Debates of 30 January 2018

MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER

PRAYERS

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members, we would commence with the Correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 26th January, 2018.

[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 26th January, 2018.]

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Second Deputy Minority Whip?

Speaker
Mr Ahmed Ibrahim

Mr Speaker, I would want your guidance on Order 13 (2) of the Standing Orders. It reads: “Whenever the House is informed by the Clerk-at-the-Table of the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker, the First Deputy Speaker shall perform the duties and exercise the authority of Mr Speaker in relation to all proceedings of the House until Mr Speaker resumes the

Speaker
Mr Ahmed Ibrahim

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Leaders, would you want to comment on this issue he has raised? [Pause.] I thought that on Saturday, I read to the hearing of everybody that, as the Acting President, Mr Speaker is unavoidably absent. For that reason, the Hon First Deputy Speaker would take over. We are continuing with the proceedings, so there is no need to announce it further. Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah

Bonsu — rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes?

Speaker
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, the Hon Member has read to us Standing Order 13 (2). And with your permission, it reads: “Whenever the House is informed by the Clerk-at-the-Table of the unavoidable absence of Mr Speaker, the First Deputy Speaker shall perform the duties and exercise the authority of Mr Speaker in relation to all proceedings of the House until Mr Speaker resumes the Chair, without any further communication to the House.” Mr Speaker, what is meant by “absence”? Absence from where? Is it the Chamber, precincts of Parliament or outside this country? I believe that is what we should advert our minds to, because the function that Parliament performs in respect of article 60 -- When it talks about “absence”, it is construed as ‘absence from Ghana'. So, as a House,I believe we must come to some determination on this. We have had instances where Mr Speaker had been in Parliament, in his Office doing his business and it has occasioned the Hon First Deputy Speaker or the Hon Second Deputy Speaker, as the case may be, to preside over the Sittings but announcements had not been made. Mr Speaker, I can cite numerous examples from the time of Rt Hon Justice Joyce Bamford -Addo, where the Hon Doe Adjaho, as the then Hon First Deputy Speaker, had to preside but no announcements were made. This House is replete with numerous instances where this has happened and that is the reason I say to us that we should determine for ourselves what we mean by “absence”, and when we have come to that determination, then we would see where we are. Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, I have seen the Hon Majority Leader labour to interpret, ‘unavoidable absence'. We all know that, the Rt Hon Speaker has assumed high responsibility performing functions of the President while he is away. To quote you, the operative words are, “on Saturday, did the Clerk to Parliament report to this House?” -- [Interruption.] -- Mr Speaker, I would read the Order 13(2) with your permission: “Whenever the House is informed by the Clerk-at-the-Table” So, if on Saturday, the Clerk-at-the Table did not, it is only proper that today, it is done. There is nothing more to it. One does not need to invoke the interpretation of “absence”. Absence is absence, because the Speaker presides over the Sittings of the House.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Minority Leader, let me observe that I know how keen you are to helping certain clauses of the Constitution to be interpreted, but on this occasion, I would wish that we restrict ourselves to the Standing Orders and deal with it because that is within our domain. [Laughter.]

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, so it is just for the Clerk to Parliament to-- Fortunately for us, he is your key advisor on the rules and Standing Orders. On Saturday, was that done? No! Today, must it be done? I believe so. Then we cut a long story short. It is not for the Hon Majority Leader to seek to explain what ‘absence' means. If he were in Suame this morning and not here, he would be recorded absent. [Laughter.] It is not whether one has gone to Tamale or returned from Bekwai or Sefwi; he or she would still be demed as absent. In that case, the Hon Speaker presides over this House. So, the Clerk to Parliament should do what is appropriate, then you could take your rightful place as you have already done. There is no matter in issue. I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minority Leader, has made a categorical statement that, if I am in Suame and not here, I am absent. That is too simplistic. If I am in Suame as part of a Committee that is doing some work over there -- [Laughter] -- So, I may not necessarily be absent. I thank you very much.

Speaker
Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka

I thank you, Mr Speaker. It is very interesting, listening to the Hon Majority Leader. First, there had been several arguments in this House where Hon Members, including your good self, travelled outside on behalf of Parliament to do a Committee work and we were marked absent. There were instances where Hon Members sat in Committee rooms and because they did not come into the Chamber and did not sign at the Mails Room, they were marked as absent. With your permission, I would want to advert our attention to Standing Order 13 (2) which states: “Whenever the House is informed by the Clerk-at-the-Table of the unavoidable absence of Mr Speaker, the First Deputy Speaker shall perform the duties and exercise the authority of Mr Speaker in relation to all proceedings of the House until Mr Speaker resumes the Chair…” So, the absence refers to absence from the Chair and not from the country. This is because, it says until he resumes the Chair. Unless, otherwise, we all admit that our Standing Orders have not made elaborate provisions with regards to what we do when the Hon Speaker acts as the President. But to say that the absence does not mean when he is not in the Chamber, I beg to differ. His absence from the Chair is what is meant by ‘‘Mr Speaker is not available'' and we need to be told the whereabouts of Mr Speaker. It is done once until he comes back. I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I believe when I speak, people should listen and listen attentively. I have never said what he has attributed to me. I raised the issue and I said that, as a House, we should come to some determination. So, with respect, if he did not listen, he should not construe what he thought as what I said. Mr Speaker, I said we should come to some determination on the import of “absence” in this case. That is all I said. And Mr Speaker, with respect, let my Hon Colleague apply himself to the meaning of “Sitting”. Again, I have raised that matter before, with respect to what is meant by “Sitting”. Would it include Committee Sittings or the ‘Sitting' implies a Sitting of the Committee of the Whole or Committee Sittings? That is what we should look at. My own thinking, though, is that, “Sitting” here really refers to Committee of the Whole and not the other Committee Sittings. But on occasions, the Presiding Officers have ruled for it to include Committee Sittings. That is what makes it confusing. So, again, in the review of the Standing Orders, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker would testify that, I have raised this at that level, that we should be very specific in the meaning of “Sitting” as contained therein. If, indeed, it is meant to include Committee Sittings, then the Hon Member at Committee Sitting cannot be construed to be absent from a parliamentary sitting. So, we should look at all those things before we come to unilateral decisions and conclusions as we have done. Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Speaker
Mr Mahama Ayariga

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members, I believe I have heard enough of this. If we look at the proceedings we are just about to consider -- Very well, I would hear the Hon Second Deputy Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin

