Controversies have emerged in the news media and social media platforms in the last few days on whether the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin, was selected based on the votes of the members of parliament (MPs) or by consensus among the Leaders of the Parliament House.
This controversy follows the swearing-in of the former MP of the Nadowli Kaleo Constituency in parliament on January 7, 2021.
At dawn on January 7, at the floor of the Parliament House, the 275 MPs-elect took turns to cast their ballots, choosing between Alban Bagbin and former Speaker Prof. Mike Ocquaye for the position of the Speaker of the 8th Parliament. However, the voting process was disrupted after MP for Tema West, Carlos Ahenkorah, snatched a number of the ballot papers and is reported to have destroyed some.
Following the snatching of the ballot papers, which happened after the votes cast for Prof. Mike Ocquaye had been counted, the leadership of the house proceeded into the chambers with all the ballot papers and came out with the information that Alban Bagbin was the Speaker of Parliament-elect.
These happenings have generated claims and counter claims between the leadership of the New Partriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in parliament on how the Speaker was selected.
A day after the swearing-in of the Speaker, Habib Iddrisu, Deputy Whip of the NPP, claimed that both Alban Bagbin and Prof. Mike Ocquaye garnered some votes with one rejected ballot and two uncountable votes.
“Actually, announcing someone a winner is not a declaration of results… When Prof Mike Oquaye’s votes were counted and he had got 136 and then the incident with Carlos Ahenkorah happened. So when we went to the chamber and we counted what was retrieved, Alban Bagbin also had 136 and one was spoilt and we couldn’t account for two. So Honourable Alban Bagbin was elected the Speaker of Parliament on consensus,” Habib Iddrisu told the media.
However, Muntaka Mubarak, MP for Asawase, and Chief Whip of the NDC, countered the claim stating that the Alban Bagbin garnered more votes to emerge winner.
“We said the vote had been counted we know the results, it is the results that we are going to declare, we are not going to re-run. We are not going to take these sheets that Carlos took because they had been tampered with. But the simple arithmetic was that 275 of us voted we have this part which is one 136 we have this ballot which is spoilt, we all know when you take that out what is left is 138,” Muntaka Mubarak said.
At a press conference yesterday, January 14, the Leader of the NPP Caucus in Parliament, Kyei Mensah Bonsu also waded into the debate stating that the Speakers appointment was part of a consensus building.
“My colleagues went into the conclave and came to say that they objected to that proposal that we should do a re-run. So we were thinking through, and it was still in the process of further engagement that we came to the conclusion that where we are, let us adopt Bagbin as a consensus candidate,” Kyei Mensah Bonsu said.
Settling the debate today, January 15, at the 2nd sitting of the 1st meeting of the 1st session of the 8th Parliament, the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin, at the end of his speech stated that he was elected after he garnered more votes than his contender Prof. Mike Ocquaye.
“We must work together for the betterment of Ghana and Ghanaians. That I believe is the demand of Ghanaians and the loud and clear message of the 2020 general elections. That is the message in the votes of 136 in favor of Rt Hon. Aaron Mike Oquaye, as to 138 for Hon Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, with one spoilt ballot, which propelled me to this high office of Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana. Honourable Members, the battle is always the Lords. Glory be to the Most High,” Rt. Hon. Bagbin said.
The Speaker’s statement therefore settles the controversy and confirms that he was indeed elected through voting and not through consensus.