General News of Sunday, 21 June 2015
Veteran journalist Abdul Malik Kweku Baako has stated in no uncertain terms that some MPs commenting on an Ebola vaccine trial were simply ‘ignorant’.
This is exactly what a WHO scientist, Prof. Alex Dodoo, was alleged to have said and irked Parliament to the extent that he is now facing the dreaded Privileges Committee of the House.
Kweku Baako’s comments on Multi TV and Joy FM’s Newsfile Saturday follows a directive from parliament to Prof. Dodoo to appear before the Committee and explain why he denigrated Parliament by allegedly describing some MPs as ignorant after parliament moved to suspend an Ebola vaccine trial in the Volta region.
Picking on three MPs whose comments were recorded in the Hanzard, the Editor-In-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper Malik Kweku Baako said some of the comments by some MPs on the matter were clearly borne of ignorance.
Pusiga MP, Hajia Laadi Ayamba who is former Deputy National Propaganda Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) said on 10 June 2015 on the floor of parliament;
“I just ask myself, try? How do you try such a deadly and unthinkable disease that we have all prayed against on humans in no other country than Ghana where fortunately God has protected us? We prayed fervently and it did not hit us. Why are you now trying it on human beings? Have they finished trying it on rats, mice and chimpanzees?”
Baako tore into the MP’s argument stating that the injection of vaccine during the trials is not the same as injecting people with Ebola virus.
“Were we trying the disease? Is it the disease that is being tried? This is coming from a position of ignorance or lack of knowledge or lack of information. Whichever way you want to call it, it is ignorant, bottom line”, the journalist stated.
Kweku Baako moved on to Adansi Asokwa MP and member of the Minority Kobina Tahir Hammond.
KT Hammond said of the vaccine trial “this is completely improper, this is a health hazard. When one goes to Europe and all those countries we hear about testing of new vaccines before they come on stream, serious precautions are taken to make sure they are tested on specific animals like Guinea pigs, chimpanzees and eventually on human beings.
Baako clarified that the vaccine trials had already gone past the stage of testing on animals.
“Is this not ignorant? If someone says what you said was based on ignorance what is wrong with that? That’s factual!”, he stressed.
In the case of comments made by NDC MP for Nkwanta South, Gershon Kofi Bediako Gbediame, the Speaker of Parliament moved to expose the fallacy of his position right on the floor of parliament
The NDC MP had maintained that “Mr. Speaker, if people have been infected with a particular virus and they want to try a vaccine, good sense tells us that those who have suffered from it must first be tried to see their response to the vaccine but I do not understand what the reaction will be from somebody who has never suffered from it”
The Speaker was quoted as explaining that “honourable member is ih not the case that those who have suffered from it could become immune?”
According to Kweku Baako, the MP displayed complete ignorance on the issue. “This is ignorance…it was completely based on ignorance,” he said.
Kweku Baako spared the comments of two other MPs from his analysis because of time restraint.
He further explained that according to K.B Ayensu, an authority of the operations of parliament, contempt of parliament is more concerned with breaches made by MPs than by non-MPs such as Alex Dodoo.
K.B. Ayensu was the first Clerk of Parliament in independent Ghana while S.N. Darkwa was Clerk of Parliament from 1961 to 1997.
Baako revealed that according to KB Ayensu’s book, an MP guilty of contempt can be suspended or even sacked from parliament despite being an elected officer.
But for non-MPs, a reprimand is the only punitive action the Speaker of the House can take.
Baako urged Parliament to “have a big heart” and stop being “overly sensitive” to criticism.