Hon. Alban Bagbin’s Speakership Victory: A Masterminded Compromise For Consensus Building.
By Reindolf Amankwa (CTI)
Ghana’s politics, accounting from the days preceding 7th December, 2020 presidential and parliamentary polls; proceeding polls and subsequent declaration of electoral results; election of a new Speaker and swearing in of the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic; up until the investiture of the President and his constitutionally elected Vice on the noon of 7th January, 2020 have seen so much turbulence. Too many avoidable errors regrettably orchestrated either by commission or omission of some persons seeking to lead the masses as Members of Parliament (MPs) or Head of State. Most regrettable are the errors and over correction of figures by the Electoral Commission and its Commissioners.
Consequentially, whether or not these errors have occurred, the national interest of the people which majors on peace, harmony, justice, stability or better summarized as the respect for A.V Dicey’s Rule of Law became the most speedily sort after commodity in the sociopolitical stock market.
The results of the parliamentary polls formed the fundamentum for compromising one’s parochial partisan interest to reaching consensus for peace fostering. In my self greatest view of the parliamentary proceedings on the morning of the historic 7th January, 2021, the election of Mr. Alban S.K Bagbin as Rt. Hon. Speaker of the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic of Ghana was a pure mastery of a lobbied compromise. Yes, his victory was deliberately engineered by the leadership of both Caucuses in the House (ie. NPP and NDC).
After a whole night of wasted resourceful sleep time, the only good thing the awaiting Members of Parliament (Members of Parliament Elect) provided as their best to the Ghanaian who voted them to make laws for the country’s governance was chaos, comic fanfare, disrespect for legal justice of the very nation they seek to make laws to govern, contempt of a high court verdict, snatching of ballot papers, booting of ballot boxes, heated exchange of insults and gross disrespect for the prestige of the nation. The conduct of these Members of Parliament Elect (then) is outrightly condemned and same to the leadership of the Caucuses of the time. They failed us in the instance of the time. But, their failure was all built on one thing only; the protection of their political party’s interest whether or not that interest had the potential of putting the nation at wreck.
With the absence of a President, Vice President and Speaker of Parliament, the easiest time for a military junta was best presented from the time spanning 12 midnight of 6th January to the time Rt. Hon. Speaker Alban Bagbin was sworn in as leader of the National Assembly. At this juncture, I pause to hail the defense and interior ministries for safeguarding the 1992 Republican Constitution of our dear nation. It is their effort and apt control of the security apparatus of the State that has kept us smiling until now. Any security error committed at that time could have sparked an overthrow of the 4th Republic. It is equally on this fear of a military detraction that I particularly agree to the condemnation of the men in uniform who stormed the parliamentary business chamber in the name of attempting to foster calm. They had no business there and anyone who triggered their entry into the chamber would have been held accountable if the unfavorable happened.
From the onset, the NDC caucus led by leader Haruna Iddrisu had no interest in the swearing in of Mr. Akufo-Addo as President. But for their investiture as Parliamentarians, they would never had appeared in the parliament house for any reason. In turn, if they had any means of ensuring that the new Speaker, who is from their Caucus refused to attend the investiture of the president elect, they would have done just that. This would have caused yet another constitutional crisis. By all merits of the case, the NPP Caucus led by leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu was at a great disadvantage. This disadvantage was not one that emanates from which Caucus had the greater numbers. Absolutely not. It was about who had a greater interest in the whole 7th January national exercise. Undoubtedly, the NPP needed proceedings to flow so as to have their utmost interest, ie. the swearing in of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Alhaji Dr. Mahamud Bawumia as President and Vice President respectively done with success. This is where the compromise began.
Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu of the NPP Caucus, though concerned about the outcome of the aftermath of whatever that may have been compromised, just had to do so in the name of national and party’s sustenance. It probably then started with leader Haruna Iddrisu demanding from leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu in conclave, that;
1. The Member of Parliament elect for Assin North, Mr. James Gyakye Quaison be allowed to sit and vote in the speakership election (however in contradiction with Art 105 of the 1992 Constitution per the Court injunction read by the Clerk Chair).
2. By whatever means possible (foul or legit), Hon. Alban S.K Bagbin be elected as Speaker of the House.
Having given the NPP leader these conditions, it was time for Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu to also put forth his conditions which could reasonably relieve the yet-to-be sworn into office President some amount of peace and sanity to be sworn into his second term of office. His requests (as I conjecture again) were thus;
1. The NDC should second the nomination of Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu (Joe Wise) as 1st Deputy Speaker of the House.
