FULL TEXT: Opening remarks by the Speaker, RT, Hon Alban SK Bagbin as Parliament resumes sitting

Hon Members, today marks the First Sitting of the First Meeting of the Second Session of the Eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you all to this meeting from the short yuletide recess.

I acknowledge the hectic but joyous time you had with your Constituents and I know, from experience, how stressful it has been for you to tour your Constituencies.

Hon Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to take this opportunity to commend you highly for discharging a crucial duty of an MP, – the duty to reach out, interact and explain government policies and their impact or effect on the people and country. Whilst performing this duty, you also listened to the concerns and views of the people and in fact tapped from the collective wisdom of the constituents you voluntarily and willingly decided to lead to make their lives better.

I am sure you are now renewed and energized by the expectations, hopes and aspirations of the people you represent. In doing this, you demonstrated a practical aspect of a perspective of the representative function of Parliament and why the MP is referred to as a representative of the Constituency and the people.

I say Ayekoo, Y3 Garibanye, Mia W3l3 Dodzie, San da kookari, Aaa-ny3 Koo, etc. Hon Members, as leaders of your people, you need to be supported to perform this function effectively and ethically to inspire many more up and coming youth to be motivated to see politics as an honorable career or profession.

This underscores the urgency for the provision of offices, not the use of private residences, the provision of open, lawful and verifying sources of funding not funding from opaque sources or money bags, and technical staff, not party apparatchiks or activists only, to assist you in the performance of this arduous duty. Hon Members, this is the Parliament of Ghana, a unique made in Ghana product and we must showcase and market it to the world as a brand. We must create a unique set of values and norms that will give a unique character to our Parliament to set it apart from the colonial legacies of the British system.

My outfit today, as the Speaker presiding, is to set in motion that agenda. The practice of MPs decently dressed in traditional attire led by the Speaker is long overdue. 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.

I am glad that this decision accords with some of the propositions of the first President of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and the other founding members of the Parliament of the First Republic. The dominant dress code of members of the National Assemblies of independent Ghana was native costume. The Speaker of the first Parliament of the First Republic of the Country – 1960 to 1965 – Rt Hon Joseph Richard Asiedu appreciated and practiced it.

Hon Members, the robe, i. e the long garment, the headgear and bib, constitute the ceremonial dress of the Speaker. This ceremonial dress is worn to distinguish the Speaker from members and to reflect the pomp and pageantry of special national occasions. It was therefore meant to be worn on only those special occasions.

The ceremonial dress is not meant to be a daily apparel of the Speaker. Even the British has long abandoned this dress code. Ghana has long abandoned only the headgear and the bib. Hon Members, I assure you, we are not on a walk in the park in this journey of renaissance and transformation. We will not walk alone in this matter.

We have a lot of followers and supporters. It is with this, 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.

Hon Members I call on you to dig deep into the wealth of your innate wisdom and let us do this together in peace, joy, love and respect for the diversity of cultures, traditions and way of dressing in the country. All what leaders, particularly the Whip and myself must ensure is to enforce the rule of prim, prompt and decent dressing in the House.

Hon Members, since this meeting commences the second year of implementation of the decision of the 2020 general elections of a hung Parliament and in view of the challenges we encountered in the first session, I deem it necessary to take this opportunity to throw more light on the need for Ghanaians to be more tolerant to what happens in Parliament and to appreciate the essence of that decision.

I will give a review of our performance in the first session later in the week. Hon. Members, beloved Ghanaians, the results of the 2020 elections brought a new order of political engagement.

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