The Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Oquaye, was yesterday sworn in by Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo as Acting President of the country in the absence of President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.
He took the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office in compliance with clauses 11 and 12 of Article 60 of the 1992 Constitution, as well as a Supreme Court ruling asking speakers of parliament to take the oath and be sworn in as president anytime the president and his vice are out of the country.
The Supreme Court order followed a ruling on the refusal of the immediate past Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, to take the oath of office when former President John Mahama and his Vice, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, were out of the jurisdiction.
Speaker Oquaye, however, did not take the Oath of Secrecy.
There were chants of ‘Presidoo, Presidoo’ by the Members of Parliament (MPs) as he took the oaths of allegiance and office amid broad smiles.
The swearing-in became necessary as the president had left for Liberia to attend the inauguration ceremony of president-elect of that country, George Oppong Weah, today, and Vice President Dr Bawumia had also left for London on medical leave.
After the swearing in, the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC), led by its leader, Haruna Iddrisu, raised concern about the need for the speaker to take another oath as the president since President Nana Akufo-Addo is still performing his duty as the President of the Republic by leading a delegation to attend the inaugural ceremony of president- George Oppong Weah.
The minority leader said that by clauses 11 and 12 of Article 60 which basically say that the speaker of parliament shall act as the president if the president and the vice president are unable to perform their duties as president and vice until such time that they will be able to perform their duties or until a new president is elected, it therefore suggests that the speaker ought not to be sworn into office as the acting president since the president was still performing his role as the president, even though out of the jurisdiction.
He said despite the fact that the president is out of the country, he is still performing his duty as the president in extra territorial area and that parliament will have to take a critical look at that provision in the constitution.
He, however, said that the swearing-in of the speaker in the absence of the president and the vice president is a further indication that Ghana’s constitutional democracy has come of age.
The majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, supported the view of the minority leader, saying that once the president is outside the country and is able to perform his duty as the president in this era of technology, it will not be appropriate to swear in a new president since it could create problems.
He noted further that in line with clauses 11 and 12 of Article 60, the speaker does not need to be taking the oath anytime the president and vice president are out of the jurisdiction.
According to him, once the speaker is made to take the oath for the first time in the absence of the president and the vice president, he could still act as the president without taking the oath again anytime the president and the vice president are out of the jurisdiction.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also expressed worry that the speaker was made to take only the oaths of allegiance and office without taking that of secrecy of office.
He said that in future, parliament, and the nation as a whole, will have to take a second look at Article 60 (11) and (12).
Dignitaries, who attended the swearing-in ceremony, included the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo; the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei Opare; Board Chairman of COCOBOD, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang and Board Chairman of GOIL, Kwamena Bartels, as well as some ministers of state.
President In Liberia
President Akufo-Addo left Ghana for Liberia Sunday afternoon in the company of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway; Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta; Minister of National Security, Albert Kan Dapaah and some officials from the presidency.
The delegation returns on Tuesday, January 23, 2018.
Veep In London
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia had left for London in what official sources describe as ‘medical leave.’
A statement from the presidency signed by the Director of Communications, Eugene Arhin, Friday afternoon stated, “The Vice President, in the early hours of Friday, January 19, 2018, reported not feeling well and was attended to by his doctors.”
Later that Friday night, Dr Bawumia was said to have left Ghana for London, United Kingdom, for medical attention as contained in a statement issued in the early hours of Saturday under the hand of Chief of Staff, Frema Osei-Opare.
He was accompanied by his wife, Samira Bawumia.
This raised some sort of alarm among a section of Ghanaians who thought the sickness could be serious.
But policy think-tank, Imani Ghana, gave government a plus on its decision to go public with news of Vice President Bawumia’s ill health.
IMANI’s Vice President, Kofi Bentil, insists the decision by the Director of Communications at the Presidency to announce that the Vice President had been taken ill was apt.
According to him, it is important that the Akufo-Addo administration runs an open government – one that the health status of the country’s leaders will not be kept as top secret.
But information gathered by this paper indicates that the statement was rather meant to cure a mischievous propaganda that was being fueled by some opposition elements, creating the impression as though Dr Bawumia had been hospitalized.
Speaking on Joy FM’s ‘News File’ programme on Saturday, Kofi Bentil, a legal practitioner, commended the government for being transparent.
“The health status of late President Mills and how long it took had a serious effect on governance in this country. All kinds of things happened but I think that what this government has started is a good thing. We need to be updated on the health status of our leaders; I think they should continue. You can always leave some details out but it is a good thing,” he pointed out.