaders of the Political Parties particularly my party and the NPP.
“We must come to a consensus on the ideal size of the Legislature for a country such as Ghana. It is my prayer that, Your Excellency Mr. President, will lead and influence such a debate.”
Read Mr Iddrisu’s full speech below:
COMMISSIONING OF TOWER BLOCK (JOB 600) ANNEX
BY H.E. THE PRESIDENT
REMARKS BY HON. MINORITY LEADER, HARUNA IDDRISU
Your Excellency President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo: Rt. Hon. Speaker, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye
Hon. Majority Leader:
First and Second Deputy Speakers:
Other Members of the Leadership of the House:
Ministers of State:
The Clerk to Parliament:
Ladies and Gentle;
I wish to extend my heartfelt appreciation and that of the Minority Caucus to H.E. The President, for finding time to be with us on this auspicious occasion to commission this edifice which was constructed under the able leadership of the Speaker, Prof. Mike Oquaye, with the express and active support of H.E. The President. I must also commend Hon. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Member of the Parliamentary Service Board, for his tireless service in seeing to the completion of the Project.
This edifice has been completed in record time with funding primarily from GoG Sources. It is often unusual to have a big project such as the Job 600 Annex, funded primarily from GoG, to be completed on schedule. I am informed that the Project has about 100 offices for MPs, Staff and Research Assistants: 150-seater multi-purpose hall; and Archival Centre: drivers centre and visitors centre; among others.This was made possible because of the commitment of the President in ensuring funds are made available upon request. It was Mr. President’s objective to ensure that each Member of Parliament has a decent office from where to operate from. I believe Mr. President’s commitment was borne out of his own frustrations as a Member of this House in the late 90s and early 2000s. where he had to operate as an MP from the boot of his car.
As you are aware. Your Excellency, the renovation of the main Job 600 Building transcended four (4) different administrations. It was started under former President Rawlings and completed during the tenure of former President Mahama.
The Job 600 Renovation Project initially started with the provision of at least 200 offices and meeting rooms for the then 200-Member House. The Membership of the House was however increased to 230 compelling the Engineers to remodel the Project and increase the number of offices to 250. Unfortunately, before the Project could be completed, the Membership of the House was increased to 275. The work on the Project had, at the time, advanced to the extent that the Engineers could no longer re-configure the Project to accommodate the additional numbers.
Your Excellency, I have decided to recount this short history of the Job 600 Project, which you are already aware of, to reiterate the point which a number of experts and opinion leaders have already canvassed, that we need to place a cap on the size of the legislature; that we cannot continue to expand the membership of the House in perpetuity. The continuous expansion has implications on the public purse and the Leaders of the Political Parties. particularly my Party and the NPP. must come to a consensus on the ideal size of the Legislature for a country such as Ghana. It is my prayer that Your Excellency Mr President, will lead and influence such a debate. Your Excellency, one other key issue being pursued by the Parliamentary Service Board and which is very dear to the heart of the Rt. Hon. Speaker is the effort to secure the Parliamentary Enclave. I am sure this issue will be part of Mr Speaker remarks but suffice it to say that the need for Parliament to maintain effective occupation and control of the enclave is long overdue. It is not best practice for the parliamentary grounds or part, therefore, to be in the hands and control of other Agencies or Bodies. In some of the democracies which we seek to emulate the Legislature occupies a distinct estate, under its control and administration. I am aware that Your Excellency has given his blessings for the acquisition of the Parliamentary Enclave but unfortunately the process is progressing at a slow pace. It was our expectation that the process would be completed within your tenure.
Mr President, in a little over a month, we shall be going to the polls for presidential and parliamentary elections for the eight-time under the present 4th Republican Constitution. One concern for Members is their personal safety and security and the general security in the country. Mr President is aware of the unfortunate murder of our colleague Member for Mfantsiman. We are still waiting upon the Police to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to justice.
Your Excellency, we have called on you, through your Minister for the Interior, for Members of Parliament to be provided police protection which you have generously agreed and for which we are grateful. This request. Unfortunately has been misunderstood by the Ghanaian public. Let me restate that this request is in line with the conditions attached to other public office holders under Article 71 of the Constitution such as Ministers of State, Justices of the Superior Court, Chairpersons and their Deputies of the Electoral Commission and CHRAJ, among others. We are therefore not asking for anything more. It is our prayer that this would be implemented as soon as possible to avert any similar unfortunate event. We are further appealing to you, as Commander-in-Chief, to ensure the safety and security of every Ghanaian going into the elections. The recent spate of armed robberies, coupled with some unresolved murders, gives course for worry. Your Excellency, above all, we need assurance that the upcoming elections will be peaceful and that this country will stand united even after the polls.
In conclusion, Your Excellency, it is often said that a nation that does not honour its heroes isn’t worth dying for. I have no doubt, and your Excellency will agree with me, that there are some trailblazers in our parliamentary journey under this Fourth Republic who deserve some honour. Mention can be made of Rt. Hon. Justice D.F. Annan, Rt. Hon. Peter Ala Adjetey, among others. It is therefore imperative that some of these edifices are named after them to inspire those who came or will come after them. It is for this reason that I will propose for the consideration of the House, for the Tower Block (Job 600) to be named after Rt. Hon. Justice D.F. Annan and the Administration Block to be named after Rt. Hon. Peter Ala Adjetey in view of the respective roles played by the two former Speakers in the renovation and construction of the two projects.
I thank you for the opportunity