Debates of 28 May 2009

PRAYERS 10:15 a.m.


Madam Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 27th May, 2009. Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. [Interruption.]
Nana Abu Bonsra 10:15 a.m.
Madam Speaker,
on page 6, paragraph 4, item 4, that is, Hon Andrews Adjei-Yeboah, who is the Hon Colleague who sits to my left, was with me yesterday here in Parliament but he has been listed as being absent.
Madam Speaker 10:15 a.m.
So he was present?
Nana Abu-Bonsra 10:15 a.m.
Yes, Madam
Speaker. We were here together.
Madam Speaker 10:15 a.m.
We will take note.

The Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 27th May, 2009 as corrected be adopted as a true record of the proceedings.

We move on to the Official Report of Wednesday, 27th May 2009.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:15 a.m.
Madam Speaker, as usual, I got up but I could not catch your attention. In respect of Members who have been listed as
Madam Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Thank you, Hon
Member. Now we are on the Official Report of 27th May 2009. Any corrections? [Pause] -- Hon Members, in the absence of any corrections, the Official Report of 27th May, 2009 is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
We now move to item 3 -- Statements
STATEMENTS 10:15 a.m.

Madam Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Thank you, Hon Member.
We now move to the Commencement of Public Business and I will -- [Interruption] -- Yes, Hon Haruna Iddrisu, are you going to contribute?
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu 10:25 a.m.
Rightly so, with
your permission, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker 10:25 a.m.
I thought this was a ceremonial -- [Pause]-- All right.
Minister for Communications (Mr. Haruna Iddrisu) 10:25 a.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to comment
on the Statement ably made by Hon Shirley A. Botchway on the matter of the African Union -- [Interruption] -- The Member of Parliament for Weija, if you want I will add - one of the largest constituencies in Ghana, which has a huge population.
Madam Speaker, I want to commend
her for the Statement and for bringing to the fore matters which are very challenging for the African Union.
Since 1963, we have bemoaned and paid lip-service to continental unification. Indeed, Madam Speaker, as Africans, we are the only people who have suffered three traumatic events in a row -- slavery, colonialism and continuing global racism. There is evidence that in unity lies strength. The United States of America today is a symbol of continental unification -- they, parading as giants of the world economy indicates the strength of that country because it is United States of America.
Madam Speaker, if we take the European Union of up to 27 countries standing up today, a few years ago, none of us appreciated what the value of the euro as a currency could do. As a symbol of continental unification, we are all familiar with the giant strides that the European Union and its member countries have made. Even the less-developed countries within Europe have picked up as a result of their partnership and collaboration under the European Union.
Madam Speaker, the initial task of the African Union, which was referred to as the Organization of African Unity (OAU), was decolonization. Beyond decolo-nization, the thrust became democra-tization, that is, in the early 90s between 1990 and 2000, the focus changed. After achieving some sort of political indepen-dence, the thrust was how African countries would become democratic.
Madam Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Thank you, Hon Member. Yes, Hon Member for Akropong
-- 10:25 a.m.

Mr. W. O. Boafo (NPP -- Akropong) 10:35 a.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement by the Member for Weija.
Madam Speaker, as rightly pointed out by the Hon Member, there are two schools of thought for this United States of Africa -- the gradualist approach and the other one. I am for the gradualist approach in the sense that the process of United States of Africa is not a question of sovereign process, that is, a process between sovereign governments and States.

It is more of a process involving institutions and civil society and this takes a long time. That is why we must gradually approach the issue.
Mr. Avedzi 10:35 a.m.
On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I think the Hon Member is trying to provoke debate. Statements shall not provoke debate so if he can be called to order so that he can restrict himself to the Statement that is on the floor instead of provoking debates.
Mr. Boafo 10:45 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I am only urging our President -- he is the President for all of us and he has said so [Hear! Hear!] He is to champion the cause of ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) like his predecessors have done, from the time of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, through all the leaders, to President John Agyekum Kufuor. [Hear! Hear!]
Madam Speaker, I earlier on said that we would like the member states to live up to their promises, and we would like

to urge President Atta Mills to make sure that the better Ghana that he has promised Ghanaians would not be a bitter Ghana. [Hear! Hear!] Madam Speaker, that his undertaking to move us forward in the right direction will not be an undertaking to move us backwards in the wrong direction. [Hear! Hear!]

Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Madam Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Yes, if I may at this stage, caution that comments will be made on such Statement and nothing generating debates. So please -- [Pause.]
Mr. Inusah Abdulai B. Fuseini (NDC Tamale Central) 10:45 a.m.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Weija Constituency (Ms. Ayokor Botchway).
Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo 10:45 a.m.
Madam Speaker, on a point of order. Madam Speaker, if I heard my Hon Colleague rightly, he said “climate crisis” and I want to know if we have anything like “climate crisis”?
Mr. Fuseini 10:45 a.m.
Madam Speaker, in fact, if he had waited he would have known that from 25th to 28th of June, African countries, particularly the Pan- African Parliaments will be meeting in
Prof. Michael Aaron Oquaye (NPP -- Dome-Kwabenya) 10:55 a.m.
Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, for this opportunity to make a contribution to this Statement, so ably made by the Hon Member for Weija (Ms. Ayorkor Botchway), who shared a number of experiences with us as a former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, NEPAD and Regional Integration.
Madam Speaker, I note from my Hon Friends' contribution and what she said particularly about peace and security as a basis for our development that really, is the only way we can eschew poverty, misery and disease on this Continent of ours.
Madam Speaker, decades of develop-
ment can be destroyed in a few weeks of conflict and it is very clear that this is something that Africa must seriously address her mind to if we want to make a true meaning of African unity and also to establish the real pillars upon which we shall base our unity.

Madam Speaker, from 1964 in Nigeria, the problems in Western Nigeria -- Akintola and others -- Madam Speaker, the thing that was really behind it, all was elections. If we come to our elections, there is a lot of trouble throughout the Continent. Neighbouring la Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria herself -- but for God's sake, no one knows what would have happened at the last elections in Nigeria.

We know about the same in Liberia and in other places. And in fact, ethnic-related conflicts are escalated mainly through elections when there is dissatisfaction and these things also come to play.

Madam Speaker, what I have been suggesting is that Africa must not only talk about unity. I think we have sung the song for too long. We must develop realistic institutions that will become the base for what we are yearning for. For example, I would want to advocate a West African Electoral Commission.

The West African Examinations Council has been with us for so long; it has served us so well. So if we have a West African Electoral Commission, East African Electoral Commission, South African Electoral Commission, maybe, what happened in Zimbabwe would not have happened and it could have been anything in Zimbabwe. Election is at the root of the matter.

Madam Speaker, if we have this
Prof. Michael Aaron Oquaye (NPP -- Dome-Kwabenya) 10:55 a.m.
When we have got this, it means, therefore, that in West Africa, for example, ECOWAS, everybody will be known, so we cannot ever say that, oh some people came from la Cote d'Ivoire and voted in Ghana, or some people went from Ghana and voted in la Cote d'Ivoire. That itself is a base for the credibility and the sustainability of the electoral process and for that matter good governance, peace and stability. So this high-powered body with the co-operation of our development partners now also conducts the actual elections in the various countries.
Madam Speaker, in the case of Nigeria, within days, certain ballot papers were printed and that itself became a real bone of contention that nearly led to war. Where did these papers come from? People were contending. This time it will come from the West African Electoral Commission which is like the West African Examinations Council -- high- powered -- and then they will actually go from country to country to actually conduct the elections, but of course, with the assistance of local personnel.
If there is discrepancy, this will also be resolved by a West African Court of Appeal. I am sure Madam Speaker is very conversant with such legal systems which had existed before and which we can put together as our collective responsibility
and our collective security.
Madam Speaker, sometimes we talk about sovereignty in these matters but if we will worry about what I will call “little sovereignties” then we will never have unity in Africa. Because it necessarily means that, in the final analysis, it is recognized in our own Constitution, that there would be the need at one time or the other to cede a certain amount of autonomy or sovereignty in order to make the African Union a reality. So as for these matters, in terms of not ceding electoral authority will not help; we need it for us to make some progress.
Madam Speaker, sometimes, I must be honest in this Honourable House. When Africa talks about unity, some of us actually laugh in the light of the experiences that we have seen.
Madam Speaker, in Europe, Spain and Portugal were not for many years allowed to join the European Union. Why? Because their democratic credentials were poor. Europeans -- they said, “Spain, Portugal, wait, your democratic credentials are not good enough for you to be members of the European Union”. And in Africa, we think any number can win and that is why we can never unite.
Those who are dictators, those who are abusing human rights, those who are pursuing democracy, we think we can all come together. There are some African leaders that some of us will not even like to live under if Africa were to unite today and were made the President of the African Union. This is because we want to be free particularly as Ghanaians, and we love our freedom and our democracy.
Madam Speaker, these building blocs are very important and we in this House and those who will share this view will

want to charge that the West African Parliamentarian group and others should ensure that these kinds of blocs are introduced so that our peace and stability will be secured, that democracy and good governance will remain and for that matter our national development will also become a reality.

