- “I think it’s a shame. It’s a big shame. Not that I have anything against Bagbin..."
Sam Okudzeto, lawyer and former Member of Parliament (MP) says it is a shame the New Patriotic Party (NPP) lost the Speakership position in Parliament to Alban Bagbin a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Speaking on Town Hall Talk on Asaase Radio, Okudzeto said, “If you say you have equal number of members in parliament and then you have an independent member who has openly said that he was going to support you then how did you get yourself into this kind of situation that you created? It means something seriously has gone wrong in the party itself in its own disciplinary process in the discourse of allowing people to express their own views clearly.”
He added: “I think it’s a shame. It’s a big shame. Not that I have anything against Bagbin, I think if one is to be honest, he’s among the other group the most able individual to hold that position. He is the longest serving member of parliament. He is a lawyer who thinks clearly. I’ve had interaction with him and some of the members and found that many are rabble-rousers but he has tried to avoid that kind of situation. That to me is the one that inure to his benefit in holding the position that he has held.”
Okudzeto said, “It is important for NPP to relook this whole issue and to learn lessons from it for the future. Right now I think they have no choice but to learn to compromise. Learn to compromise means that in many issues you don’t allow the debate in the House to determine the matter.”
Okudzeto said he never anticipated that there was going to be a hung parliament.
“I was not expecting that we were going to have a hung parliament. More or less as if there’s presidency and party but not winner in parliament. That was very disappointing.
“But of course, I also believe that sometimes we are also learning lessons in a democratic process because I think it’s normally taken for granted that the president has huge majority in parliament and therefore he can pursue his agendas as he wishes. My worry has always been that I didn’t see compromises from both parties over the years.”
Okudzeto added: “Well, I’ve been worried about parliament for quite a period now. Having been there before and appreciating that much work was done in committees and therefore the floor of the House sometimes is like a show place for people to share their views. But the rancor over the years which compels me often to ask both sides as to whether they appreciate what I call national interest; that in all things they must look at national interest…”
Depreciation in human quality
He said parliament has seen a depreciation in human quality over the years, adding “…over the years you can see that parliament has been a place for making money if you like to put it that way. And so many go there and you don’t know the basis for their being there.
“There are some people who may not even open their mouth and so you don’t know what they are there for. Many of them will miss the parliamentary session because they will come as and when they feel like it and yet this is the period where they are being well paid…”
Okudzeto blamed the political parties for the failings of Parliament: “that is where the failing is coming from, because I think the party organization, the party structure is creating the problem. People are using money to buy votes…my view is that parties should not impose a candidate…”
He said the situation that culminated into a member of the party going independent in Fomena was an error that needs to be corrected.
He said, “I think they did an error because that controversy that arose they did it. I remember it happened in Bekwai before. The same situation arose, the person who was pushed aside was the one who won that election and it has happened again.
“So I think it is good to take stock and find out what have we done wrong. Now I hear people say the party hierarchy is instituting a committee and I say they are going about it the wrong way.”
Okudzeto said, “This is the time they [NPP] needed an audit and to do an audit this should not be an internal audit. You need to get some people from outside to come and review the whole situation, question everyone involved particularly the leadership. And find out where the errors have occurred and then prescribe a remedial…because if you don’t do it there would be whitewashing…”