Mr Speaker, the definition of ‘Sitting' is very clear. What it is talks about is not exclusive. It has extended it to other situations where Sitting could be construed for the purpose of the functions of the House. That is why it says and I beg to quote: “includes a period during which Parliament is sitting continuously without adjournment, and the period during which it is in Committee”. “It” here refers to Parliament; Parliament in Committee. The only time Parliament is in Committee as a House is when the House is in the Committee of the Whole. So, that is where that definition points to. But Mr Speaker, with regard to Standing Orders 13, clearly, a side note talks about temporary or continued absence of Mr Speaker. I think the “absence” there refers to absence from the Chair because Order 13 (2) is clear. “Whenever the House is informed by the Clerk-at-the-Table of the unavoidable absence of Mr Speaker, the First Deputy Speaker shall perform the duties and exercise the authority of Mr Speaker in relation to all proceedings of the House until Mr Speaker resumes the Chair without any further communication to the House.” Mr Speaker, it says, “resumes the Chair”;it does not say “resumes his functions” which would have gone beyond presiding over the House. So, Mr Speaker, it talks about absence from the Chair and that refers to the beginning of the Sitting. With what has just happened this morning, clearly, we have done it a number of times and the Clerk to Parliament is very much aware of it. I think that if it is not done, it might be an oversight; but it has been done a number of times and there is nothing wrong with this. Hon Members would need to know why the Rt Hon Speaker is not present to commence proceedings before handing over to either the Hon First Deputy or Second Deputy Speakers. That is what this whole Standing Order is talking about. Mr Speaker, thank you.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Thank you very much. [Pause.] Hon Members, I guess everybody has a copy of the Votes and Proceedings for Saturday -- 27th January, 2018. [HAJIA MAHAMA][MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER] If you look at pages 8 to 10 of the Votes and Proceedings, the item numbered 5, the reason the Rt Hon Speaker is not here was announced; it is recorded in the Votes and Proceedings. Unless, you insist that because it did not come out of the mouth of the Clerk to Parliament, it is not an announcement; otherwise, nobody is in doubt as to why the Rt Hon Speaker is not in the Chair at this time and the record would bear me out. To the best of my knowledge, the reason the Rt Hon Speaker is not presiding now, Indeed, since Saturday I have been in the Chair as the Hon First Deputy Speaker and until the Rt Hon Speaker resumes the Seat, I will be in the Chair. Let us proceed with the Votes and Proceedings of 27th January, 2018. It has been distributed. We have finished with that of 26th January, 2018, so we would move to that of the 27th January, 2018.

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.

[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Saturday, 27 th January, 2018.]

[No correction was made to the Official Report of Wednesday, 29 th Novermber, 2017.]

STATEMENTS

Speaker
Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (Hajia Alima Mahama)

Mr Speaker, I appear before this august House to respond to issues and questions raised about the registration of names by the Births and Deaths Registry, which is a Department under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. Mr Speaker, on Wednesday, 24th January, 2018, the Acting Registrar of the Births and Deaths Registry granted an interview to the ‘Daily Heritage', a newspaper, on concerns raised by some parents regarding the registration of names, particularly, names which began with prefixes and titles. The said interview and the publication by the Daily Heritage newspaper on Thursday, 25th January, 2018 generated controversies and major discussions about the registration of names by the Births and Deaths Registry. Mr Speaker, the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1965, (Act 301) provides for the registration of births, foetal deaths and deaths, and makes provision for burial grounds. The registration of birth goes with the registration of the name of the person. Section 40(1) of the Act provides that, the Minister by Legislative Instrument (L.I.), make Regulations for carrying into effect the provisions of the Act. The Registration of Births and Deaths Regulations, 1970, (L.I. 653) provides prescribed particulars for birth report form in the Schedule and also directs the Registrar of Births and Deaths to develop instruction manual to the staff of Registries for their guidance in making entries in the registers of Births and Deaths and in the completion of forms. Accordingly, Mr Speaker, the Registry developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which is a body of written instructions issued for guidance of staff and field workers of the registry. Indeed, in developing the SOP the registry referred to previous manuals and other practices elsewhere and publications by some prominent Ghanaians, for exampele, Omanye Aba (A. Amartey, 1996) and the African Heritage of the Akan Republic of Ghana;[Osafo K. Osei ,1979). The current version of the SOP launched in July, 2009 provides under chapter 3 specific instructions on what to capture in the registration of the name of a child. Section 3.3 of the SOP deals with particulars of the child and states that, “Titles should not be added to the names eg. Reverend, Alhaji, Dr. Colonel, Nana, Jnr, Snr Etc, among other things.” Mr Speaker, considering that the SOP serves as an operational guideline for the registration of births and deaths, coupled with the sentiments expressed by the public, the Acting Registrar of the Births and Deaths Registry has been directed to review the SOP and further directed that names such as ‘Nana', ‘Nii', ‘Papa' et cetera, as given by the parents, should be accepted for registration. The Registry should perhaps be concerned with just official titles such as President, Reverend, Doctor, Minister, Miss, Missus, General, Honourable, et cetera. Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development will very soon bring a Bill to Parliament on Registration of Births and Deaths, which will address some of these controversies to reflect and accommodate present trends and societal developments. Thank you.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. I will admit three comments from both Sides of the House, and the Leaders could contribute, if they so wish.

Speaker
Mr Joseph Y. Chireh (NDC -- Wa West)

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.

Speaker
Mr Joseph Y. Chireh (NDC -- Wa West)

However, I believe, with the whole argument that was generated, the explanation she has given clarifies the issue. This is because, many a time, when one is to travel and one buys a ticket, for example, instead of, “Joseph Yieleh Chireh”, they would add “Hon” as part of the name. When one gets to the other side, they see “Hon”, and they wonder what “Hon” means. We all like the titles, but to put titles before names when indeed the documents have a specified number of letters one could take for a name is not good. For the purpose for which this is to be done, one must distinguish between a given name and a title. So, what is a given name? It is because we have not been practising and documenting these properly. What was the given name, on the day the person was named? Sometimes, people add other names. When one adds those names and one wants them to reflect in the Registry, one creates a little more of confusion. Mr Speaker, what I have said in effect is that, all these years that he wanted to be President, it was because he was given So, I believe that this explanation that the Hon Minister has given clarifies the issue. I would urge the Hon Minister, however, to review and bring into this House the law on the Birth and Death Registry. Indeed, it is outmoded therefore it should be computerised. The effort I tried to make, was to ensure that we have the vital statistics and the basic documents that generate statistics about human beings in Ghana. They should continue to pursue that, because I remember the African Development Bank was willing to support us to develop that database for everybody who is born in Ghana to have his or her name on the Register. It is from that Register that we could tell how many people we need to programme or plan for, or how many schools we are to build. If everybody is registered in the villages and towns, we should be able to programme how many schools we should build. Mr Speaker, it would also help the Ghana Statistical Service to compile accurate information. So I urge that they do so, and more so, make sure that this SOP is not left at a place where anybody could tamper with. It should be in the form of a Regulation so that the House would look at it and it makes it a permanent arrangement so that the opportunity does not arise for another officer who out of enthusiasm might say inappropriate things. Thank you so much, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation?

