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EC chair to brief Parliament’s Committee on the whole today

Majority Leader Osei-Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has announced to Parliament that chair of the Electoral Commission madam Jean Mensah would be in the House to brief Committee of the whole on preparation to conduct the District Level elections and the Constitutional Instrument being worked on.

According to him the EC chair was outside the country at the ongoing Nigeria elections, when officials of the Commission established contact with her on Thursday, February 23, 2023 in view of the Minority side demanding to have her presence in the House before the Constitutional Instrument (C. I) could be discussed.

The Majority Leader got in touch with the Minority Leader if Committee of the whole could be held on Friday, February 24, 2023 but Dr. Ato Forson indicated to the Majority Leader that it was not possible because most of his members were going to pick forms to contest their primaries.

“It would not be wise for us to do that hence the EC should delay in coming for us to have the meeting on Tuesday, February, 28, 2023 so could not have space in the Business Statement and I have to provide the House with this information”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“Mistrust does not warrant physical attack in Parliament”—Afenyo

Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin has said in parliamentary democracy, alleged signs of mistrust should not be an excuse for a lawmaker to opt for physical fight.

According to him supposed mistrust should not be an excuse to use one’s strength to attack another person in the chamber that would undermine democracy.

“I would want to encourage the Minority that no matter what happens and as the Speaker said this should be the use of brain power”.

His comment did not go down well with the Minority side of the House, whose members started heckling, not also happy with the attitude of the Minority members pointed out to them he is on his feet and that is not the way to use the, “brain power”.

Again you get up quietly and catch the Speakers eye and more especially, when your colleagues in the Minority Leadership are on their feet you do not make noise, on our side we are quite to listen to them, he said.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Deputy Minority Leader demands trust and respect from Majority

The Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Kofi Armah Buah said for his side of the House to work with the Majority side of the House there is the need to work with two key things – trust and respect for each other.

According to him his side is committed to ensuring that Ghanaians’ business is attended to in the House and work that comes to the House is done.

“We should work together in trust and respect; we believe if we can get that and trust each other all the things the Speaker has said we are committed to work together at the Committee of the whole”.

The Deputy Leader was responding to an urgent appeal made by the Speaker to both side of the House to jaw jaw on matters that comes to the floor of the House where both sides have strong opinion on the matter.

Ghanamps.com gathered that at the Committee of the whole meeting after adjournment on Thursday, February 23, 2023 the police had to be called into the chamber as tensions were high which nearly resulted in physical fight on the Constitutional Instrument which seeks to make the Ghana card the only authentic reference document to acquire a voters ID.

Rt. Hon Speaker Alban K. Sumana Bagbin said, “I am happy to hear that because outstanding issue should be resolved, I do not want you to come and repeat what happened on Thursday”. He made this remarks on Friday before the House was adjourned.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

President Nana Akufo-Addo to deliver SoNA March 8

President Nana Akufo-Addo would deliver State of the Nation Address on Wednesday, March 8, 2023 in fulfillment of Article 67 of the 1992 constitution.

This was made known on Friday, February 24, 2023 when the Business Statement was presented by Frank Annoh Dompreh, on behalf of the Majority Leader Osei-Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

He drew the attention to his colleagues that the earlier anticipated February 28, 2023 announced could not hold due to unforeseen development.

The Rt. Hon Speaker Alban Bagbin on his part noted that he got in touch with the Majority Leader and they had an extensive discussion on the date and the long and short of their discussion the date had to be shifted.

“It’s for a good reason that the president finally agreed to the new date, the 6th March is an important day for all of us. There would be an important national event at Ho, the president has to be there to perform his duty; and for good reasons it cannot be held on the March 7, 2023”.

They both had to agree to sacrifice for some other assignments to do the SoNA on the Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

LGBTQI+ Bill to be laid before Parliament March ending—Sam George

The Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram Samuel Nartey George has said the LGBTQI+ Bill would be laid before Parliament before the end of March this year.

