Article 97 (1) (c) of the 1992 Constitution states that Members of Parliament who absent themselves from parliamentary sitting for 15 times or more without the written permission of the Speaker must be made to vacate their seats.
However, a report by Odekro on the attendance of Parliamentarians reveals that about 20percent of parliamentarians have defaulted and even exceeded the terms of this provision.
The report cited 54 members of Parliament who exceeded the number of times an MP can absent himself without permission at any sitting of the house. This is contradictory to the provision made in Article 97 (1) (c) that;
1)A member of Parliament shall vacate his seat in Parliament
(c) if he is absent, without the permission in writing of the Speaker and he is unable to offer a reasonable explanation to the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges from fifteen sittings of a meeting of Parliament during any period that Parliament has been summoned to meet and continues to meet
According to the Odekro report, The Minister for Education and Member of Parliament for Manhyia South, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, who was absent from 27 Parliamentary sittings without permission in the 2nd meeting, was absent without permission again for 29 times at the 3rd sitting.
Other MPs who absented themselves many times without permission from the speaker included Nkawkaw MP and Eastern Regional Minister, Eric Kwakye Darfour; Krowor MP and Minister designate for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Elizabeth Afoley Quaye; Abuakwa South MP, Samuel Ata Akyea; and Sefwi-Wiawso MP, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie.
Eric Darfour was absent 36 times during the 3rd sitting.
New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs were the worse culprits, with 45 MPs, while only 9 NDC MPs absented themselves without permission.
Ministers of State who double as Members of Parliament were the worst culprits of absenteeism without permission during the First and Second sittings of the seventh parliament, 2017.
Most of the MPs who absented themselves for more than 15 times, out of the 50 sittings were Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
There have obviously been no punishments for members of Parliament who are chronically absent from Parliamentary sittings, although the constitution clearly states lays out the consequences.
The Odekro report insinuated that factors including partisanship on the part of Speakers, Executive
dominance of Parliament and appointment of Parliamentarians as ministers have accounted for the inability of the Speaker to expel such absentees.
"In Ghana’s Parliament, the Speakers have always been put forward by the government/President and have mostly been elected by the Majority in Parliament, even though this is often done by a consensus between the Majority and the Minority14. Thus, the Speakers mostly have a leaning towards the interests of the government in power and the Majority, which makes it difficult for them to crack the whip against absentee MPs, the
majority of whom are from the Majority side."
Odekro has however admonished Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), stakeholders, citizens and other interests groups to begin a serious campaign to urge the Speaker of Parliament to enforce the law on chronically absent members of Parliament.