Sun, 03 Mar 2024 Rejoinder

RE: Mr Speaker, shed the political colours

By Ishaq Awudu
RE: Mr Speaker, shed the political colours

I have sighted an editorial piece by the Daily Guide Network with the above caption dated Friday, March 1, 2024.

I consider this editorial piece and its entire contents very misleading, inaccurate and grossly unfair to the Rt Honourable Speaker of Parliament.

With all intents and purposes the very basis for this editorial hinged on an alleged Minority's near boycott of the State of The Nation’s Address by His Excellency President Akufo Addo. If Daily Guide had taken a little time to enquire into the matter, it would have discovered that the decision to boycott the State of the Nation Address was taken by both the Majority and the Minority Caucuses.

In fact, it was the intervention of the Speaker when his attention was drawn to it by the Leadership of the House that resolved the matter and prevented the boycott. The President is very well aware of this, having added his voice in resolving the issues that precipitated the boycott. The leader and Flagbearer of the NDC, former President John Dramani Mahama, had to also intervene to persuade the members of the Minority Caucus to attend the sitting.

It is basic knowledge that the Speaker of Parliament as a referee or umpire in the chamber has little to do with the decisions and conduct of the parliamentary groups or caucuses outside of the chamber.

The Speaker of course is part of conclave to decide and finalise how the business of the house would be conducted within the chamber. However, beyond the conclave, the Rt Hon Speaker does partake in whatever decisions the Majority or Minority Groups take as to what they intend or plan to do on the floor of Parliament.

On that eventful day, the failure or refusal of the Members to take their seats before the arrival of the President cannot in anyway be blamed on the Speaker of Parliament to the extent of calling on him to shed his political colours. For the optics, the scene created by an almost empty Chamber at the arrival of the President, embarrased not only the President but the Speaker as well. The Speaker had to receive the President in his lobby to brief him and prepare the House to host the President.

As Speaker, the Rt Hon Alban Bagbin has demonstrated beyond any shred of doubt his fairness and impartiality. His stewardship of the House so far has proven his vast and extensive experience and understanding of the workings of the Fourth Republican Parliament of Ghana.

In fact, Rt Hon Alban Bagbin’s election was as historic and timely as it was divine. Who else could have been able to steer this novel hung parliament the way he has done? He has accorded equal opportunities to both sides of the House at every given opportunity without shying away from his political leanings as an elder of the opposition National Democratic Congress.

This is a Speaker who in several instances virtually clashed with leadership of the Minority Caucus in Parliament to the extent of openly chastising the then Minority Chief Whip indicating that he would not catch his eye on the floor anymore because Hon Muntaka accused the Speaker of giving a ruling which favoured the Majority Caucus.

Moreover, the Rt Hon Speaker had cause to overrule the conduct of his Deputy, the Hon Joe Osei Wusu on the matter of the controversial passage of the 2022 Budget Statement but he chose to allow sleeping dogs lie in the interest of consensus.

When the Speaker had the opportunity to make nominations to the Parliamentary Service Board, he brought on board a former NPP Member of Parliament and one-time Majority Leader, Hon Abraham Osei Aidoo, a former Deputy Minister and MP, Hon Johnson Aseidu Nketiah, all in an attempt to achieve balance, inclusivity and consensus. This is the first time in the history of the Parliamentary Service Board that such a balance has been achieved.

The Rt Hon Alban Bagbin did all this much to the chagrin of NDC members and leaders, some of whom chastised him, called him all kinds of names including being a mole and a sellout.

I therefore find it most unfortunate that the editorial team of the Daily Guide Network would brand the Rt Hon Speaker of Parliament a partisan referee simply because of the conduct of the Minority Caucus on that faithful day to the extent of asking him to shed his political colours.

But for the penchant to criticize the Rt Hon Speaker of Parliament at will, the Daily Guide Network and its editors would have observed that anytime Rt Honourable Alban Bagbin assumes the seat in the House, he dispatches his mandate with utmost fairmess and impartiality unmatched in the history of this Parliament.

Rather than criticise the Speaker unfairly and undeservedly, the Daily Guide Network should have by now joined the chorus of applause reverberating across the country and beyond for the bravery and boldness of the Speaker in leading the charge for the passage of the LGBTQI+ Bill which is being processed for assent by the President.

Rt Hon Alban Bagbin as Speaker has introduced far reaching initiatives in Parliament including the ditching of the colonial cloak for Ghanaian and Traditional apparel to showcase the rich culture of Our Motherland. Not too long ago, Mr Speaker indicated that Parliament was putting in place mechanisms and the appropriate technology and human resource for the use of Ghanaian languages for the purposes of debate on the floor of the house. This is aimed at promoting and preserving our rich Ghanaian culture in which language is very critical.

These are the issues that should be of concern to the Daily Guide Network and not the frivolous, unfounded, unwarranted, baseless and misdirected accusations on the Speaker of Parliament.

I advise the editorial team of the Daily Guide Network to honorably render an unqualified apology to the Speaker of Parliament, with the same prominence and publicity given to the original article.

Awudu Ishaq
Nat Comms Sec-PNC
0244947573/[email protected]

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