A Group Calling itself the Concerned Citizens Of Upper West have urged the ruling New Patriotic Party(NPP) to stop their unnecessary, baseless and well rehearsed propaganda against the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin.
According to the group, which is made up of members and executives across all political devides in the Upper West Region, “the bitterness and pain from the inability of the Majority Caucus to pass the controversial and insensitive E-Levy Bill in Parliament on Monday the 20th of December 2021 is a big part of the reason to hit back at the Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament.”
However, they have declared their readiness to respond and deal with any of such baseless propaganda from the ruling party.
Below is their full statement;
A PRESS CONFERENCE BY A CROSS SECTION OF UPPER WEST YOUTH. STOP THE ORCHESTRATED AND REHEARSED VILE, BASELESS AND PROPAGANDIST ATTACKS ON THE RIGHT HON SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT.
Our Friends from the media, Sons and Daughters of the Upper West Regon here present, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, we welcome you to today’s press encounter. This media conference is necessitated by the unending vile, baseless, targeted and well-orchestrated propaganda by the underperforming government of the NPP intended to heap non-existent blame on the indefatigable Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin to cover for its shame.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the near-miraculous ascension of this illustrious son of the Upper West Region to the enviable position of Speaker of Parliament is still fresh in our minds as this feat chalked will for a very long time put the name of the Upper West Region on the global annals of history. The circumstances surrounding his victory on the midnight of 7th January 2021 is a clear manifestation of what the hand of God in the scheme of affairs means to man. Despite the clandestine and crude attempts by the NPP Caucus to disrupt the election process for a Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin prevailed through the spirited commitment of the Minority Caucus led by the Hon Minority Leader, the ever flamboyant and tactful Hon. Haruna Iddrisu. Permit us to yet again commend the Minority Caucus for remaining resilient and resolute in stopping the unlawful and illegal attempts to pass the monstrous and obnoxious E-Levy bill into law. The Minority showed a strength of character in protecting the interest of the ordinary Ghanaian.
All and sundry here present, we had expected the Majority Caucus and the Executive Arm of Government led by Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo to appreciate the fact that for the first time under the fourth Republic Ghanaians elected a ‘HUNG PARLIAMENT’ with no Majority by any party. This would have meant that the Executive through its Caucus in Parliament would have adopted a consensual and conciliatory approach in the conduct of Government business on the floor of the House. However, events in the August House of Parliament so far does not show any such approach by the Executive led by its Caucus in the House.
Distinguished media, it has been very surprising and baffling to witness for ourselves the rather belligerent and bellicose posture of the Majority Caucus in the matter of the transaction of Government business in the House. The events characterising especially the 2022 budget and Economic Policy of the Government bears ample testimony to this observation by majority of the Ghanaian people. Rather have the government dialogue and call some possible truce with the Minority Caucus, the President of the Republic through his cousin Hon Ken Ofori Atta disregarded several concerns by the Minority Caucus and rushed to push through Parliament the Budget Statement and Economic Policy for the 2022 Fiscal Year. This caused a huge impasse in Parliament compelling the Minority Caucus to vote against the budget with Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin presiding over the proceedings. In similar fashion, the Majority Group claimed a few days later to have rescinded the decision of 27th November, 2022 and went ahead to adopt the Budget and Economic Policy for 2022 with the First Deputy Speaker presiding thus setting aside the ruling of the Rt. Hon Speaker. Not only that the Majority group without the requisite Parliamentary quorum went ahead to make statements that undermined and demeaned the intelligence, experience, leadership and the powers of the Speaker of Parliament.
And ever since this impasse over the 2022 budget, the NPP Party and Government has resorted to attacking, maligning and berating the venerable Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin without any tangible basis or evidence to warrant such disposition towards the Speaker. These well-calculated and orchestrated attacks have been sustained for quite a considerable time now. We see this as an attempt to run down the Speaker and his legacy as one of the longest and finest legislators within the black race in particular and the world at large. We further see these targeted attacks on the Speaker as attacks on the entirety of the Upper West Region and as Youth, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear anymore.
