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General News of Saturday, 29 October 2016


Parliament shouldn't have approved Oti Bless – Hackman

Former Member of Parliament for New Juaben South, Hackman Owusu-Agyeman says Parliament should not have approved the nomination of controversial deputy Local Government minister John Oti Bless.

Mr Owusu-Agyeman believes that the issues that led to the suspension of the approval of the nominee are serious enough to have informed a decision not to approve his appointment.

Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Friday, the former Interior Minister in the Kufuor government said Parliament could have done better.

“In this instance, there was no quorum, the issue was raised and the Speaker put the question. I believe that having been a member of the House, there are times that the membership should rise above partisanship and look at issues objectively.

“The issue that occasioned this confirmation being put aside was basically to do with the Montie 3 and all the unfortunate issues surrounding them and the things that were said against the Chief Justice and some members of the bench,” he said.

Oti Bless, the MP for Nkwanta North was nominated together with the former Executive Director of the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), Emmanuel Bombande and a former District Chief Executive of Upper Manya, Joseph Agmor Tetteh in July by the President for deputy ministerial positions.

Parliament’s Appointments Committee vetted the nominees after which a recommendation was made for their approval by the whole House.

The approval of Oti Bless was suspended because of unsavoury comments he made against the Chief Justice and other justices of the Supreme Court during a political talk show programme on Accra-based Montie FM.

Other members who contributed to the political discussion were tried and sentenced to four months imprisonment after they were found guilty of criminal contempt.

Although Oti Bless has apologized to the Chief Justice for the comments, many were of the view that his appointment as deputy minister should not be approved.

But their wishes did not materialise. His appointment was approved by Parliament on Wednesday, October 26, sparking outrage by sections of the public who question if Mr. Oti Bless can make any meaningful contribution to the Ministry with just a month to elections.

For Mr Owusu-Agyeman, the approval is disappointing.
“If this has happened and you put it away for three months, with one week more for parliament to rise and thereafter for elections…was it really necessary to go through this,” he queried.

He believes that this situation only happens because the Standing Orders of the Hosue clothes the Speaker with too much power.
Mr Owusu-Agyeman is of the view that “it is about time we took a look at the powers of the Speaker and to avoid extreme partisanship.

“If for all the hullabaloo that surrounded this Montie 3 and what Oti Bless was supposed to have said or not to have said, wouldn’t it have been better - for the sanctity of the Parliament and for us as a people - to have continued to shun this thing for one week,” he questioned.

As far as the former MP is concerned, Parliament did not have the quorum to approve the nomination and “I am disappointed as a former MP that these things should happen at this time, whatever the reasons are. Parliament should have done better.”

A Political Economist and Analyst who also contributed to the show doubts if Oti Bless can make any major contribution to governance with just a month to the elections.

Dr Eric Oduro Osae said although the substantive minister or the president may have some engagement awaiting his attention, there’s not much he can contribute.
“Practically and objectively, it will add lesser value to governance because one month is too short a time for a deputy minister to make any meaningful impact,” he said.