The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin is turning the office he is currently occupying into a National Democratic Congress (NDC) enclave, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has lamented.
The Majority Leader is of the view that such a move would not augur well for Parliament, as political gurus who are not lawmakers are brought to the House.
The Suame legislator was speaking to JoyNews during the Easter holidays, in which he expressed uneasiness about the appointment of the General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah onto the Parliamentary Service Board, among others.
“You have brought in Kofi Attor who is the Vice-Chairman of the party as an adviser. He has brought in two former MPs. He says he is bringing them on as advisers. Asiedu Nketiah, General Secretary of the party is now on the Parliamentary Service Board and then Gayheart Mensah is also coming to the Speaker’s office.
“So, you are turning that place into an enclave for the NDC. There is one other guy whose name I have forgotten. He was a usual panel at Radio Gold. I understand he wants to make him his Communications Officer,” he told the host.
Explaining his position on Asiedu Nketiah’s appointment which created discussions in the media, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu intimated that he did not have a problem with Aseidu Nketiah as a person but the fact that he still holds his position as a General Secretary of the NDC.
“It has never happened before in the life of Parliament, especially when you have a very intrusive General Secretary. Even in the course of the normal business of Parliament, he will come and sit there to ensure that his people vote in a certain direction.
“He is an intelligent person and maybe if he has to contribute to developing Parliament he could. My worry is his current position as the General Secretary. I am afraid for Parliament. These are the little steps we take that affect the integrity of Parliament,” he explained.
According to the Majority Leader, he has told the Speaker that, “where you are taking Parliament to, I think if you are not careful, this whole thing would collapse on all of us and he told me that we will begin to talk about it.”
Meanwhile, the Speaker, in defending his choice of staff, which preceded last weekend’s interview of the Majority Leader, stated that it was not the first time a member of a political party was appointed onto the Board.
His rebuttal followed what the former Nadowli Kaleo legislator described as resistance and opposition from some members of the Advisory Committee of Parliament over Mr. Asiedu Nketiah’s appointment with the claim that such appointment is “undesired intrusion of political parties into the governance of Parliament”.
He, however, reminded his critics that a former member of the Board was affiliated with the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
“I want to note that the former Parliamentary Service Board had Honorable Hackman Owusu Agyeman as a member of the board and Hackman Owusu Agyeman later became the Chairman of the Council of Elders of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
“That one was not intrusion into the governance of Parliament by a political party. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander. Honorable members, the board will be constituted and we will start our work,” he added.
Meanwhile, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the Speaker appears to be demonstrating machoism in the handling of the 8th Parliament.
He explained that the Speaker’s public utterances on certain issues that needed to be discussed behind closed doors were completely avoidable.
“I defer to him but I can disagree with him. I can’t challenge the Speaker. If I challenge the Speaker and I do so by a motion and debate on the floor and my side wins; what happens to the Speaker?
“You inflict a mortal wound on the Speaker. You bring him down and it will affect the standing of Parliament. This is why I resisted the temptation to challenge him,” he said.
He was responding to the Speaker’s threat that he would not allow the passage of the 2021 Appropriation Bill if the executive capped funds allocated to the Legislature and Judiciary.
Ostensibly, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister had a contrary view, saying that the matter should have been dealt with in camera, rather than on the floor of Parliament.