According to him, he met the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Dame on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 who agreed that the Bill is in its best form and would help address the intended purpose of the Bill.

Addressing the media, he noted that sponsors of the Bill have also engaged the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee and can confirm that much progress has been made on the Bill.

And further pointed out that their meeting that last close to ninety minutes when the Attorney General brought his memo on the matter, he was assured that his concerns have be addressed on the clause to clause.

The AG raised issue on cost on some human right issues and his attention was drawn to the fact that those issues have been addressed. One issue that was addressed was what “proper canal knowledge” is; the second has to do with marriage where marriage is recognized as between man and wife as the sponsors were clear on that welcome by the AG.

“If you go and contract marriage between same sex, if you get into the jurisdiction of Ghana it becomes null and void and the AG appreciated our Bill”.

And the AG was happy where the Bill strengthened the child’s Act section 86 K, it is clear and was an amendment pass by Parliament, with that nobody in a same sex relationship can come and adopt a child.

In his media briefing Samuel Nartey noted that within a week the report of the Committee should be on the floor of the House.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“We expect a lot from Nigeria, and Nigeria would make us proud”—Abdul-Aziz

A member of the Ghanaian delegation to the Community Parliament who is part of the Parliament’s observer team, ahead of Nigeria’s Saturday, February 25, 2023 general elections, Ayaba Abdul-Aziz Musah believes Nigeria would make Africa and the sub-region proud.

According to him Nigeria being big brother of Africa, in terms of its economy and population is not a joke more especially considering the role it plays in the West African sub-region.

In an interview on Thursday, February 23, 2023 before embarking on his trip to Nigeria, he noted that Ghana, Nigeria and other sub-regional countries are champions of democracy and expect that whatever would happen in Saturday’s election would enhance Africa and West Africa’s democracy.

“We are certain and hopeful that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security would be able to come out of the election successfully. It’s going to be a tough election, its expected, if you monitor what is going on from the various campaign teams”.

“What we expect is that the election would be peaceful, free and fair; we are certain, I am a member of the ECOWAS Parliament, we know what Nigeria brings to the table when it comes to democracy, we expect so much from them and I am certain we would not be disappointed”, he emphasised.

According to him, even in developed democracies they do have challenges with their elections and in the case of Nigeria, should there be issues the way and manner in which those issues would be handled that is where they have interest.

He further noted that, Nigeria would learn from their upcoming general election which would add on to the future electoral reforms.

In addition, he noted that this is his first as a lawmaker in Ghana’s Parliament and the ECOWAS Parliament, hence his first time in observing elections on the ticket of ECOWAS.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Ghana is considered beacon of democracy and stability in Africa—President Akufo-Addo

In his goodwill message to Parliament as it launches a year-long celebration of 30 years of parliamentary democracy under the 4th Republic, President Nana Akufo-Addo has noted that Ghana is the beacon of democracy and stability.

According to him, where respect for the principles of democratic accountability, human rights and the rule of law have enabled Ghana to oversee eight (8) presidential elections in the 4th Republic, with five (5) presidential transitions, and three (3) peaceful transfers of power, through the ballot box, from one party to another.

In his speech presented on his behalf by the Chief of Staff Akosua Frema Opare she noted that, Ghanaians have the right to be proud of this, and the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the 4 Republic should inspire us, even further, to hold on to this status.

This milestone is to the great credit of the ordinary men and women who make up the fabric of our nation, and, indeed, to the credit of Parliament, the second arm of government. I fear that, often than not, many underestimate the importance of Parliament, and, consequently, undermine its work, he stated.

“Again, we cannot emphasize enough the role of Parliament in exercising the checks and balances needed on the Executive; Parliament is the voice of the people and we cannot emphasize enough the role of Parliament in setting the tone for public discourse in the country.

It is for the good of the country that Parliament continues to develop the capacity to insist on accountability in all aspects of our lives, and No institution is better suited for this than the representatives of the people”.

