The General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketiah has been appointed a member of the new Parliamentary Service Board but not without some controversies. This so far brings to three (3) the number of leading oppositions NDC members grabbing appointments in this government. This latest decision was announced on Monday, March 29, 2021, by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban S. K. Bagbin. It would be recalled that the former NDC secretary for the Nandom Constituency in the Upper West Region (Mr. Micheal Baatuolkuu) was recently appointed to serve as speech writer to Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament. The MP for Tamale south and Minority Leader (Hon Haruna Iddrisu) also as member of the Parliamentary Service Board.
Reading the letter from the unnamed chairman of the special advisory committee prior to the House adjourning on Monday night [March 29, 2021], Mr Bagbin said, per the letter, some members of the committee expressed reservation at the appointment of Mr Asiedu-Nketia in particular onto the PSB. The letter read parts “It is considered by some members of the committee that the membership of Mr Asiedu Nketia amounts to an undesired intrusion into the governance of Parliament by a political party and may not in the circumstances bode well for the independence of Parliament since he is the General-Secretary of a major opposition political party”.
Despite the concerns raised, the Speaker informed the House that Mr Asiedu Nketia met the necessary criteria and therefore, his unwavering decision to appoint him to the Board. He further pointed out that former MP for New Juaben North, Hackman Owusu Agyeman was, some time ago, appointed a member of the Board despite being a part of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) hence, what is good for the gander is also good for the goose “…I want to note that the former Parliamentary Service Board had the Honourable Hackman Owusu Agyeman as a member of the board and Hackman Owusu Agyeman later became the Chairman of the Council of Elders of the New Patriotic Party. That one was no intrusion into the governance of Parliament by a member of a political party?” he quizzed. Some legislators in the House on Monday appeared not to be in support of the Speaker’s decision while others cheered him on.
The NDC Parliamentary Caucus
Deep throat sources within the opposition NDC minority side in Parliament suggest there is a certain level of grumbling and disquiet which has the propensity to generate disunity and apathy amongst members of the opposition NDC side. While some members of the opposition NDC side were taken aback and expressed mixed feeling about the Speaker’s decision to appoint Mr. Asiedu Nketia contrary to their initial gentleman agreement to choose a woman instead, others feel unfairly treated or sidelined by the decision. It is rumored that the Speaker’s latest decision is evident of his cunny attempt to woo the NDC chief Scribe to his side against the party’s 2023 flagbearers race. The Hon Muntaka Mubarack who is also the Minority chief whip is alleged to have been greatly disappointed and considering to take the back seat as it appears all his efforts at doing all the “dirty work” for the party in Parliament are not being recognized. In a related development, the hon. Gifty Ohene-Konadu, a former member of the PSB has expressed disquiet with the composition of the current board because it lacks female representation. In a statement issued by her office, Madam Ohene-Konadu noted that she served on the same PSB with the Rtd Hon. A. S.K. Bagbin who had always been an advocate for women empowerment. She is therefore, perplexed that Mr. Bagbin who now has the power to appoint could not give at least one slot to women.
About the PSB
The Parliament of Ghana is governed by the Parliamentary Service Board, which is composed of the Speaker, as chairman; four other members appointed by the Speaker, acting in accordance with the advice of a Committee of Parliament; and the Clerk of Parliament. This brings the total number of the board to six. The Board has the responsibility of promoting the welfare of Members of Parliament and Staff of the Parliamentary Service. It also has general control of the management of the Service in matters of policy. With the prior approval of the house, the Board makes regulations prescribing the terms and conditions of service of officers and other employees for the effective and efficient administration of the Service. It supervises all procurement activities of Parliament to ensure the smooth running of the Legislature.