2. Again, another member of the NPP Caucus be given the mantle of 2nd deputy speaker.
3. In summary, both deputy speakers should be by all means members of the NPP caucus. In other not to contravene Article 96(a,b) of the 1992 Constitution which disallows for both deputy speakers to be elected from among members of the same political party, that request could not be accepted. However, by whatever supernatural means, there was an Independent candidate this time in the chamber waiting to be sworn in as MP elect for Fomena Constituency. His umbilical cord is one strongly tied to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), having served in the 7th Parliament as MP on the ticket of NPP until some events led to his dismissal from the party and removal from parliament. The leaders in conclave, ie. Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu and Leader Haruna Iddrisu thus agreed that, owing to the circumstances of time and the acceptance of each other’s conditions purposed for reaching consensus, the Independent MP elect for Fomena Constituency, Hon. Asiamah Amoako be given the mandate to become 2nd Deputy Speaker.
Following the above discussions, both leaders had something to compromise all in the name of reaching consensus. Indeed, there was a compromise and consensus was built amicably. Mr. Cyril Ansah, the Clerk Chair of the House then had to also come in with his condition. To avoid contempt of Court, having been properly served notice not to regard the Assin North MP elect as such, he begged pardon to recuse himself from further blame henceforth from his acceptance to accord the MP elect a voting status (in contradiction of Article 105 of the 1992 constitution). Both leaders agreed to his condition and accepted that whatever happens afterwards was to be blamed on the MP elect and his political party caucus. For public evidence, he was encouraged by both leaders to make a public announcement recusing himself of such an action. He did just that. Here and then business of the House started but how was the voting going to be compromised with surety that Hon. Alban Bagbin would gain a higher number of votes. Maybe, just maybe (and I assume carefully without any facts backing my claim) that the two leaders of the NPP caucus were going to be the game changers. Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu and his deputy Hon. Afenyo Markin were to decide quickly on what to do. Both, I assume once again (without any facts to back my allegations) were the two odds we saw in the speakership polls. Hon. Kyei Mensah and Hon. Afenyo Markin “did not” vote for Prof. Mike Ocquaye.
Concerning the rejected ballot, it is possible, owing to the above claims put forward that Hon. Afenyo Markin’s ballot was the one rejected. In as much as he could not break the agreement reached by his leader and the other half, he felt it would also be a sign of betrayal to vote against a candidate his party’s leadership including Presidential candidate awaiting to be sworn in as President had nominated. Plagued between the confusion, he spoilt his ballot. At least, even one spoilt or rejected ballot could decide the winner of the election. He did so in the interest of keeping a bond of trust in building consensus in the Chamber whilst keeping in focus that he didn’t have to also betray his party’s nominee.
At the end of it all, whatever compromise that had been decided upon in conclave materialized. Lest I forget to highlight that, all these were done in secrecy and none of the NPP/NDC Parliamentarians were informed of the arrangements so made except the announcement which was made by the Clerk Chair to allow the Assin North MP sit and cast ballot. All the MPs in though seated in a fully lightened Chamber, were yet in the dark concerning these well planned and tactfully executed agenda. To end it, Hon. Alban Bagbin was elected and duly sworn in as Speaker of the 8th Parliament. In furtherance, the NDC Caucus leadership cleared him to go ahead with the parliamentary sitting to allow for the swearing in of the President elect into office even though they (the NDC Caucus) would not attend the ceremony. In politics, I’ve learnt that it is all about a permanent interest not permanent friendship or brotherhood. Hon. Kyei Mensah Bonsu’s interest was to see H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo get sworn into his second term of office, whatever it took to get that interest served, including sacrificing Rt. Hon. Speaker Mike Ocquaye was a right step in the right sense of direction. So, I end by saying that, Hon. Alban Bagbin’s Speakership victory was a necessary compromise to build consensus for the successful swearing in of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. He, President Akufo-Addo is not happy with the turnout of events. Notwithstanding, he accept so in good faith for whatever that was done, properly, and in context of facts was done legitimately. Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin was legitimately elected regardless of whatever compromise that needed to take place. To describe it proper, the compromise made by leaders of both Caucuses was a necessary evil to facilitate the parliamentary process.
Hhhmmm, may God bless our motherland Ghana and continue to foster within us a marginal level of compromise for nation building.
Member, Critical Thinkers International (CTI-Middle Belt)