It does seem the phenomenon of ballot snatching is now being institutionalized as an accepted convention or norm in the country’s body-politic.
The issue has been a perennial bug since the inception of the 4th Republic in 1992. As opposition parties protest against the practice without solution, they also adopted same course when they manage to win power. Ballot snatching has thus become an integral part of our political DNA. The NDC is challenging the outcome of the 2020 elections, largely due to allegations of same ballot snatching occurrence. The NDC claim NPP thugs invaded some polling and collation centres in the course of voting to carry out the act.
Interestingly, the NPP had cried same while in opposition. NPP’s Supreme Court petition of 2012 elections were largely influenced by similar electoral infractions.
According to the NDC, the party have evidence that the NPP thugs even managed to change figures on collated electoral results on some pink sheets. Now the people, politicians- who sponsor the practice, are themselves beginning to be active practitioners.
The enactment of the barbaric ballot-snatching act was nowhere near the field or polling stations. It was the prestigious Ghanaian Parliament where NPP Member of Parliament for Tema East, Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah staged a Rambo-styled ballot snatching thuggery in the chamber of Parliament.
Hon. Ahenkorah snatched a ballot sheet during the vote counts for the Speaker of Parliament position on the night preceding the swearing-in of Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo for a 2nd term office.
As it appeared the counting was not going in favour of the NPP, Hon. Ahenkorah rushed to the temporarily earmarked counting spot to snatch the uncounted ballots. The Tema East MP was given a hot chase by Hon. Muntaka Mohammed, another hot-headed MP where he was over-powered and the ballots taken away from him.
This was after the Parliamentary Service staff which operate under the Sergeant at Arms had engaged the Tema East MP in a heated scuffle in the chamber.
When sanity was restored, Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, a former Legislator and the candidate proposed by the NDC, became the first elected Speaker of Ghana’s Parliaments, including the 4th Republic.
Hon. Bagbin becomes the eighth (8th) Speaker of Parliament of the 4th Republic. He polled 138 votes to win the keenly contested position.
Hon. Bagbin decided not to run again for the Nadowli Kaleo constituency in the Upper West Region in the just ended elections. He has represented the Nadowli Kaleo people in Parliament since 1992, making him the longest serving MP in Ghana’s 4th Republican Parliament.
He has held every top position in Parliament, except that of the Speakership, where he today occupies after a tightly contested election between the NPP and the NDC caucuses of Parliament.
The Speakership position in Parliament
This is the first time the position of Speaker became a competitive voting. This is because there was no clear majority in Parliament after the 2020 elections. While the NPP polled 137 MPs; similarly, the NDC garnered 137 with one independent MP.
There are however two disputed constituencies that the NDC believe will come in their favour when the courts finally determine the merits of their suits submitted in respect of the two cases. The constituencies are Techiman South and Hohoe.
All along, the Speaker of Parliament has been selected on partisan lines; with the party with majority in Parliament, as a mere formality, appointing the Speaker. The Progress Party government of 1969 selected Mr. Justice Nii Armaah Ollenu, as the Speaker of Parliament during the 2nd Republic.
The 3rd Republic saw Mr. Justice Griffith Hackenburg Reindorf being proposed by the People’s National Party (PNP) government of Dr. Hilla Limann and duly approved as Speaker of Parliament.
The 4th Republic has produced eight Speakers of Parliament, seven of who by mere formality, were appointed on partisan considerations, except that of Hon Kingsford Bagbin whose appointment, went through a highly competitive voting.
Those to have enjoyed ordinary party blessings to warrant the position of Speaker included Justice Daniel Francis Annan, NDC (1993-2001); Rt. Hon Peter Ala Adjetey and Rt. Hon Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi Hughes, all NPP members, presided over Parliament from 2001-2005; and 2005-2009 respectively.
The others were Rt. Hon Mrs. Joyce Bamford Addo, NDC, from 2009-2013; Rt. Hon. Doe Adjaho, NDC, 2013-2017; (NDC) and Rt. Hon Mike Aaron Mike Oquaye, NPP, 2017-2021.
Military invasion of Parliament
There was another ‘First’ recorded in the just inaugurated Parliament. It was a novelty not experienced in a Ghanaian Parliament. In the course of the voting for a Speaker, army personnel in full military regalia stormed the chamber of Parliament with the excuse to restore sanity and order.
Members of the House, especially the NDC caucus, vehemently opposed the invasion of the military. The bigger issue then becomes who ordered the military into the Chamber?
While the controversy rages on, the Parliamentary Service is deeply worried about the development.
This because Parliament has its own security service to deal with such security matters.