Speaker
Dr Anthony Akoto Osei (NPP -- Old Tafo)

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Firstly, I would want to thank the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development for coming to the House to clarify the issue. Before these facts were known, if you heard of the way people described the gentleman at the Births and Deaths Registry, you would have thought that the man was a criminal, but he was doing the right thing under the law. So, I would want to urge Hon Members of this House, even though the matter looked like it was wrong, we should have done our homework and checked the proper SOP to make sure he did the thing right before trying to condemn him. He is not here to defend himself; he cannot be here on the floor of the House. Clearly, he was on the right path and those who attempted to condemn him were on the wrong path. I believe the proper thing is for those people to sincerely apologise to him. As the Hon Minister said, when they come up with the proper Regulation, I agree with my Hon Colleague, rather than hiding it under SOPs, it should be part of the Regulation, so that in the future, people would not repeat the mistake they made. I believe those who thought he was on the wrong path should take advantage and apologise to him on the floor of the House that they did not know any better.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member for Ablekuma South?

Speaker
Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije (NDC -- Ablekuma South)

Mr Speaker, I would want to take this opportunity to thank the Hon Minister for coming to the House to explain the issue. Mr Speaker, I believe that the issue at hand deals with names. When it comes to names, at certain parts of our country, for example, the Greater Accra Region, my cousin Nii Lantey -- “Nii” in Nii Lantey is a name; it is not a title. It is part of the name. I have a daughter named as Naa Densua Vanderpuije. “Naa Densua” is a name. Now, if in future, my daughter should be installed a queen mother or Nana of Otublohum, she would be called Naa Densua Vanderpuije. At that point, she is Naa Densua as a queen mother. So, we need to distinguish between a name and a title. In our tradition in the Ga state, for example, if a have a son and I name him Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, it is his name; one cannot refuse to register that name. It is part of the name. One cannot just say “Lantey Vanderpuije”. In the “Lantey Djan We” tradition of Accra, “Nii Lantey Vanderpuye” is a name. So, if the SOP refers to titles, I understand and I accept that. If the gentleman who explained it in the interview communicated this to me that it was about titles, for us in the Greater Accra Region, forms is part of the name. Mr Speaker, my father was Nii Kpakpo Oti Vanderpuije. At a point in his life, he became Nii Kpakpo Oti as the Adontenhene of Otublohum. They are separate things. As a child, he was named, Nii Kpakpo Oti; then he became Nii Kpakpo Oti as a chief. So, when he became Nii Kpakpo Oti as a chief, if one went to register him, it would be a different thing. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Well, I would take one more contribution. Yes, Hon Member for Tamale North?

Speaker
Mr Alhassan S. Sayibu (NDC -- Tamale North)

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, my contribution is rather brief. I wish the Hon Minister would consider guiding the Births and Deaths Registry to come up with a new S.O.P. This is because, as she has indicated in her presentation and other contributions have gone to show, there are times that a title could also be a given name. So, if they put it in the S.O.P. that titles should not be registered, it becomes a bit ambiguous. Mr Speaker, when a parent decides to give a title as a name -- for example, when the Hon Minister spoke, she mentioned “Honourable” as a title but “Honourable” is also an English word with a meaning. If a parent decides that he wants his child to grow up to be an honourable person in society -- We have “Peace”. People name their daughters or sons “Peace”. So, I could decide that because I want the name to have a meaning, I want to call my child “Honourable”. At that point, it is a title that has become a given name and it would become difficult for the S.O.P. to say that as a parent, I am not allowed to name, my child “honourable”, when I can name my child “Peace”, “Justice” or “Goodluck”. I think that it has to be very well couched, so that we do not have problems in the future. If we say titles should not be registered, we would run into difficulties again in future. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. I would give the last slot to the Hon Member for Offinso South.

Speaker
Mr Ben A. Banda (NPP -- Offinso South)

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to also contribute to the Statement. Mr Speaker, I would like to state a position of the law as regards an Act of Parliament and Regulations emanating from the Act of Parliament vis-a-vis guidelines issued by an institution; for that matter, the Births and Deaths Registry. I have not fully read the Statement because I have just been given a copy of it. Mr Speaker, per the case of Prof. Kweku Asare vrs the Attorney-General and General Legal Council, a case which went to the Supreme Court as a result of the imposition of written examination and interview imposed on law graduates from the various law faculties in Ghana, the Supreme Court made it abundantly clear that whenever a Statute exists and Regulations are issued from the Statute, guidelines cannot be used to override either the Statute or the Regulations. That is the position of the law. If these operating procedures were issued to derogate from the Act or from the Regulation, then the position submitted or espoused by the Registrar of Births is not tenable in law. Mr Speaker, but if these guidelines are foundationed upon either the Acts or the Regulation, then the position that the Registrar of Births and Deaths espouses is perfectly right within the law. Mr Speaker, this is the position I would want to submit. Thank you.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

What is the position of a guideline? Is it in a law of the nation? If a guideline is not passed by Parliament, what is its value? So, whatever it is that the Agency wanted to do, their limit is Regulations. Nothing can be enforced on the people of the country unless it is in an Act or a Regulation on one side or the other. I think that should be very clear. Now, I am coming to the Leaders. That is what we agreed on.

Speaker
Mr Haruna Iddrisu (NDC -- Tamale South)

Mr Speaker, I have a copy of the Hon Minister's Statement. Mr Speaker, as you espoused your position on the subject, we have enjoyed Hon Members' contribution to it, except with the opening paragraph of the Statement. Next time, it is only fair that the Hon Minister recognises that she is here because it was a request of the Rt Hon Speaker and Parliament for her to be here as a follow-up. I do not think that she just voluntarily decided to come and apprise this House of the matter; but it is all right. She has made reference to the “Daily Heritage” newspaper. Mr Speaker, names matter because they have religious and cultural significance, depending upon the time of one's birth, and sometimes, the circumstance of birth,. Therefore, names are very important. Mr Speaker, let me share this philosophical view. Birth and death -- I was told by a sociologist that birth is only a messenger of death. When one is born, he is being prepared for death. Mr Speaker, it is important that we keep this record because citizenship is fundamental to the work of the Births and Deaths Registrar. Therefore, we should not take this matter lightly. The Hon Minister is encouraged to take appropriate steps to revise the law. Citizenship -- who is a citizen of Ghana? Citizenship qualifies persons to aspire to sit where we sit tomorrow. Therefore, when there are disagreements about their names, they affect that right conferred on every Ghanaian citizen. Mr Speaker, with the cultural importance of names, I would use the Hon Minister as an example. She comes from Kpana Lanyilli in Mamprugu, the warrior group of Mamprugu. She is aware of that. Properly speaking, we could call her “Yi- kpanpaa” - - [Interruption.] She knows. That is her right --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Leader, kindly explain that to the rest of us. That is what the rule says.

