Speaker of Parliament Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin says it was a majority vote that propelled him into the position of the Speaker of the Eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana.
In his maiden address to the 275 member House in Accra on Friday, the 63-year- old immediate past Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, declared his legitimacy to the nation’s third highest office.
He said: “The message in the votes of 136 in favour of Rt. Hon. Aaron Mike Oquaye, as to 138 for Hon Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, with one spoilt ballot, …propelled me to this high office of Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana.”
He repeated a mantra of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that “The battle is always the Lord’s, adding “glory be to the Most High God,” which attracted an applause from both sides of House.
The 63 year old immediate past Second Deputy Speaker, MP for Nadowli Kaleo Constituency, Upper West Region, for 28 years used the occasion to caution the Members of Parliament(MPs) to be civil and disciplined in their deeds and utterances in their parliamentary work.
His caution stems from unruly and rowdy behaviour of some members of the House during the election of the Speaker last week, which attracted military presence onto floor of the House.
He tasked the leadership of the house to investigate those incidents to prevent their recurrence and to save and redeem the sunken image of the august House.
Speaker Bagbin noted his almost three decades service to the House on the ticket of the current opposition National Democratic Congress(NDC) but assured the House that he would remain fair, firm, impartial and resolute in the discharge of his duty as Speaker.
He pledged also to respect the dictates of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, and the will of the people of Ghana.
With a Parliament of 138 members that constitute a majority (NPP side) and 137 representing the NDC Minority, Speaker Bagbin stressed on the need for more “consensus building, cooperation, dialogue and accommodation”, in the transaction of Parliamentary business and to satisfy the aspirations of Ghanaians.
“Let me also say a few words about the office of Speaker as envisioned under our Constitution. While past practice might lead some to think otherwise, the truth of the matter is that, the Speakership is not a partisan-political office. Regardless of which party nominated or voted to elect him or her, and regardless of his or her previous political background, the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana occupies a nonpartisan, impartial office.
He added: “There is no NPP Speaker or NDC Speaker; there is only a Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana.
“Unlike my counterpart in the American House of Representatives, the Ghanaian Speaker is not a Member of the House.
“The Ghanaian Speaker presides over but does not participate in proceedings of the House; and he or she has no vote, not even a casting vote, in matters before the House. In fact, the Speakership in Ghana is designed to be even more impartial and more apolitical than the Speaker of the House of Commons in Westminster. It is indeed to ensure that the Speaker remains impartial in presiding over the affairs of this House and Parliament that his election is done by secret ballot.
“The independence and impartiality of the Speaker is particularly evident from one line in the Speaker’s Oath. That line is not found in the Presidential Oath, the Oath of Vice-President, the Oath for Ministers of State and Cabinet, or the Oath of a Member of Parliament.
…. “That last phrase, “without fear or favour, affection or ill will”, defines the office of Speaker as an impartial, nonpartisan office. I assure you I don’t take this Oath lightly at all.
“Speaker Bagbin referred to having harmoniously with Speakers of diverse political backgrounds, including on one occasion supporting the nomination for re-election as Speaker of the 4th Republic, a well-known figure of the New Patriotic Party.”
He however made it clear that the office I now occupy is an impartial, independent, and apolitical office, akin, in that regard, to the position of a Justice or Chief Justice.
He pledged to live by the Oath he swore on the occasion of his new office and said he would respect, obey and abide by the will of the House.
“I am fully committed to being fair and impartial. But I am also fully committed to being firm, he said, adding, “We must work together for the betterment of Ghana and Ghanaians. — GNA