The General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia has been appointed to serve on the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB).
He was appointed by the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban S.K. Bagbin.
Other members of the board are the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu and Mr Abraham Osei Aidoo, who is a former New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament and former Majority Leader.
The Parliamentary Service Board is chaired by the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Bagbin.
Also on the board is the Clerk of Parliament, Mr Cyril Nsiah.
The appointment of the six member board followed a recommendation by the Advisory Committee of Parliament to the Speaker.
Intrusion of governance
Reading the letter from the unnamed chairman of the committee prior to the House adjourning Monday night [March 29, 2021], Graphic Online's Nana Konadu Agyeman reported that Mr Bagbin said, per the letter, some members of the committee expressed reservation at the appointment of Mr Asiedu-Nketia onto the board.
“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.
"Notwithstanding, Mr Speaker is the person clothed with the authority to appoint the other four persons, who together with the Clerk-to-Parliament constitute the Parliamentary Service Board. It is also our considered opinion that Mr Speaker will do what is appropriate,” he read the letter as saying.
The Speaker thanked the committee for its advice and assured that he would proceed to appoint the persons named as members of the PSB.
“But I want to note that the former Parliamentary Service Board had Honorable 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 (NPP).
“That one was not intrusion into the governance of Parliament by a political party. What is good for the gander is also good for the goose. Honorable members the board will be constituted and we will start our work,” he said.
I’ll not challenge Speaker’s ruling
Reacting, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said while he might disagree with the Speaker's ruling, he would not challenge him.
"The reason is if I should challenge every ruling, and maybe there is a debate on it and Mr Speaker's ruling is brought down, I have succeeded in doing it, inflicting a mortal wound on the chair and that will bring the repute of this House down.
“I will never do that because it is for us to protect the Speakership and I will ever do that. So, I refuse any bait to challenge the ruling of the Speaker," he said.
On March 22, this year, the Speaker directed Parliament to exert pressure on the Advisory Committee to advise him on the appointment of four individuals to serve on the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB).
He said the advice of the members of the committee should reach his office on or before Friday, March 26, failure of which he would interpret it as an attempt to obstruct the performance of the Speaker.
According to him, until the committee recommended the names of individuals who were to be appointed to serve on the PSB, he could not, on his own accord, proceed to appoint the members since that would constitute a breach of the 1992 Constitution.
“I am not a Member of Parliament and so I need you to be able to function. You may need to go back and consider the committee that you set up or put pressure on the committee to submit the advice of the House on who those members are. Then I will proceed to do the appointment, we will inaugurate the board and we will proceed to work,” he stated.
Attempt to obstruct
Speaking in Parliament earlier before the appointment of the members of the board, Mr Bagbin said: “Since I became the Speaker, Parliament's committee has not given me any advice and I do not want to do this thing on a confrontation with Parliament”.
The Speaker gave the directive after some MPs had raised concerns over the absence of the PSB, a situation which was severely affecting the functions of the Legislature, and sought to ascertain from the Speaker what was frustrating him in the performance of his functions.
The MPs included the Members of Parliament (MPs) for Banda, Mr Ibrahim Ahmed and Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga, both of whom belong to the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Refusal to advise
The Speaker said the committee which was supposed to advise him on the appointment of members to the PSB had so far failed and refused to perform their duty since he became Speaker.
He said he had made several follow-ups for the advice of the committee but “as of today, the advice is not yet before me”.
“I have been contemplating proceeding to appoint and then your committee or yourselves will take me to court to say that I do not have that authority. But we need to have the Parliamentary Service Board in place,” he stressed.
He said there were many things that were pending to be executed by Parliament but “we cannot proceed on them because of the absence of the Parliamentary Service Board.”.
What is the role of the board?
The board is mandated to seek the welfare of members and staff of Parliament as well as promote other interests of the Legislature.
Its presence allows Parliament to undertake various procurement activities to ensure the smooth running of the Legislature.
Thus, during the absence of the board for this current Parliament, a number of persons who had duly been interviewed for employment into the Parliament Service had their recruitment suspended as their term of conditions of service could not be determined by the board.