Speaker
Mr H. Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, she is a strong warrior. They bear the sword of Mamprugu. Therefore, we could decide to name her “Yikpani paa”; the “Kpani” refers to the sword, and the “paa” because she is a woman. So, “the woman with the sword”. They are supposed to be the warriors. Mr Speaker, culturally, for example, my mother is “Mariama”. If I give birth and I want to name my daughter after my mother, in Dagbaani, I cannot call my mother “Mariama”. It does not show respect. So, I call her “Mma Mariama”. The “Mma” means my mother. So, “my mother Mariama”. Somebody sits at the Births and Deaths Registry and tells me that I cannot call my daughter “Mma Mariama”. That is my mother, that is “Npaga Hawa”. That is it. So, Mr Speaker, I have just gone to my part of the world with her -- on the cultural significance of names.

Speaker
Mr H. Iddrisu

Speaker
Mr H. Iddrisu

Mr Speaker, again, to the Director of Births and Deaths Registry, religiously, they play a significant role. I would encourage the Hon Minister. In this country, data on birth and death is problematic. Maybe, properly, they should use mobile technology for us to register births and deaths. This is because due to religious significance, it is only during birth and death that a person is helpless. When one is born into the world, one is picked and put down. When one is sent out of the world, one is picked and put down -- helpless. That is why at that moment, somebody assists with the person's details. So, Mr Speaker, I hold with me here the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1965 (Act 301). With your permission, section 40 provides: “The Minister by legislative instrument…”. Mr Speaker, I could not agree more with the lucid argument of the Hon Chairman of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee. That is germane to the argument we are making. So the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation got it wrong. We do not owe the Registrar an apology; nobody should apologise to the Registrar -- [Hear! Hear!] After all, even listening to the Hon Minister, he has come to accept -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, you contributed to the debate. The Hon Minister has accepted the position we collectively took. “Nii”, “Nana”, who says -- Is somebody born an Alhaji? Until one goes to Mecca -- So how could one give birth and say he is “Alhaji Iddrisu” -- which Alhaji? So, Mr Speaker, we would not argue with the Hon Minister on that matter. On those -- Reverend? Was anyone born a reverend? When one is picked helplessly as a baby, did he or she come with a Bible in hand to be called reverend? No. So on those titles -- Alhaji, Reverend, Professor, Mr -- we agree with them. Mr Speaker, but the one that the former Mayor of Accra, Hon Vanderpuye, raised, it is Nii, Nana; for example, Nana Addo Dankwa -- part of his name. In Mamprugi again, nem -- When we hear -- Mr Speaker, I just shared one that the Hon Minister is very familiar with -- Sandoo, Sanpaga. When one is newly born , one is called Sandoo because he or she is a stranger. At that time, one has not been baptised and given a name. Some have grown even with the name of Sandoo and Sanpaga, in reference to a male and female where appropriate. So Mr Speaker, we agree; but the argument of the Hon Chairman of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee is that we should respect the hierarchy of the laws. An Act of Parliament is superior to a Regulation; and a regulation is superior to guidelines. We in Parliament would not even recognise guidelines; we would not. Therefore we are saying that based on the parent Act, they bring us Regulations that would pass through our hands here at the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation. Then the people of Ghana would know through their representatives that if we err, they are guided that it was brought to the knowledge of their elected representatives. So I commend the Hon Minister, at least, for a very timely and appropriate response. We look forward to a revision of the legislation, which we would support. I believe that what the Hon Yieleh Chireh mentioned about given names, it does not lie with the Registrar to determine a name for a parent, whether mother or father. That is not his mandate, and I am not sure any Parliament would ever give him that mandate. It is the moral authority of a father, after those struggles at night to give birth -- [Laughter.] Does he the Registrar want to determine how the person should be named? So, Mr Speaker, we should commend you. When together with the Hon Majority Leader we brought the matter for discussion, you had no hesitation. This is how we must get our public institutions to work effectively and functionally. Mr Speaker, finally, this House must resource the Birth and Death Registry very well. We should give them some of the Common Fund; they need resources to work.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

They generate a lot of money, so they should retain the money to do their work.

Speaker
Mr Iddrisu

Absolutely, so there should be an IGF formula. So, Mr Speaker, with these comments, I commend the Hon Minister for timeously and appropriately appearing before this House at your request, and providing clarity. There is no doubt that he knows that he has no mandate to remove “Nii” “Nana” or “Naa” “Reverend”, “Alhaji”, “Professor”, acquired after birth. It is not the Registrar's responsibility to determine for a father or a mother how the son or daughter should be named. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP -- Suame)

Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. I believe my Hon Colleagues have really extrapolated on the issues that we raised last week, and I have very little to add. Mr Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the Hon Minister for responding so timeously to our request to her to appear before us. The Hon Minister informed us that the communication from Parliament had not even reached her; yet, she decided on her own volition, given the circumstances of the times, to appear before us today to offer an appropriate response. So, Mr Speaker, we expect our Hon Ministers to act with such degree of alacrity as the Hon Minister has exhibited. Once again, I am profoundly and eternally grateful to her. Mr Speaker, when I look at the response given to us, the fourth paragraph, if I should read again, with your kind permission: “The Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1965 (Act 301) provides for the registration of births, foetal deaths and deaths and makes provision for burial grounds”.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, foetal deaths

does it include induced death of the foetus? If that is so

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

That is criminal, so it cannot be part of what the law recognises. Induced ones are criminal. The law cannot recognise crime, so what you have in mind, termination of pregnancy cannot be recognised by the law if it is not done in the course of --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, death is death. As to whether it is natural or unnatural, accidental or not accidental, it is death. So, this matter of foetal death should engage the attention of all, including an Hon Member whose face I am looking at. Mr Speaker, the issue about the significance of names -- we have listened to representing cultural identity, traditional identity, religious identity and even the place and circumstance of birth; we have mentioned these. I believe the problem has to do with the literal interpretation given to the last but three paragraphs in the Statement of the Hon Minister, and I beg to quote: “Titles should not be added to the names eg. Reverend, Alhaji, Dr. Colonol, Nana, Jnr, Snr etc among other things”. Mr Speaker, the issue that we raised in the House, as the Hon Minority Leader has reiterated, is that some of these titles have become part of the formal names given to children, for instance, “Nana” in our own case. Mr Speaker, the other day, I read some of the names here. We have “Nana Ayew Afiriyie”. That was the name that was given to him at birth. We also have “Nana Akua Owusu Afiriyie”, which was also the name given to her at birth. So “Nana” is part of her name. My “Nana” is not part of my name, but it was recently acquired. It is not part of the my name; but in the instance of “Nana Amoako”, the “Nana” in “Amoako” is part of the name, given to him at birth; therefore, it is his official name. Mr Speaker, there is also “Nana Dokua Asiamah-Adjei”; and I also mentioned “Baba Benson Tongo”. The “Baba” means “Father”; yet, the “Baba” has become a part of his name. In fact, he was named “Baba Benson Tongo”, even though “Baba” in reality means “Father”. Mr Speaker, again, there are people who are called “Agyemang”. “Agyemang” means “the saviour of nations”. That is the literal translation. It was acquired by a king, and now people name their children “Agyemang”. We cannot say that “Agyemang” is not the person's name because it was originally acquired. We cannot say so. Mr Speaker, we also have “Naana Ayia”, “Ebenezer Nii-Naa Nartey”, “Nana Amaniampong Marfo” and “Joseph Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo”. In the case of “Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo”, the “Nii” is part of his name. Mr Speaker, that is the distinction that we sought to make. We told the Registrar that by his insistence, he would get these wrong because some Naas, Niis and Nanas are part of the official names given to children at birth. Mr Speaker, for instance, we have “Emmanuel Nii Okai Laryea”, “Betty Naa Efua Krosbi Mensah”, “Gifty Tina Naa Ayeley Mensah” and “Andrew Kofi Agyapa”. “Agyapa” means “good father”; yet that name was given to him at birth. Therefore, how could anybody sit in his office and say that “Agyapa” means “good father”, so it should not be part of his name? Mr Speaker, these are the matters that we are concerned with. There is an Hon Member called “Queenstar”. Whether she is a star of the queens or whatever, that is the name that was given to her at birth or she has acquired. Therefore, can anybody say that this is a ridiculous name, so we should not have it as part of her official name? It cannot be. Mr Speaker, there is also “Edwin Nii Lantey Vanderpuye” and many others. So, I believe that was what we said to ourselves. It is not as if we took the Registrar to the cleaners, but we told him that he has given a literal interpretation to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Mr Speaker, again, the position of the SOP has been made known to us by the Hon Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee; it cannot supersede the Act itself or the Regulations. Mr Speaker, perhaps, with where we are, the Hon Minister should consider updating the Regulations and indeed, streamlining it to reflect the sentiments and submit same to Parliament, so that it would be in tandem with the current law. The instructions from the Office do not then have the effect of contradicting or even conflicting the sensibilities of Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, there are names that ordibarily, in a few years back one would have considered ridiculous. Yet, people are acquiring them and giving such names to their children. Mr Speaker, today, we have “Hallelujah”; I know of two people who are called “Hallelujah”. [Interruption] So, if a person decides to name HIS OR HER their child “Hallelujah”, then who are we to say that the person should not name the child “Hallelujah, not having known, perhaps the toils of the couple before they were able to conceive and give birth? Mr Speaker, this given identity to the product of the very excruciating nocturnal business should not be -- [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I am told that it cannot only be nocturnal. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I therefore believe that with where we are, we would really need to get our acts together. I believe that because of the purpose which the Births and Death Registry should serve, the outfit should liaise closely now with the National Identification Authority in order to have a document, which would really reflect the figure that we have as our total national population, so that it does not get diluted. It is important that the two outfits liaise and get it right for us. Mr Speaker, for these few words, I thank you for the opportunity granted.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, these words were not few. Yes, Hon Second Deputy Speaker, I would hear you on this.

Speaker
Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin (NDC -- Nadowli/Kaleo)

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would just want to add a word to what has already been said, and to draw the attention of the House to a few other suggestions that could be carried on board in the review of the Legislative Instrument (LI.). Mr Speaker, as stated, those names might not necessarily mean titles. In my language, “Naa” means “Chief”. “Naa” may also refer to a twin. So we have the name “Naa Anzeema”. The “Naa” comes last because in essence, a messenger is sent ahead of the person. So, the “Naa” would be the person's name, not just the

Speaker
Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin (NDC -- Nadowli/Kaleo)

Speaker
Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin (NDC -- Nadowli/Kaleo)

Speaker
Mr Kpodo

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, is the Hon Second Deputy Speaker out of order?

Speaker
Mr Benjamin Kpodo

Mr Speaker, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker told us that he went to senior high school. [Laughter] I would just want him to clearly indicate which secondary school he attended?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Mr Second Deputy Speaker, I believe you need to correct yourself.

Speaker
Some Hon Members

“Old school'.

Speaker
Mr Bagbin

Mr Speaker, I do not know whether it is “old school” but it used to be called “secondary”. It is now senior high school, and I am speaking today and not yesterday. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I would want to add that they should redevelop the form to be so comprehensive that it could then capture the sense of this discussion and could even explore more. We need comprehensive data, particularly so, as many tribes are migrating from their traditions and adopting that of others. I recall that there has been a serious call from my friends and brothers of the Muslim religion to add their traditional names. If not, we have too many “Alhassan Iddrisus” without any other name. Mr Speaker, I have travelled with some Muslims to the Arab world. When they say they are called “Alhassan Iddrisu”, they are asked to add their traditional names, but they do not have any. The people are then surprised because one needs to have a traditional name. One needs to maintain his or her traditional identity -- it is very important and it would not take anything away from one's spirituality. Mr Speaker, so, let us also add that the form be better developed, so that it could capture the true Ghanaian. The Ghanaian is a very unique human being, very different from -- Mr Speaker, I have now gotten to know that the Hon Majority Leader has gotten “Nana” in addition to his names. When I was with him in Kumasi to celebrate his twentieth anniversary, I am aware he was given Sompahene -- I did not know that he has added “Nana” to it. He now tells us; I have not seen it with his name. So, he may have to go to the Births and Deaths Registry to swear an affidavit to add that to his name.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Hon Minister, I do not know whether you would want to say anything else. But before you go, let me draw your attention to something that may have caused the challenges we face now. From the last paragraph of the first page of your Statement, it says that there is already an L.I. 653. Instead of developing the guidelines and making it part of the Regulations, you just said in the L.I. that somebody else should develop an SOP. For me, that is where the challenge is; because Parliament gives you the power to do subsidiary legislation, but you also give somebody else power to do something else without bringing it to Parliament for it to be passed as law. Probably, if the SOP was part of the Regulations, then this assembly of Ghanaians -- every sector of the country is represented here. Then all those things would have come out and we may not have the challenges. So I suggest that rather than making them operational procedures or whatever, let it be part of the subsidiary legislation. Then you would have Hon Members consider them sufficiently and assist to develop guidelines that would not generate any more flaws. Hon Minister, I will hear your last words. Hajia Mahama: Mr Speaker, I have listened and noted all the contributions. Importantly, in doing the new Regulations, we should look at the socio- cultural context, see the link to the National Identification process, and also look at the design of the form to accommodate various changes. I would also like to add that if someone changes his or her name, it would have to go through the process and be gazetted. With that instrument, the person can go to the Births and Deaths Registry to register whatever name or title the person has added -- whether it is Nana or Nii. Once it is gazetted, the Registrar would comply. The overriding point is that, when parents decide on the name for a child, the Registrar should comply. He could counsel the parent if he thinks the name is wrong, but he cannot compel the parent to do otherwise. The Registrar would have to comply. Mr Speaker, we would therefore work on the law and bring the law here, after which we would accompany it with the Regulations to get the support of Hon Members to have the kind of naming regime or process that we want for our country.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

