Members of parliament are demanding some R-E-S-P-E-C-T! And they are using the director-general of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation to make their case. It all stems from William Ampem-Darko’s verbal exchanges with the MP for Adansi-Asokwa, KT Hammond.
Mr. Hammond started it all by questioning the competence of Mr. Ampem-Darko (which is something I do quite often) and the GBC boss retorted with a few insulting words of his own. But his words were not just directed at KT Hammond. He also used a word like “gyimifuo” (stupid people) to refer to Mr. Hammond and his fellow MPs.
One of the lawmakers filed a complaint with the privileges committee of the house, which was later tasked to look into the matter. A hearing was fixed and Mr. Ampem-Darko – pretending to be remorseful – went to say how sorry he felt for insulting the MPs. Yesterday, the house adopted a resolution spelling out the punishment for the GBC boss. He is supposed to render an apology on all GBC platforms – GTV and all the corporation’s radio networks. He is required to read the apology himself – at his cost.
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MP for Sekondi, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, believes that this will bring Ghanaians to the realisation that “affronting the dignity of this house is something that ought not to be contemplated by anyone.”
The punishment is disproportionate and it just amounts to an overbearing attempt by the MPs – some of whom seem to have personal grudges with Mr. Ampem-Darko – to tell the nation that they deserve a little more respect.
First of all, Mr. Ampem-Darko didn’t insult the MPs on all GBC platforms. The insults were traded on the precincts of parliament. Some journalists recorded it and played it on a few radio stations in Accra. The verbal altercation was never aired on GBC. And it wasn’t Mr. Ampem-Darko who caused it to be played on the likes of Citi FM. So where from this edict that he should render an apology on all GBC platforms?
Secondly, Mr. KT Hammond also insulted Mr. Ampem-Darko and those who work under him. Is it fair for parliament to force Mr. Ampem-Darko to apologise on such a wide media network whiles the MP who started it all goes scott-free? I don’t think so.
I wish Mr. Ampem-Darko had a pair of healthy, strong, globular balls to refuse to render the apology in the manner the MPs are demanding and tell them to go to hell and do their worst. But his pair has been badly squished and he needs to keep his job. So he is likely to do the MPs’ bidding.
But the MPs should realise that even if Mr. Ampem-Darko goes to sit on BBC and CNN to shed remorseful tears and apologise, it won’t earn them the respect they do not want to work for.
MPs who approve agreements without reading them will not be served with respect on a silver platter. MPs who constantly report late for work cannot just demand to be revered. Lawmakers who do not want to be referred to as “fools” should not pass resolutions that are inimical to the interests of the people they are supposed to be representing – only to later offer an excuse that they were in the bathroom pissing at the time of passage.
So the majority leader’s threat to clampdown on people who disrespect and insult parliament rings very hollow.
“When you insult parliament or a member of parliament, it is Ghana you are insulting,” Alban Bagbin claims “I have got so many copies of publications running down parliament and running down members of parliament… they are eroding the basis of our multiparty democracy.”
It is Mr. Bagbin and his colleagues who have running themselves down with senseless decisions – like approving that outrageous retirement package for John Kufuor and his ilk. They are the ones threatening our democracy. The earlier they wise up, the better for us all.
They can bully Mr. Ampem-Darko and squeeze his balls as hard and for as long as they like. It won’t earn them respect they do not deserve. Whether Mr. Ampem-Darko apologises or not, several Ghanaians will continue to think like he does: that there are quite a lot of “stupid people” in that house!