I thank you for this opportunity, Madam Speaker.
Mr. Hackmanm Owusu-Agyemang (NPP -- New Juaben North) 10:55 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank you for recognizing me.
Madam Speaker, the last intervention by the distinguished Second Deputy Speaker makes me rise to say that, indeed, there are difficulties quite bumpy in any integration process, whether it is in the Carribean or Latin America, in Europe or wherever. If you look at the Treaty of Rome which established eventually what is now the European Union, it had a lot of difficulties.
I am just using this medium to make a very special appeal to our brothers and sisters of the inky fraternity, in other words, the journalists, to understand that the difficulties notwithstanding, the benefits of an integrated Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, Eastern Africa are much more than can be envisaged immediately. It takes time but eventually they are productive.
I was rather appalled last Monday, 25th of this month, the African Union (AU) Day, when some very supposed knowledgeable commentators sometimes try to ridicule the whole concept. I was rather hurt. Indeed, last year when President Kufuor was elected Chairman of the AU, somebody said on a popular radio station, “Chairman, oh, one of the useless organizations,” referring to African Union and I felt quite sad.
Mr. Hackmanm Owusu-Agyemang (NPP -- New Juaben North) 11:05 a.m.
As a student from 1957 when we all under Dr. Kwame Nkrumah tried to bring to the fore the fact that Africa needed to unite for its own survival -- So I just want to make a special appeal that if we are having bumps and not a smooth ride, what is important is that, as a people, we have a vision, we have a goal and we must pursue it.
Madam Speaker, it is not for nothing that the past Parliament approved 25th of May as AU Day and a holiday. The whole idea, Madam Speaker, was to make sure that we lead the people who are the basic building blocs of any integrational process, that they understand the need for us to work collectively -- just as we do for Christmas and just as we do for the Muslim holidays. Indeed, until we made the Muslim celebration, the Eid a holiday, people did not even know, they thought it was only a very special occasion for muslims alone.

So the idea of us celebrating Africa Day, of having a holiday, is not yet another frivolous attempt to throw away productivity. Indeed, if one looks at the scale -- the number of countries globally, not only African countries -- and I have done this work myself, Ghana is not full of holidays. Indeed, we came very, very down the line as one of the countries where holidays are not as many as they are.

So there is a purpose and I would urge the press, those who are prepared to educate us, to be on board and show that at the end of the day, no matter what they think, our collective destiny is important. The countervailing power that we are able to put together by coming together is enormous.

If one goes to negotiate for a project -- and one is talking about Ghana, one

is talking about 21 to 22 million people -- But if we say that, we have the free treaty and the borderless ECOWAS which eventually put together, we are talking about 250 million people and not 22 million. And this is what we need to understand.

I would urge very especially those who are in the Press, with the utmost of respect, to give us support rather than sometimes make it look as if it is a very frivolous attempt by politicians. After all, we as Parliament must be leading the process because if one goes to the ECOWAS Parliament, for the time being, it is our parliamentarians who represent the people at the ECOWAS Parliament. If one goes to the AU Parliament, it is the same.

The ultimate is eventually to have universal adult suffrage so that we shall vote just like the Europeans have their European elections. But in the interim, we the representatives of the people -- and we are all representing the people here, then must lead the process and give due emphasis and attention to the programmes.

I believe that there is a lot to be gained from an integrated Africa. Never mind the setbacks, never mind a few idiosyncrasies of some of our leaders. That is an aloof, that is life, we cannot all behave the same way. But at the end of the day, there is no shadow of doubt in my mind that a collective and united Africa -- West Africa, Southern Africa and all of the others will inure to our benefit.

That is why I am very happy that Ghana took the lead and Ghana is maintaining that lead and come the 25th of May again, I would urge the radio station presenters and the newspapers not to begin to ridicule it. I was very sad. And I know what I am talking about because I tried to call in and I could not get through.

So Madam Speaker, I would like to

support this Statement and to say that we have a long way to go but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step. We are going gradually, we shall get through the bumps in the processes and eventually, we shall be there just as the Europeans have done it.

