The Member of Parliament (MP) for Okaikoi North in the Greater Accra region, Hon Theresa Lardi Awuni has pledged to pursue women and youth empowerment programme as part of her social intervention policies in the Constituency.
According to her, there was the need for a paradigm shift from individualism to collective pursuance of growth and development, stressing that the development of the people, particularly the youth, women and children are paramount.
Hon Theresa Awuni made these remarks in an interview with EXPRESSNEWSGHANA in parliament after she had had induction and orientation programme organized by Parliament for first time MPs at the weekend in Accra.
The three-day orientation programme was to expose the new MPs to the role and function of Parliament as well as the rules and procedures members should follow to make their contribution on the floor or at the committee level.
The Okaikoi North lawmaker who described herself as the grassroots woman said she is well informed of the plight and the fundamental issues affecting her constituents and would use all resources available to harness the potential of the youth and women.
She emphasized that women issues, especially supporting parliament to pass the Affirmative Action Bill into law and youth employment opportunities are very critical and key to her to help reduce the hardship of the constituents.
“My biggest vision is investing and building up responsible women and youth who will freely make informed decisions and take responsibilities for their lives in order to contribute to national development.”
“I know the terrain very well and I know what my people need. The youth and women issues on the floor of parliament. Anything in parliament concerning women, I will support it provided it will not affect my party(NDC) stance.”
“So the people of Okaikoi North should expect change. It will not be politics as usual. I have to bring us together as one constituency, either NDC or NPP, we are now one and I will support the youth without consideration of political colour,” Hon Theresa said.
Ms. Awuni explained that her focus was to bring on board, fresh minds to constructively strategize on creating role models in the communities to impact positively on the lives of the people in her Constituency.
She assured the constituents that she will work hard to complete the NDC unfinished live transforming agenda and do more to justify the confidence reposed in her during the general election.
She further affirmed her commitment to support the constituents to boost economic development by creating enabling environment to improve livelihoods.
Touching on the Parliamentary orientation, Ms.Awuni said the orientation was an eye opener and that she and her new colleagues were exposed to the reality that parliamentarian have more work to be done at the Committees level rather than at the plenary.
She said the rules of the august House would help guard her in her duties as MP both in Parliament and at the Constituency, stressing that what has been heard while outside parliament is totally different from what she had come to understand.
Ms. Awuni said she had learnt the rules and procedure of parliament and had also taken home the experiences shared by old members and leaders of the House.
She added that the orientation had equipped her with the basic knowledge of parliamentary practices and procedures to facilitate her effective participation in the legislation and the legislative process.
“I now understand some of the rules and procedures of the Standing Orders. As a new MP, we were taking through the Standing Orders and the Constitution, how to link the Standing Order and the Constitution. So now we understand the difference and we are able to link the two,” Hon Awuni said.
The orientation she said, was also an avenue to learn more about the Role and Functions of Parliament as one of the three arms of government and what MPs are expected to be doing both in the chambers and outside the chambers and as well at the Constituency level.
She added the orientation has sharpen her skills towards her role as representative of the people in parliament, stressing that her perception about parliamentary business outside has changed.
During the orientation, the new MPs were exposed to the role and functions of Parliament which covers issues such as the mandate of Parliament as stated in the 1992 Constitution and Standing Orders and the relationship between Parliament and the other two arms of the State.
They were also exposed to the administrative structure of Parliament, the role and functions of Speaker, Majority and Leaders of Government Business, Leader of the Opposition or Minority and the Whips.
The relationship between backbenchers and the front bench was also explained and clarified for the smooth functioning of Parliament.
The orientation also looks at the types of legislation that could be brought before Parliament, namely public, private and hybrid bills as well as differentiating the types of bills, how these bills are generated and how they are brought before Parliament.
At the opening ceremony the Speaker, Rt Hon .Alban Sumana Bagbin said it was necessary for members to put the nation first before their political parties when it comes to matters in the House.
“We are all aware that the tolerance of Ghanaians for unbridled and unashamed partisanship has reached a breaking point and the earlier we respond appropriately to that issue, the better for parliamentary democracy.What Ghanaians and all Africans are interested in is the democratic dividends and not partisanship,” he said.
He urged the members not to allow the uniqueness of the 8th Parliament to be lost on them, stating, “It is the expectation of Ghanaians that we do more than before. We need to build bridges and collaborate more on many national issues than before.”
The Majority Leader, Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, took the members through the functions of a legislator.
He said when they entered Parliament, most of them had their own perception about what the duties, obligations, and mandate of parliamentarians were.
“The first is representation of our constituents, deliberation on matters that come to us, and transmission of relevant information to the public. We also have an oversight responsibility,” he stated.
For his part, the Minority Leader, Hon Haruna Iddrisu, reminded the new members that they were now leaders and as such must lead properly, stressing that, “We are now leaders of the country and we must lead properly.”
The COVID-19, he noted has “imposes a new obligation on all of us. There must be some public sector reforms and how we even conduct business in the chamber must respond to the COVID-19 situation.”