At first sitting of Parliament: Speaker ditches colonial cloak, calls on MPs to shun violence

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has ditched the decades old attire of the speaker for a traditional Ghanaian wear. 

At the commencement of the First Meeting of the Second Session of the Eighth Parliament in Accra yesterday, Mr Bagbin, a former seven-term member for the Nadowli-Kaleo Constituency, led by the Marshall and Clerks, entered the chamber of the House adorned in a traditional apparel. 

Clad in a colourful kente over a white lace short sleeve shirt, a gold plated looking crown on his head and around his neck and wrists, Mr Bagbin looked more like a traditional leader than the head of the legislature. 

His new look is a fulfillment of an earlier indication he gave to former MPs to ditch the colonial speakers’ cloak for a more local attire as part of his commitment to changing the dress code and code of conduct for MPs. 

In his address to welcome the lawmakers from recess, Mr Bagbin said his new look sets in motion the agenda of a Parliament that should look Ghanaian. 

“The practice of MPs decently dressed in traditional attire led by the Speaker is long overdue.  

“I happily invite all of you to wear Ghana, grow Ghana, eat Ghana, brand Ghana, and transform Ghana. From now I want to see more Members appear in Parliament decently adorned in traditional dress.

“Ghanaians accept representation of the people to include representation of the full identity of the Ghanaian – i.e. culture, tradition and more importantly their dress code,” he told the MPs. 

He called on the legislators to commit to dialogue and desist from the violent spectacles that rocked the House in the days leading to the adjournment. 

The House degenerated into series of chaotic scenes following the presentation of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government as the Minority and Majority caucuses tangoed over the approval of the budget. 

The violence was climaxed on December 20, 2021, as Members exchanged blows when First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, decided to vacate his seat to cast a vote on whether or not the controversial Electronic Transactions Bill (E-Levy) be considered under a certificate of urgency.

“The lessons of the first session have been learnt by us all and we should all pledge not to see, particularly, a repeat of those violent nasty scenes, as well as defend and uphold the image of Parliament,” Bagbin urged. 

To achieve this, the Speaker of Parliament said he would, together with my deputies and leadership, hold members to strict adherence to the rules, ethics, courtesies, and code of conduct of Members of Parliament. 

“We will work to promote orderly behaviour and use of decent parliamentary language in the deliberations of the House. More efforts will be put into organising forums and workshops to enlighten members on these rules, norms and ethics of civil behaviour and conduct.” 

The eighth Parliament, Mr Bagbin said, was specially constituted by the Ghanaian electorate by giving both sides of the House equal numerical strength plus an independent member to ensure that collaboration and consensus building became the cornerstone of the House and that they must not disappoint their constituents. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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