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Today January 7 marks exactly one year since Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin was selected into that office by lawmakers for the 8th Parliament.
The election on Thursday January 7, 2021 could be described as the most dramatic election to pick a speaker following the incidents that characterised the poll and also the fact that the election produced a speaker who is not from the governing Party.
For the first time in the history of the 4th Republic, soldiers stormed the chamber that day when pandemonium broke out during the election in an attempt to douse the tension.
There was also snatching of ballot papers by Tema West MP, Carlos Ahenkorah who later apologized for his action.
The intervention of the soldiers was heavily criticized by some observers who indicated that they had no business being there.
For instance, Former President John Dramani Mahama condemned their invasion of the Chamber of Parliament.
He also condemned Carlos Ahenkorah for snatching the ballot papers.
In a congratulatory message to Alban Bagbin after his election, the presidential candidate of the NDC in the 2020 elections said “Congratulations Rt. Hon. Alban Sumani Kingsford Bagbin on your election as the Speaker of the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic”, he wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday.“
“The attempt to snatch ballot papers by the MP-elect for Tema West and the invasion of the Chamber by armed military personnel are images one had never expected to see in our 4th Republican Parliament.
“The recent use of the military in civil democratic processes has become a major worry and gives the impression that this administration is continually seeking to resurrect the exorcised ghosts of our military past. Parliament must conduct an investigation into the two incidents and exact appropriate sanctions”, he stated.
Others also were of the view the intervention of the military was apt.
For example, pollster and Managing Editor of the Daily Dispatch, Ben Ephson said the Commander who ordered them to storm the chamber of parliament did so because of the unprecedented rowdy nature of the lawmakers.
Mr Ephson who commended the Commander for his initiative, while speaking on the Key Points programme on TV3 Saturday February 13, 2021 noted that the conduct of the Members of Parliament on that particular day was unprecedented.
When told that the soldiers usurped the marshals in parliament when they attempted to control the MPs, a situation many have criticized, Mr Ephson told host of the programme Abena Tabi that “If my memory serves me right what was playing out had gone on for about 30 minutes before the soldiers came in and the Marshals, I don’t think they will be even 50.”
He added “What happened was unprecedented and the response was unprecedented too. I believe that moving forward , once it has happened it doesn’t happen again. So, moving forward I think we should be able to have indicators that in future should something like that happen maybe the commander himself should visit inside before he goes to bring in the people.
When his attention was drawn again to the fact that the Police was supposed to have assisted the marshals and not the military, he said “Well, as I said it was unprecedented and moving forward the marshals should be told that once it has happened, and given the closeness of the representatives in terms of the numbers, there could be something like that so when that happens the marshals maybe will inform the Police first, if the Police can’t handle it then the military will come in.
“But I think that given the unprecedented rowdy nature of our Honourable, I think the commander used his initiative. Looking back, I think it is a lesson we must all learn.”
A year on, Member of Parliament for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwami Dafeamekpor has cel;ebrated Mr Bagbin describing him as a statement.
“A very Special 1st Anniversary wishes to this exceptional politician cum Statesman: the Rt. Hon. A.S.K Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament. The man who has an encyclopedic mind on anything Parliament & Parliamentary Democracy. Happy Anniversary, Sir.”
A very Special 1st Anniversary wishes to this exceptional politician cum Statesman: the Rt. Hon. A.S.K Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament.— Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, Esq. MP. (@etsedafeamekpor) January 7, 2022
The man who has an encyclopedic mind on anything Parliament & Parliamentary Democracy.
Happy Anniversary, Sir. pic.twitter.com/28gFBRxFmn
Meanwhile, Mr Bagbin has received flak from the Majority for the way he has conducted himself so far as Speaker.
The Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh-Dompreh indicated that a lot more work need to be done in improving Parliament under the leadership of Speaker Alban Bagbin.
In his view, Ghana’s legislature is losing its relevance under the current speaker.
Reacting to a tweet Mr Dafeamekpor’s tweet celebrating the Speaker, the Nsawam Adoagyiri Lawmaker said “Indeed, I wish him well too. But, clearly there is a lot more we ought to work on improving under his leadership. Our Parliament is losing its relevance and we all have a role to play, regardless, my brother!.. let’s not delude ourselves, fact be told.”
But Mr Bagbin had also said earlier that he applied the rules of parliament fairly according to his experience and understanding.
This was after the Majority had criticised the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmaker for Nadowli/Kaleo for the way and manner he has conducted the 8th Parliament so far.
Mr Bagbin was not in Parliament on Monday, December 20, 2021 when members of the two caucuses engaged in fisticuffs regarding the E-levy.
But addressing a forum of former Parliamentarians held at his behest on Thursday, December 23 he said “I can give you a copy of my closing remarks which when I was leaving I passed through my usher to give to them that it was after 10 in the night, and I had to go and take a rest because you delayed in sitting. I had to compel the house to sit after 2 and I presided , I said let us discuss E-levy, you said no. Rather the other business. I kept on varying we did about 6 important items, approving other ;loans until I had to handover getting to 6:30 to the first deputy speaker.
“Now, they say I refused to preside that is why some numbers were not in the House , I am not a Chief whip of any party , I am not entitled to bring members to the House , that is not my duty. I presided and apply the rules and I have applied them fairly according to my understanding, through literature , through experience.”
The Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, had expressed disappointment in him over the way and manner he conducted himself in Parliament on Monday December 20.
According to him, the Speaker left Parliament to his home without communicating to the Second Deputy Speaker whom he handed over to.
He described this as unfortunate.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday December 21,the Suame lawmaker said “He said he will come here at 11: 30 , subsequently another message came to say that he can only be here at 12 . I mean, the house cannot be held to ransom by one person. It is most unfortunate.
“Yesterday leaving the seat he told the First the First Deputy that he was handing over to, that he will come back pretty soon and all that we heard was that he had left to his house, that is mots unfortunate without any further communication to the Second deputy Speaker or to me because I have been having some discussions with him and I am told today, that he didn’t even have any discussion with the Minority as well so where are we going from where. It is most unfortunate development.”
The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu announced on Tuesday December 21 that Parliament has adjourned sitting sine die.
The Majority Leader said the adjournment of the sitting on the e-levy would afford the Majority and government more time to do further consultations on the proposal.
“I think that this will also allow us sometime to have further consultations among ourselves, it is the reason why the First Deputy Speaker had to adjourn the House sine die. As you know, the budget has been passed , there was an attempt to portray that that there is no budget, there is a budget , the appropriations bill passed.”
He added “I think that this will also allow us sometime to have further consultations among ourselves ,it is the reason why the First Deputy Speaker had to adjourn the House sine die . As you know, the budget has been passed , there was an attempt to portray that that there is no budget, there is a budget , the appropriations bill passed.”
On Monday December 20 Members of Ghana’s Parliament could not hold their emotions as some exchanged brawls in the House just before the final vote on the controversial Electronic Transfer Levy Bill, also known as e-levy.
The sit-in Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, had announced that a division would be followed to approve the Bill, presented under a certificate of urgency, and he was going to vote as well in his capacity as a Member of Parliament.
That appeared to have provoked the National Democratic Congress (NDC) members, who questioned his decision to vote after presiding over the night’s proceedings.
They moved to the front of the dais, issuing threats at the Bekwai MP.
This got the Majority MPs to also start agitations and immediately Mr Osei-Owusu handed the presiding role to the Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Amoako Asiamah, the fight broke out.