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28.03.2007 General News

Who 'stole' Bagbin's Motions? He can’t find them!

By Suleiman Mustapha

The Minority Leader, Alban Sumani Kingsford Bagbin is conducting a high ranking Parliamentary search for his missing motions.

He has searched everywhere in Parliament, but could not trace it, and is shocked as to how a motion filed in the National Assembly could disappear.

The raucous opposition leader in Parliament made his case in a heartbreaking tone to The Statesmen, in an exclusive interview at Ada in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.

The Nadowli West MP complained, "We have tried [to find the document] and the motions do not get onto the order for the day because they get lost in the process.”

He added that “you search for it and is like members of the Parliamentary service do not always want to be seen to be stepping on any government official's toes. So when you ask, 'I filed this motion, where is it?' the speaker can tell you 'I haven't seen it,' the Majority Leader will also tell you he hasn't seen it, the Clerk also says 'I have submitted it' but he cannot tell the Speaker 'but sir I have submitted it.'”

The Sombo born Barrister explained that he led the Minority to file a motion in Parliament on the performance of the former Chief Executive of the Volta River Authority Charles Yves Wereko-Brobbey, and by the time it came up for debate on the floor of the National Assembly for the first time it had gone missing.

Later, a motion was filed against the refusal of the Chief Executive of the [email protected] Secretariat Wereko-Brobbey, to appear before the finance Committee of Parliament but, “that again has gone astray.”

As for the “Hotel Kufuor” motion, “it can simply not be found,” he added.

“So, who has our motions?” queried the assiduous lawyer.

Mr Bagbin revealed the frustrations of the minority in moving motions to shape Parliamentary debates and discourse. According to him, the Legislative arm of government is the weakest link in the governance structure, which has incapacitated Parliament's ability to contribute meaningfully to the deepening of democratic governance in the country.

The Minority Leader bemoaned the lack of capacity of Members of Parliament to initiate and debate a private members bill. Instead they must await an executive bill before debate is permissible. “And when we file motions against some decisions, it goes large”.

He said as leader of a group in Parliament, he hopes to leverage the Speaker of Parliament and the Business Committee, chaired by the Majority Leader, to encourage Private Members' motions on various subject areas in order to give space for the deliberative functions of Parliament to operate.

When contacted, Majority Leader Felix Owusu-Adjapong referred this reporter to the Clerk of Parliament, who could not be reached for comment.

Before that, however, said he was not aware of any missing motions because it was normally filed with the Clerk of Parliament and forwarded to the Speaker for approval before it got to him (Majority Leader) as chairman of the Business Committee of the House, adding “If I say I haven't seen it, then it has not come to my attention,” Mr Owusu-Adjapong stressed.

But the Minority Leader was not alone in lamenting on the weakness of Parliament as an institution. Joseph Henry Mensah (NPP-Sunyani East), speaking on the sidelines of a National Development Planning Commission dialogue on the long-term national development plan at Ada Foah in the Dangbe East District of the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, urged Parliament to reposition itself and radically lead the way in the quest for democratic growth.

According to the Senior Minister, it is no longer sufficient for Parliamentary Committees to comment on the inadequacy of funding in their report on appropriations and leave it at that. If change is to occur for accelerated progress, Parliament must assert itself, he said.

He opined that the solution entails intensifying the House's policy dialogue with all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies.