The Majority in Parliament has chastised the Speaker of the House, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, for allegedly showing ingratitude to the state for courtesies extended to him by the government.
According to the Caucus, Mr. Bagbin has been served with the largest number of security personnel for his protection that none of the previous Speakers had, intimating that he has four police officers at residence, three police officers at his secretariat and five other officers in and around the Speaker’s Office block for his protection.
In statement issued on Monday evening, the Majority Caucus said following from the principle of bending backwards to accommodate the Speaker’s requests to the government, the Minister for Defence has on occasions availed Casa-Air plane and helicopters to carry the Speaker to his home Region and hometown.
“Again, when the Speaker was invited to Nigeria, the presidential jet was placed at his disposal. These facilities have not been accorded the previous Speakers. It does appear that the Rt. Hon. Bagbin is unappreciative of these gestures from the state,” the statement indicated.
It pointed out that in the history of the 4th Republic all the Speakers have been provided with police protection and not military protection.
“It is only Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Bagbin who made a request to the Minister of Defence for military protection and the Minister bent backwards to accommodate him. This has not been a regular feature in parliamentary security considerations,” the statement added.
The statement questioned Mr. Bagbin’s security detail would be compromised if the military insisted on regularising his security, saying that it is difficult to comprehend the meaning of assertions by the Speaker that the withdrawal of the military personnel is an attempt to gag him.
“Speakers are supposed to be neutral umpires or referees in Parliament. They are supposed to listen to Members in silence and not participate in debates. They make rulings when called upon to do so by Members.”
“The rulings must conform to the rules of procedure of the House otherwise referred to as Standing Orders. In that regard, the Speakers lose their persona whilst presiding. Therefore, what voice does the Speaker have that is being muted or gagged?” the Caucus quizzed.
“The Speaker of Parliament, in terms of precedence, is the third gentleman of the land and one expects that when he is exiting the jurisdiction he must inform the presidency ahead of time since the Speaker is the person to act as the President in the absence of the President and the Vice President.”
“In all the many travels of the Speaker in 2021 he did not find it worthy to inform the Office of the President. What is the import of that?” they enquired further.
The statement noted that on January 7, 2021 in response to an invitation to ensure peace in Parliament, the military entered the grounds of Parliament, which the Minority Caucus raised issues with their intervention.
“Whereas they had condemned the military, less than two weeks to the January 7, 2021 incident, the Speaker instructed the Clerk to write to procure the services of the military for him. The paradox is worth noting. Truth is sacrosanct,” the Majority posited.
For the Majority, Bagbin is the only Speaker who has invited serving military officers to serve in Parliament, intimating that Parliament now has a serving Colonel as the Marshal of Parliament.
“This has never happened in Parliament since 1957. If, in the opinion of the Speaker, the police have some deficiency, shouldn’t all of us work to cure any deficiency so detected?” they asked rhetorically.
The Majority Caucus said the statement issued by their Minority alleging that the decision by the military high command was politically motivated had no basis or proof.
“Is it the case that they consider that since the Rt. Hon. Bagbin is an NDC [member] he is there to do the bidding of NDC and hence any critique of the Speaker or any action aimed at the Speaker is a critique of or action against the NDC, and therefore should be considered as being politically motivated?”
“The people of Ghana know better and certainly can make the distinction between truth and sheer propaganda,” the statement concluded.
By Ernest Kofi Adu