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“I expect smooth Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Nigeria”—Bedzrah

A member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament’s Committee on Judiciary, Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah said he expects smooth elections in the upcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Nigeria.

According to him Nigeria has had four smooth democratic elections with the upcoming one as the fifth, and one should expect democracy to be the winner at end of the day by allowing free and fair elections and a smooth transition with whoever emerges as a winner.

He further noted that Benin has already held its parliamentary elections but unfortunately some of his colleagues in the current Community lost their bid to retain their seats – the leader of the Benin delegation and chairman of the Public Account Committee Bida Nouhoume Youssoufou Abdouramani.

Mr. Bedzrah in an interview noted that Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as Guinea Bissau would be going to the polls before the end of the year and at the first Extra Ordinary Session of the Community parliament, one of the things discussed had to do with democracy within the sub-region despite the fact that they touched on common payment platform for the sub-region.

In Liberia the current President would be seeking re-election same with the President of Sierra Leone.
And in Sierra Leone instead of voting for lawmakers from the various constituencies, it is now proportional based on the number of votes that would be secured the highest vote of the various regions is how they would proportionally share the seats.

Edwin Melvin Snowe Jr

“So is going to be different from the normal that we know, you represent one constituency when you win that constituency you become a member of parliament and I hear the Supreme Court has affirmed it. So there is going to be some changes in their electoral system; I pray that things would be done properly and whoever wins would be given the opportunity to serve”.

Additionally, in the case of Liberia, he was part of the ECOWAS Parliamentary delegation that went for the early warning signal mission, and one of the things they noticed was the fact that the Biometric Registration (BVG) has not yet been done even as they have few months into the elections as there were issues with procurement.

“So the president appealed to us that if it is creating problem the manual system should be the way to go, so that after the election then they can revert to the BVR but the EC is also insisting that they want to go through the BVR system”.

And added that, there has been problem, but they have not heard of the BVR registration taking place yet. “I am hopeful that that would be done if that is where the EC want to go and there should be an understanding among them before the election. I pray that the sub-region would become peaceful before, during and after the elections”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“We will vote to demonstrate our displeasure of the size of government”—Ayariga

A member of the Minority side on the Appointment Committee, Mahama Ayariga has served notice that his side would vote against approving Ministerial nominees made by President Nana Akufo-Addo.

According to him their side of the divide is not happy with the size of government more especially in this economic hardship when government has to deal with domestic debt exchange, with already eighty-five (85) Ministers. He said with three (3) of the ministers resigning, the government is still made up of eight-two (82), and they should be re-assigned.

Answering questions from journalists after the Minority Press conference, as to whether the Minority is calling for the scrapping of the Ministries for Trade and Industry, Food and Agriculture, the Bawku Central lawmaker noted that they are key Ministries that any government have. But all they are saying is Ministers of state already in government should have been re-assigned instead of nominating new Ministers.

Again, the President is not showing signs of wanting to make sacrifices and run a small size government; as such the Minority has made a promise to use their vote to back their promise of seeing a lean government.

As to whether this time around there would be any difference as the House in the current Parliament witnessed the Minority saying they would not approve certain Ministers but ended up approving them, he noted that as a Minority they agreed to pass some Ministers and reject others previously but those were not the views of some of his colleagues, but in the current case the one hundred and thirty-six (136) stands to get in this case.

He however failed to affirm if their action can prevent the nominees from becoming minister; but assured that they will vote to demonstrate that. “We would make every effort to stop government from expanding the size of government that is the issue today”.

And they would make efforts to compel President Nana Akufo-Addo to reduce the size of government since it’s an issue of principle and probably the President might have forgotten that the country is going through economic crises; their stand would force him to withdraw some of the nominees.

“Within the NDC Minority, we would not break ranks on this matter when it comes to the vote, we would see all of us working to getting to make this statement, we believe there are some people in the Majority who support our views”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Dompreh appeals to Minority to reconsider decision not to approve Ministers

Majority Chief Whip Frank Annoh-Dompreh has appealed to the leadership of the Minority to reconsider their decision not to approve President Nana Akufo-Addo’s Nominees that had appeared before the Appointment Committee and would need approval by the House.

According to the Minority on the Appointment Committee, they would participate in the vetting process but would not approve the nominees by consensuses.

At a press conference on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, he noted that he is appealing to his colleagues in the Minority to back down on their decision not to approve President Nana Akufo-Addo’s nominees.

“I want our colleagues to understand that for the sake of our unity and the desire to forge a working relationship, this is their major decision since the new leadership took over, I made this appeal on the floor of the House they should temper justice with mercy”.

He further pointed out that that is not the right expression to use in this contest, they should just let go, and support the nominees.

He reminded the Minority that the nominees; K. T. Hammond, Bryan Acheampong, O. B. Amoah Dr Stephen Amoah and Dr. A. Adam are their colleagues and they have a convention in the House when one of their colleagues is privileged to be nominated as a Minister they should rally around one another.

Especially, when they do not have any criminal records, it would be injurious if they should decide not to support their approval; and it should not be said that in the body politics of Ghana once upon a time, “a nomination came from the presidency and all they said was no no without listening to the nominees”.

When Ghanamps.com enquired whether the appeal made to the leadership of the Minority in Parliament would be extended to the General Secretary and National Chairman of the NDC since they have been Members of Parliament (MPs) before and gave those directives, he used the opportunity to appeal to them.

“I know who these leaders are and they can impress on the Party leadership of their party; I still stand by my appeal and hope they reconsider their decision. I am not too experienced in leadership but I have come to realise that the more you defeat your colleagues with your numbers the wider the gap between you comes”.

Again, if we engage in a fight and you are always beating me one day, they would strike, it’s not about the numbers, they can get the numbers, “I am looking more into the future how we can work harmoniously together, he stated.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Drill ship had been collateralized before Kuffour’s government—K. T. Hammond

The Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa and a minister designate for Trade and Industry Ministry, K. T Hammond has explained that, the famous drill ship which sale has been attributed to him was used by the then NDC government as collateral to secure loans.

He explained that, the decision of selling the drill ship was a decision of the President Kuffour’s government but not himself as K.T Hammond, just that, he was instructed by his minister, Kan Dapaah to lead in the negotiations.

He further stated that, Ghana’s debt which the ship had been used to collateralized was about 47 million dollars but through his efforts in the negotiations reduced the debt from 47 million dollars to about 19 million dollars.

Mr. K. T Hammond made these comments when he appeared before the Appointment Committee to be vetted and was asked by the MP for Adaklu, Kwame Agbodza Governs to give details on the sales of the ship.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Deputy Majority Leader takes a swipe at Minority for taking instructions from party

The Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin has taken a swipe at the Minority on the Appointment Committee for being controlled by their party – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at the National headquarters to ensure they down size the size of government.

According to him, he does not understand why his colleagues have come to seat on the Appointment Committee since they have been directed to reject President Nana Akufo-Addo’s nominees and express shock at the directives by the NDC General Secretary.

“Is the Minority Leader and his team incompetent to make decisions until the party instruct them on what to do in Parliament?’

Again, in democracy you might have your disagreement but that should not be used to stampede government, and does not know why they are coming to seat on the Committee when they have a prejudice mind, he added.

“You want to ask questions to embarrass them, and go ahead and say we have failed you; I am disappointed in the NDC and if they are preparing to take over affairs of government then they should behave well because what they are doing is way below the belt”.

He further indicated in his briefing that Article 94 of the 1992 constitution is very clear on who qualifies to be a Minister of state; there are fundamental qualifications to be a Member of Parliament and that qualifies you to be a Minister.

