The Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has indicated that he will be impartial but not neutral in the discharge of his duty.
Speaker Bagbin made the comments when the Council of State, led by its Chairman, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, Juabenhene held a crunch meeting with him yesterday to find ways to resolve recent developments in parliament which they are not too happy about.
Addressing the eight-member Standing Committee of the Council that visited him, Speaker Bagbin noted that he belongs to a political party but has never been a fanatic of partisan politics hence his comments of being impartial and not neutral.
Speaker Bagbin who noted that many people have misunderstood his statement and tagged him as being partisan took his time to explain what he meant by being impartial but not neutral.
On impartiality, Speaker Bagbin noted that he is the Speaker of the House and in the discharge of his duty, he is bound to be impartial.
But on not being neutral the Speaker explained that he is a Ghanaian and hence has an interest in whatever concerns the state that is brought before Parliament for deliberation.
He said he cannot be a Speaker who will see evil about the state and keep mute.
“You have heard me say that in the performance of my functions, I will be impartial but that does not mean I will be neutral…I have an interest as a citizen and that position says I should only chart the part of the national interest- the collective good. So any matter that comes before the House I cannot be neutral because I have an interest in it. But in performing my duty as Speaker, I have to be impartial.
“Those are the differences. People don’t understand it and started talking about me that ah clearly he is partisan. No! I cannot sit as a Speaker and see no evil and speak no evil.”
The Speaker said that he learned that particular saying from late former Speaker Peter Aladjetey adding that the statement can be found in the Hazard of Parliament.
“This is what I learnt from my father’s late Rt. Hon Peter Ala Adjetey . It is a ruling which is in the Hansard.”
Council of State on recent developments in parliament
The Chairman of Council of State yesterday indicated that recent happenings in parliament some of which ended in fisticuffs necessitate the need for a meeting with the Speaker to find solutions to it.
He indicated when the speaker was sworn in, the Council pledged to support him and thinks the need has come for them to do so.
“We pledged that the tenure of the Speaker of the eighth parliament of Ghana will be a success and we have been working behind the scenes to ensure that that is done…We have cause to believe that recent developments in the House seem to submerge the higher hopes that we had.
“Recent developments in Parliament has given us cause to feel that our hopes will not be realised and if we as the council of State do not give you the support that we pledged and sit down for things to go haywire, we will equally be accused of not doing our work as expected of us.”
Nana Siriboe noted that the Speaker, the Minority Caucus and the Majority Caucus make up parliament hence the need to put heads together with all these groups and resolve issues. He said the Council has already met with the leadership of both the Minority and the Majority Caucus and the outcome of their discussions was very good and it was the turn of the Speaker.
Speaker indicates he anticipated challenges
Responding to the issues, Speaker Bagbin stated that he anticipated the challenges he is facing in Parliament on the eve of the inauguration of the eight parliaments and also from the results of the 2020 elections. He also identified the high attrition rate in parliament as one of the factors contributing to the developments in the House.
“My birth itself gave me some clue as to what I am going expect on the floor so I understood the challenges I was going to face. The second is the product of the 2020 elections…”
He, however, indicated that none of the Leadership of the House is happy about the developments in the House but it was bound to happen due to the new system of Parliament that Ghanaians voted for hung Parliament and that’s the reality one must face.
“None of us is happy with the way things are going but I keep saying that Despite the hopes and expectations, temper with the real challenges that such a new system will offer us Ghanaians.”
He said that he was happy that the Council of State is lending its support to leadership to ensure the smooth running of the House and indicated one of the steps to resolving some of these challenges is that members of the House must be encouraged to learn the parliamentary practices very well.
He said parliament is usually referred to as the bastion of democracy but he has observed that the weakest link of Ghana’s democracy is parliament.
“Democracy is about parliament. It’s not about the executive, it’s not about the judiciary. That’s why we sometimes say the bastion of democracy…I have observed that the weakest link of our democracy is parliament.”
He, therefore, called on the Council and Ghanaians to help strengthen the institution of Parliament by encouraging members to learn parliamentary practices.
Some known personalities who are part of the eight-member Standing Committee that visited the Speaker yesterday were Mr. E.T. Mensah, representative of the Greater Accra Region, Prof. Ato Essuman, Head, West Africa Examination Council, Alhaji Aminu Amadu, Mrs. Georgina Theodora Wood, former Chief Justice, Dr. Margaret Amoakohene, former High Commissioner to Canada.