Politics

Parliament won’t frustrate Executive – Speaker

Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, says the legislature arm of government will not work to frustrate the business of the Executive.

Mr Bagbin said he has built a healthy working relationship with President Nana Akufo-Addo and also reached out to the Chief Justice and is happy with the harmonious working relationship between them.

He noted that the good working relationship has translated into the successes that they have achieved in resolving delicate and thorny issues that have confronted the nation.

He said: “While efforts are made to strengthen the independence of Parliament to give Ghanaians the true sense of the democracy that they voted for, Parliament will not work to frustrate the business of the Executive. As a fact, immediately after my election as Speaker of Parliament, through the initiative of the President, I have built a healthy and fruitful working relation with H. E. Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana. I have also reached out to the Chief Justice and I am happy with the harmonious working relations between the Legislature and the Judiciary. The synergy this has generated in the working relations of national leadership, translates into the successes that we have achieved in resolving very delicate and thorny issues that from time to time confront our dear nation.”

The speaker said development will be quickened when the various arms of government work together in harmony but independent of each other.

“Hon Members, indeed, evidence abounds throughout the developed world that the majority of them made tremendous strides in their development trajectories through the collaborative, yet principled role played by the respective arms of government. Parliament of Ghana, under my leadership, will strive to make this principle a governance culture in Ghana,” Mr Bagbin stated.

He further said under his leadership, he will also create space to bring the views of the generality of Ghanaians to bear on the governance of the country to ensure that decisions that affect the people of Ghana are borne out of processes that take into account the very needs of the people.

“We will equally work to ensure that there is value for every decision made and for every expenditure incurred in furtherance of the development agenda of our dear country. The era when Ministers of State and other government officials ignored the call of Parliament to account for their stewardship is gone and I believe, will remain as a thing of the past,” he added.

The speaker said these in his acceptance speech when he received a Millennium Excellence Award at a Special Sitting of Parliament on Monday, July 26, 2021 for his contribution to the growth of national development, sustenance of parliamentary democracy and good governance.

Read the speaker’s full acceptance speech below:

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH BY THE RIGHT HONORABLE ALBAN SUMANA KINGSFORD BAGBIN, SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT, AT THE CONFERMENT OF THE MILLENNIUM EXCELLENCE AWARD ON THE SPEAKER

The Hon First Deputy Speaker

The Hon Second Deputy Speaker

The Co-Leaders and Leadership of the House

Hon Ministers of State

Hon Members of Parliament

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Members of the Parliamentary Service Board

The Clerk to Parliament

Representative of His Royal Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene Members of the Board of Governors of the Millennium Excellence Foundation

Our revered Religious and Traditional Leaders

Management and Staff of the Parliamentary Service

Members of the Parliamentary Press Corps Distinguished Invited Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I thank the Almighty God whose favor and mercies have brought me this far and for guiding the recognition of me for this prestigious award. His guidance over the years has given me the opportunity, needed strength and fortitude to serve this House in various capacities; first as a Member of Parliament, then as Chairman of various Committees, Minority Leader, Majority Leader, Second Deputy Speaker and today, the Speaker of this Parliament, an institution of might and majesty. I owe this award to His continuous grace and blessings.

Indeed, many individuals have contributed in diverse ways to the success of my political career which has culminated in this recognition. I recognize my immediate and larger family, whose love, prayers and support have helped me through thick and thin to weather the storms in the bumpy terrain of politics to see this day in its glory. I also recognize the positive impact of the Speakers, Leadership and Members of Parliament, both past and present, on my political career and I am indeed grateful to all. For the nearly three decades that I spent on the floor of this House as a Member of Parliament, I can say with certainty that I have immensely benefited from the wisdom, experience, and the constructive engagement of a significant majority of Members across the political divide in all the Parliaments in which I served. I have some truly good and dependable friends on both sides of the political divide. This has contributed to making me the Speaker and who I am today. To my guardian angels, here I mean, the good people of Nadowli/Kaleo whose mandate kept me in this House all these years and propelled me, in the end, to the High Office of Speaker of Parliament, I will forever remain indebted to you for your unflinching support. To the great National Democratic Congress, the platform that propelled me to stardom, you will forever grow from strength to strength and from victory unto victory to continue to give birth to more iconic leaders in the country and the world.

