Being one of the few Politicians in Ghana with unmatched familiarity with the ins and outs of Parliament, Mr Alban Kingsford Sumani Bagbin will bring a wealth of parliamentary experience and leadership to the incoming 7th Parliament as 2nd Deputy Speaker. He has served as Member of Parliament for Nadowli Kaleo Constituency in the Upper West Region since the inception of Parliamentary democracy in 1993 and has also served as a Minister of Health and Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing. In Parliament, Mr. Bagbin was the Minority Leader in the 3rd and 4th Parliaments and the Majority Leader in the 5th and 6th Parliaments of Ghana.
As a Parliamentarian, Mr. Bagbin was among the top 10 most vocal MPs in the 6th Parliament of Ghana. The composites of this ranking included his usual innocuous banter with the Minority Leader, thoughts on processes and procedures of parliamentary affairs, debates, laying of papers and moves for motions.
During his tenure as Majority Leader, available transcripts demonstrate his understanding of the procedures and standing orders of Parliament, and his ability to tap into this strength to construct persuasive arguments that pushed the government’s agenda. One recent example was his successful persuasion of the House to allow the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation to lay a paper on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (Ms. Hannah Tetteh).
Figure 1: Debates of March 8, 2016
In 2014, Mr. Bagbin effectively moved the House to adopt the report of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (2012-2021). He urged the House to attach seriousness and importance to the Action Plan. Though some MPs in the minority complained about not receiving the draft report to make notes and seek possible clarifications which resulted in some back and forth, Mr. Bagbin was still able to push for the adoption of the plan with the debate emanating from it deferred to another date.
Figure 2: Debates of 26 June 2014
Mr. Bagbin also advocated for capacity-building of individual MPs to enhance their appreciation of particular subjects. This became controversial as he was alleged to have said that MPs take bribes to advance vested interests in Parliament to the detriment of the collective aspirations of Ghanaians. According to the 10th March 2014 edition of the Daily Graphic, Mr. Bagbin was alleged to have said that,
“…there is evidence that some MPs take bribes and come to the floor and try to articulate the views of their sponsors. This is because in Ghana, we have not developed what we call lobbying. There are rules; there are ethics regarding lobbying and we in Ghana think that lobbying is taking money, giving it to MPs and writing pieces for them to go and articulate on the floor. That is bribery”.
Taken holistically, Mr. Bagbin’s statements were a clarion call for the agency of individual MPs to be empowered to fully represent their constituents and the nation as a whole.
Mr. Bagbin's conduct should be an example to all MPs. He was ranked 27th out of 275 MPs in the 6th Parliament. His ranking was a reflection of regular attendance at Parliamentary sittings ( he was present for 60% of sittings) and numerous contributions to debates in Parliament (2165 for a contribution score of 59.46/60).
We are hopeful that he will leverage his rich experience and knowledge of Parliament to ensure MPs discharge their duties as law-maker, representatives and watchdogs of the executive.
*Author:Ernest Nii Ashitey Armah email: firstname.lastname@example.org