If they have done it, why not us? Colour is not a barrier to making sure that we are each others keeper, we integrate -- whether it is the West African Power Pool or whatever it is, we should begin to put it in place because it will economically push us forward into the first grade country that we hope for.

Madam Speaker, thank you very much.
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Thank you, Hon Member.
Ms. Cecilia Abena Dapaah (NPP -- Bantama) 11:05 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I wish to associate myself with the Statement on the floor of the House which was made by the Hon Member for Weija, the largest constituency in the country and Hon Ranking Member of Foreign Affairs. And I also wish to associate myself with the theme chosen for the African Union (AU) day which is “Towards a United Peaceful and Prosperous Africa.”
Madam Speaker, we all know that in Africa, basically, we are born free but we are in chains everywhere that we turn. We are in the chains of hunger, war, in some cases bad leadership and disease
My Hon Colleagues have already touched on a few pertinent issues, so I would not go there. I just want to draw our attention to the point raised by the Hon Member who made the Statement with regard to our rich natural resources that we have at our disposal to harness them for the use of our people and for posterity.
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon Member, is it a point of order or you are going to contribute? [Laughter.]
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:05 a.m.
Madam Speaker, I want to contribute.
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Yes, contribute. I am listening.
Mr. I. K. Asiamah (NPP -- Atwima- Mponua) 11:05 a.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Weija.
Madam Speaker, I think it is very important that as a subregion, West Africa, ECOWAS for that matter, we provide a critique -- this House provides a critique as to why we still find ourselves at this level of development. It is crucial we
Madam Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon Member, you are supposed to comment on the Statement and not to generate debate. If I may -- [Laughter.]So, would you restrict your contributions to just comments, please? When we come to debate, we will debate matters.
Thank you, very much.
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:15 a.m.
Madam Speaker, thank you. I believe these are comments I am making. But I thank you for your guidance.
Madam Speaker, the critical point I am making is that we need to provide quality leadership, that is the critical point I am making. Leadership has been the bane to our development. And it is critical that we as a subregion provide the right leadership that is needed. Madam Speaker, as Members of Parliament, it is our duty to

make sure that we provide leadership that can stand the test of time. Leadership that tomorrow our children yet unborn will be proud of and they will inherit something that is proper.