And all they are doing does not have a foundation in the constitution and they are going to observe their conduct on the Committee.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Minority to participate in vetting but not subscribe to consensus vote approval

The Minority at a press conference on Monday, February 20, 2023 before the commencement of the workings of the Appointment Committee has said they would participate in the vetting of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s Ministerial nominees.

According to the Minority they would scrutinize the president’s decision in bringing nominees but they would not subscribe to consensus vote at the level of the Appointment Committee, just to ensure the matter is brought to the floor for the full House for a secrete vote to be taken.

The Minority Leader Dr Ato Forson in addressing the media noted that the president a couple of weeks ago announced nominees and wish to make it clear that they remain committed to ensuring greater scrutiny and will spare no effort to protect the public purse.

They are calling for the following:
1. The immediate reduction in the number of Ministers from the current 86 to 65
2. The merger of Ministries
For example, i. Information and Communication
ii. Transport and Railways
iii. Chieftaincy and Tourism
iv. Sanitation and Local government
3. The immediate reduction in the number of political appointees at the Office of the President.
4. Immediate scrapping of all amorphous creations and waste-pipe, job-for-the-boys’ appointments since the assumption of office of President Akufo Addo in 2017. The work of those undefined, amorphous creations must revert to established entities in the civil and public service that perform similar, if not same functions.
Some of these bizarre portfolios at the office of the president are:
1. Youth Ambassador for Diaspora Affairs
2. Policy Associate
3. Chief Executive of Public Sector Reforms
4. Overseer of the National Cathedral
5. Church Relations Manager
6. Diaspora Church Mobilization Officer
7. Policy & Coordinator Analyst
8. Focal Person, La Francophonie
9. Technical Director, La Francophonie
10. Coordinator, Special Development Initiatives Secretariat
11. Director of Special Projects
12. Manager of Operations & Programs
13. 5 Technical Communications Assistants
14. Technical Advisor, Zongo Development Authority
15. 2 Technical Advisors, Special Development Initiatives Secretariat
16. Technical Advisor, Political Affairs
17. Presidential Staffer, NABCO
18. Office Management Executive Associate
19. Technical Director to the Presidential Advisor on Media
20. Data Manager

And finally they reiterated their call for the dismissal of the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta whose gross incompetence in managing our economy has assumed legendary status. The President must spare Ghanaians the agony of waking up tomorrow to see Ken Ofori-Atta still in charge of the economy.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

German Bundestag Delegation Visits Parliament

An eight member delegation from the Committee on Legal Affairs of the German Bundestag called on members of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Judiciary Committee, Subsidiary Legislation Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee of Ghana’s Parliament.

Welcoming the delegation, the Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, emphasized that this visit by the Members of the Bundestag to Ghana’s Parliament is historic since it is the first of its kind in the Fourth Republic of Ghana’s Parliamentary democracy.

Members of the joint Committee shared experiences with their counterparts from the Bundestag on many areas including the rule of law, administering and access to justice, fighting of corruption, funding of political parties, human rights issues and the practice of Ghana’s Parliamentary processes.

The Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Bernard Ahiafor, narrated to the delegation the constitutional processes of how nomination of Ministers by the President is done and the prior approval by Parliament before appointment by the President.

The Vice-Chairperson of the Judiciary Committee, Cletus Avoka, explained to the delegation how Ghana has transformed from the Westminster, Presidential, Parliamentary and hybrid systems since the First Republic to the current Fourth Republic, stressing that perhaps the 1992 constitution has been the longest practicing constitution in the history of Ghana because of the combination of the Presidential and Parliamentary system of Government.

Mr Avoka also wanted to know from the German MPs whether the government funds political parties in Germany.
Other members of the Joint Committee including Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Dominic Ayine and Francis Xavier Sosu, spoke about the Justice for all programme and how many people who were on remand for more than eight years were freed, the need to increase female representation in Parliament and how technology is being used to limit the level of corruption in the country.

