SPEAKER OF Parliament, Alban S.K. Bagbin has criticised the executive for allegedly resorting to the use of money and political patronage to undermine the legislature and its work, asserting that he is ready to fight any attempt to make Parliament subservient.
According to him, he, unlike previous Speakers who were patronised by their respective Presidents, cannot be dictated to by the current President, or be pushed around by a mob of large numbers of majoritarian governments to do their bidding.
Speaking at the swearing-in of the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC) executives in Parliament yesterday, Mr. Bagbin said he was not under any pressure to kowtow to President Akufo-Addo’s demands.
He stated that he is his own man, and can sail his own boat, noting that he will insist that he is given a certificate by the executive before a lawmaker is given an appointment that comes with pecuniary benefits.
The Speaker said, many Members of Parliament (MPs) from the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) had been bought by the executive, and added, “There are many who chair some boards; who are members of boards, chief executives of some institutions, and they are [still] Members of Parliament.”
“So how can you come and criticise the same thing that you are involved in? That is patronage; political patronage and we are going to look critically into our constitutional provisions to make sure that we don’t allow this to continue,” he asserted.
The Speaker continued, “It’s not part of the concept that we have in the 1992 Constitution, and it is clear in the 1992 Constitution that for you to hold an office of profit you need a certification from the Speaker.
“But who are the Speakers? When usually the Presidents breathe over their shoulders, and when they have a mob of a large number of the majority pushing them behind to do what they think that it is right for them to do.
“I am not under that pressure, and I can sail my own boat, and I intend to do that. Before anybody is given that appointment, the Speaker must give a certificate. It is not just for the President to sit there and dictate and co-opt everybody, and leave Parliament only to the Minority to rather be critical of government’s actions and inactions.”
“That is not helpful to our democracy, and we have to crack the whip on this matter. M’a kaa maka [which literally means I have said what I need to say],” he stated in a code-mixed English and Twi languages.
For him, the 8th Parliament is properly positioned not to allow itself to be bullied into playing second fiddle to the executive, stating, “That is one of the things we intend to fight within two and half years – money and political patronage – so that by the time we get to 2025, we have a different ball game.”
The newly elected PPC executives are Simon Agianab (Dean), Stephen Odoi-Larbi (Vice Dean), Kwaku Sekyi-Danso (Secretary), Francis Ekow Annan (Deputy Secretary), Alhassan Ibrahim (Organiser), Yesmeen Abubakar-Tetteh (Treasurer), and Deborah Dzivenu (Executive Member).
The Speaker asked them not to forget to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of emulation by all, particularly members of the corps.
“If you don’t know how to serve, you cannot be served. So those who are following you today, please try as much as possible not to be irrepressible. If you are, you have lost the way. One can disagree. That is normal; it’s natural,” he admonished.
“You know the problem we have: money and patronage. These have become principal factors in the number of followers that a leader can have, but I dare say that true altruistic leaders with conscience know that real followers are those that have a buy-in into the vision and agenda of their leaders. Not just what you get from your leader.
“Those are the real followers and I can assure you that in my application of the stick and the carrot, I reward those who buy into the agenda; not those who come asking every day for something to go home,” he noted.