This should bring the curtain down on this matter. Hon Minister, you came voluntarily but I would discharge you. You are now discharged. Do we have time to take one more Statement before we do the Public Business? Hon Yaw Boamah, you would read your Statement, after which Hon Ablakwa would also read his Statement.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Speaker
Mr Patrick Yaw Boamah (NPP -- Okaikwei Central)

The election of George Weah as the 24th President of Liberia indicates a certain paradigm shift in contemporary elections. It also illustrates the coming of age of the electorate as indicated in their resolve to exercise their civic responsibilities and participate fully in the democratic processes of their country. Although Liberia is Africa's oldest i republic at 170 years, a recurrent civil war which the country experienced for 14 years, which severely affected the peace and stability of the country, and the Ebola virus in 2014 and 2016 which together claimed thousands of lives. This is not the first time President Weah, who is a former footballer, has President in 2005, and again in 2011 as Winston Tubman's Vice-Presidential candidate, but he lost to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on both occasions. After these unsuccessful attempts at being elected as President and Vice President respectively, President Weah won the first round in the presidential electionS in October with 38.4 per cent of the votes, as compared with 28.8 per cent won by the second placed Mr Boakai. The failure of any candidate to secure an outright majority forced a run-off which was delayed due to a legal challenge by a representative of the Liberty Party, Charles Brumskine. The Supreme Court eventually ruled against the challenge and President Weah came out first in the 26th December, 2017 Presidential run-off after securing 61.5 per cent of recorded votes cast against his opponent, Mr J. Boakai, who secured 38.5 per cent. President George Weah's election and subsequent inauguration alongside Mrs Jewel Howard Taylor is a remarkable achievement and has sparked off a lot of hope among Liberia's teeming youth and market women who voted massively for him in all but one of Liberia's 15 counties. It is also evident of the country's tenacity in forging peace and stability, especially post the UN mission's exit, as well as the desire of Liberians to chart a path of growth and prosperity. The transition of power from the Government of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to President Weah marks the first time that power has been handed over between two democratically-elected P residents in 47 years in Liberia. President Weah is well known for his extraordinary career as a footballer. President Weah was named three times as the African Footballer of the Year in 1989, 1994 and 1995. He stands out as the only African to have won the Golden Ball award for the best European player and the FIFA World Player in 1995. He also won FIFA's Fair Play Award in 1996. In Liberia, President Weah founded the Junior Professionals a football team in Monrovia in 1994 which he used to encourage young people to remain in school. He coached the Liberian National football team. Before attaining the limelight on the global stage, President Weah who was born in October, 1966 grew up in Monrovia. He became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in April 1997 and he was instrumental in publicising immunisation, supporting anti-HIV/AIDS education campaigns and other projects in Ghana and Liberia. In 2004, President Weah received the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award for his work on behalf of children affected by war. Prior to his election as the President of Liberia, President George Weah was an elected senator of the Parliament of Liberia and the head of the delegation of the Liberian Parliament to the ECOWAS Community Parliament. Being an international soccer star, President Weah, once again, made history in the stadium. He was cheered on, once again by crowds of supporters, although that was not to take a rest after a hard-won battle; rather those werre cheers to urge him on to consolidate peace and security for his country while working to achieve greater prosperity for the Liberian people. In his inaugural speech, President Weah promised the Liberian people that he would not let them down; he would ensure that their resources do not end up in the pockets of government officials. That, perhaps, sums up the extent of the corruption issues in Liberia where the previous Government had been accused of not doing enough to stem corruption. In a country where more than half of Liberians live in poverty, with huge unemployment and youthful population, the President has his work cut out for him and may very well need a magic wand to fulfil the expectations of not only his supporters, but Liberians as a whole. President Weah's critics have argued that he lacks political experience and despite having been elected as a Senator, he has not inspired confidence in political leadership. President Weah, however, insists that his responsibility has been to talk for his people and to discuss their interests which the records at Parliament indicates. Having finally gotten the job, he now has the chance to prove his critics wrong. The whole world will be watching to see how a former footballer is able to convert a poor economy into a prosperous one. Africa, West Africa and Ghana must stand with Liberia and President Weah to ensure that Liberia continues to enjoy peace and stability for the benefit of her people and humanity.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member for North Tongu? Historic Democratic Transition in Liberia and the Commendable Role of Ghana in the Attainment of this Feat

Speaker
Mr Samuel O. Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu)

May I express my depth of gratitude to you, Rt Hon Speaker, for the opportunity to make this Statement in honour of the historic democratic transition in Liberia and the highly commendable role of Ghana in supporting Liberia all the way in what has been an arduous, tortuous and eventful journey. Mr Speaker, a few days ago, Liberia -- the country established by freed American slaves in 1847 -- experienced its first democratic transition since 1944, when Africa's first female President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Her Excellency, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Unity Party (UP) handed over to the only African to win Fifa's World Player of the year in 1995, and former Senator, His Excellency George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). Mr Speaker, the special invitations extended to Ghana's current President, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Ghana's former Presidents, H.E Jerry John Rawlings and H. E John Dramani Mahama to the auspicious inauguration ceremony

Speaker
Mr Samuel O. Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu)

Speaker
Mr Samuel O. Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu)

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members, I now have two Statements: one commending Liberia and urging the President, and the other one, which was supposed to be complementary, appears to be eulogising Ghana instead. I am not sure what it is -- [Laughter.] Very well, I would invite Hon Members to contribute.

Speaker
Some Hon Members

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Deputy Minister for foreign Affairs, I would give you the last word. Yes, Hon Bedzrah?

Speaker
Mr Emmanuel Bedzrah (NDC -- Ho West)