Ladies and Gentlemen it can be recalled that in the immediate aftermath of the presentation of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy by the Finance Minister, the Minister for Roads and Highways arbitrarily issued a directive for the removal of all toll booths across the country in line with the proposal by the government to have same abolished commencing the 2022 Fiscal Year. This act by Hon Amoako Atta was undoubtedly illegal and unlawful since Parliament was yet to consider the budget proposals which were intended for the 2022 Fiscal year and could not be implemented in 2021. Clothed with the right mandate, the Speaker of Parliament requested the Minister of Roads and Highways to withdraw the directive as soon as practicable to forestall any further breach of the law. This harmless directive by the Speaker was met with an avalanche of attacks by the NPP and its leadership both in Parliament and at the NPP Headquarters led by the Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Hon Afenyo Markin, Mr John Boadu, and Nana Obiri Boahen, Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary of the NPP respectively. How such a lawful directive by the Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament could warrant such responses still beats our imagination. This kind of conduct is never suggestive of a people ready to build consensus in a hung parliament led by a Speaker from the opposite side of the political divide.
Media Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen, in the aftermath of the 27th November 2021 parliamentary sitting at which the 2022 Budget and Economic Policy was rejected by a properly constituted Parliament, the Rt Hon Speaker rightfully communicated to Parliament through the Clerk to Parliament of his trip to Dubai on a routine medical check-up. As we would later on get to know, this was not the first time that a Speaker was seeking medical attention outside of the shores of the country. Indeed, his predecessors, including their spouses had enjoyed such facilities as part of their conditions of service. Curious enough, at no point in time has Ghanaians ever been furnished with the formal and specific details of the such trips by his predecessors but for that of Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin we all witnessed what happened. This amounted to bad faith intended by the government and the Majority Group to cause public disaffection for the Speaker and make him come across being insensitive to the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian who is suffocating under the extreme hardships that the bad governance and leadership of Nana Akufo-Addo government. Fingers were pointed at the Majority Leader who had a tough time defending himself as far as the leakage of this confidential information on the medical trip of the Speaker was concerned.
The bitterness and pain from the inability of the Majority Caucus to pass the controversial and insensitive E-Levy Bill in Parliament on Monday the 20th of December 2021 is a big part of the reason to hit back at the Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament. Akin to the man who blames his head pan for his inability to carry his load, the NPP is all over the place trying to fault the Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin for their failed attempts yet again to circumvent due process on the floor of the House by having the First Deputy Speaker preside over the House and vote at the same time. The absence of the Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament is said to be a deliberate plot to lessen the number of the Majority Caucus in Parliament. This cannot be taken seriously by any stretch of imagination unless some cogent and convincing evidence is provided. We all know this is not the first time that a Speaker has had to depart from Parliament giving way to his deputy to preside. Incontrovertible evidence from the corridors of Parliament indicates that the Rt. Hon Speaker had already communicated to the House that he will not be available at the closing ceremony through the handover of his closing remarks through his Usher to the 2nd Deputy Clerk to read at the closure and adjournment of Parliament sine die. As such, the failure of the Majority Group and the Executive to prepare and lay the E-Levy bill ahead of time cannot warrant any accusations at the Speaker who was present and presided over proceedings from morning till 6. 30 pm and had to depart after 10 pm. The Speaker’s recent health situation is of public record and he cannot be compelled to die presiding over parliamentary proceedings because of the E-Levy monster.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is trite knowledge that the Hon Majority Leader ably supported by elements of the New Patriotic Party stock have been on the rampage trying desperately and in vain to pitch the Rt. Hon Speaker once again by claiming that he is making a two percent budgetary demand for the Parliamentary Service and using it as a bait to frustrate the business of Government. Granted that he is making that demand, Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin has never shied away from making a compelling case for increased budgetary allocation to the Legislative Arm of Government to enable it carry out its oversight duty efficiently and effectively. In fact, this advocacy by the Speaker of Parliament far outdates his ascension to the position of Speaker of Parliament. Indeed, his predecessors and others leaders and members of Parliament have made similar calls. Making such a call cannot about to attempts to frustrate and sabotage Government business. The only difference now is the fact that we have a hung parliament that is no more an appendage to the Executive and its Speaker is determined to enrich Parliament and leave a lasting legacy. It is surprising that we hear the Hon Majority Leader attempting to run down the Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament on such a frivolous basis.