On her part, the leader of the delegation, Elizabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, noted that laws must be used to support the weak in the society, adding that it is only when Parliaments are strong by using the law that it can be strict on the government.

She responded to the question of states funding political parties by saying the German Government supports political parties that are able to pull about 0.5% in elections in order to help it remain relevant.

The delegation was made up of Hon. Elizabeth Winkelmeier-Becker (Chair of the Committee of Legal Affairs), Hon. Esra-Leon R. Limbacher (MP), Hon. Stephen Mayer (MP), Hon. Till Steffen (MP), Hon. Philipp Hartewig (MP), Hon. Stephen Brandner (MP) and Hon. Clara Anne Bunger (MP).

The delegation was also supported by staff of the German Parliament and the German Embassy in Accra; they include Mr. Michael-John Mccabe (Interpreter), Ms. Sara Hennemann (Secretary) and Pauline Okkens (Political and Protocol Section).


Finance Minister updates Parliament on DDEP

The Minister for Finance Ken Ofori Atta on Thursday, February 16, 2023 updated the Parliament on Ghana and people of Ghana on the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) which the Minority in Parliament has been pushing for.

According to him the aim of the programme is to alleviate the debt burden in a transparent, efficient and expedited manner, as they minimize its impact on investors holding government bonds.

“Mr. Speaker government is pleased to announce that as of February, 14 2023, approximately 85 percent of holders eligible to participate in the invitation for exchange as determined by the Central Securities Depository tendered in the Exchange”.

He said the current debt restructuring programme is occasioned largely by a series of external shocks that hit the country since 2020 as well as domestic factors.

And further told the House at the inception of negotiations with the IMF, it was agreed that Ghana would have to address its economic challenges on three fronts, embark on fiscal consolidation, undertake debt operations and secure financing assurance from development partners.

The Ministry has since December 5, 2022 seeking to restructure about GHc 137 billion worth of Government bonds and notes, as at December last year the total outstanding debt eligible and non-eligible holder amounted to approximately GHc 137 billion and subsequent extensions of the dates and payment of maturities meant that the remaining stock reduced from GHc 137 billion to GHc 130 billion.

Mr. Ken Ofori Atta commended lawmakers for passing the 2023 budget statement and financial bills that accompanied it, and further noted that he is still counting on MPs for the passage of all outstanding revenue bills which are necessary for effective budget implementation as well as boosting Ghana’s effort at increasing Tax-to-GDP from less than 13 percent to the sub-Saharan average of 18 percent.

Government is relying on the Treasury Bills and concessional loans as the primary sources of financing for the 2023 fiscal year; therefore, the House should support Governments financing requests to ensure a smooth recovery from the economic challenges.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Election of ECOWAS MPs is achievable but needs political will—Bedzrah

A member of Ghana’s delegation to the 5th Community Parliament Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah has noted that electing lawmakers into the next 6th Parliament is achievable with the needed political will, as the lifespan of the current 5th Parliament gradually comes to an end early next year.

On whether the flagship programme of the Rt. Hon Dr. Sidie Mohammed Tunis would elude the sub-region, he said he is positive about it but it needs a political will and revealed that the Ad Hoc Committee set up to draw the road map, their report came up at the first 2023 Extra Ordinary meeting of the Parliament held in Guinea Bissau.

“One of the things we agreed with was that every country should come out with its modalities of electing MPs to the 6th parliament, since ECOWAS commission would not want to spend. Some of us were advocating that if we have Ghana parliament for example and the national parliament decided that we would constitute ourselves in a national electoral college for instant, if I want to become a member of the Community Parliament and get elected, I have to resign from the National Parliament to join the ECOWAS Parliament. For me to have permanency and is workable, only that Ghana would have to spend money to do what we call a bye-election to elect a new person to represent my constituency”

And pointed out that that is how the EU Parliament started and has gotten to where it is currently and is a reference point.

