Keynote Address by Speaker Alban Bagbin at a post Budget workshop for Parliamentarians

Why the Rt. Hon Alban Bagbin must Succeed as Speaker of the 8th Parliament of Ghana

The 8th Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana is arguably the most unique in the life of the West African country. One of the factors which makes this Parliament unique, is the election of a Speaker who is not a member of the governing party.

Following the results of the December 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, against all odds the 275-member Parliament made up of 137 MPs each for the two major rival political parties with representation in Parliament (NPP and NDC) and an Independent MP, elected Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin as the Speaker on the eve of January 7, 2021.

The Election of the astute politician of the fold of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the longest serving Member of Parliament so far, as the Speaker of the 8th Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, has been fraught with a lot of difficulties and controversies.

I share in this article, reasons why the Rt. Hon. Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin must succeed at all cost, despite these difficulties and frustrations being experienced in Parliament. I posit that Some of these difficulties stem from the fact that the Speaker of this hung Parliament of 137 MPs each for the two major political party rivals with representation in Parliament, is not from the fold of the governing party.

But in spite of this, he must succeed because Ghana must succeed in building its governance institutions beyond personal parochial interests. The country needs his expertise at this particular crucial season because the country’s interest is bigger and more important than any individual and any political interest.

Building Strong Institutions on the Shoulders of Strong men

As the Former American President, Barack Obama said, “Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.” Much as this sounds logical and desirable, I dare to add that, “strong institutions need to be built on the shoulders of strongmen with vision and the required expertise.”

Interestingly, the first black US President made the statement when he addressed the Parliament of Ghana in 2009 during his first visit to the West African Sub-region as the sitting President.

Suggesting that the country’s democracy would be meaningless unless it is built on a strong legislative arm.

The Parliament of Ghana as an institution of State, needs to be developed on the rich experience of the 5 term MP of the Nadowli/Kaleo constituency, into a strong independent institution befitting the reputation of the country’s democratic credentials in and outside the African continent.

Development of the Country’s Parliamentary Democracy

The Rt. Hon. ASK Bagbin must succeed for the development of Parliamentary Democracy. It is trite knowledge that Parliament is the fulcrum around which any proper democratic system revolves. In other words, a democratic system of government is not complete without a representation of the people in the form of a Parliament.

That Parliament must be independent and assertive in order to be able to play it proper oversight function over the Executive for proper balance in the power of the state in the true spirit of the separation of powers.

Courageous and Independently Minded Speaker

Armed with this knowledge, it is my belief that Alban Bagbin is the right person with required expertise and experience, well prepared to be the Speaker for such a difficult time of transition of the Parliament which was referred to as “toothless bulldog” to a Parliament which can exert itself as an independent arm of government.

His insistence on the independence of Parliament from the whims and caprices of the Executive arm of Government, is very evident in the way he has conducted affairs in the first Session of the 8th Parliament much to chagrin of the Executive. Reference could be made to his famous statement where he served notice that, “I would not be an errand boy of the Executive.”

His posture as an independently minded Speaker has been seriously criticized by the Executive and is being fiercely resisted by the Majority in Parliament. But this should be expected because there is always a struggle in changing the status quo.

Development of Career Parliamentarians
Also, Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin must succeed because he comes to this new position having risen through the leadership bench as committee chair, Minority Leader, Majority Leader, Second Deputy Speaker, and now Speaker. This serves as a point of reference and encouragement to young politicians and Members of Parliament who want to dedicate themselves to become career Parliamentarians.

It is an obvious truth that many of our Parliamentarians are lured to become MPs mainly because it is an avenue to be easily spotted for appointment as a Minister of State. The provisions of Article 78 (1) of the 1992 Constitution mandates the President to appoint majority of Ministers of State from Parliament.

This rude intrusion of the Executive into the Legislative fiber of the country is the source of its weakness and a disincentive to the nurturing of career Parliamentarians with the required institutional memory for the full development of the Legislative power.

The dawn of the New Political Era
Bagbin must succeed because the country must win and move itself beyond the trivial rivalry between the two main political parties. The NDC and the NPP must learn to compromise on issues which are of national interest and learn to surrender the party interest to the collective interest of the nation.

The signs of the new political era of tolerance, dialogue and compromises must not be lost on the nation, with the recognition that Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin has an important role to play in this dispensation of political deadlock in Parliament.

The events leading to and after his election as Speaker seem as though there was a conspiracy between nature and the political elements to test the tenacity and commitment of the country to remain on the democratic path chosen through the Fourth Republican constitution.

The people of this country and their political actors must prove that they have come of age as a people who know how to converge on a common goal for the nation and diverge on the things that they disagree on, but still keeping together as a nation. That is the mark of a nation that is destine for great things.

By Clement Sena Akoloh

The writer is a Senior Member of the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC) of Ghana; the Dean of the African Parliamentary Press Network (APPN) Ghana, and the Managing Editor of and

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