Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin has said elections and successful government changeovers are not the only determinants of a working democracy.
Although Ghana has had eight successive elections and four government change-overs between the two major political parties [NPP and NDC], in Mr Bagbin’s view, the nation must focus on strengthening its democratic institutions “if we want to have a sustainable democracy.”
Speaking at the launch of the 30th anniversary celebration of parliamentary democracy in Ghana held in the Chamber of Parliament on Wednesday, 22nd February 2023, the Speaker paid tribute to his predecessors since the fourth republic was birthed.
He noted that past Speakers have been pivotal in strengthening the pillars of Ghana’s democracy through their contributions and sacrifices.
He reminded lawmakers that Ghana has been chosen to host the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) annual conference from 30th August to 6th September 2023.
According to him, the choice of Ghana to host the conference in itself is proof of how the world sees and rates the nation’s parliamentary democracy.
The theme for the 30th anniversary celebration is “30 years of parliamentary democracy in the Fourth Republic: the journey thus far”.
The year-long celebration is being planned by a committee chaired by the Member of Parliament for Abuakwa South, Samuel Atta Akyea.
The celebration will zone the country into six. Programmes will be planned to suit the peculiarities of each of the six zones, Speaker Bagbin revealed.
Read details of his address below:
It is with joy and a great sense of fulfillment that I stand here today, with the support of the elected representatives of our dear country, to launch the 30th anniversary of parliamentary democracy in Ghana under the Fourth Republic. We are this year observing the combined 30th anniversary of our Constitution, our Parliament, and our Fourth Republic. Dare I say that there is a fourth 30th anniversary that we celebrate this year; and that is the 30th anniversary of one Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin in parliamentary. It is always good to recognize and celebrate achievements: it serves as a tonic for revitalization and re-focusing. As Terrence E. Deal, the American author said, “Celebrations infuse life with passion and purpose. They summon the human spirit.”-
I launch this anniversary with immense gratitude to the patriotic citizens of this country, both departed and alive, who made various sacrifices in order to berth our current democratic dispensation. There were the members of the Constituent Assembly who put together our constitution, our late former president, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, together with members of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) which he led, whose commitment and steer proved invaluable contributions to the introduction of the Fourth Republic. So were there many other ardents of democracy of different political persuasions – too many to mention here – whose contributions cannot be ignored.
Our journey to the Fourth Republic
To most of you today, the Fourth Republic remains very dear, and rightly so. How we got here is history to you. In 1960 we jettisoned the 1957 Constitution which was fashioned according to the Westminster model of parliamentary practice. We adopted our First Republican Constitution on 1st July 1960. We then had military interruption between 1966 and 1969. The Second Republic, which was ushered in in 1969 also got interrupted: that subsequently paved way for the Third Republic in 1979. In 1981, that was also truncated until 1992 when we had our Fourth Republican Constitution adopted through a referendum. It has been a journey of vicissitudes toward the peaceful democracy that we enjoy today.
The 30th anniversary celebration
The theme for the 30th anniversary celebration is “30 years of parliamentary democracy in the Fourth Republic: the journey thus far”. We have set up a planning committee chaired by the Member of Parliament for Abuakwa South, Hon. Samuel Atta Akyea to help navigate us through the celebrations. The activities of the committee would be coordinated by the Clerk to Parliament, Mr. Cyril Kwabena Oteng Nsiah. I will urge that we all reflect on the theme as the programme of activities for the celebration unfolds. I am confident that we will participate fully in all the activities that will be planned. The year-long celebration will zone the country into six. Programmes will be planned to suit the peculiarities of each of the six zones. I must say I am impressed with the preliminary work of the committee so far. In due course, this will be unveiled to all of you.
Remembering the forebearers of Ghana’s parliamentary democracy
We cannot launch the 30th anniversary of parliamentary democracy in Ghana without paying tribute to the past speakers of the Fourth Republic who have been pivotal in strengthening the pillars of democracy through their contributions and sacrifices. I will want to mention the following:
1. Rt. Hon. Daniel Francis Annan (late), the pioneering Speaker of the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic, who served from 7th January 1993 to 6th January 2001.
2. Rt. Hon. Peter Ala Adjetey (late), the Speaker of Parliament from the 7th January 2001 to the 6th January 2005.
3. Rt. Hon. Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi-Hughes was Speaker of Parliament from 7th January 2005 to 6th January 2009.
4. Rt. Hon. Justice Joyce Adelaide Bamford-Addo, who was the Speaker of Parliament from 7th January 2009 to 6th January 2013.
5. Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho was Speaker of Parliament from 7th January 2013 to 6th January 2017.
6. My immediate predecessor, the Rt. Hon. Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, who took over as the Speaker of Parliament on 7th January 2017, and who I succeeded on 7th January 2021.
This makes yours truly, the Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin the 7th Speaker but of the 8th Parliament. The first Speaker served two consecutive terms in the first and second parliaments of this republic.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference
Let me take this opportunity to remind us all that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) will hold its annual conference here in Accra. The tentative date is from 30th August to 6th September 2023. Selecting Ghana to host this prestigious conference in itself is an honour. Beyond that, it is proof of how the world sees and rates our parliamentary democracy. We have indeed come very far as a democratic country. We should keep this in mind as we prepare to host the CPA in Accra. Let us put our A Game on display in whatever role we are assigned so that at the end of the day, the CPA conference in Accra will leave lasting memories on the minds of participants.
Ghana has had eight successive elections and four government change-overs between the two major political parties. On account of that, we can confidently say that we are now a consummate democratic dispensation. However, elections and successful government changeovers are not the only determinants of a working democracy. We must focus on strengthening our democratic institutions if we want to have a sustainable democracy.
Hon. Leaders of the House, Hon Members of Parliament, the Clerk to Parliament and staff of the Parliamentary Service, distinguished guests, I wish to declare the 30th anniversary celebration of Ghana’s parliamentary democracy duly launched.
Thank you for coming and for your attention.