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Council of State must up their game – Hohoe MP urges

The Member of Parliament for Hohoe, Dr Bernice Adiku Heloo, has called on the Council of State to up its game as far as constitutional provisions are concerned in order to ensure effective collaboration with the legislature on matters of national development enhance good governance.

Some clauses of Articles 90 and 91 of the 1992 Constitution made provisions for the Council of State to make inputs into the drafting of bills and initiate or make recommendations for Parliament’s consideration.

In addition, Standing Order 53 of Parliament allows the Council of State to provide messages to the legislature.

These provisions according to the Hohoe legislature have not been taken advantage off by the Council of States over the years hence her call on the current administration of the Council to act in the interest of national development.

“The thing is that for a very long time, we have never had such messages coming from this noble institution so it is important that they take up the challenge and comment on important issues that come before Parliament.

So we can also have access to their rich knowledge and experience, so that in the affairs of Parliament we can also say they have contributed to some of our debates and bills that we enact into Acts” she said.

These provisions according to her have not been followed by the Council of State over the years.

Members of the Council of State are made up of eminent men and women and she expects that bills that are passed in Parliament can be scrutinized by them to make them very rich in ideas.

Dr. Heloo also maintained that, showing continuous interest in Parliamentary issues is the way to go to enhance the democratic credentials of the country.

The 1992 Constitution stipulates that there shall be a Council of State to counsel the President in the performance of his functions.

Among their functions includes: they shall consider and advise the President or any other authority in respect of any appointment which is required by this Constitution or any other law to be made in accordance with the advice of, or in consultation with, the Council of State.

By Christian Kpesese/ghanamps.com

3 Ministers to face Parliamentary questions this week

Three Ministers of State have been programmed by Parliament this week to respond to various questions relating to their sectors.

Roads and Highways Minister, Kwesi Amoako Attah is expected to answer the highest number of five constituency specific questions.

The questions stands in the names of North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Bongo MP, Edward Abambire Bawa, Garu MP, Albert Akuka Alalzuuga and MP for Daboya/Mankarigu, Shaibu Mahama.

Energy Minister, BoakyeAgyarko is expected to answer two constituency specific questions standing in the name of MP for Daboya/ Mankarigu, Shaibu Mahama and Central Tongue MP, Alexander Roosevelt Hotordze.

Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Hajia Alima Mahama is also expected to answer an urgent question standing in the name of Member of Parliament for Nkwanta North, John Kwabena Bless Oti.

The Nkwanta North lawmaker is seeking to know whether districts that were created in 2007 without seed money for take-off would be considered in the 2018 formula.

In a related development, Parliament has summoned Local Government Minister over media reports that, the Birth and Deaths Registry has banned the registration of names such as Nana, Nii, Nene, Togui, Junior among others.

The Minister for Local Government Ministry is expected to justify why the move by the Registry. Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu raised the issue on the floor according to a newspaper publication.

He stated that the President of the land, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo bears the name Nana as well as many members of Parliament who bear similar names that is expected to be banned.

By Christian Kpesese/ghanamps.com

New Bill to be introduced to address controversy in local names

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama had indicated to Parliament there will soon be introduced a Bill on registration of birth and death which will address controversies of use of local names to reflect and accommodate present trends and societal developments.

She further told the House that considering the public outcry, the acting registrar of the birth and death registrar has been asked to review the Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) and further allow names like “Nana, Nii Papa etc given by parents to be accepted for registration.

And added that, the registry should rather be concerned with official titles and prefixes like Honorable, Doctor, Minister General etc.

The Minister was on the floor of the House to make a statement as the House summoned her and the Registrar of birth and death to brief the House, on the ban on use of names like Nana and Nii which had generated controversies.

Publication by a private newspaper, the Heritage on Thursday 25th January 2018 on refusal of the Birth and Death Registry to register some local names resulted in public outcry forcing parliamentarians to summon the Minister to clarify issues.

Members of Parliament from both the Majority and Minority side of the House were happy with the directives given by the Minister.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

President should have delegated officials to AU Summit and funeral

Member of Parliament (MP) for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Kwame Dafeamekpor, had taken a swipe at the President Nana Akufo-Addo for leaving the jurisdiction to attend African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia and attending Hugh Ramapolo Masekela’s funeral in Johannesburg South Africa, knowing the circumstance that the Vice President is seeking medical attention in the UK.

According to Mr. Dafeamekpor, the President Nana Akufo-Addo could have delegated either the foreign Minister or a senior government delegation to represent him knowing the current circumstances and stay back.

The President ought not to jet off to a funeral and summit, he should have allowed his Ministers to attend AU summit or the funeral and “stay home to direct affairs”, he said in an interview.

He further revealed that swearing the Speaker in as acting President twice in less than two weeks, the sanctity attached to the event of the Presidential oath taking has become like, “taking the lord’s prayer” he lamented.

We in the Minority think something should be done about this, even the economic consequence of bringing 275 legislators on a Saturday, the Presidency should schedule the President’s activities in a way that this would not be reduced to an everyday affair, the South Dayi legislator said.

Mr. Dafeamekpor noted that, the framers of the constitution did not contemplate the swearing would be done frequently and noted that the state ought to be concerned about this development.

He added that, the solemnity attached to the taking of the oath as a President is being lost gradually in the event of the frequency of taking the oath within a week.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

Parliament must take its rightful position under Article 298—Majority leader

Leader of government business and Majority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, has urged Parliament to assume its rightful position under Article 298 by offering the proper and relevant amendment to the constitution, in other to allow the Chief Justice whenever duty calls to enable her administer the proper oath of allegiance to the Speaker.

He agreed with the Minority leader that the Speaker should not be subjected to multiple taking of the Presidential oath.

According to the Majority leader, Article 298 “subject to the provision of chapter 25 of this Constitution, where on any matter, whether arising out of this constitution or otherwise there is no provision, express or by necessary implication of this Constitution which deals with the matter, that has arisen, Parliament shall, by an Act of Parliament, not being inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution, provide for that matter to be dealt with”.

First Deputy Speaker of the House, Joseph Osei Owusu adviced the Majority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu not to engage in further constitutional matters on the oath taking of the President since there would be another time for such a debate.

“Whenever the President is absent from Ghana or is for any other reason unable to perform his function, Mr. Speaker we should be careful,  the wording is not “whenever” the President is absent from Ghana or is for a reason unable to perform his function – “It says if for any other reason which means that absence from Ghana is construed to be one of the inabilities to perform his function”

“Mr. Speaker that is the understanding of that wording,  we cannot disconnect A from B that is a clear understanding of this is the Queens language those of them with proficiency in the Queens language should explain to the others”.

We would reserve this for a future debate that is the clear understanding of that construction, I would not want to debate it now but hopes at the appropriate time it would be debated, he said.

He congratulated he Speaker Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye for acting in the absence of the President and ensuring that nothing untoward happened and hope for the second time same would be the story.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

Speaker sworn in as acting President for four days

Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo on Saturday sworn in the Speaker of Parliament Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye to act as President for four days, in the absence of President Nana Akuffo-Addo.

The President is out of the jurisdiction to attend an African Union (AU) summit and in the absence of the Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia who is seeking medical attention in the UK.

According to the Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu for the Speaker to take the oath of allegiance in less than ten (10) days was legally needless and unnecessary as repetition of the oath is against the oath Act 1972.

He called on the Executive arm of government or a Member of Parliament to come with a private members motion to amend the schedule of oath.

The Chief Justice was clever enough for not mentioning the word, “haven been elected to the high office of the President, the Speaker has not been elected to the high office as the President”, he said.

So we should as a Parliament seek to delete or amend this words so that it would read, “on the bases of Article 60(11) (12) of the constitution” then we proceed to take the oath under Article 93, he pointed out.

He said Parliament has the power to legislate and make laws, “we must jealously protect and guard it, the duty of the judiciary is to interpret and adjudicate it”.

And called on the President Nana Akuffo-Addo to act timely on the elevation of the constitution to address current development of our governance.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

Speaker to be sworn in again as acting President

Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye will be sworn in for the second time this month as acting President of the Republic as President Akufo-Addo leaves for an AU summit in Ethiopia on Saturday.

Parliament will convene for the exercise Saturday morning around 8am.

Speaker acted as President from last Sunday to Tuesday when both the President and his Vice were out of the jurisdiction.

Mr. Akufo-Addo left for the investiture of new Liberian President Oppong Weah in Monrovia while his vice, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, is on a medical leave in the UK.