The latest of the spirited attempts to denigrate the Rt Hon Speaker of Parliament that will as usual fall flat is the circulation of media reports to the effect that there was a Parliamentary Service Board meeting in Dubai at the behest of the Speaker who is Chairman of the Parliamentary Service Board. This latest orchestration was as usual intended to portray the venerable Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin in bad light contributing to the wanton abuse of the public purse as being done by the Executive led by Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo. However this has been refuted and dismissed by Public Affairs Directorate of Parliament in a statement clarifying the details, funding and planning of the trip. It emerged that the workshop was organised by the Crown Agents, UK Based consulting firm, in partnership with the Clerk to Parliament even before the election of the Speaker as part of the capacity building programme of members of the Parliamentary Service Board of the Parliament of Ghana as well as other African countries. Furthermore, the invitation to the workshop in Dubai preceded the medical trip of the Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament.
Friends from the media, we believe you have all witnessed the accusations counter and accusations of the Speaker by both sides of the House. This lends credence to his impartiality and fairness in the discharge of his constitutional duty as Speaker of the August House of Parliament of Ghana. There have been instances where the NDC has pointed accusing fingers at the Speaker for making rulings that do not meet their expectations. The NPP has similarly accused the Rt Hon Speaker in similar fashion. This is ample testimony to the fact that the Rt Hon Speaker is committed to the core business of superintending over the House devoid of any bias or partiality. Such a Speaker does not deserve the smear campaign being waged against him by the New Patriotic Party government and its assigns and apparatchiks. As a group of concerned youth from the Upper West Region, we are compelled by the turn of events to stand up in defence of this colossus of Parliamentary Practice. The Rt Hon Alban Bagbin, undoubtedly, is an enviable institution with a vast and deep repertoire of knowledge as far as Parliamentary Practice and Procedure is concerned. We cannot sit aloof, fold our arms and watch such a man being denigrated, run down and smeared for partisan political considerations.
The Concerned Youth Of Upper West states unequivocally our resolve and determination to respond to any further unwarranted and unprovoked attacks on this humble servant of the Republic of Ghana. We are very much aware of the resort of the Government to cite the Rt Hon Alban Bagbin for deliberate obstruction of government business to cover for the ineptitude and failure of the Leadership of the Majority Group in Parliament to prosecute the business of the Government as their mandate requires of them. It is high time the Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu as Majority Leader adopts the right approach in dealing with his colleagues on the other side to build the necessary consensus needed for the smooth conduct of business in the House. It is abundantly clear that with the needed consensus, this Parliament under the speakership of the Rt Hon Alban Bagbin will leave a lasting legacy as far as the core duty of oversight over the Executive is concerned. The unbridled misuse, misapplication and abuse of Executive Power by the government will be put in check. The ascension of Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin to the position of Speaker in a hung parliament in our estimation is divine and sublime. His overall experience and knowledge in the workings of Parliament are key to steer this Parliament tactfully and tactically to realise the aspirations of the good people of Ghana who voted for a hung parliament. The decision by the President to engage with Former President John Dramani Mahama on the stalemate in Parliament though late is quite encouraging and promising. The current formation of the parliament calls for nothing less than dialogue and consensus. Anything short of this cannot amount to a blame on the conduct and attitude of the Speaker of Parliament as postulated by the government and the NPP Caucus in Parliament.
As contained in his address to Parliament on his return from the medical trip to Dubai, we are well convinced that the Speaker of Parliament, will not unduly frustrate government business as much as he will not allow himself to be pushed around as an appendage of the Executive. He is a man dedicated and committed to overseeing a Parliament, discharge its mandate meticulously and diligently in the supreme interest of the people of Ghana.