Under pressure Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has turned his guns on a man he had claimed was his bosom friend and campaigned for in Nadowli Kaleo in 2012, as the National Democratic Congress’ Parliamentary candidate and got retained in the House.
But today, the rise of Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, as the Speaker of Parliament, has witnessed one of the most vitriolic and vile attacks from Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, whom Mr Bagbin, had also thrown his weight behind in the run-up to the 2012 elections and campaigned for in Suame in the Ashanti Region to be kept in Parliament.
At the time, Kyei in particular faced one of the toughest internal polls having been the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) candidate and Member of Parliament (MP) since 1996.
The latest attack on Bagbin is that not only was his absence from parliament on Monday night to consider the e-levy bill, payback time for the ‘sins’ of Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta’s father, Akwasi Andrews Jones Amoako Atta Ofori Atta, but also a manifestation of an earlier threat by the former Nadowli Kaleo MP to make sure that the 2022 budget was rejected, if Mr Ofori-Atta, did not allocate two per cent of the country’s revenue to the legislature, Majority Leader has said.
Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, claimed Bagbin had threatened to visit Ofori-Atta’s father’s sin on his son, for leading Parliament, several decades ago, to reject one of President Dr Hilla Limann’s budgets.
The incessant attacks, had seen medical records and bills of the Speaker being made public to embarrass him, although Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu himself, according to The Herald’s findings, has been a beneficiary of medical treatments abroad, particularly Dubai in United Arab Emirate (UAE).
This newspaper has also seen media publications that as a result of the Speaker’s medical condition, the Parliamentary Service board held its first board meeting in Dubai.
There is currently a stalemate over the budget, particularly concerning the proposed 1.75 per cent e-levy with the NDC, saying Ghanaians were tired of excessive taxes, however, Kyei Mensah Bonsu, appears not ready to lower his partisan stance, to have the bill withdrawn for further consultation and acceptance.
Indeed, many had suggested that what the Akufo-Addo-government, should have done was to reduce the E-levy from 1.75percent to 1percent, to bait Ghanaians to its side then increase it later upon the people realizing its benefits by creating the promised jobs to reduce unemployment, construct roads and others that the e-levy is expected to do.
Confusion over the e-levy led to a free-for-all brawl on the floor of parliament on Monday, as the House voted on admitting the bill for debate.
The Suame MP, has been telling journalists at a press conference on Thursday, December 23, 2021, that the Speaker said he “didn’t want to remind Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta of what his [Ken’s] own father did to President Hilla Limann. That was the Speaker”.
“So, all that is playing out, is it to satisfy what the Speaker indicated at the very beginning of the presentation of the budget? That; this budget, he will make sure the budget is rejected? Is that the case?” he asked.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the “people of this country ought to know the mindset of this Speaker with respect to this budget? So, all this playing out, really, and that is why he sits and elects to leave the chamber, to create problems”.
The Majority Leader said: “I told you that some clergymen, the queen of Christendom in the country, have met me. I’m not going to speak for any long time, but the people of this country should know what is leading all of us into this crisis”.
On the Speaker’s demand for two per cent of the national revenue for parliament, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said: “GHS1.72 billion for what?”
“He [Bagbin] says that he has information that the total revenue of this country was going to be GHS89 billion and that the finance minister should give him 2 percent of it and that works to GHS1.72 billion”.
“If he [Finance Minister] doesn’t give parliament GHS1.72 billion, then his budget is going to be thrown out; he [Bagbin] was going to make sure that the budget was rejected”.
“Is that where we are going as a country?” he wondered.
“I’m hoping that this period that we have – between now and the 18th of January, we’ll be able to get to the bottom of this and rally together as one people in one country with a common destiny and not submit to the whims and caprices of just one individual”.
Following Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu’s attack, the Speaker’s Communications Manager, Peter Bamfo, took to his Facebook and wrote what he titled “A little advice to Leader of majority group Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu”.
He wrote, “Influence is the ability to persuade someone to think or act in the way you want. This ability is an essential part of leadership. After all, someone who can’t convince people of things isn’t a leader–no one is following him or her. Therefore, it’s important for an effective leader to understand influence. That way, he or she can use this understanding to become even more skilled at getting things done.”
He added that “You are seeking blame at the wrong place. This is the time to take a course in “People Influence”.
But Mr Bagbin parried off criticisms that he is doing the bidding of his party, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) rather he is doing all he can to get government’s programmes and policies implemented albeit in the interest of all.
“I keep on saying that I conform to transform. . .and so what I am doing is to do all I can to support government to implement its agenda but not at the expense of the values and principles of democracy,” Mr Bagbin stated while addressing a forum of former Parliamentarians held at his behest on Thursday, December 23.
The forum brought together living former Legislators from the Third Republic through the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic to the Seventh Parliament to discuss issues relating to their welfare and how the former lawmakers can contribute towards deepening Ghana’s parliamentary democracy.
Criticisms have emerged from certain quarters, particularly the Majority, that the Speaker is to blame for what is happening in the Eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic.
He was absent on Monday, December 20, when members of the two caucuses were embroiled in fisticuffs much to the chagrin of well-meaning Ghanaians.
Bagbin, who is the only Ghanaian to have served more time in Parliament, refused to accept Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu’s attempt to lay the blame at his doorstep, saying the change after the 2020 elections with nearly equal numbers for both the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the NDC in Parliament is an opening for transformation for Ghana’s democracy.
“So, the turbulence we are experiencing now is the attempt to make a change. It is not me changing the rules. The game has changed and the rules have changed. If not, you cannot work with the old rules to implement the new change.”
The Office of the Speaker, has also denied a news publication alleging that members of the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB) had held a board meeting in Dubai at the instance of the Speaker.
A statement signed by the Speaker’s Communications Manager, said no meeting had been held at the instance or convenience of the Speaker of Parliament.
“There has not been any meeting of the PSB in Dubai held at the instance and convenience of the Speaker of Parliament,” a statement issued by the Office of the Speaker said.
It explained that the PSB, rather participated in an international workshop and team building exercise by the Crown Agents in Dubai.
“It is worth noting that arrangement for the workshop predated the Speaker of Parliament’s medical trip to Dubai. It was initially planned for April 2021 and was finally held in September 2021. It had to be postponed a couple of times due to time constraints and availability of members of the PSB. Consequently, the workshop and the Speaker’s medical trip had nothing in common.
“We entreat all well-meaning Ghanaians to disregard this misleading publication, which only seeks to traduce the Rt.Hon. Speaker’s character, by negatively projecting him and the Parliamentary Service Board.”
The Speaker recently undertook a two-week trip to Dubai to seek medical care – from November 27 to December 14.
A publication by some media outlets had suggested that the PSB held its board meeting in Dubai on the orders of the Speaker to mark the close of the year.
It said members of the board had to be flown out of the country for the meeting to be held in Dubai at the convenience of the Speaker of Parliament.
It said the Board was chaired by the Speaker and had the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business, Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu; the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, among others as members.
The Office of the Speaker of Parliament has however denied the claims.
It said though the PSB participated in an international workshop and team-building exercise by the Crown Agents in Dubai, the arrangement for the workshop preceded the Speaker of Parliament’s medical trip to Dubai.
“It was initially planned for April 2021 and was finally held in September 2021. It had to be postponed a couple of times due to time constraints and the availability of members of the PSB.
Consequently, the workshop and the Speaker’s medical trip had nothing in common,” the statement clarified.
The office of the Speaker, has thus asked Ghanaians to disregard reports suggesting his involvement in the meeting.