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. I would also like to thank my Hon Colleagues, who have made Statements in commemorating the Liberian Administration that was sworn in last Monday. Mr Speaker, I was there at the invitation of His Excellency George Oppong Weah, who was a Senator and also an Ambassador. Mr Speaker, I saw an inscription at the back of a “T” shirt of one of the party supporters of CDC, which read “WEAH”;' it meant, “World best, European best, African best and His Excellency, the President”. I asked myself, how did they get this inscription? It dawned on me as President Weah read his statement. He mentioned that he had struggled over the years with his people. Indeed, those who did not support him said that he was not educated, so he could not become a President. Mr Speaker, somebody who became the World's best football player, somebody who has been an African best football player and the European best football player, and somebody who has transited to become a President, shows that when one is determined in life, he or she can make it. Mr Speaker, somebody who was picked from the streets of Monrovia, playing football, has become the president of that country. That alone taught me a lesson. Mr Speaker, I saw the youth at the sports stadium jubilating with some energy. I said to myself, if we could turn the energy into something better, Liberia would become the country that we all know. I advised some of the President's close friends that, we should turn the energy of the youth in Liberia into something productive, so that Liberia would not slip back into war. Mr Speaker, we are experiencing a similar situation now in Kenya. As we speak, a member of a faction is being sworn in as a President. So, if we are not careful, we would have two Presidents in Kenya. Mr Raila Odinga is being sworn in by members of his political party, while the elected President has already been sworn in. Mr Speaker, when President George Oppong Weah started his political career, he did not win elections, although he thought he did. Since the Electoral Commission had declared a winner, he gave up. He became a running mate the second time, but they lost that election, too. He waited till the time he was declared -- Even at the first round of elections, he was not declared a winner until they went for the runoff. Could African politicians admit that when the Electoral Commission declares that we do not win, we should wait for our turn? Mr Speaker, just as His Excellency, President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo- Addo did in Ghana, President Weah has shown the way. I believe other politicians should learn from it. Let people learn that, they have to wait for their time and when the time is right, they would be given the nod. Mr Speaker, I would want all Ghanaians, especially the business community, to take advantage of Liberia. We accommodated and supported them when the war broke out; and when the ebola issue came up, we gave them a supporting hand. We want our brothers who are financially endowed and in the business field to take advantage of this green land to make Liberia, once again, a country that we all share values, culture and friendship with. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you.

Speaker
Mr Vincent S. Odotei (NPP -- Dade Kotopon)

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to add my voice to the George Weah phenomenon. The ascension of President George Weah to the Presidency of Liberia is an attestation of the human spirit and what is proverbially known as the can-do spirit. Mr Speaker, a lot of people are not aware that when President George Weah was scouted for by Coach Claude Le Roy and was recommended to Coach Arsène Wenger, he was considered as overweight and could not play football.

Speaker
Mr Vincent S. Odotei (NPP -- Dade Kotopon)

Speaker
Dr Augustine Tawiah (NDC -- Bia West)

Mr Speaker, it is wonderful to observe the significant things that have been said about Liberia, Ghana's contribution to that country, and especially H. E. George Weah's high ascendency to the Office of President of his country. A few years ago, we would have thought that Liberia was a failed state because of the things that happened. They blew up their power sources and everything was broken in the country. As was eloquently elucidated, they had to come to our country, to seek refuge. So, one could just have asked, What can come out of Nazareth, a country that is so broke? However, we got a world figure. When we have the Hall of Fame of individuals who have excelled in soccer, we could talk of President George Weah; not only that, he has also ascended to the high office of President of his country. Looking at where he is now and where his country seeks to be, it is significant to draw some important implications from his work. First, he contested to become the President of his country and lost, but he learnt to stand in line. In Africa, we have had bad experiences of people who ordinarily, when they lost, took the gun as the next line of action. This had happened in his own country. President George Weah was not like that. Then we saw in his efforts also, the attempts to be ready. When he stood as the presidential candidate in the first instance, he did not have a High School Diploma. When he was challenged, he got his High School Diploma, a Bachelors Degree and a Master's Degree. This is somebody who was disadvant- aged because he came from the slums of Liberia. However, when the opportunity was opened to him, he worked hard, stood in line until it was his turn to turn things around. We also see in what he has done, the sense of reputation and what one does with it. In a lot of countries and societies, if a person did not pursue an academic route and became a football player, more than likely, the observation would be that he had failed and lost out. So, if he became a soccer player, made money, bought big cars and drove around with the opposite sex, that was all the society would think about the person. Here is a young man who made money, had been on the world scene, and even though he was disadvantaged, he climbed up by himself. This is a self-made person. If we look at the reference to the fact that he was overweight and could not do anything, therefore, it means that in Africa, we can do something about our situation. Similarly, Hakeem Olajuwon went to America to play football and did not know how to play basketball. When he showed up, the school did not have a soccer team. He turned around to become a star basketball player. He played for the Toronto Raptors and excelled. We are seeing changes in how we think, that we are fixed in life and that if you are poor, you would be poor forever. We have seen in President George Weah that whether it was paying attention, dedicating himself to education, dedicating himself to the sport which he had intrinsic interest in, he pursued all that with excellence. So, essentially, we see in this emerging individual, now the President of his country, the integration of proper emotional, social and cognitive intelligence. Also, if a person took a route other than academics, it did not mean he had failed. It means they could also polish and do something, but the big picture we have seen is even the essence of democracy, and that the person of his stature could have just been condemned and said to not belong to a class. But in an open society, he could aspire to the high office of a President when he did not have a High School Diploma; today, he has worked his way out. Mr Speaker, we celebrate H.E George Weah, but it is an inspiration to our youth that one is not fixed in life, and that even when one is disadvantaged enormously, structures are in place in the society, and if one could take advantage of them, one could get as far as he or she would want to -- the sky is the limit. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you very much.

Speaker
Dr Augustine Tawiah (NDC -- Bia West)

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs?

Speaker
Alhaji Habibu Tijani Mohammed (NPP -- Yendi)

Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement on the Floor of the House. Mr Speaker, the election of H.E. George Oppong Weah as the President of Liberia has been described by many including our own President H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as an extremely important development in Liberia's history and in West Africa. Mr Speaker, the election was Liberia's first transition between democratically elected leaders since 1994. Mr Speaker, the entire election is a clear demonstration of how democracy is gradually getting stronger and entrenched in the body politics in West Africa. Mr Speaker, the beauty of democracy was also shown in how the inauguration witnessed the participation of most past and present Heads of States, including our own former Presidents, H.E. Jerry John Rawlings, John Dramani Mahama, and our sitting President, H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Mr Speaker, the Liberia Presidential Election was a clear sign of hope to everyone that hard work, perseverance and determination pays. As a former international football legend, President George Oppong Weah replaced the first African elected female Head of State Helen Johnson Sirleaf. This is a feather in the cap of Africa in terms of democracy. Mr Speaker, there is a large community of Ghanaians who are law abiding in Liberia, and there are also Ghanaian troops serving with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). These men and women of the Ghana Armed Forces have distinguished themselves and continuously demonstrated a high degree of professionalism, courage and commitment to Liberia's peace keeping. These men and women also deserve commendation because they have stood firm in the execution of their UN mandate even in the face of the deadly ebola virus disease which claimed thousands of lives. Mr Speaker, once again, I would thank you for the opportunity, whiles I pray for longer working relations between Ghana and Liberia.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Minority Leadership and Majority Leadership? Majority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) Mr Speaker, I just want to add a few words. Mr Speaker, indeed, the election of George Weah should excite and give pride to all of us in Africa. Mr Speaker, a point was made by the Hon Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs that the success story of President George Weah, in itself, is a pointer to hard work, tenacity of purpose, and indeed, perseverance. Mr Speaker, when he first contested against the former President who just exited, Helen Sirleaf Johnson, it was said of him at the time that he was not literate enough in spite of his own popularity. He reclined and decided to pursue education in order to enhance his own abilities. Mr Speaker, the first four years when he was not successful, he decided to pursue a degree course and he had his first degree. After the second attempt where he again was not successful, he decided to continue his education, and before the recent election, he had been awarded a second degree, which is a Master's Degree -- a footballer who had struggled. Mr Speaker, here is a person who demonstrated leadership even before he entered the fray of politics. There was an occasion where Ghana had to play Liberia in a qualifying match for the African Cup of Nations, and Liberia, at that time, was engulfed in a civil war. The team could not be provided with the wherewithal by the country to come and play against Ghana, but single handedly, he purchased the tickets of all the team members and the officials and brought them to Ghana. That was when Ghana recognised the proficiency of President George Weah. The first leg was played elsewhere and we all thought we would humiliate Liberia. When they could not afford, in the second leg, we airlifted them to the Accra Sports Stadium, and led by Presdient George Weah, they defeated us. That was when George Weah registered strongly on the radar of Ghana -- people then realised that he was a very proficient player. Mr Speaker, at least, on seven occasions, he had to bear the expenditure of airlifting his team to go elsewhere to train. He had to bear the cost of feeding and hotel accommodation single handedly. What patriotism! Yet when he came into politics, he was found to be wanting. People felt that in spite of enthusiasm, he may not translate into political leadership, which is why he decided on those unsuccessful occasions to help himself. Mr Speaker, here is somebody who has really put himself up by his own bush traps. As far as football is concerned, one person that he must also be eternally grateful to, is the current coach of Arsenal; Arsene Wenger. He discovered him and had him sent to France for some tutelage for three years before he brought him back. Mr Speaker, President George Weah has made Africa proud as a footballer; he became the first player to be crowned the best player in Africa, and at the same time, won the European and world's best footballer in the same year. Indeed, in the previous year, he should have been crowned the world best, but for the fact that his team, AC Milan missed out, that is why he was adjudged the second best. If AC Milan had won, at least, he would have been the first African to have won the world best on two occasions. . Mr Speaker, into the electioneering campaign, the first time he contested against the woman, the ECOWAS Parliament to which I belonged at the time asked me to lead the delegation from the ECOWAS Parliament to the place. Mr Speaker, when I went there and witnessed their electioneering campaign -- Three days before the elections, what I witnessed, I realised it could not have happened at that time even in Ghana. The anti-penultimate day to the elections, he had his own final rally in Monrovia, and the lady also had her final rally in Monrovia. There is just one principal road in Monrovia; it is a dual carriageway. The two parties were using different sides of the road, and when they got together, they were pelting themselves with sachet water, and everybody was laughing. It could not have happened between the New Patriotic Party, (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Accra. I am saying so. Mr Speaker, the police would not even have allowed it in the first place, to have demonstrations leading to the election ground side by side. Weah led his own team, his own party, and when he was taunted as an illiterate footballer, he made a “v” sign, that in spite of that, he was going to win. Mr Speaker, it was a scene to behold, and I believe all of us should have useful lessons from that. Mr Speaker, Liberia has a herculean task. One can only hope and pray that he is able to put together a very good team to assist him. What he has achieved, given his own spirit of endurance and perseverance, and of course given the goodwill that he has, I believe he would be able to overcome. The transition was very smooth, devoid of acrimony, and one can only wish him the best and also wish the people of Liberia success under George Weah. Mr Speaker, let me say that even though “Oppong” is not part of his official name, he derived the name Oppong from a Ghanaian footballer who migrated to Liberia. He used to be a Kotoko player called Charles Oppong. Weah came under the tutelage of Charles Oppong and that is how he adopted his name and became Oppong Weah. So, he has learned from Ghana; and Ghana assisting Liberia has been something that perhaps, as sister nations, we have had to live with. It explains why when they had trouble, they jumped over Cote d'Ivoire and came to Ghana; even though the contiguous country is Cote d'Ivoire, they all came to Ghana and did not stay in Cote d'Ivoire. Let that good relationship between Ghana and Liberia continue. If there is anything that we can do as a country to assist them, I believe we should make it ready in order for them to be able to bounce back as they used to be in the sixties and seventies. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the space granted.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Hon Members, that brings us to the end of private business. Now we would go to public business, at the Commencement of Public Business. The item numbered 4, Motions. Hon Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, the Committee Members have given an indication to us that we should stand these Motions down, that is “4” and “5”, until further work has been done on their Reports.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. In the circumstance, Hon Majority Leader, I would be guided by your indication.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, we have programmed to have a Joint Caucus Meeting. I believe the time should be right for us to take an adjournment in order for us to be able to have the Joint Caucus Meeting, which is going to deal with very important matters. Mr Speaker, if that finds favour with you, I may want to move that this House adjourns until tomorrow, the 31st day of January at 10 o'clock in the forenoon.

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, I think I have to draw the attention of the Clerk to some anomaly before I do the seconding. Looking at the Order Paper, the Provisional also reads: “Tuesday, 30th January”. So the Hon Member expected to ask his Question until I said that it is the date which was probably wrong. So our Clerks should watch some of these things. Mr Speaker, because of the Committee meetings, I would want to second the motion but plead with the Hon Majority Leader and the House if it is possible -- the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is going to consider the petition from the Association of Law Students of Ghana praying Parliament to annul the legal profession legislation. Mr Speaker, this is before the Subsidiary Legislation Committee. When the referral was going to be made, it was made to only the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Committee. Meanwhile the Subsidiary Legislation Committee is considering it. I wanted to plead, if it is possible, for us to do an amendment to join the Subsidiary Committee, since they are already considering the Regulation currently, so that at least the work would be one instead of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee doing it separately and the Subsidiary Legislation Committee also considering it separately. I do not know whether it is possible at this stage to be able to add the Subsidiary Legislation Committee to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. Mr Speaker, other than that, I second the Motion for adjournment.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Majority Leader, your Motion still stands. Before seconding the Motion, he is introducing a new subject but I think there is nothing wrong with the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation participating in the consideration of the petition so that if they find out that there is anything in the petition that would influence their consideration, they could do so. But at this stage, I take it that the Motion has been moved and seconded and I would put the Question.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Majority Leader?

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Speaker, I agree with the issue raised by the Hon Minority Chief Whip. I think what really happened in that case was that the petition was specific. They directed it to that Committee so the Committee then assumed ownership of the petition. I think you are right because already the instrument is before the Subsidiary Legislation Committee. The two of them could consider it jointly and if it has to affect the work of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee, then they would consider it at the same time and perhaps they may even need some advice from the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, except of course, to observe that the two Committees are populated by almost the same faces and the same people with a few exceptions, though.

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Speaker
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members are informed that as soon as we adjourn, there is a Committee of the Whole meeting so all Members should remain and be part.

ADJOURNMENT

The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.02 p.m. till Wednesday, 31st January, 2018, at 10.00 a.m.