Parliament Approves New Majority Leader
The Senior Minister, Joseph Henry Mensah on Tuesday officially handed over the leadership of Ghana’s Parliament to Papa Owusu-Ankomah, NPP-MP for Sekondi in a short and emotional ceremony when Parliament resumed its third meeting after two months break.
Hon. Mensah occupying the leadership chair got up, after the Speaker Mr Peter Ala Adjetey had welcomed members back from the holidays, and informed the House that the NPP (New Patriotic Party) Parliamentary caucus has endorsed Papa Owusu-Ankomah, who until this morning was the Deputy Majority Leader, to replace him.
Mr Mensah, a Septuagenarian Economist, and also a Senior Minister, now heads the government's economic team.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah was moved from the Youth and Sports ministerial portfolio in last week's Cabinet reshuffle.
Mr Mensah asked the House to co-operate with his successor just as it did while he was the leader. He left his front row chair and took his seat on the ministerial row amidst cheers of “senior minister” from the minority side of the House.
The Minority Leader, Alban Bagbin, said it was right that the error earlier made by President John Kufuor in announcing the leadership of the House has been corrected by bringing the issue to Parliament according to its Standing Orders.
The minority had earlier criticised the President for nominating Papa Owusu-Ankomah as the new majority leader, saying it is not in his power to do so.
"The NPP has realised the need to organise their team to grapple with the machinery of governance. We now recognise Papa Owusu-Ankomah as the Majority Leader of the House and will co-operate with him for democratic culture to take root," Bagbin said.
Mr Bagbin reiterated that the Minority while co-operating with the ruling government would keep the Majority on their toes for good governance. He commended Mr Mensah for his prolific contributions to debates, which showed that he was well groomed for democratic practices and for being able to accommodate every member of the House. Hon. Bagbin said: "We have a lot to learn from him."
Papa Owusu-Ankomah gave the assurance that he would live up to expectations and that the announcement in the House about his new position was only to formalise the NPP Constitution and that of the Standing Orders of Parliament.
He said: "It is not infringement of the Constitution (for the President to announce the leadership of the House)."
The Speaker, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey while congratulating Papa Owusu-Ankomah on his new position asked that a Deputy Majority Leader should be appointed soon to assist the leader.
He commended Mr Mensah for his immense contributions to the work of the House.
Meanwhile, the Speaker, has referred four ministerial nominees to the Parliamentary Appointments Committee vetting.
They are Mr Yaw Barimah, MP for Koforidua and Deputy Minister of the Interior is now nominated for appointment as Minister of Works and Housing while Mr Edward Osei-Kwaku, a Deputy Minister of Presidential Affairs now becomes the Minister of Youth and Sports.
The others are Mr Imoro Andani, Chief Executive of the Tamale Municipal Assembly, is now nominated as Northern Region Minister while Professor Kasim Kassanga, a Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines now becomes a full Minister of the new Ministry of Lands and Forestry decoupling Mines to become a full ministry in its own right.
Mr Ala Adjetey asked the committee to expedite action on their vetting.