History was made in Ghana on January 8, 2021, as a member of the opposition for the first time was elected to the third-highest office of the land.
Alban Bagbin of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) beat his former boss, the New Patriotic Party (NPP’s) Prof. Mike Oquaye to ascend the throne but that did not come without controversies as a number of dramatic scenes characterised the election of the Speaker and dented the dignity of Parliament.
Both sides of the legislative arm of government, before entering the House where laws are made to flout the law in the full glare of the public, had claimed to be the Majority although they had 137 seats at piece with the Fomena seat being occupied by an Independent Candidate, Andrew Amoako Asiama.
That indeed set the tone for the night of lawlessness, chaos, and mayhem.
1. Ursula sits on Akandoh’s laps
Before the commencement of proceedings at midnight, NDC MPs had occupied seats on the right side of the House meant for the party with majority members. The NPP members who claimed knew the intentions of their counterparts to cause disorder, chose to sit on the left side but Ursula Owusu-Ekuful of Ablekuma West would not. She’d rather be on the right side. When Mrs. Owusu got up from the seat to go to the bathroom, Juaboso MP Kwabena Mintah Akandoh occupied it. She refused to join her colleague NPP MPs and rather sat on the laps of the male MP.
Prior to this, she occupied Cletus Avoka’s seat after the Zebilla East MP had vacated it to visit the washroom. She was eventually forced off the seat as one of the NDC MPs pulled the chair. This stoked a scuffle as her colleague Hawa Koomson joined the altercation.2. Chaos over secret ballot
The NPP in ensuring that its MPs vote for the party’s nominee (Prof. Mike Oquaye) directed them to show their ballot sheets to the Chief Whip before placing them in the ballot box, a situation the NDC protested on the grounds that it was not in line with the Standing Orders of Parliament. Muntaka Mubarak, NDC MP for Asawase was captured directing a punch at Dr. Nana Ayew Afriyie, NPP MP for Effiduase Asokore. Muntaka and John Jinapor, NDC MP for Yapei-Kusawgu were sighted kicking the paper-box voting booth engendering complete pandemonium and disruption of the voting process.
3. Armed military storm Parliament
NDC MPs had for the fourth time disrupted the electoral process of the new Speaker for the House. While the confusion ensued, there was a rambo-style military cum police intervention in the proceedings of Parliament to restore calm.
Although it is unclear who ordered the military to storm Parliament, the NDC has argued that the act is a breach of the sanctity of the legislative body. But Vincent Ekow Assafuah of the NPP who is the MP for Old Tafo explains that “It is anticipated that they (the military) came in, to restore orderliness in the house. They did not touch anybody, they did not beat anybody, they did not shoot anybody.”
If there was a moment the whole country never envisaged, it was this very instance. An ‘athlete’ lawmaker engaging in electoral fraud. Tema West MP Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah boldly snatched ballot papers from the hands of a Parliamentary official when the ballot was being counted. The quest to accomplish his mission saw him bolt towards the nearest exit. Luck however eluded him as he was given a hot chase by some members and security officials. Before the ballots were retrieved, Muntaka Mubarak and other NDC MPs who pursued him, threw punches at him.
Aside from the fact that Mr. Ahenkorah’s action is considered untoward, one cannot fathom what informed his decision especially when some ballots that had been counted gave indication Alban Bagbin had won the race.