As to whether as a sub-region we have the political will and not engaging in talk shop, he noted that it should be put on record that the 6th Parliament lawmakers would be elected and not nominated and when that happens he would not serve in the next 9th Ghanaian Parliament.

Again, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament should be prepared and accept that there is the need for funds to be made available to take care of us – our condition of service, we are now going to serve in the Community Parliament”.

Mr. Bedzrah, revealed that the major problem now is preparation to get MPs and does not think the logistics are ready to take people on board with this new ideas; there are a lot of things to be done in the ECOWAS Parliament.

“If we are really talking about integration, look – the Community Parliament must start working now, what we are doing there is just a talk shop like you said, we are just joking if really we want to see ECOWAS of the people, Parliament must work; if we would be able to achieve that, we can achieve all other things. It’s all about the political will; and that would depend on our Heads of States and Government”.

Deputy Majority Leader

And if all of us agree that this must happen, it would happen otherwise we should stop going to the Parliament and the political will depends on us.

If the ECOWA citizens are pushing for it hard enough, we also have to do our bit of educating people about ECOWAS in general, “we have not done that when people hear of it they only know of a fifteen member state; what goes into it we do not know”.

Three member states currently are under military rule all because proper democratic governance was not obeyed; in the case of Guinea Conakry when the former president decided to extend his tenure, the Authority of Heads of States and Government did not do anything about it.

And Guinea Bissau to the extent that the President has suspended the parliament, they are going to organise another election again, but the MPs from that Country say, “that is what their constitution says, but they do not have a parliament.

“At our Extra Ordinary meeting some of us ask why are we here, they do not have a Parliament; someone comes to seat and says he is the Speaker of parliament. Speaker for which parliament? The building is just there and is doing nothing” and added that West Africa has a problem”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Akim Oda MP fights for sanitary facilities for schools in his constituency

Member of Parliament (MP) for Akim Oda, Alexander Akwasi Acquah is make a strong case for basic schools in his constituency to be provided with toilet facilities by the Sanitation and Water Resources Ministry when he filed a question in this respect on the floor of Parliament.

According to him rounds made in the constituency to schools he realised that most of the newly built schools do not have toilet facilities hence most of the schools he visited appealed to him to provide them with toilet facilities.

the situation, he noted, is dire especially so when pupils are asked to come along to school with chamber ports. Why do we experience this in Akim Oda, an old and big city in this age and teachers are the ones who have to attend to these children?, He lamented.

He also recounted that a heavy downpour that hit the area few years ago destroying several buildings including schools also accounted for the high demands by most of the schools soliciting for his assistant to provide them with a place of convenience.

The MP said the population of most of the schools in Akim Oda especially the cluster of schools is huge and providing them with suitable sanitary places would go a long way to prevent communicable diseases which are easily spread.

This, he revealed pushed him to file the question to bring attention of the ministry to take urgent steps to avert any unforseen situation.

Mr. Akeesi Acquah also indicated that it is not as if he is sitting unconcerned and complaining, rather he has made a number of interventions in this regards including using his personal funds since the MPs common fund is not enough to suffice the challenges.

He recounted during his days when he was a school boy, the issue of hygiene was a priority, the underwear you put on, you need to ensure your finger nails are kept neat but it is not the case now.

And the issue of toilet facilities needs to be addressed to prevent outbreak of cholera, as he has gotten information that they have started recording some cholera cases in the constituency.

The Akim Oda lawmaker further explained in an interview with journalists that the response of the sector Minister to his question points out that the various Assemblies should take up the responsibilities of providing toilet facilities.

He was quick to point out that funds that they generate are not enough through the Internal Generate Fund (IGF) and if this is the case on the ground the Assemblies cannot be held responsible, rather the sector Ministry responsible should follow up and be strict on allocation of resources to address the problem.

Again on the issue of MPs getting involved in advocacy for the provision of toilet facilities its a matter of having resources at your disposal, he stated.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com