I cannot help at this point but to make reference to a quote from Johannes Alexander Gaertner, the German art historian, poet and theologian who said “To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant; to enact gratitude is generous and noble; but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” I will continue to live in gratitude to those who have helped me along the way to get this far.

Hon Members, distinguished guests, it is with great humility and a deep sense of honor that I accept, from the Millennium Excellence Foundation, this prestigious award, the Millennium Excellence Prize for Leadership and Excellence. I am sincerely appreciative of this recognition that has been bestowed on me to crown my over 28 years in Parliament from 1993 to date. I dedicate it to the Almighty God and to the people of the Nadowli/Kaleo Constituency.

Seven months ago, after all the wrangling that greeted the declaration of the results of the general elections of December 2020, and having become manifestly clear that the Eighth Parliament would be a hung Parliament, many were those who were apprehensive about how our Legislature would fare in this uncharted territory in the history of our parliamentary democracy. With membership of the House equally divided – each of the two political parties represented in the House having 137 members apiece and with 20 female members’ representation on each side of the divide – some Ghanaians feared that a gridlock in political governance was imminent. My election as the Speaker of the Eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic from the party not in government, the first ever in our post-independence political history, fortified this fear as it was received with shock by a section of the Ghanaian public who thought that government policies and programs would be imperiled. True to my inaugural statement to all Ghanaians to allay those fears and place expectations in their proper perspectives, and thanks to the maturity demonstrated by this august House with particular reference to the Leadership, we have proven as a collective that the growth and development of our democracy is paramount to us as representatives of the good people of Ghana. Indeed, the statement that my choice for this award was in recognition of my “unwavering pursuit of fairness, excellence and the developmental vision of the parliamentary affairs sector in Ghana” is candid and humbling as it reflects the principles which have guided me this far.

Hon Members, this award, to all intents and purposes, is a manifestation that our conduct both on the floor of the House and outside the precinct of Parliament is under scrutiny. Also, it is a reflection of the fact that the House is constantly being monitored and assessed in the performance of our duties by the generality of the public.

While this award has been won through the good work of not just myself but the entire House. The award represents a loud call to duty of all of us, to the extent that the aspirations of the electorate and the people of Ghana would be served. It is therefore imperative that our conduct both in and out of the House reflects the trust reposed in us by the citizenry. We owe it as a duty to the present generation and generations yet unborn, to ensure that as a people, we eschew unguided utterances and open vituperative attacks on one another to showcase leadership by example. It is also to convince our supporters that is the way to go in national discourse to advance the agenda of nation-building. Hon Members, we have to work together in harmony to preserve and enhance the peace and development of our dear country.

This award further represents a call on the general public to partner with the Legislature to ensure a broad participatory approach in our democratic dispensation. Thankfully, the passage of the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989) and the adoption of the guidelines for the introduction of Private Members’ Bills in the Seventh Parliament provide opportunities for the public to actively engage in the governance of the nation through parliamentary processes. Through the collaborative work of the Leadership and Members of the House, the revised Standing Orders is before the House to provide further avenues for public-parliament engagement. New provisions have been included in the new Standing Orders to open up Parliament and make our work more transparent and understandable to the people. To this end, a Petitions Committee will be constituted to create the platform for channeling petitions to the House, while access to the proceedings of Committees would be made easy by reason of the fact that Committees of the House will generally sit in public except under exceptional circumstances where they will sit in camera.

