The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has denied media reports that he granted the Member of Parliament for Dome/Kwabenya, Sarah Adwoa Safo, permission to be absent from parliamentary proceedings.
According to Mr Bagbin, reports that Ms Safo, who doubles as the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection sought permission from him on health grounds were false and unfounded.
“I want it to be known by all that I have not granted any such interview anywhere [that I granted Adwoa Safo permission]. I have not said anything like that anywhere.
“The votes and proceedings of the House are so loud that she is absent without permission for all these days. That is on the votes and proceedings of the House,” Mr Bagbin said at proceedings in Parliament, Accra, yesterday.
He was responding to what he said were a number of calls from journalists that he granted Ms Safo permission.
He continued: “It is not the Speaker who determines who determines who is absent and who is present.”
Ms Safo could face expulsion from Parliament having absented herself in defiance of the 1992 and the Standing Orders of the House for more than 15 sitting days without permission since the House reconvened on January 25.
Per Article 97(1)(c) of the 1992 Constitution, a Member of Parliament shall vacate his seat “if she is absent, without the permission in writing of the Speaker and he is unable to offer a reasonable explanation to the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges from fifteen sittings of a meeting of Parliament during any period that Parliament has been summoned to meet and continues to meet.”
It is unknown what has kept the former Deputy Majority Leader in the Seventh Parliament away from her parliamentary obligations during this meeting.
She was last seen in the House on December 1, 2021 when the Majority caucus reversed the rejection of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government.
Ms Safo, however, has come under criticism from within the governing New Patriotic Party for holding the government to ransom.
New Juaben South Member, Michael Okyere Baafi, stated in an interview on Kumasi based Hello Fm that “all the problems government is facing are attributable to Adwoa Safo. Clearly, her intention and posture show that she wants to sabotage the NPP”.
Latest to accuse the third-term lawmaker of undermining the government is the Assin Central Member, Kennedy Agyepong, who alleged that the Chief of Staff gave him $120,000 to be deposited into Adwoa Safo’s Fedelity Bank account all in attempt to convince her to return to Ghana.
A former Chief of Staff under the President John Agyekum Kuffuor regime, Kojo Mpiani, has also charged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to sack the embattled minister.
It is thought that the absence of Ms Safo from the jurisdiction is affecting the Majority side of the House as it needs the numbers to push through the controversial Electronic Transactions Bill, 2021 (E-Levy) and other critical government policies with both sides having equal numerical strength – 137 each – and an independent member who aligns with the governing party in the legislature.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI