The “twinkle, twinkle, little” juveniles in Ghana’s Parliament

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No doubt many of the current MPs, especially on the then opposition NPP side, rode on the coattails of Nana Akufo Addo’s landslide victory in last year’s general elections. The NDC, which was then the ruling majority party, as we all know, sustained serious electoral wounds culminating in the loss of many of itsveteran members in parliament.

In other words, the net gain of inexperienced or new MPs for the NPP’s camp is relatively high compared to the NDC’s in the recent parliamentary elections.

With this comparatively large repertoire of long-serving NDC’s MPs, it would be fair to conclude that they’re well-seasoned and, more important, understand and embrace basic parliamentary decorum, especially,during the presidential state of the nation (SONA) address.

The State of the Nation or Union addresses in every country attracts increased worldwide attention and special media coverage; and, the one delivered by President Akufo Addo was no exception.It was not exactly clear what the minority MPs on the NDC’s bench was trying to accomplish regarding their classless, constant interruptions and boos of the president of the republic when delivering the SONA in parliament some days ago.

What was clear to millions of reasonable people watching this year’s SONA was that most of the opposition members of parliament acted exactly like the juvenile characters captured in Jane Taylor’s century-old poem “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stars.” The previous NDC-led government had created the rosy impression that they were leaving behind Ghanaian economy that is“Up the world so high” that seems “like the diamond in the sky.” But there was no true “diamond in the sky” save counterfeit ones.

So, the NDC legislators did not like the idea that President Akufo Addo was telling the whole world about the true state of the country’s messy economy his administration inherited on January 7, 2017. Hence the strategy by the opposition members of the NDC was to interrupt the president as much as they could to deafen the ears of Ghanaians and worldwide audience from hearing the subtext of President Akuffo Addo’s message.

It was embarrassing, watching the SONA for the first time with my American-born wife who happens to be a middle school social studies teacher trying to learn more about Ghana she has come to love and respect.For the most part,it wasn’t classy and sophisticated experience because of the infantile behavior displayed by many of the MPs from the opposition NDC’s side.

It is one thing for MPs to burst into momentary uproar as well as spontaneous laughter/applause that has become part of many parliamentary cultures. However, it is entirely another thing for some grown-up MPs to behave like immaturely uncontrollable, noisy kids left in the room screaming for attentionwhilst an adult is delivering a life-saving message.

True, some of us have never been MPs before, but quintessential civility or parliamentary etiquettes strongly demand that when someone has the floor to speak, all the other members must comport themselves as “honorable ladies and gentlemen.” Indeed, the preceding code of conduct is the basis for why almost every Member of Parliament in the world is addressed as “honorable member.”

It is normal and human for audience to show some agreement, and also voice some disagreements or concerns, where necessary,about some aspects of a body of speeches. But equally most significant is allowing whoever is speaking, particularly, in the floor of parliament to finish before coming out with rebuttals and responses.

Cutting a guest speaker, no less the president of the whole nation, off from delivering his/her speech by making incessant catcalls and other orchestrated jeers in the halls of legislatureportrays the perpetrators as sophomoric lawmakers who are still harboring bitterness emanating from their electoral defeat from last year.

In this case Nana Akufo Addo was not just an ordinary guest speaker, but the head of the state of Ghana, who is required by the country’s constitution to tell all Ghanaians, including all the MPs, about the conditions of the nation thus far. Doing this holistic assessment effectively and accurately as possible entails contextualization of how Ghana gets to the point in which it finds itself in at the moment.

If this is true, then President Akufo Addo may have no choice but to revisit his predecessor’s stewardship prior to January 7, 2017. Clearly, it was this necessary errand by the president that unsettled many of the NDC MPs to start behaving as children.