The Deputy Majority Leader and MP for Effutu in the Central Region, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, says the hardline position taken by the Speaker of Parliament, Right Honourable Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, over the 2022 Budget could have been influenced by criticism in social media that he was soft on the government.
Disclosing this first on Newsfile, the Deputy Minority Leader said ahead of Parliament’s sitting on 26 November 2021, the Speaker abruptly brought discussions he was having with the leadership of Parliament and officials of government to an end because he claimed he was being insulted by one Kevin Taylor in a clip broadcast on Facebook.
“We were in Mr Speaker’s office as leadership trying to fine-tune the best way to manage the floor for that afternoon,” Afenyo-Markin said.
“In the process, Mr Speaker said there is a video that Kevin Taylor is insulting him that he was supporting the government to pass a budget and his own people were insulting him.
“These were his words. So, he suddenly gave up on the engagement and [said] that he was going to get robed and get into the chamber.”
Probe of claim
The host of Newsfile, Samson Lardy Anyenini, in his bid to bring clarity to what Afenyo-Markin had said and to put the Deputy Majority Leader’s comments in context, asked:
“You are saying that Bagbin, who has done over two decades as a politician and being at the very important place of Parliament and now has become the whole Speaker of this proud Ghana’s Parliament, made the fear of insults by an irrelevant and insulting ignoramus, so to speak, whose tabloid of jokes he does in the name of journalism – he makes that a major issue and that he is unable to proceed on an important business of the House?”
The host added, in apparent disbelief: “I doubt that Bagbin with these decades of politics and experience would be concerned about such a character who is involved in jokes in the name of journalism.”
The Effutu lawmaker, in response to the host’s question, said: “Samson, you have known me. I may make mistakes as a politician, I may misquote and all that, but, on this occasion, please take my words.
“Mr Speaker and I are very close, when we were backbenchers, we [used to] go to him for advice and all that. I am telling you that these were his words. Mr Speaker said Kevin Taylor was insulting him in a video and he gave up because we were still having a meeting in his office,” Afenyo-Markin said.
“I am saying so and Mr Speaker knows I am telling the truth. He said his people were insulting him and they have reported him to Kevin Taylor, and there is a video and he is insulting him. These were his words,” the Deputy Majority Leader said.
The claim by Afenyo-Markin appears to have been corroborated by assertions made by the Speaker of Parliament when he left the meeting to preside over parliamentary proceedings that day.
Before the sitting, MPs on the Minority side in Parliament marched to the Speaker’s block to demand that he come over to the chamber so that parliamentary business could commence.
In what appears to be the Speaker’s explanation for what has accounted for the delay in the sitting of the House, Right Honourable A S K Bagbin, speaking before the commencement of business, said:
“I’m saying that the suspension was for 30 minutes but it has taken us two hours or more to return, and that is because, the subject matter that we are to discuss, there’s been a new development … and, as Speaker, I have to be briefed.
“So your leaders came with the Minister for Finance to brief me. Should I ignore them and come and preside because I’ve suspended sitting for 30 minutes?
“Go through the media and see how I’m being insulted. Please, the only thing I have is my reputation … Please let’s be Honourable Members of Parliament,” the Speaker said.