Tamale Central MP Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed has questioned the principle behind his colleague National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa’s comments that government must stop giving legislators car loans after the North Tongu MP has benefitted from the tradition twice already.
Mr Ablakwa recently urged his fellow lawmakers, to join forces to compel Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to withdraw the $28-million loan facility he tabled before parliament for approval as car loans for the 275 legislators, which got approved on Thursday, 15 July 2021.
As MPs, Mr Ablakwa wrote on social media, “let us also boldly confront and discontinue the practice of government loans to purchase vehicles for MPs”.
He said: “If the executive branch of government does not have the resources to provide duty vehicles for MPs, as it does for MMDCEs, CEOs of state institutions/SOEs, ministers, judges, civil servants, security services, and so on and so forth, then MPs, who need car loans should be allowed to make their own private car loan arrangements with the banks just as most private-sector workers do”.
That will simply require, he noted, that the “government stop the monthly deductions from MPs’ salaries so we will be free to broker individual car loan deals based on our salary structure, constituency terrain and other personal preferences”.
“I honestly hope many colleague MPs will agree with me so we join forces and get Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to withdraw his MPs’ car loan agreement from Parliament”, he noted.
He bemoaned that “MPs have been deliberately thrown under the bus and subjected to needless opprobrium one too many”.
Fortunately, he pointed out, Speaker Alban Bagbin “has been a longtime advocate for a uniform duty vehicle policy in the public sphere, which does not discriminate between Ministers, MMDCEs, CEOs, Judges and MPs”, adding: “I strongly believe we can count on his support as we pursue this mission”.
Mr Ablakwa said “deep reflection is needed on just how long the political class can keep stoking the anger levels of the masses beyond a boiling point?”
“We must not underestimate the people’s grave revulsion and its volcanic consequences on the stability and sustainability of our democracy”, he warned.
“Time to adopt a totally new and sincere paradigm”, the MP suggested.
Mr Murtala Mohammed is, however, not the least impressed with Mr Ablakwa’s comments.
He told Joy Prime on Thursday: “He [Ablakwa] has gotten two cars, and a new MP, who is coming, who doesn’t even have a motorbike, whose constituency is farther than his, whose constituency is broader than his, who also needs to discharge his responsibilities by being mobile … should not be given a car? Let us get serious in this country.”
“This is not a principle”, Mr Mohammed said, adding that if it were, “then he [Ablakwa] should return the other two cars.”
“Okudzeto is not just a colleague Member of Parliament”, he noted, pointing out that the two of them “have come a very long way” but insisted: “He has taken the loan two times”.
“I went to parliament with him [at] the same time when he took the car loan. In the Seventh Parliament, I wasn’t there but he took the loan”, Mr Mohammed said.
“So, where is the principle in this? Since when did he realise that taking the car was unconscionable? Who is he trying to deceive?” he wondered.
“This is not a principled position”, the opposition lawmaker emphasised, recounting: “I remember [being] in the Coffee Shop [when] he called me while he was standing with the contact person of one of the companies and he was asking me whether I will take my car from that company. So, where is the principle in this? Since when did he realise that taking the car is unconscionable?”