My disability comments misconstrued – Bagbin
The Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin says he takes full responsibility for his comments against persons with disability and has apologised accordingly.
He says however that his comments were misconstrued and not meant to disparage persons with disabilities.
Bagbin, who is vying for the position of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), at a meeting with members of the party in the Volta Region last week, attributed the poor performance of the party at the 2016 General Elections to some appointments made by former President John Mahama.
The Nadowli Kaleo Member of Parliament claimed that Mr Mahama’s appointment of Dr Omane Boamah; a stammerer, as Communications Minister and Dr Seidu Danaa; a visually impaired, as Chieftaincy Minister were in bad taste.
His comments were however met with criticisms by sections of the public; with some civil society organisations demanding an apology and his resignation from Parliament.
Addressing a press conference Tuesday, Mr Bagbin apologised, especially to persons living with disabilities for his comments.
He explained however that he did not seek to denigrate persons with disabilities.
"For the records, I wish to state emphatically that I did not say persons with disabilities are not competent to be appointed to public offices or Ministerial positions. Never I did not say that. What I said was that certain wrong decisions were made in placing or assigning some government appointees. This wrong placement cost the NDC some votes. I cited three Ministers to illustrate my point and stated that they were all very brilliant and capable persons but they were assigned to inappropriate Ministries.”
Bagbin said he rather praised the former ministers and did not mean to demean the caliber of persons they are.
“I never questioned the competence of the appointees of the NDC government. To the contrary, I praised them. I only questioned the wisdom in placing three of them in some designated Ministries. For example, if an appointee of Government has a known standing conflict or problem with the people or institution he or she is appointed to oversee, the ultimate results would be the displeasure of such an institution towards the government. If the stakeholders and followers of the institution are that displeased with the government they are likely not to vote for that government”.
“If I said the appointment of a person with special disability in speech to be a Minister of Communications was politically inexpedient, it does not mean that such a person is incompetent to head any Ministry by reason of his special disability. Not, at all”, he added.
He said however that he least expected his comments to cause emotions to rise among a section of the public and that he had been misconstrued by his opponents for political gains.
“I render my heartfelt apologies to you all. I want to take full responsibility for the indiscretion of going with issues that will otherwise be private to the NDC. I have learnt that such disclosure could raise emotions among some sections of the Ghanaian society,” he said.