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Ghana’s Hung Parliament And Passage Of Bills

Ghana's Hung Parliament And Passage Of Bills

Ghana achieved her Independence on 6th March, 1957. The political struggles that preceded this historic event date back over a hundred years.

The early period of nationalist struggle for political independence created political awareness and the desire to assert the right of self-determination for both the individual and the State.

As far back as 1850, Ghana, then The Gold Coast, was given its own Legislative Council to advise the colonial Governor in the process of enacting legislations.

The first Legislative Council elections ever to be held took place in 1925 under the Guggisberg Constitution. Under this arrangement the Governor still retained complete control of legislation.

Under the 1946 Bums Constitution which replaced the Guggisberg Constitution, the representatives of the people formed the majority in the Legislative Council. The Legislature elected its first Speaker under the 1950 Constitution.

The 1954 transitional Constitution provided for an Assembly of a Speaker and 104 Members elected on party lines on the basis of universal adult suffrage. In 1957, when Ghana achieved full political Independence the constitution was fashioned after the Westminster model.

On the 7th of December 2020, the great men and women of Ghana from the ages of 18 and as old as 90 years, took to their feet and ventured into various election centres to exercise their franchise as Ghanaians and the right given to them per the constitution of the land according to article 42.

This was in view making a very important decision and that is electing a President and members of Parliament (MPs) as happens every four (4) years.

This was a great day indeed and was even made a holiday for the very first time in Ghana’s political history. At the end of the day, the people of Ghana made an unexpected decision with regards to the Parliamentary seats and how Parliament should function.

In Ghana, there are two hundred and seventy-five (275) Constituencies represented by one (1) Parliamentary candidate each. The results at the end of the polls per the Electoral Commission of Ghana was one hundred and thirty-seven (137) for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), one hundred and thirty-seven (137) for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and one (1) Independent, who had defected from the NPP, (137-137-1). This therefore resulted in a hung Parliament.

This event has gotten many people talking about how bills are going to be passed in the August House, which is also presided over by Right Honourable Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, who is an opposition Speaker of Parliament to the President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo.

Some hold the view that, this hung Parliament will make it difficult for bills proposed by the party in Government (NPP) to go through the House, considering its current structure. Others also hold the view that this will rather bring about the proper checks and balances the country has been yearning for, but this popular assumption has not been seen to have come into fruition so far.

This is because much attention has not been given to it when it comes to the passage of bills since the Party in power has always had absolute majority in the House.

According to IMANI Africa, (an economic and social policy think tank). Per one of their publications which states, “the hung Parliament could be a blessing to Ghana. Not in every respect, but where egregiously problematic government projects and policies are concerned.

It could even contribute to enhancing electoral democracy by helping bring greater scrutiny to the conduct of the Electoral Commission itself,” but I try to differ from these views slightly in this write up.

First and foremost, let us define what a “Hung Parliament” is, according to the Institute for Governance , a hung parliament occurs when no party holds majority of seats in the House of Commons.

A hung Parliament most commonly follows a general election in which no party wins a majority. It goes on to say that, a hung Parliament can also occur between general elections if the Government losses its majority as a result of MPs defecting to the other parties, or by-election defeats following resignations, deaths and expulsions from Parliament.

This is not the first time there has been a hung Parliament in the United Kingdom. Three times during a general election, February 1974, May 2010 and June 2017. (Institute for Governance)
Per the definition of a hung Parliament, there can only be one observation I could make, which is the “Number” and not the “knowledge and wisdom” of our respected Parliamentarians.

I therefore wish this hung Parliament remains as long as God wants, which will bring to bear the true commitment of the Parliamentarians as expected by the citizens of Ghana.

There is a popular saying that, “Two heads are better than one.” Even though there is a clear indication of a “majority” and a “minority” in this saying, what is most important is the noun used, which is the “Head” and not any other part of the body.

This means the head contains vital information being “Knowledge and Wisdom”. All I seek to establish is that the good people of Ghana are not interested in the physical human beings and their appearance in the House, but rather, what is inside the head which is needed for formulating good laws as has been done over the years.

The people of Ghana want to see bills that will help the development of the country, and those bills should not just be passed using “numbers” as has been the tradition but rather base on “knowledge and wisdom,” which are in the positive interest of the public.

It is said that bills are passed based on the majority MPs who will be in support of it. I also believe that there is always a majority even when two equal groups meet to take a decision on an issue, and this is what I call “The Knowledge and Interest.” An example is what took place during the elected of the 8th Speaker of Parliament for the 4th Republic.
“Knowledge” will help Parliamentarians in scrutinizing the bills and “Interest” will help in the passage of it.

This brings me to my next phrase, “The all-together factor”. They (citizens) have confidence in their (MPs) ability to scrutinize bills before its passage. Ghanaians are humble as doves and wise as serpents, this character, they exhibit at its fullest when an election is approaching.

They will humbly and nicely receive you into their homes for all the political talks you came to offer them, and even accept gifts and tokens, but do not forget, they will judge you wisely at the voting boots. The interest of the Ghanaian people should always be at the forefront of the decision making and this will intend make Ghana a great Country.

Based on one’s political ideology, he/she may not like the one at the top (the President) and will therefore decide to frustrate the person by opposing bills even if it is in the best interest of the nation.

I read in one of Mr. Jacob Osei Yeboah’s (J.O.Y) book titled, “The Next President of Ghana,” and it reads, “Folks, there is nothing like a perfect man when it comes to Leadership, and there is no Jesus Christ coming from Heaven to lead a nation, it has to be one of us.

Some people are more qualified than others and for all we know a qualified person may be one of us. Politics is one area where familiarity should not breed contempt but rather an asset to know people well enough in other to consider them for office.”

This statement was actually made by Dr. Kwaku A. Danso, President of the Ghana Leadership Union (GLU) prior to the 2012 Election, and this gives me hope and motivation that we will one day push Mother Ghana to a better place if we work together as a nation.

I will never fill comfortable if I do not give the spirit of our first ever President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah the chance to speak to our souls.

In one of his speeches in 1957 as captured by David Rooney in one of his books tilted, “Kwame Nkrumah: The Political Kingdom in the Third World,” he said, “Let us dedicate ourselves to serve this country of ours, this nation with all the strength, knowledge and wisdom that God has given us.

And let us pledge ourselves anew to serve our country selflessly, to protect her rights and interest and to play our parts among the nations of the world in promoting peace, happiness and the progress of mankind.” May his soul continue to rest in peace.
In conclusion, I would like to say that, Parliamentarians should not be in a haste to rejoice because they have reached their goal (being voted for by the citizenry).

Let them not also make merry because their dearest hope has been fulfilled (finally in the house of Parliament). But rather, they should always think first and foremost of the best interest of our country. May their thoughts, deeds and prayers strengthen and sustain the statesmanship of the nation.

There has never been a time in the history of this great country, where there is an urgent need of effective leadership and direction like this present time, therefore this moment should not be allowed to elude us.

Thank you.
Article by:
Eric Lamptey
YLP. MP for Weija-Gbawe Constituency.

Institute of Governance.
The Next President of Ghana.
Kwame Nkrumah: The Political Kingdom in the Third World.