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Parliamentary Leadership And Our Collective Interest
 
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06-Jan-2017  
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Kobby Gomez
 
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Will the next parliament serve the interest of the electorates, who queued on December 7 and in some few cases, 8 to bring them into office? Or it will serve the selfish interests of the next crop of MPs?

At midnight, the life of the sixth Parliament will expire at midnight, with the 7th sworn in minutes later.

To many voters, a new parliament offers new hope for a change in the status quo and a renewed commitment to national progress. But that isn't a given.

The rumor mongering is over, both the minority and majority in parliament have shown their cards bearing their next leadership. The majority kept Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu as its leader, flanked by Sarah Adwoa Safo, Kwasi Ameyaw Cheremeh, Moses Anim and Matthew Nyidam as the frontbenchers.

The incoming minority will be led by Haruna Iddrisu, who was late for the final State of the Nation Address by his boss, John Mahama. He would have to his left, James Klutse Avedzi, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, Ahmed Ibrahim and Comfort Doyoe.

For both sides, there are pluses and minuses. The majority group has the most experienced member as its leader.

He's arguably one of the most adept members with a near conjugal relations with the Standing Orders of the House, equalled only by outgoing speaker Edward Doe Adjaho, Alban Bagbin, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Joe Ghartey and perhaps a few others.

But he has his flaws. He can be uncompromising and demeaning to his opponents in debate, an attribute that repels many from across the divide.

He's overbearing too. For most of his tenure as minority leader, he wrote nearly every press statement and delivered them himself, regardless of the subject matter and the levels of expertise in his group.

After coming under attacks from his cohorts, others were allowed to take the shine, even there, he didn't miss the opportunity, not only to be heard, but to demonstrate his superior knowledge of the subject.

In effect, he often was the Minority. Suffice it to say that he was meticulous too. Whenever he was missing from the front bench, he was sorely missed, particularly, after Ambrose Derry lost his seat.

His colleague backbenchers accuse him of asking them to wait and learn but failed to offer a comprehensive path for learning.

Those who shone from his side, did so by defying the bureaucratic structures of the caucus. 'The Breakaways' have carved a niche for themselves that is enviable.

What new approach does he have to offer? Could the government and the National Council of the NPP consider him for the deputy Speaker's job to offer the side a breath of fresh air?

On the Minority's side, tribal calculations rose to the fore in the lead up to the selection.

A party woman at the forecourt of the State House after the President's final State of the Nation Address was heard asking, "why do they always take us the ewes for granted?

We won't allow that to happen this time". Unfortunately for this poor woman, the party saw things differently and did not, as some hoped, reward its most faithful region, it's most senior position.

Instead, the NDC chose Haruna Iddrisu, the member from Tamale South, in a region that had given them three fewer seats than before.

Mr Iddrisu himself, it could be said, had applied himself less forcefully to the business of the last two parliaments, when he served as minister. One isn't sure what signal the party is sending to the rest of its followers.

If, as indicated in a previous article, Mr. Iddrisu had no issues with the passage of the Youth Employment Agency Act without recourse to its potency, of what moral right will he demand anything of the opposition that corrected his bill less than three years ago?

As I said, he's clever and can learn, but for the most part, he hasn't demonstrated as much grasp over the Standing Orders like ASK Bagbin et al.

He certainly has a lot of catching up to do, if he wishes to stand toe-to-toe to the 'Messi of Ghana politics', as I affectionately call Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

Mr. Iddrisu also needs to win back respect of his colleagues - both returning members and new ones and perhaps even more importantly, across the aisle.

Something Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu couldn't master over the last eight years. Of course, the Tamale boy can be affable when you are a tool for his ambition. Only posterity will judge his efforts.

Back to the new majority. For the most part, the absence of the majority leader will pose a serious challenge for the side.

In fact, for any serious observer, the last four years saw a huge vacuum when the Minority Leader was not present, but the Owusu-Ankomahs, Akoto Osei's, Osei-Owusus, OB Amoahs, Atta Akyeas and Opoku Prempehs, held the fort when present.

Unfortunately for the majority, the allures of power and the quest for money will push most of them out of the legislature, leaving 'feeble members' to do government business.

I dare say that on any day, Mohammed Muntaka and Ahmed Ibrahim will make mince meat of Adwoa Safo and the rest, in the absence of the leader, should the top guns vacate the House in a haste to seek greener pastures.

Whoever tied the hands of the incoming minority to keep the two as whips knows what parliamentary business requires. These gentlemen chaperoned the Ashaiman MP for the entire period of his role as deputy leader to champion government business.

Their absence with the leader often spelled doom for the side. I dare say that's what this new majority with Adwoa Safo will experience. And trust the 'babies with sharp teeth', now with no money to chase after to give her the hell that may befall her, by peaking ahead of her time.

Between Matthew Nyidam and Comfort Doyuo, the defeat Ghana suffered at the hands of the German soccer team in the 90s will even be described as Ghana's victory.

Whose handy work was that? The lady hasn't even mentioned her name twice on the floor of the house but would be expected to shepherd the majority in the absence of the other four? I don't hope to see that day.

Both sides could have introduced more capable members to serve in leadership, but these are the names they settled on. One is not oblivious of the considerations that informed the choices, but could they be varied?

I have to congratulate my good friend Joe Osei-Owusu, on his elevation to the office of the first deputy Speaker of parliament. I engaged him a couple of times in 2009 and 'fell in love' with him. Ever since, he's been my go to MP.

I can say without fear of contradiction that he means well for his country and works hard. He entered parliament under chaotic circumstances, but has endeared himself to many and has been diligent at his work. No wonder he caught the eyes of the appointing authority.

I have no doubt in my mind that he would lace his bootstraps, get into the ring and deliver. Given that the next Speaker must be resting at the time he takes this job, Joe has a lot on his plate right now.

Mr Bagbin's new role is a lame duck one, with the energetic Joe Wise at post, he may be bored on the floor for the most part, allowing him enough time to come to the rescue of his cohorts. It would have been overbearing to bring him back as leader of his side so let him have his day as 'last-man Speaker'.

Sadly, for us as electorates, not much would be gained because despite the insignificant number of old guards who know all the tricks in the book and often come across as tin gods, forming part of leadership, the minority has enough men who have been in parliamentary leadership and can shortchange the electorates for personal aggrandizement.

Some members are convinced that these old guards have made it their preserve to be in charge and determine how business is run in the House.

We can only pray that their hearts are touched not to place the self above the state.
 
 
 
 
 

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