In much the same way, while efforts are made to strengthen the independence of Parliament to give Ghanaians the true sense of the democracy that they voted for, Parliament will not work to frustrate the business of the Executive. As a fact, immediately after my election as Speaker of Parliament, through the initiative of the President, I have built a healthy and fruitful working relation with H. E. Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana. I have also reached out to the Chief Justice and I am happy with the harmonious working relations between the Legislature and the Judiciary. The synergy this has generated in the working relations of national leadership translates into the successes that we have achieved in resolving very delicate and thorny issues that from time to time confront our dear nation.

Hon Members, indeed, evidence abounds throughout the developed world that the majority of them made tremendous strides in their development trajectories through the collaborative, yet principled role played by the respective arms of government. Parliament of Ghana, under my leadership, will strive to make this principle a governance culture in Ghana. We will also create space to bring the views of the generality of Ghanaians to bear on the governance of the country to ensure that decisions that affect the people of Ghana are borne out of processes that take into account the very needs of the people. We will equally work to ensure that there is value for every decision made and for every expenditure incurred in furtherance of the development agenda of our dear country. The era when Ministers of State and other government officials ignored the call of Parliament to account for their stewardship is gone and I believe, will remain as a thing of the past.

Hon Members, our ability to widen the democratic space in this country and forge ahead as a united people with a common destiny would depend on how accommodating we are of the views of one another in the interest of the good people of Ghana. Ghanaians undoubtedly voted in the December 2020 elections against extreme partisanship characterized by acrimony and rancor in our debates on the floor of the House. Indeed, it is very obvious that the people of Ghana require both sides of the House to work closely with each other to help build the country. This is the concept on which the Parliament of Ghana was crafted. A unique Parliament, made in Ghana and though similar, it is different from all Parliaments in the world. This is found in the engrained meanings of the traditional symbols on the Mace of the House, the authority of Parliament and the horseshoe arrangement of seating in the House. This uniqueness demands of us to strive, in unity and wisdom, to build consensus more often without suppressing dissenting views or the views of the minority and the marginalized in our society. I am quite pleased to have observed that so far both sides of the House have performed creditably well, and I have been spared the ordeal of often overseeing a rancorous House, as witnessed in some Legislatures. The House, by this, has succeeded in sending a message of unity and an unflinching resolve to optimally explore available avenues in order to secure greater dividends for our democracy. To this end, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Leadership and Members of the House and hope that this cordiality will be maintained to deepen our parliamentary democracy. To His Royal Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, whose mentorship has tremendously impacted on my performance and life in general, I am extremely grateful and I know the Almighty God will continue to heap His abundant blessings on you. I know it is your wisdom that has initiated this award program and together with the distinguished board of governors of the Millennium Excellence Foundation, you have made a bold statement to chart a path for the development of our dear country and Africa by the institutionalization of this award scheme. It is a scheme which identifies excellence and seeks to reward Ghanaians and Africans who have selflessly invested significantly by way of financial resources, time and knowledge, in various aspects of the socio-economic and political development of this country and Africa. You are indeed awakening the consciousness of the Ghanaian and the African to pursue excellence in whichever field they find themselves, which is a vital ingredient for the development and sustenance of any country or continent. I will humbly and respectfully, encourage you not to rest on your oars but to continue to knock on our doors and alert us whenever you find us falling short in the performance of our duties as is consistent with the old adage that he who charts a path does not always know that it is crooked.

Once again, I am humbled and grateful for this prestigious recognition and encouragement to continue to serve Ghana to the best of my ability. I am confident that I will continue to enjoy the unwavering support of the Leadership and all Members of Parliament as well as the Clerk, Management and Staff of the Parliamentary Service in this effort.

I seize this opportunity to encourage all Ghanaians to strive for excellence with integrity. Indeed, the meaning of integrity is so beautifully couched in the inspirational African proverb “A clean conscience makes a soft pillow”. That is my pledge to Ghanaians – to serve with integrity.

I thank you all for your attention.

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