THE MINORITY Leader in Parliament, Hon Alban Bagbin, on Thursday, dazed radio listeners in Kumasi, and caused a stir on the airwaves, when he made indefinite submissions about government's determination to pass the People's Representation Amendment Bill into law.
He exposed his intelligence fracture about the relevance of the bill, when at a point in his arguments, he called for the involvement of all the Members of Parliament (MPs) to dispassionately discuss the bill, to take positions on it before its passage, but later, threatened that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs will not be part of any discussions.
His remarks, according to listeners who called into the radio station, seemed confusing, as he failed to make clear NDC's position on the relevance of the bill.
Bagbin had observed that since the implementation of the bill, when passed into law, will be an important departure from an existing practice, it should not be rushed for its passage into law until it has been subjected to thorough discussions.
A few seconds after he had made those comments, Bagbin made a quick U-Turn, pointing out that NDC MPs have, however, made themselves clear that they would not be part of any discussion about the bill, on the floor of Parliament. He renewed the threats of the Minority side of the House, particularly NDC members that they would walk out if the Majority dared present the draft of the People's Representation Bill for discussions, on the floor of Parliament. Although Bagbin noted that discussions about the bill are good for consensus building, he warned that his colleague MPs would have nothing to do with its discussion.
Speaking on a Kumasi-based private Fm radio station KESS Radio, on Thursday, the Minority Leader observed that NDC members in the House have no time to waste, as they are not prepared to listen to issues which do not make any use. “We have had the experiences before; it does not make any use to sit there to waste time, when we are not prepared to listen to proceedings concerning the bill,” he claimed.
Alban Bagbin accused President Kufuor of being a dictator for telling Ghanaians domiciled in Jamaica, when he travelled to that country a few months back that they would be allowed to vote during the 2008 elections.
He urged Ghanaians to guard against dictatorship.
“One thing we must guard against is dictatorship whether it is democratic or military, New Patriotic Party (NPP) or National Democratic Congress NDC,” Bagbin warned.
According to him, the country does not belong to President Kufuor, NPP or NDC, so one cannot just go somewhere and say that I am going to this or that. He made this remark in reference to do an assurance President Kufuor gave to Ghanaians resident in Jamaica, when he travelled to that country, recently. Commenting on media reports that NDC intends to take government to court when it goes ahead to pass the People's Representation Bill, Alban Bagbin, stressed that the party has not taken that decision.
According to him, NDC's beef in connection with the bill, in principle, is how the authorities can get all qualified persons, including those abroad in registering and exercising their rights of franchise.
He maintained that NDC's position is that before state authorities think of implementing the bill, if it is passed into law, certain things must be considered carefully.
First, the Minority Leader in Parliament called for a careful look at the law governing the country to find out whether or not the provisions of the 1992 Constitution say that the Electoral Commission (EC) should extend the right of voting to Ghanaians living everywhere.
Bagbin noted that before the bill could be passed into law, there is the need to consider the administrative, financial (logistical), legal, as well as political problems that the passage of the bill could create.
He also spoke about the need for the country to set its priority right in determining to implement the bill, when it was passed into a law.
The NDC man wondered, whether, after the right to voting is extended to Ghanaians living abroad, government will be in the position to provide free education for Ghanaian children in foreign counties as well.
“We should not forget that Article 41 of the Constitution says that rights are inseparable from duties,” he stressed.
According to him, if the bill is in the end passed into law, it will therefore, mean that the constitution will have extra territorial jurisdiction, and could be implemented everywhere.
He noted that the EC does not have the capacity to implement the law as lessons from the previous general elections, showed that the Commission had difficulty in terms of logistics in registering Ghanaians in the country.
“We do not want to go into a situation where the credibility and integrity of the electoral process and election results, will be questioned,” he lamented. Bagbin further observed that the EC cannot go ahead to implement the bill without discussing it with all the political parties.
He observed that “Ghanaians don't want to have a situation where at the end of the day, our election results will lead to something else in the country”. He wondered how the country can generate funds to make it financially sound to implement the bill as currently, about 60 per cent of the election cost was borne by its development partners.