Source: Victor Kwawukume – Daily Graphic

Democracy as I have come to understand is the interplay of all the forces that shape every given society with equal opportunities for all stakeholders to have their say with a view to arriving at the convergent point of common decision.

While it is said to be a rule of the people, by the people and for the people, it has found its strength in the various institutions that the people have consciously chosen and appointed to be their voice in all that matters.

So while the President is elected and following his successful election appoints his team of ministers that he wants to work with, that decision is not over until Parliament, the legitimate representative of the collective will of the people, append their signature to it.

And so is it with the world of the justices who by virtue of their mandate are supposed to interpret the laws that are enacted by the legislature, punish violators of the sacred laws of the land and by so doing, act as a check on the other arms of government.

Checks and balances then become the order by which the various interplays which are geared towards harmony and inter-dependence can be truly ensured.

Beyond these three arms of government comes the fourth which is popularly referred to as the ‘Fourth Estate of the Realm’, that is the media.

The media as they are, come in handy because who watches the watchmen?

The media then becomes an indispensable tool that must ensure that the three arms of government act within the boundaries of their various mandates without any intentional or accidental move to encroach or undermine the other.

One can easily and safely conclude that the current dispensation, which all Ghanaians are enjoying, has been greatly aided by the collective membership of the inky fraternity who have done due diligence to the process even though one cannot deny the instances of excesses and below expectation performances.

But for the media who stand in the role of defending the public trust, their first assignment is to ensure that the representatives of the people are directly answerable to those who elected them into office.

Has that been so? I cannot answer for the entire nation but would only write what I know and that is the relation between the media and parliamentarians in the Volta Region.

The least said about that, the better because the relation between these two institutions in the Volta Region is worse than being described as porous.

I say this for all the MPs in the Volta Region but for a few who even though insufficiently, have been somehow active and purposive in their engagement of the media with the view to accelerating the pace of the region’s development.

The Volta Region is the single one in the whole of Ghana that can boast more than 99 per cent of its MPs coming from one political party, that is the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

That is to say, out of the 22 parliamentarians that the region can count, 21 of them are from the NDC with just one being for the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

I believe that this feat will go down well the road of national history but their relation with the media will also go down bad for them in regional and national history.

The Volta Caucus, as they are referred to, has never had any active engagement with the media in three years after being elected into office.

What is worse is that they have failed to have constant engagement with their electorate that voted them into power with the excuse that theirs was a very demanding job that gave them less time to travel the length and breadth of their constituencies.

When the people hold events and invite them, they fail to turn up even when it is popular knowledge that Parliament is on recess but when they lose family members and people close to them, they endeavour to attend.

These regular instances of the MPs absenting themselves from public functions in their various constituencies with puerile excuses created a certain image of pomposity and what the common people believed to be dereliction of duty on the part of the MPs.

More importantly, the MPs failed to appraise their people of the happenings in Parliament and the various roles they were playing as their representatives in the legislature of the country.

That is to say, once they are elected, they feel as though that is the end of it all, forgetting that their mandate is renewable in four years.

Even when the media as part as their responsibility want an engagement with the Volta Caucus to get at first hand, what they were doing as representatives of the people, calls fall on deaf ears.

Probably, they have also forgotten that one of the indices for measuring the depth of democracy was the level of co-operation and the nature of the relationship that exists between the representatives of the people and the media.

So as it is, while they claim they are busy on parliamentary business and therefore fail regularly to respond to the invitations extended to them by their constituents to attend public functions, where they will use the opportunity to tell the people the business they are attending to on their behalf, they do not do that.

All this while when they are busy in Accra and travelling outside the country, the media are traversing the nook and crannies of the region picking sensitive data and sentiments being expressed by the people on their representatives in Parliament for which frequent engagement with the media would have brought to the fore for them to take appropriate steps to address.

In several instances, the common people were rather asking journalists to tell them how their representatives were faring in parliament and why they often failed to turn up for events when they were invited.

At a point in time, the Member of Parliament for Ho Central, the regional capital of the Volta Region, where the cream of journalists operate from, Honourable Capt. (rtd) George Nfojoh was the chairman of the Volta Caucus and that presented a ripe opportunity to have brought the two gates together but he failed abysmally.

Therefore the casualties that occurred in the Volta Region came as no surprise to journalists in the region. In fact the casualty level should have been far higher than it was but for some last minute inferior tactics that were utilised by a good number of them, including monetary inducements.

The lessons for the MPs of the Volta Region should be clear by now that they as representatives of the people are mandated to report to the people who voted them into power.

They equally have the responsibility to ensure frequent engagement with the media so that while they may claim they were busy on parliamentary business, the media through their information and education roles would appraise the electorate of what their representatives were doing on their behalf. Is this a duty too difficult for them to undertake?

However, it will be unfair not to mention one of the MPs who has constantly engaged the media to appraise them on what he has been doing as a representative of the people and in return asked for views, comments and criticisms from the media to help him better his services to the people.

No wonder that MP went unopposed and was chosen to represent the people through popular acclamation. That MP is Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, the MP for the Ho West Constituency.

The earlier the MPs in the Volta Region learnt their lessons and put their houses in order, the better, otherwise a certain history beckons them. A history that will be written when Ghanaians and for the matter, the people of the Volta Region go to the polls on December, 7, 2012.

A stitch in time, they say, saves nine and a word to a wise, is enough.

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