I have yet to avail myself of the detailed findings of the Ghartey Committee charged with investigating an allegation of bribery made by Mr. Mahama Ayariga against Mr. Boakye-Agyarko, the Energy Minister, but it is quite clear to me that the accuser and former Environment, Science and Technology Minister is being let off the hook, as it were, with an insultingly mild slap on the wrist that has predictably been met with abject contempt by Mr. Ayariga, who is also the National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for Bawku-Central (See “Ayariga in Contempt of Parliament – Joe Ghartey Committee” Citifmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 3/30/17).
Matters would be open-and-shut, were it not for the fact that the nose-thumbing accuser had been staunchly backed by at least two of the NDC minority members on the Parliamentary Appointments Committee (PAC), namely, Mr. Alhassan Suhuyini, of Tamale-North, and Mr. Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, of Tongu-North, who is also a former Deputy Minister of Education for Tertiary Affairs. Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa is a notorious scofflaw who once, brazenly backed by the late President John Evans Atta-Mills, defied a Wood Supreme Court ruling regarding the purchase of a government-owned real-estate property by the late former National Chairman of the then-main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey.
Well, I have come across another news report which, in essence, claims that Mr. Ayariga further insulted the intelligence of the members of the august House and the people of Bawku, in the Upper-East Region, whom he represents in our National Assembly, by making it emphatically clear that he was merely acquiescing by apologizing to his fellow House members for being found to be in contempt, or breach, of House rules, not because the accuser believes that he has done anything wrong. This is a very serious act of legislative defiance that must not be brooked, under any circumstances, if the credibility and integrity of Ghana’s Parliament are to be preserved.
The bizarre and greedy but quite understandable culture of “sitting allowances” must also be immediately and forthwith abolished, because it is quite clear that our Members of Parliament are being offered certain undeserved financial perks that may very well have given rise to Mr. Ayariga’s allegation. This culture of unsavory and undeserved expectations may be significantly hindering the smooth and efficient performance of the already generously salaried duties of our elected representatives. So far, the 5-member Ghartey Committee is recommending that Speaker Aaron Michael Oquaye reprimand Mr. Ayariga, in accordance with Section 35 of Parliamentary Act 1965 (Act 300).
Indeed, the Speaker could go well beyond the rather scandalously light sanction of reprimand by demanding the suspension of the Bawku-Central MP, as a means of radically and thoroughly deterring any other members of the House who may be intent on bringing the image and reputation of the House into abject disrepute. Mr. Joseph Osei-’Wusu, the First-Deputy Speaker, who was virulently accused by Mr. Ayariga of serving as a conduit for Mr. Boakye-Agyarko’s alleged bribe money, and who is also the Chairman of the PAC, has been advised by the Ghartey Committee not to proceed with his intended defamation lawsuit against Mr. Ayariga. The New Patriotic Party’s Member of Parliament for Asante-Bekwai may, however, be better advised to reserve this latter option.
Needless to say, the criminal impenitence of Mr. Ayariga has put a sinister pall of public-opinion cloud on the image and reputation of Mr. Osei-’Wusu that is unlikely to be dispersed anytime soon. Of course, Mr. Boakye-Agyarko, the Energy Minister, also reserves the right to have his lawyers doggedly pursue his accuser and his mischievous backers in civil court.
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