He assured that as President of the Republic, we owe it a duty to our children and grandchildren, and to generations yet unborn to protect our democracy and his government will do everything it can to help strengthen Parliament.

“Let me reassure you of the commitment of Government to working with Members of the House for the peace, progress and prosperity of Mother Ghana. All of us have a joint responsibility to work together, with our different views and our different perspectives, for the Ghana project and a united Ghana”.

He recounted that some of the most interesting times of his political life have been in the chamber of Parliament, and, dare say that, this is where with the help of colleagues, like the current Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin, whom he came to meet in the House in 1997, and who became a good friend of his, the Majority Leader, with whom he entered Parliament on the same side at the same time, they did some of the work with long lasting effect on the Ghanaian society.

“Saturday, January 7, 2023, was exactly thirty (30) years since the Constitution of the 4th Republic came into force. It has inspired the longest period of stable constitutional governance in our history, with a consensus emerging that democratic form of governance is preferable.

Indeed, upon the coming into force of the Constitution, we resolved to build, under God, a united nation, grounded in democratic values and the rule of law, and we have gone a long way towards realising this vision”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“We need a constitution that frowns on winner-takes-all syndrome”—Majority Leader

Majority Leader of Ghana’s Parliament Osei-Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said Ghana needs a constitution that would frown on a democratic practice where after election the winner-takes-all and rather promote collaboration.

According to him collectiveness and consensus building in decision making at all levels of governance is the way to go in his remarks to launch the 30th anniversary of Parliament democracy which was done on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 on the floor of Parliament.

He further pointed out that, there is also the need to have a constitutional order that would ensure gender equity and, in many respects, equality to promote real development.

He disclosed that the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) has resolved that by 2025 all Parliaments in the world must comprise at least 30% of women, the CPA has adopted a similar position since last year, and queried how prepared the Parliament of Ghana is to align without the relevant amendment to the Constitution.

Again, “we need a constitutional order that will mitigate the winner-takes-all and prevent the do-or-die combat associated with our elections”.

We need a new constitutional order that will prevent the constant increase in the numbers of seats in Parliament. A new constitutional order that will put a cap in the number of Ministers of State; a new order that will ensure that the Speaker of the Parliament is a serving member of Parliament and that the Parliament of Ghana does not remain as one of only 9 Parliaments in the world whose Speakers are not Members of Parliament.

Additionally, a new constitutional order that will accord Parliament the financial independence that is required to enable Parliament stand on its own feet; a new constitutional arrangement that will liberate Parliament to perform its legislative functions without impediments, intended or unintended.

As well as, an order that will give birth to an economic paradigm which will engender wealth creation, entrepreneurial spirit and talent development as well as jobs for our people, especially, the youth with active partnership of Parliament.

A new constitutional order that will remodel the composition of the NDPC to purge it of the overly party-coloration and populate it with neutral citizens who will develop a real Long-Term National Development Plan around which parties would extract their manifestoes and therefore ensure that succeeding administrations continue the programs and projects started by their predecessors in order to prevent the wanton dissipation of the scanty resources of the country.

A new constitutional order where the Auditor-General would respect the fact that he is a tool for Parliament in the performance of Parliament’s oversight functions and therefore, cannot unilaterally exact and prosecute surcharges and, even before submitting his reports to Parliament, find a way to leak the recommendations to the general public.

A new constitutional order where assets declared by public servants can be traced and tracked by the Auditor-General for purposes of tax compliance and not to encourage a system where public servants declare assets that they do not have but assets that they hope to have.

A new constitutional order that will better define the role of the Council of State. Should it be transformed into a second chamber.. Should the composition be more democratic?

A new constitutional order where the appointment of officers of the Constitutional creatures, in particular, Electoral Commission, CHRAJ, NCCE, Media Commission, etc. would be subjected to the prior approval of Parliament, perhaps using absolute, not simple majority.

