Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Statement to eulogise the late Hon Alhaji Abukari Sumani.
Mr Speaker, he joins the Late Mariama Alhassan and, as Hon Boniface said, his beloved Hajia Meri Qadri.
May their souls rest in perfect peace, and may they receive the respite of Allah.
I eulogise a diplomat and public servant with exemplary leadership.
Hon Alhaji Abukari Sumani was born at Savelugu on 28th April. His father, Sumani Bukari was a chief and a politician who became a District Commissioner (DC) of Western Dagomba and a two-term Member of Parliament for Savelugu. His mother, Mariama Alhassan was a trader. Hon Sumani was a royal of Savelugu.
He had his primary and middle school education at Savelugu Primary School and Kalpohini Middle Boarding School respectively. He attended the Ghana Secondary School (GHANASCO) in Tamale.
He proceeded to pursue his university education. He graduated from the University of Ghana, Legon and obtained a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB) in 1970.
He proceeded to the Ghana School of Law to pursue the professional law programme and graduated as a Barrister-at-Law in 1972. Hon Alhaji Abukari Sumani was called to the Ghana Bar in the same year. He became the first student from GHANASCO to be called to the Bar.
Hon Alhaji Abukari Sumani practised as a lawyer and was a dedicated public servant. He was a State Attorney with the Attorney-General's Department for some years. He became a State Attorney in the Ashanti Region, Kumasi, between 1972 and 1974; and a Solicitor for the State Insurance Company (SIC) in the Ashanti Region, Kumasi; Eastern Region, Koforidua and Accra in the Greater- Accra Region from 1974 to 1976.
He later became the Managing Director of the now defunct Northern Regional Distribution Corporation (NRDC) in 1977, a position he held until he was forced into exile during the Provisional National Defence Council's (PNDC's) coup d'etat that overthrew the Limann Government in
Hon Sumani was also an astute politician. He returned to Ghana from exile to help found the National Democratic Congress (NDC) an offshoot of the PNDC. He served in different capacities in the
Member, National Executive Committee;
Member, National Organising Committee;
Northern Regional Secretary (1993
Hon Sumani was also a diplomat. He served as the Ambassador to the Kingdom
of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Pakistan from 1994 to 2001 during the Administration of Ft. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings.
Hon Sumani was a distinguished legislator. He was a founding member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). He first entered Parliament on 7th January, 2001, after winning the 2000 Parliamentary Elections on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to represent the then Choggu/Tishigu Constituency in the Third Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana.
In 2004, the then Choggu/Tishigu and Gukpegu/Sabondjida Constituencies were re-demarcated into three Constituencies; Tamale North, Tamale Central and Tamale South. Hon Sumani was the first to represent the Tamale North Constituency in the Fourth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana.
Hon Sumani retained the Tamale North seat for the NDC in the 2008 General Elections to serve in the Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. He therefore served three Parliaments, having represented the people of Choggu/Tishigu in 2001 (Third Parliament) and Tamale North in 2005 and 2009 (Fourth and Fifth Parliaments).
During his tenure in Parliament, Hon Sumani served on a number of Parliamentary Committees including:
Defence, Interior and National Security;
Roads and Highways;
Lands and Natural Resources;
Local Government and Rural Development;
He was also Chairman of the Muslim Caucus of Parliament. Under his leadership as Chairman of the Muslim Caucus of Parliament, the annual Night of Power programme was instituted. The programme brings together the leadership of all Muslim sects, led by the National Chief Imam, to offer special prayers for Ghana and for people of Ghana in the Holy month of Ramadan.
He also served as the Chairman of the Northern Caucus of Parliament a parliamentary group that champions the development of the North and wellbeing of the people of northern Ghana.
Hon Sumani also served on the Boards of public institutions. During the Administration of the late President John Evans Atta-Mills, he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority from 2009 to 2014.
He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB). From February 2015 to January 2017, he was appointed Chairman of the Board of the Public Procurement Authority under President Mahama.
Outside public life, Alhaji Abukari was an active farmer. He was an uncle to the Hon Minority Leader, Lawyer Haruna Iddrisu and Alhaji Lawyer Ibrahim Mahama.
Hon Sumani is survived by ten (10) children and many grandchildren.
Mr Speaker, Hon Abukari Sumani was one of the senior members of the Bar who served Parliament and indeed the nation Ghana creditably. He exhibited leadership
in the House. He talked only when it mattered. He commanded tremendous respect even from both sides of the House. He was very affable and likable to many, including Members and staff of Parliament. He displayed a good sense of humour.
This rare gift helped in reducing tensions in the House. Presiding officers -- the Speakers -- invited him to intervene when they needed to reduce tension, calm nerves and exercise order in the House. And he has never disappointed the presiding officers and his Colleague Members of Parliament.
The Parliament of Ghana really missed Hon Sumani when he was unable to return to the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. He was very passionate about the development of the North in particular and the country in general. He was also very concerned about the security and safety of the Ghanaian populace.
Even though he would be missed by the Parliament of Ghana, his contributions to debate, his wise counsel and experience in the Legislature will forever live on.
Hon Abukari was humble, and humility was his hallmark. He was disciplined and generous at all times.
When he arrived in Ghana after serving as the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, I met him in the offices of his bosom friend and brother, Alhaji Mahdi of Kumbungu.
He then indicated that he wanted to run for elections, and that he had been invited to run for the Choggu/Tishigu seat for the National Democratic Congress (NDC). These were the very last few weeks to the election.
I assured him that we should go to Tamale and give it a trial. Thankfully, he was successful and served the people of the now Tamale North which was then Choggu/Tishigu.
Mr Speaker, the pilgrims to Mecca bore testimonies of his relationship with his Maker, Allah, and the extent to which he served Islam.
In this Parliament, he would be remembered for the institution of the Night of Power Programme, which has become one of the most important pillars of what we observe every other year during the month of Ramadan.
Mr Speaker, I recall that at the time that he encouraged me to get married, as a young person, he had identified a very pretty lady around Nima. He shared with me, as an uncle, that he was very convinced that I was to marry that particular person. He did that with Hajia Jamila. At the time, my love was somewhere and it was difficult to convince me to do that.
Mr Speaker, we pay tribute to a former diplomat, ambassador and Member of Parliament (MP.)
I recall that it was in Boston, where we led a delegation to the NCSL, when I had to accompany the Hon Majority Leader to an award ceremony in the evening, that I told him that there was some discomfort and I needed to get back to Ghana. I did not like the way I left the late Alhaji Sumani on his sick bed at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
Mr Speaker, I got the opportunity to visit him most nights at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. I shudder to ask myself what we keep doing with public resources as a country; our hospitals are still in a
state where we sometimes struggle to have a decent bed to lie on even as we wait for special care.
Mr Speaker, I thank you and the Government. I recall that when my senior brother, Mr Mohammed, and Dr Iddrisu Mutawakilu, who were at his bedside called that he had passed on, I got a call from the National Security and subse- quently from the Inspector-General of Police, who told me that the late Alhaji Sumani was his friend, and there was an offer by the Government to airlift the body for burial.
Mr Speaker, but the family decided that they wanted him in Tamale quietly. It was his wish, while he was alive, that he had a death and funeral that reflected his humility.