Will the Eighth Parliament impede development or enhance democracy?


By Godwill Arthur-Mensah

History was made on January 7,2021 when a member from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) emerged the Speaker of the Eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana.

A departure from the past where the nominee from the ruling party always wins the position as Speaker.

Mr Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, born on September 24, 1957, in Sombo in the Upper West Region, was elected after an eventful parliamentary session, marred with violence and vitriolic.

Legislative representation in Ghana dates back to early 1950s when the country was a British colony. It was purely an advisory body with the Governor exercising all legislative and executive powers.

However, after the nation gained independence in 1957, a lots of reforms were undertaken to give power to the Legislative body.

The Speaker of Parliament is the Presiding Officer of Parliament and enforces observation of all rules that govern its conduct.

The elevation of Alban Bagbin as the Speaker of the Eight Parliament is elucidating a lots of commentaries from political watchers and the public in general.

Some political analysts and loyalists of the ruling New Patriotic Party have expressed fears that with Bagbin as Speaker, it will be a hell for the Akufo-Addo-led government to pass its policies and legislations, and eventually hinder the Government’s efficiency.

There are other optimists who are of the view that Bagbin would be his “own man,” and not allow anyone from the NDC to dictate for him. Time will be the best judge.

I’m one of those who strongly believe that Bagbin will deliver for the greater good of the nation, taking cognisance of his 28 years of experience as a legislator, representing his constituents of Nadowli Kaleo of the Upper West Region.

Those who have worked with him closely at the Legislative house over the decades, have also attested to his fairness and firmness in decision-making, and his relationship with members of both sides of the political divide has been cordial.

Mr Bagbin, after his swearing-in as the Speaker of the House, said he would submit himself to the rules of Parliament and serve the country and Ghanaians to the best of his abilities.

“I will conscientiously discharge my duties as a Speaker of this House. I want to promise wholeheartedly to put at the disposal of Parliament and the country the store of knowledge I have accumulated over the 28 years that I have been a member of the house,” Mr Bagbin assured.

I believe an opposition member presiding over Parliament with a President from different party should be celebrated because it holds a bright prospect for the country’s democratic dispensation and parliamentary oversight.

It would usher in a golden era of the country’s democracy, to fight corruption and ensure the independence of the legislative body.

President Akufo-Addo, in his inaugural address on Thursday, January 7, 2021, described Mr Bagbin as a good friend after congratulating him, and assured Ghanaians of his commitment to work with him for the common good of the citizenry.

“Together, you and I will be chartering new territory in the governance and politics of the Fourth Republic, for this is the first time in the life of this Republic that a President from one party will be obliged, by the exigencies of the moment and the will of the people, to work, in all sincerity and cooperation, with a Speaker of Parliament from another party.

“I am confidence that both of us will be guided in our relationship by the supreme interest of our people in ensuing good governance in the ordering of the affairs of state,” President Akufo-Addo emphasised.

A cross section of the public expressed varied views on the election of Mr Bagbin as the Speaker of the Eight Parliament.

Kwasi Manu, a civil servant, believed that entrusting the Speakership position in the hands of an NDC member would compensate the party for losing the Presidential slot and make them cooperate with parliamentary proceedings.

Mrs Margaret Kusi, a professional teacher, was of the conviction that, the two sides of the political divide would work collaboratively to chat a good cause for the country.

Emmanuel Akyin, a fashion designer, said it would be difficult to predict at the moment how things would unfold since the NPP and NDC parliamentarians over the years, have taken entrenched positions on issues in Parliament.

Nonetheless, I’m of the belief that no matter how members of Parliament of the two major parties would behave, there is always a day of reckoning and should be guided by the national interest in all their deliberations. Ghanaians are watching with eagled eyes! – GNA


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