Dr. Kwabena Donkor in an interview indicated that he had been vindicated with an earlier interview he granted that the law that allows the swearing in of the Speaker in the absence of the President and his vice should be revisited.

“I sincerely think that there should be a constitutional amendment so that wherever the president is, he still remains the president of the republic of Ghana.

“If he is on leave that is a very different issue or if he is incapacitated. But as long as he is representing the country on official business he does not cease to be the president of Ghana. Are we now saying we have two presidents?

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

Gitmo 2 were granted refugees status—Ayorkor Botchway

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, has told Parliament that government has no option of returning the former Guantanamo Bay detainees because they were granted refugee status under the Mahama government in July 2016.

She further pointed out that, the agreement signed between the government of Ghana and United States of America indicated that, while the US has no obligation to the detainees after the initial two-year agreement, Ghana has the responsibility to integrate the two into the Ghanaian society.

The two detainees of Yemeni nationality, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, who were in detention for 14 years after being linked with terrorist group Al-Qaeda, were brought to Ghana in January 2016, for a period of two years.

“The government at the time granted the two detainees refugee status. This followed a request by National Security to the then-Chairman of the Ghana Refugee Board. They were issued a decision letter dated 21st July 2016, recognizing their status as refugees,” Madam Ayorkor Botchway narrated to Parliament on Wednesday.

The Minster explained further that “the implication is that, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees of 1951, and the 1967 protocol on the Status of refugees as well as the provisions of the Refugee Law (1992) PNDC Law 305 (d) of Ghana, the two have attained the status of refugees in our country.”

She noted that the essential component of the refugee status in Ghana “is protection against return to a country where a person has reason to fear persecution.”

“Accordingly, government is constrained to explore any further options at this time, and will await an in-depth examination of the matter by the appropriate agencies,” Madam Ayorkor Botchway added.

Meanwhile, the Minority Ranking member on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, assured government the Minority will cooperate in finding a lasting resolution to the matter.

“I get the impression that the Foreign Minister is asking for more time for the government to decide. We can assure them that we will be willing to work with them so that we can find a permanent solution to this matter. We will engage in politics that you can be assured it is not opportunistic, and will be in the national interest as we find a permanent solution to this matter,” Mr. Ablakwa said.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

Amidu’s nomination referred to the Appointment Committee

Nomination of the Special Prosecutor (SP), Martin Amidu has been referred to the Appointment Committee, by the Speaker of Parliament Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye.
Official communication of his nomination for the position came to Parliament on Wednesday from the President.

It is however unclear when Martin Amidu will appear before the Committee to be vetted.

The President entreated the House to deal with the nomination with as much dispatch as it had done with ministerial appointments.

“It is my respectful hope and expectation that the dispatch which characterized the approval of my Ministerial-nominees by Parliament last year will be extended to the consideration of Mr. Martin Amidu’s appointment,” a letter from the President to the House, read by the Speaker said.

Mr. Amidu was named as the country’s first Special Prosecutor earlier in January by President Nana Akufo-Addo at a short ceremony in Accra.

His appointment is subject to Parliamentary approval, but it is widely expected that he will be passed by the House to take up the position.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com

Ad-hoc committee ends public hearing.

Spokes person for the ad-hoc committee probing the ‘cash-for-seat scandal’, Yaw Buaben Asamoa had said Thursday sitting ended public hearing of the committee.

Controller and Accountant General, Mr. Eugene Asante Ofosuhene yesterday appeared before the committee to assist with their work.

According to Yaw Buaben Asamoa, the committee agreed to have the in camera sitting for the expatriate when pushed further as to the reason for that decision, he noted that, that is the decision for the committee and he would not go further.

And revealed that more than seven expatriate companies appeared before the committee and the information they gathered was very useful.

He was quick to point out that the media had even jumped into conclusion that the committee was “cash-for-seat committee” and further concluded that it was a scandal.

Mr. Yaw Buaben Asamoa speaking to the media just after the last public hearing assured the media that the committee has had enough information and was going to the backroom to work on its report which would be presented to the House.

The committee asked for additional week to conclude on its work when their 24th January 2018 deadline to present their report was left with a day to go. The ad-hoc committee would present its report on the 31st of January 2018.

By: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/ghanamps.com