After a disputed national election, which outcome is being contested at the Supreme Court by the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the attention of Ghana’s two main political parties is shifted to which one of them obtains majority in Parliament.
By close of Parliamentary elections and all of its accompanying shenanigans, neither the New Patriotic Party (NPP) nor the National Democratic Congress (NDC) obtained the majority required to approve, without hindrance, especially the decisions of the executive.
As it stands, representations of the two parties in Parliament is deadlocked at 137-137. Any hope of the NPP to cajole it former member of Parliament, Hon. Amoako Asiamah, who goes to the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic as an independent member, to their side in order to obtain a slim majority has hit a legal block.
By the 1992 constitution, an independent member cannot declare to join neither the majority nor the minority side of the House. Any such independent candidate can only align him or herself to one side of the Parliament by way of sitting arrangement in the chamber of the House.
Even at that, he/she is not obliged by law to support any such legislation that is backed by the side where he/she shares his seat with. Any member of Parliament, be it a member who run on a party ticket or as an independent candidate loses his/her membership of Parliament if he/she decides to cross-carpet to another side or party in the House.
Prof Wayoe Seini, who went to Parliament as a Member of NPP lost his status as MP, the moment he decided to join the NDC in Parliament. That necessitated a by-election for the Tamale Central constituency, which was won by Lawyer Inusah Fuseini.
But the General Secretary of the NPP, John Kwame Boadu, has given an indication yet, of a subtle manoeuvring by his party to get the re-elected independent Fomena constituency MP, Amoako Asiamah, permanently on the NPP side of Parliament for the next four years.
In an interaction with the media Monday, John Boadu disclosed that the NPP can decide to nominate the independent MP to be the 2nd deputy Speaker of Parliament. By Ghana’s constitution, the Speakership position is not necessarily, the prerogative of the majority group, although the Majority can recommend one of its members for the position.
Any such member would however lose his membership of the House as was in the case of Hon Doe Adjaho when his candidature was put forward by then majority MPs during the tenure of
President John Dramani Mahama. His membership of Parliament however, became void and a by-election was held to fill it.
Aside the one-off case of Hon Doe Adjaho, anyone can be nominated outside of Parliament with all sides of Parliaments in agreement. The only difference though, and as the practice had been so far, such appointments had mostly gone to known members of the ruling party in the majority.
These include Justice D. F. Annan, NDC; Peter Ala Adjetey, NPP; Begyina Sekyi Huges, NPP; Doe Adjaho, NDC and Prof Mike Oquaye, NPP.
However, the 1st deputy Speaker is a position preserved for the Majority, with the 2nd deputy Speaker going to the minority. The framers of the 1992 constitution made the 2nd deputy Speakership position the preserve of the minority group on the basic principle of good faith, an enforced camaraderie and to promote cohesiveness in the House.
But according to John Boadu, the NDC stand the risk of losing the 2nd Speaker position if they don’t cooperate on the majority decision to pick the Speaker of Parliament by consensus agreement among all shades of representatives in the House.
He threatened that if the NDC does not soften its stance on the majority choice to retain Prof Mike Oquaye as the Speaker, the NPP will be compelled to put forward the name of Amoako Asiamah as the 2nd deputy Speaker and use their slim majority to endorse his candidature.
At the National Executive Committee of the NPP held Monday, January 4th, 2020, the NPP decided to retain Prof. Mike Aaron Oquaye as Speaker of Parliament; MP for Efutu, Hon Afenyo Markin as Deputy Speaker; and also retain Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu as the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs.
With the uncertainty surrounding which one of the two parties—NDC and NPP command majority in Parliament, the NDC is also contemplating presenting a candidate to be the Speaker of the 8th Parliament.
The NDC believe they won the Techiman South constituency and if finally, the dispute in that parliamentary election is resolved, they can have that seat. If that should happen, the NDC will then have 138 parliamentarians as against NPP’s 137 and that will guarantee them the majority in Parliament.
Political watchers see the NPP move as attempt to woo the independent MP onto the side of the NPP group in Parliament. If that should happen, then the independent candidate will feel indebted to the NPP and will thus support any motion put forward by the majority including executive bills that will need majority approval by Parliament.
Even if the NPP plot fail to materialize, it’s the contention of such political watchers that the Fomena MP will again feel gaining the confidence of his party hierarchy because of such thoughtful gesture; and will thus stay committed to the NPP side of Parliament.
Prior to the December 7th 2020 general elections, Hon Asiamah was dismissed from the NPP for running as an independent candidate for the Fomena Constituency in the Ashanti Region.
The sitting Fomena MP had wished the NPP leadership allowed him to go unopposed during the party’s parliamentary primaries, just like it did to protect others like Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Menah Bonsu, 1st Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Wusu and many others.
The NPP would not acquiesce to Asiamah’s demand and therefore allowed for a competitive bidding among all candidates approved by the NPP hierarchy to vie for the Fomena seat on the ticket of the NPP.
MP Asiamah therefore decided to run as an independent candidate in the December general elections and was duly elected by the Fomena constituents to be their mouthpiece in Parliament.
In fact, the President of the Republic, Nana Akufo Addo in the run-up to the 2020 elections, personally campaigned against the candidature of Hon. Asiamah at Fomena.
Party General Secretary John Boadu stated clearly that Asiamah forfeited his membership of the NPP the moment he decided to go as an independent candidate.
With the stalemate in Parliament, the NPP then decided to make overtures to their former MP to be on their side in order to obtain slim majority in the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic; and although he has agreed to the NPP proposal, he can only sit with the NPP without claiming to be a member of the NPP group in Parliament.
By Richmond Keelson