His nomination as a Minister of State did not come as a surprise to us at the dailyEXPRESS, but ever since news broke Monday night, Majority Leader in Parliament Alban Sumani Kingsford Bagbin’s appears to be having to explain the new development with many including his political opponents proffering a view.
While some say President John Mills’ decision to take Mr. Bagbin out of parliament would ultimately weaken the legislature, others say it is a reward for his recent criticism of the Mills administration. The proponents of a weakened legislature argue that as one of the most experienced parliamentarians, the Majority Leader together with his colleagues, E. T. Mensah who is the Majority Chief Whip and John Tia, the Deputy Majority Leader should have stayed over at parliament.
Among the three, Mr. Bagbin has attracted more media attention with some analysts and colleague MPs insisting that as a key proponent of strengthening parliament, his acceptance of the President’s appointment betrays his commitment to the institution of parliament.
Mr. Bagbin who for eight years was the Minority Leader in Parliament and currently the Leader of the House has been nominated by the President as Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing to replace a fellow MP, Albert Abongo who has been sacked by the President in his first ministerial reshuffle.
The Majority Leader is among leading members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), who like Party Founder Jerry Rawlings openly criticised the Mills administration, with Mr. Bagbin calling for a reshuffle.
“There are weaknesses here and there… so I think there are areas that we need as a government to look into and maybe try and invigorate them with some new faces that could assist to get things going,” he told Accra based Citi FM late last year.
He also defended the criticisms of Jerry Rawlings noting that “I think that it is good for the country and I want to encourage the former presidents, whether Kufuor or Jerry, to keep coming up with criticisms because they have a store of experience and knowledge that is needed for the country.”
Some say his nomination is a demotion, in view of the fact that as Leader of the House he was in charge of the legislature and will now be an appointee of the president, when approved by parliament. His years of experience in parliament is not in doubt and he has been credited as one of the few MPs whose presence in the leadership gives the House some creditability in the wake of severe public bashing over its handling of some serious national issues.
During the controversy over the ‘dodgy approval’ of the retirement package for former members of the executive which some senior members of House including Information Minister-designate John Tia, were defending, Mr. Bagbin was among the few who held contrary views. He was infact critical of some of his colleagues as well as former President John Kufuor for attempting to smuggle a document into the house in order for it to be approved.
Critics of the new role the Nadowli West MP is expected to play however say he has been offered a position in the executive to shut him up especially because he had in the past criticised the government.
But Mr. Bagbin says the decision is entirely that of the President, adding that it is another opportunity for him to serve the country in a different capacity.
Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Minority Leader, who had in the past questioned the non-inclusion of Alban Bagbin and others in the ministerial appointments of President Mills, is now complaining about his colleague’s nomination. He says the decision to remove his colleague from the leadership of the House has serious implications for leadership of parliament.
He has also raised questions about what he claims is the President’s interference in the leadership of the house. This follows media reports suggesting that Interior Minister Cletus Avoka and the Minister for Youth & Sports Rashid Pelpuo would be taking over as Majority and Deputy Majority Leader respectfully after the President relieved them of their positions.