A new constitutional order where there will be no place for public tribunals. A new order where the qualification criteria to the apex court of the land would be enhanced and there will be a cap on the number of Justices for the Supreme Court.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“We must focus on strengthening our democratic institution”—Speaker

Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin has called for serious effort to be placed on strengthening Ghana’s democratic institutions if we have to sustain the country’s democracy.

He made this remarks on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 when Ghana’s Parliament launched its 30 year anniversary under the 4th Republican constitution which was on the theme – “30 years of Parliamentary Democracy in the Fourth Republic: Challenges and Prospects”, and is a year-long celebration.

In his speech the Speaker noted that, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) will hold its annual conference here in Accra.

The tentative date is from 30th September to 6th October, 2023 and selecting Ghana to host this prestigious conference in itself is an honour. Beyond that, it is proof of how the world sees and rates our parliamentary democracy.

“We have indeed come very far as a democratic country. We should keep this in mind as we prepare to host the CPA in Accra. Let us put our A Game on display in whatever role we are assigned so that at the end of the day, the CPA conference in Accra will leave lasting memories on the minds of participants”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghaanamps.com

“Minority has proven they are trusted alternative to government” —Dr. Ato Forson

Minority Leader Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson mince no words in stating that his side (the National Democratic Congress) has proven to Ghanaians they are the trusted alternative to government of the day led by President Nana Akufo-Addo.

According to him Parliament as an institution performs its legislative, financial, deliberative, representational and oversight roles, but much is expected from the Minority group in Parliament.

The oversight role of Parliament is reserved for the Minority as members on his side are required to question the acts and omissions of the Executive, raise critical issues, demand answers and hold government accountable.

He made this remarks at the launch of the 30th anniversary of Parliamentary democracy under the fourth Republic and emphasised that the Minority, is the obvious side that perform the onerous task of putting government in check.
The Minority will, therefore, require the assistance and cooperation of civil society organisations, the academia, professional bodies, trade unions, students, and indeed, each and every Ghanaian to enable it hold the Government accountable. It is through this that we can all enjoy the fruits of our parliamentary democratic dispensation, he stated.

“Mr. Speaker, as we celebrate 30 years of stable parliamentary democracy, it is important to reflect on some of the issues that resulted in the death of the first three Republics. It has been suggested by the people behind the 1966 overthrow of the Nkrumah Government that he was abusive and corrupt and that he failed to adhere to democratic principles.

I do not intend to refute or assert these allegations, I only seek to remind myself and other politicians that any party in power, should endeavour not to engage in any act that will suggest to our people that we are abusive, corrupt and undemocratic”, he said.

Mr Speaker, permit me to briefly comment on the issues that were suggested to have provoked the overthrow of the Prime Minister Busia’s Progress Party (PP) government 1972.

Busia’s government is said to have inherited US$580 million in debts. This amount was about 25 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of 1969. By 1971 the US$580 million was increased by US$72 million in accrued interest payments and US$296 million in short-term commercial credits.

And led to economic difficulties which compelled Prime Minister Busia to, on the recommendations of International Monetary Fund (IMF) introduce austerity measures. This led to freezes in wages, tax increases, currency devaluations, and rising import prices. This led to protests particularly by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). The Army moved in to occupy the TUC headquarters and to block strike actions. The rest of the story is history.

Also, he asked Ghanaians to reflect on the allegations of the masterminds of the coups that saw the overthrow of the Nkrumah’s Government in 1966 and that of Busia in 1972. In our reflection, let us be mindful of our current economic challenges and work together as a common people to address them. Nobody can benefit when the economy collapses. We cannot also underestimate the reaction of our people. If we failed to act, I am afraid, we would have let down the very people we represent. That is why I endorse the call of Mr. Speaker that:

“The electorates are looking up to us to help find solutions to these existential issues. If there is a time that we as Members of Parliament ought to set aside our partisan cloaks and think Ghana, it is now”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com