The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, yesterday launched a year-long celebration of 30 years of Ghana’s parliamentary democracy under the Fourth Republic.
Held at Parliament House, the launch was on the theme: “Thirty years of Parliamentary democracy under the Fourth Republic: The journey thus far.”
A planning committee, chaired by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Abuakwa South, Samuel Atta Akyea, has been constituted.
The activities of the committee will be coordinated by the Clerk to Parliament, Cyril Kwabena Oteng Nsiah.
The celebration will zone the country into six, and programmes will be planned to suit the peculiarities of each of the six zones.
Activities to be held nationwide include football matches, health walk, mock parliamentary sessions and lectures.
Mr Bagbin said the anniversary could not have taken place without paying tribute to the past speakers of the Fourth Republic who were pivotal in strengthening the pillars of democracy through their contributions and sacrifices.
He mentioned the late D.F. Annan, the first Speaker of the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic, for the pioneering role he played in the development of the House.
In the Chamber for the event were two former speakers, Edward Doe Adjaho and Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, as well as representatives from the Council of State, led by E.T. Mensah.
The Speaker told the gathering that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference (CAPC) of which he chaired, would hold its annual conference in Accra from September 30 to October 6, this year.
He said selecting Ghana to host the conference in itself was 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 CPAC in Accra,” he said.
Ghana has had eight successive elections and four government changeovers between the two major political parties — the ruling New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress.
The Speaker announced that a Democratic House was to be built by Parliament to promote the culture and nurturing of democracy in the country.
In a message read by the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, said the government would not give up in deepening the country’s democracy and guaranteeing the integrity of the electoral process.
He said as a nation, “we must do everything within our means to safeguard Ghana’s democracy.”
He added: “Even though we are presently confronted with difficulties, I do not doubt our collective resolve to work our way out of this challenges and put Ghana unto the path of progress and prosperity, he added.
“Let us work to create a platform for the evolution of a new Ghanaian civilisation which will give true meaning to the foundational values of freedom and justice on which our nation was birthed.”
President Akufo-Addo said Ghanaians had every right to be proud of the achievement under the Fourth Republic where the country had five presidential transitions and three presidential transfers.
He emphasised the role of Parliament in exercising oversight on the Executive and in setting the tone for public discourse.
He said it was for the good of the country that Parliament continued to develop capacity to insist on accountability in all aspects of the country’s life.
“And no institution is better suited for this than the representative of the people,” he said.
The President assured of the commitment of the government to work with MPs for the peace, progress and prosperity of the country
“All of us have a joint responsibility to work together with our different views and perspectives for the Ghana project, a united Ghana governed according to rule of law, respect for individual liberties, human rights and the principle of democratic accountability.
“For my part, I have an unshakable faith in the boundless prospects of Ghana’s future and we will work for it, the refinance of the Black Star. I am confident that with the spirit of fairness, hard work, integrity and reconciliation, the best days of Mother Ghana lie ahead of us,” he added.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, advocated the re-engineering of the 1992 constitutional architecture to conform with today’s realities.
“We need a constitutional order that frowns upon winner-takes-all syndrome and promotes collaboration, collectiveness and consensus building in decision-making at all levels of governance,” he said.
That, he said, must also include an order that would ensure gender equity and, in many respects, equality to promote real development.
He said that new order would mitigate the winner-takes-all and prevent the do-or-die combat associated with the country’s elections.
Contributing to the programme, the Minority Leader, Cassiel Ato Forson, said democracy was about Parliament.
“It is only when Parliament is properly constituted and properly conducts its business that we can be certain that there is democracy,” he said.
Mr Forson said for all the years that Parliament was in abeyance, all the other organs of state and their agencies were running, albeit not as expected by the people of Ghana.
“The missing organ was the Legislature. One may, therefore, ask why did our people feel the need to have a Parliament?” he quizzed.
He said Parliament allowed for debate, scrutiny, oversight, deliberation,and consensus building which were key pillars in safeguarding the country’s democracy.