Madam Speaker, the key point I also want to make is about building viable institutions in the subregion. The key point is that sometimes we do not support the institutions established that will promote the good of our countries.
Mr. D.T. Assumeng 11:15 a.m.
Madam Speaker, you just directed the Hon Member to speak to the topic. Now, the Statement is on African unity and he is talking about corruption. So I want you to direct him to speak to the Statement, which is ably made by the Hon Member for Weija and not to bring any other issues into the debate.
Madam Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Thank you Hon Member. The time is almost up. We can only devote a certain number of time. Can you just wind up quickly?
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:15 a.m.
Madam Speaker, my very last important point is that, we are talking of uniting the subregion, making sure that as a subregion, we are united. Madam Speaker, what are we doing as individual countries to unite ourselves?
It is critical that an ex-President, somebody who has served this country for many years, he goes and there is a group saying that he cannot stay in a particular part of the country and that he should go to his hometown; and we have a Government that sits down unconcerned and its party promotes such divisions in the country.
Madam Speaker, I believe that we need to be more concerned about some of these developments because these are developments that have undermined our progress, these are developments that have resulted in conflicts, these are developments that have really worked against the subregion. So charity they say, begins at home.
It is important that as a country, Ghana, over the years, we have provided the right leadership for the African Continent and West Africa obviously and we have done a lot to unite West Africa. But Madam Speaker, what are we doing ourselves as a country to make sure that Ghana, indeed, stands united and that the children of tomorrow would be proud that this country is indeed united? That for me, is my concern, because if we are not careful, some of these little, little mistakes that we make will undermine all the gains that we have made.
Madam Speaker, my last beef is on the role of the media. We know that Ghana would not have reached this level of our democratic development if the media had not been very responsible over the years. I commend the media for their role in promoting democracy, indeed, in Ghana and for that matter the subregion. But Madam Speaker, as we commend the media, we also want to urge them and advise them on some of the excesses.
I understand, because it is important that -- Madam Speaker, what happened in Rwanda for example, was just a remark
Madam Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Your time is up.
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:15 a.m.
Madam Speaker, it is about the challenge of globalisation and how West Africa is being left behind. Madam Speaker, globalisation is something that we cannot do anything about. It is an endless process. Whether we like it or not, it is part of us. It is never going to die. Madam Speaker, it is important that as we are caught in this globalised world, we also accept some of the challenges that come with the globalisation. Madam Speaker, we have more to gain from globalisation than to lose. All that we need to do is to position ourselves well so that we can gain some from this globalised world.
Madam Speaker, there are more to say but since time is up, I will end here. Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity.
Madam Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Thank you, Hon Member. I think time is up now and the next item is Public Business and I will ask the Hon Leader to indicate whether there is going to be an adjournment or not.
Madam Speaker 11:15 a.m.
I thought we have finished with you?
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:15 a.m.
Madam Speaker, before we go to the Commencement of Public Business, I want to raise this issue and it is in accordance with Standing Order 48, about quorum.
Madam Speaker, I think it is important we talk about quorum. Before you got in, our side of the House, we had about 13 Hon Members and the other side of
the House had about 15 Hon Members. Madam Speaker, as we speak now, our side has about 46 Hon Members and the other side has less than 20 Hon Members.
Madam Speaker, for now, all that I can say is that this side of the House is co-operating with their side to make sure that government business runs and runs smoothly. That is for now, what I will say. We are co-operating with them, because you can see that we are helping the business of government to function in this House clearly and nobody can dispute this. Our side is more determined and committed in making sure that Ghana, indeed, succeeds to create a better Ghana for all of us.
Madam Speaker, we would expect them to also reciprocate so that they will listen to the genuine legitimate concerns of this side of the House because it is clear that we are more determined to make sure that the business of the House functions and functions smoothly and it has been demonstrated today. Look at their side and look at our side. Clearly, our side has the numbers to make sure that we function and function today and subsequent days. Majority Leader or Leader of the House, is that not the case?
Madam Speaker 11:15 a.m.
Thank you Hon Member. I have got the point.
Mr. I. K. Asiamah 11:15 a.m.
The Majority Leader should also extend the same co- operation and friendship so that in the coming days, we will all move forward. Madam Speaker, this is a caution to all of us, for, the coming days are going to experience very fruitful co-operation.
Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
I wonder why you
did not raise the question of quorum before
Mr. A. S. K. Bagbin 11:25 a.m.
Madam Speaker, before I give the indication, it is important for me to draw the attention of Hon Members to the fact that we are governed by rules here -- this is not a market square, it is not a lorry station and conduct is very important and the rules are clear if you go through Orders 99 and 100. And the Speaker must be respected at all times and points on topics raised must be taken on board during our contributions. It is important that we conduct this business with decency and decorum.
Madam Speaker, we are getting the business of the House and referring a lot of businesses to committees and a number of committees are seeing to them. So we want to adjourn to allow the committees to meet to discuss the businesses we have referred to them. From next week, we expect that these committees should report to the House and the House will then have much more business to work on. This week is for laying of reports and for meetings of committees.
So I beg to move for the adjournment of the House to tomorrow, ten o'clock in the forenoon when we shall reconvene to continue with business.
I beg to move.
Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader, are you seconding the motion?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:25 a.m.
Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.
In seconding the motion, I just want to
make two observations. The first relates to the time for the meeting of committees. If committees could be prevailed upon to meet after adjournments, I think that will be very good for us because when we come to do serious business in the House, given the number of Members of Parliament who have been made Ministers and Deputy Ministers -- if committees could find out before the House commences business, it will rekindle the conduct of business in the House.
So I want to plead with committees to --- unless it is absolutely necessary to have their meetings after the House adjourns.
The second thing really relates to our own codes, that is our rules and procedures. I do not want to believe that by the intervention of the Majority Leader, he wanted to impute improper motives to anybody who made any presentation in this House.
On this note Madam Speaker, I second the motion made by the Majority Leader
-- 11:25 a.m.

Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Yes, you seconded the motion?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:25 a.m.
Madam Speaker, yes, but the Majority Leader is telling me that rather, it is improper conduct. I agree, except he does not want to imply by any stretch of imagination that the conduct of any people at the lorry stations and at market places are improper.
Madam Speaker, I second the motion.
Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
I was going to ask you Hon Member, whether after he had moved the motion, you could come in and make points before seconding it. Is it correct? I thought once a motion
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:25 a.m.
Madam Speaker, it is a necessary adjunct of a secondment. [Laughter.]
Madam Speaker 11:25 a.m.
Thank you Hon
Member -- And in which case, I am ready to put the Question now.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 11:25 a.m.