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NALAG calls for collaboration, concensus building in Parliament

BY: Edward Acquah & Felicia Kwarteng
Mr. Bismark  Baisie Nkum
Mr. Bismark  Baisie Nkum

The National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) has called on the Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, to lead the process for collaboration and consensus building among members of Parliament (MPs) to enhance the business of the House.

While condemning the chaotic scenes which characterised the election of the Speaker for the eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic last week, the association stressed the need for MPs to “bury their partisan differences” and work together in the interest of the nation.

Event

Addressing the media at a press conference in Accra yesterday, the President of NALAG, Mr. Bismark Baisie Nkum, said the nature of the current Parliament, with neither political party having a commanding majority, called for more collaboration and concensus building.

"Having almost a hung Parliament, with an independent member as a decider, will be a great test to advance our enviable parliamentary democracy. The current numbers require that MPs improve on consensus building and ensure that the good name of the country is upheld.

“We, therefore, call on the Speaker of Parliament to lead this crusade of improving consensus building in the workings of Parliament. The leadership of both parties should call their members to order and also desist from practices that will make the work of the Speaker difficult,” he said.

The Speaker last Tuesday started the process with a meeting with the leadership of Parliament to resolve outstanding issues, such as which side of the divide should occupy seats on his right side, reserved for the Majority Caucus, and those on his left, which are reserved for the Minority Caucus.

During the first sitting of Parliament on January 7, this year, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) caucus arrived early to occupy seats on the right side of the Speaker.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) caucus has, however, vowed that it will not allow that to happen during tomorrow’s sitting.

Election of MMDCEs

Mr. Nkum also called on Parliament to revisit the bill that sought to amend Article 243(1) and Article 55(3) of the Constitution to pave the way for the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs).

The government, in 2019, withdrew the bill from parliament and subsequently cancelled a scheduled referendum due to the lack of consensus to prosecute the agenda.

Mr. Nkum said the democratisation of local governance was the surest way to promote development at that level.

"Local government democracy is the way to go. That is what is happening all around us, and even countries that copied our local government system are electing their mayors.

“We are, therefore, calling on parliament to assess the issue again. We should ignite the discussion again and follow the necessary procedure and get the constitution amended," he said.

He also appealed to MPs, as members of their respective MMDAs, to attend meetings and share with assembly members policies and programmes that would enhance the activities of the local assemblies.

Concerns

He further decried the increasing rate of market fires in the country and called on the various investigative agencies to probe the issue to ascertain the causes of the fires.

He urged the public to be more cautious and refrain from practices that could cause fires and also entreated the Electricity Company of Ghana to check its systems and rectify all faults to prevent power fluctuations that sometimes caused fire outbreaks.

Mr. Nkum added that apart from huge financial losses, injuries and loss of lives, the fire disasters also led to global warming and the pollution of the environment.