Ghana is about to experience the real value of democracy. The Ghanaian Legislature (Parliament) will be operating with a deadlocked 137 representatives each, for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The winner of the Fomena seat, independent candidate, Amoako Asiamoah, re-enters the Parliament as the representative of the free-minded individuals who voted for him on non-partisan lines.
Mr. Asiamah run on the ticket of the NPP when he last went to Parliament after the 2016 elections. He however refused go through NPP’s parliamentary primaries to select a candidate for the Fomena constituency in the run-up to the 2020 elections.
He argued that he should also be allowed to run unopposed just as the party issued a caveat for some of his colleagues to go un-challenged. The NPP hierarchy refused to acquiesce to his demand; and that resulted in his expulsion from the NPP.
Subsequently, the NPP wrote to Parliament to disown him as the NPP candidate for the Fomena constituency. The President himself mounted a spiral campaign of reject, urging NPP supporters to vote against Asiamah and his likes in the NPP, who are running as independent candidates.
By the NPP’s notification, Asiamah by law, forfeited his status as a parliamentarian.
The President did not mince words at all in telling those “NPP outcasts” that he could not work with them in event he won the elections. He therefore urged the party faithful to vote for NPP parliamentary aspirants that he (President Akufo Addo) would feel comfortable working with.
By the Ghanaian constitution, the President would need to pick two-thirds of his ministers from parliament; and so would need people or MPs whom he can trust bringing them into the executive.
In the spirit of the stone that the builders rejected, has now become the cornerstone, Asiamah’s re-entry into Parliament is now the determinant factor in which one of the two parties—NPP, NDC will take majority control of Ghana’s Parliament.
Why Asiamah can’t re-join NPP as the party’s parliamentary candidate?
According to article 97, paragraph (h) of the 1992 constitution: “An MP shall vacate his seat in parliament if he was elected a member of Parliament or as an independent candidate and joins a political party”.
It’s explicit from the constitutional provision that the Fomena MP cannot re-join the NPP as the party’s MP for the Fomena constituency as it’s been circulated in the public space. He forfeits his status as an MP, immediately, he decides to formalize his membership with the NPP in parliament.
It’s being suggested within political circles that the independent MP had to engage the NPP in tough bargaining before agreeing to “return” to the NPP. The NPP acquiesced to his demands and therefore agreed to offer him a ministerial appointment.
The party also agreed to pay every fund he expended in his campaign for the Fomena constituency. Although the NPP is making strenuous overtures to woo back their former member, the party is also aware of the constitutional fiat that bars them from legitimizing Asiamah’s association with the party in parliament.
The best suggestion under the circumstance is for the NPP to convince Asaimah to join the NPP side of Parliament. By that association, the NPP can be guaranteed a slim majority in parliament. That will then afford the NPP a possible passage of major policy decisions that require majority vote before approval.
Precedent set in the 4th Republic
There have been some MPs who entered the Ghana Parliament as independent candidates; and although the workings of the House require they joined either side of the majority or minority, they still retained their independent identity.
They included Hawa Yakubu Ogede, former MP, Bawku Central; Rashid Bawah, former MP, Nkwanta; Seth Agyei Baah, aka Shaba, former MP, Nkawkaw and Alhaji Boniface Abubakari Saddique, former MP for Salaga.
Hawa was the lone ranger in Parliament in 1992 after the opposition parties boycotted that year’s parliamentary elections. Rashid Bawah, Seth Agyei Baah and Boniface Abubakari all joined the NPP side of Parliament when they won their respective seats as independent candidates.
The rare case of Prof Wayoe Seini
Professor Seini won the Tamale Central seat on the ticket of the NPP. He however cross-carpet to join the NDC and instantly lost his membership of the house. That compelled the Speaker at the time to conduct a by-election for Tamale Central.
Although the learned Professor took part in the by-election, he lost to Alhaji Inusah Fuseini of the NDC.
By Richmond Keelson