MP’s “Under School Of Trees” Gaffe… Should English Be The Only Means Of Communication In Parliament?

Recently, there has been a huge fuss about the faux pas committed by the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Ahafo Ano, Gabriel Barima, who gained notoriety for his infamous ‘Tweaa’ comment and angry response to heckling at a public function.

The word “tweeaaa“, which in the local parlance is used to express contempt over a person’s speech, has since become popular on the air waves both locally and internationally.

And just when Ghanaians were being lured into a false belief that the DCE’s gaffe would fade away, he has been dismissed from office, re-igniting discussion over the incident.

As if that is not topical enough, another issue has come up begging the question what kind of people Ghanaians elect to represent them in Parliament?

Just as “tweeaaa” is popular among the Ghanaian citizenry, English is also a popular language among Parliamentarians in the country.

Though speaking English in Parliament is not really a problem, the question however arises that will it not be a challenge to some MPs? Or should every Parliamentarian be eloquent when speaking English before getting into the House?

The Member of Parliament for Wa East, Hon. Aminu Salifu, who seemed overwhelmed by the English language, committed some serious bloopers in Parliament quite recently.

Hon. Aminu Salifu, contributing to discussions on the State of the Nation Address which was delivered by President John Dramani Mahama on Tuesday, February 25, 2014, gave his colleagues a very good laugh when he appear quite flustered as he started he began his submission which was in the Queen’s language, of course.

The NDC MP gracefully expressed gratitude to the Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon Edward Doe Adjaho in a fashion that portrayed him as the next in line after the Ahafo Ano DCE.

Addressing the House, he welcomed his colleagues, saying; “Thank you, Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to support the motion ably made by my senior, Member of Tamale Central; Member of Tamale Central, of Tamale South…I’m very sorry about that. In doing so, I will like to thank the President, His Excellency, for the wonderful Speech of the Nation; of the State of the Nation Address on the twenty-fifth of the second, 20…

He further sparked spontaneous laughter when he decided to touch on the achievements of the Mahama administration.

According to him, before the ruling National Democratic Congress came into power, “every Community was virtually under school of trees” but was optimistic the government will continue to put measures in place to make Ghana a better nation.

As if Hon. Salifu’s “honourable” slips were not enough, he is also reported to have said in a tape recording purportedly containing his voice to have mixed up his tenses.

The tape, which was played on Oman FM on Wednesday, saw Hon. Salifu disclosing his ordeal in an interview to another Accra-based radio station on the issue of whether he has ever been arrested in Belgium for child trafficking.

In response, Hon. Salifu debunked claims that he trafficked children to Belgium. He explained that he only sacrificed himself to save his children from being repatriated to Ghana and though he was sentenced to jail for 8 months in Belgium, rumours that he went “to sold” children was a “mere misconception”.

I have five siblings. I was trying to adopt two of my sister’s daughters to Belgium. We all know that before you adopt somebody outside the country, there are process that you have to follow. We didn’t do that. When we got to Belgium, we realize that yes, authorities have to deal with us because we have been able to follow the due or make the due diligence for bringing the kids to Belgium…

So the case was in court for more than eight months and according to Belgium law, the moment you hold somebody attached to a crime that you say the person has committed, you have limit of months that you can investigate the case or hold the case up. We went to court; I was given three options…One was for them to return [repatriate] to Ghana…and three was for me to make eight months sentence. And I am proud for because I can’t sit down for them to repatriate the kids to Ghana. I can’t also pay that 12000 Euro into Belgium account. So, I said, yeah, I would do the time for the kids. I went to jail.

“Is it true that it’s not some kids that I have picked from the streets to smuggle them? Or they are really my children?…that when they started saying that I have gone to sold children and that and that…”

Funny, you would say. But seriously, has the Wa East Parliamentary representative given the country an opportunity to reconsider the type of language that should be used during Parliamentary proceedings after slipping several times in the House? Or perhaps, the time has come for Ghanaians to select or vote for only representatives who can fluently speak the Queen’s language, to serve as Members of Parliament? Food for thought!!!