The Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has given hints of who the New Patriotic Party (NPP) would put up for election as the next Speaker of Parliament from 2017 to 2020.
Even though he did not mention a name, his description of the candidate fits that of Papa Owusu Ankamah and Professor Mike Ocquaye whose names have come up as probable candidates as Speaker.
Prof Ocquaye has widely been speculated as the next Speaker and when journalists asked him how he felt about it at the NPP’s Thanksgiving service at the Accra Sports Stadium on Sunday, his response was, “We are looking to God.”
According to Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the NPP’s choice was for someone who will help bring about regional balance in governance.
In a radio interview on Okay FM Monday morning, the Minority Leader said his reason was that since the President-elect, Nana Akufo-Addo was from the “middle belt” [Eastern region] and the Vice President-elect, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia was from Northern Ghana, it makes sense for someone from Southern Ghana, preferable the coast to be made the Speaker.
With the NPP winning about 170 seats out of the 275 in Parliament, the party gets to propose two candidates for election as Speaker and First Deputy Speaker whilst the Minority NDC would put up someone for the position of Second Deputy Speaker.
In consultation with the President-elect, the majority in the next Parliament [NPP] would put out the names of the candidates for the new Members of Parliament to vote on them on midnight January 6, 2017.
Prof Ocquaye, an indigene of Accra, and a former Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya , serving from 2005 to 2012 has widely been speculated as the next probable Speaker of Parliament to take over from Mr Edward Doe Adjaho.
He served as Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament from 2009 to 2012 and Ghana’s High Commissioner to India from 2002 to 2004 as well as Minister of Energy and Communications from 2005 to 2008.
Apart from Prof Ocquaye, other names, such as that of Papa Owusu Ankomah has also come up which also fits the description hinted by the Minority Leader.
Papa Ankamah from Sekondi in the Western region has vast experience when it comes to Parliamentary duties since he has been in the House since 1996 representing the people of Sekondi.
With his in-depth knowledge about the works of Parliament, he did not seek re-election in 2016.
Apart from the two gentlemen, that of Mr Freddie Blay, the acting national Chairman of the NPP, Mr Sam Okudzeto and Mr Joe Ghartey, have also come up as probable candidates.
Mr Blay, from the Ellembele area in the Western region served for two terms as Member of Parliament from 2000 to 2008 during which time he also served as First Deputy Speaker.
Joe Ghartey on his part is presently the Second Deputy Speaker, serving from 2013 to 2016. He has been Member of Parliament for Essikado Ketan since 2004 and has just been re-elected to serve another term from 2017 to 2020. He served as Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Minister of Justice in March 2005 before being promoted and appointed the substantive Attorney-General and Minister of Justice in June 2006.
The name of 81-year-old Mr Sam Okudzeto is also lurking. Also a former Member of Parliament in the Second Republic, Mr Okudzeto served as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee.
He was also onetime President of the Ghana Bar Association and in 2011, he was Chair of the International Advisory Commission of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and a member of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association.