The Sixth Parliament So Far
The Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic was inaugurated on January 7, 2013, after a hectic general election in December 2012 which was won by the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The new Parliament, with its seats increased from 230 to 275, had representation in the various political parties at its first sitting as follows: NDC-147, NPP-123, PNC-one and three independent members.
All the three Independent Members of the House, Mr Paul Derigubaa (Jirapa), Mr Joseph Kwadwo Ofori (Akan) and Mr Alhassan Dahamani (Tamale North) and the PNC Member of Parliament (MP), Mr Alhassan Azong (Builsa South), chose to belong to the Majority side of the House.
There were, however, two vacant seats as a result of the death of the NDC MP-elect for Buem, Mr Henry Ford Kamel, and the election of Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, who was the MP for Akatsi South, as the Speaker of Parliament at the first sitting of the House.
These seats were, however, won by the NDC during by-elections to increase its number in the House to 149.
It is worthy to note that 30 out of the 275 members of Parliament were women. This is an increase in the number of the previous Parliament by 11.
Election of Speaker and Deputies
As mentioned above, one of the veteran MPs during the Fourth Republic, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, was elected as the Speaker of the House.
To assist the Speaker to steer affairs of the House, the Member of Parliament for Cape Coast North, Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, and the MP for Essikado-Ketan, Mr Joe Ghartey, were elected as the first and second Deputy Speakers of the House respectively.
Selection of leadership
Another significant thing during the early days of this Sixth Parliament was changes made in the leadership of both the Majority and the Minority sides of the House.
The Majority side, for instance, changed all its leadership during the Fifth Parliament with the exception of Hajia Mary Boforo, who was the Second Deputy Whip.
This time round, the MP for Nandom, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, was chosen to replace Mr Cletus Apul Avoka (Zebilla) as the Majority Leader while Mr Alfred Kwame Agbesi (Ashaiman) replaced Mr John Akologo Tia, who lost his seat during the 2012 General Elections, as the Deputy Majority Leader.
MP for Asawase, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, Asawase replaced Mr Geshon Gbediame (Nkwanta South) as the Majority Chief Whip while Hajia Boforo (Sanerigu) and Mr Sampson Ahi (Bodi) were made the Deputy whips.
Mr Sampson Ahi was later replaced by the MP for Banda, Mr Ahmed Ibrahim, after he was appointed as a Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing.
On the Minority side, the veteran MP for Suame, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, maintained his position as the Minority Leader with Mr Dominic Nitiwul, (Bimbilla) replacing Mr Ambrose Dery who lost his seat during the 2012 General Elections.
Mr Dan Botwe (Okere) replaced Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah (Suhum) as the Minority Chief Whip while Ms Irene Naa Torshie Addo (Tema West) and Mr Ignatius Baffuor-Awuah replaced Mrs Gifty Kusi (Tarkwa Nsuaem) and Mr Benjamin Kofi Ayeh (Upper Denkyira West) as the Deputy Minority Whips.
Conduct of Business in the early days
The conduct of business in the early days of the Sixth Parliament was very slow as there seemed to be too little business for the House.
The daily business comprised of statements by some MPs. It seemed the Executive was pre-occupied with the election petition before the Supreme Court that was filed by the leading NPP personalities to challenge the declaration of President Mahama as the winner of the election.
Vetting of ministerial nominees, however, began on January 24, 2013 and it was conducted by the Appointments Committee of Parliament. Mr Emmanuel Seth Terkper, Finance, Hanna Tetteh , Foreign Affairs, and Alhaji Collins Dauda, Water Resources, Works and Housing were the first to appear before the committee.
However, the Minority side boycotted the Appointments Committee sittings explaining that until the Supreme Court had come out with its verdict on the December 2012 Presidential Election, it would not have anything to do with the President and his ministerial nominees.
On February 21, the President delivered his state of the nation address. The event was also boycotted by the Minority side.
It is also on record that even though the Minority MPs sat in the House during the debate on the address, they did not take part in the debate.
2013 /2014 Budgets
The Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, presented the 2013 Budget to the House on March 5, 2013. At this point in time, the Minority MPs were present after which the Minority Leader described the budget as a journey to nowhere.
Business of the House picked up during the second meeting and continued briskly during the third meeting of House which commenced on October 29, 2013.
The Minority walked out of Parliament a day before the presentation of the 2014 budget on November 18, 2013 in protest against the increase of VAT by 20 per cent.
The side, however, returned to the House and took part in the presentation of the budget and its subsequent debate and approval.
One of the bills passed during the first session was the Petroleum (Local Content and Local Participation) Bill. Passed on November 19, 2013, the bill was to put Ghanaians at the forefront of all petroleum activities in the country. The House also passed the Export Trade, Agriculture and Industrial Development Fund Bill to establish a fund for export trade and industrial development.
The Tax Stamp Bill, among other financial bills, were also passed during the session.
Other notable bills, placed before the House during the session, which are still pending, are the Right to Information Bill, 2013; the Conduct of Public Officers Bill, 2013; the Property Rights of Spouses Bill, 2013 and the Intestate Succession Bill, 2013.
The House also paid tributes to the late Prof. John Evans Atta Mills to commemorate the first anniversary of his death; Mr Nelson Mandela, the first black President of South Africa and Mr Harry Sawyerr, among others.
Majority and Minority Leaders comments
The Majority Leader, Mr Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, commended the Speaker of the House, Mr Adjaho, for the fair and balanced manner in which he steered affairs of the House during the entire session.
The Minority Leader, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, also commended the Speaker and his two deputies for their dedication to duty “in spite of the occasional differences”.
The House rose on December 18, 2013 to end the first session of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic.
It is expected to reconvene on January 28, 2014 to begin its first meeting of the second session of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic.