Some Ghanaian workers are hailing the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin for what they say is the Speaker’s defense of workers’ interest against victimization by the government.
A week-long vox-pop revealed very high public rating for the Speaker in a number of thematic areas including his anti-gay stance, sanitization of Parliamentary work and defense of the two other arms of government against the Executive.
However, where he got the highest thumbs-up was in his defense of the rights of workers especially in regards to efforts to make Jubilee House account for the collapse of local banks and financial houses in the financial sector cleanup.
“I think that the Speaker’s demonstrated availability for owners of defunct banks like the Unibank and UT Bank to run with requests to open investigations into the collapse of their banks has been very refreshing. Throughout the Fourth Republic, we have not had a speaker who has flexed the muscle of Parliament the way this Speaker has and I think this is healthy; this is what democracy is supposed to be,” said Divine Dzotsi, a Technician with the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO).
According to Mr. Dzotsi, if even the banks do not have a case, the Speaker’s actions on their behalf should set a fine precedent that steers Parliament from its traditional position as a rubber stamp for the Executive.
Mr. Solomon Tetteh, a staff at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) agreed with Mr. Dzotsi, praising the Speaker profusely for standing up to the executive on behalf of the Judiciary in respect of budgetary allocations.
“Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin really carried out the watchdog role of the Legislature in resounding style when he confronted the Executive over the 2021 budgetary allocations to both Parliament and the Judiciary. It is beautiful how he got the Executive to beat a hasty retreat with his hint that Parliament would not approve the budget if the allocations to the two arms were not increased.”
Mr. Tetteh also expressed happiness about Parliament’s checkmate of the executive in regards to the issues raised over the government’s decision to rent private jets for the travels of the President saying Bagbin’s Parliament is ensuring accountability in respect of the Consolidated Fund.
“It is disappointing that Parliament is just about to go on recess and because of this, will not be able to summon Ministers to explain matters. But I trust that when Parliament returns from their break, it is one of the things that the Speaker will ensure is sorted out. I trust Rt. Hon. Bagbin to do that,” Mr. Tetteh added.
Pascal Dzidzienyo is a worker with Nestle Ghana Limited. “…I also think that it is refreshing that the Speaker referred Ken Agyapong to the Privileges Committee for some un-parliamentary behaviour. I think this is the only Speaker who has refused to shield MPs from accountability for unbecoming behaviour.”
At the same time Mr. Dzidzienyo also said he was happy that the Speaker refused to allow the Judiciary to bully MPs like Mahama Ayariga and even Ken Agyapong. “I like the way he stood up to the executive and the courts when the MP for Assin North, Gyekye Quayson, was judged to have contested for Parliament while still a Canadian citizen. It was a clear indication that the Executive and the Judiciary would not be allowed to bully Legislators,’ Pascal Dzidzienyo said.
Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians have also given high ratings to the Speaker for his open stance against the legalization of gay rights in the country. In respect of that matter, many said they would prefer for Rt. Bagbin to be maintained as Speaker even in the next Parliament after this first tenure.
“I want to urge the Speaker to see to it that the law they want to pass against homosexuality goes through. We don’t want that lifestyle in our country,” said Mrs. Ama Pokuaa Agyenim-Kubi, a trader at the Makola market.
Cynthia Turkson, an accounts clerk at a private bank also urged, “…the fine Speaker, to ensure that he does not taint his good reputation with any gay rights law…if he does, he and his children will carry that tag forever.”
For Mr. Kwabena Anidaso, a car salesman at Adum in Kumasi, the country has not given Rt. Hon. Bagbin a befitting recognition as the longest-serving Parliamentarian in the 4th Republic and the man who has mentored many MPs.
“If he were Ashanti, we would have honoured him a long time ago as a tribe…you saw how we feted Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu to commemorate his twentieth year in Parliament. Bagbin’s own would have been bigger if he were to be from this part of the country. All the same, as a nation, I think we owe him that recognition,” he said in Twi.