ALBERT ABONGO, the sacked Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing whose removal from office nearly caused trouble in his constituency after a ministerial reshuffle by President Atta Mills, yesterday stirred controversy when he appeared in Parliament to answer questions as a minister of state. It would be recalled that residents of Bongo in the Upper East Region nearly took to the streets on Tuesday to protest the removal of their Member of Parliament (MP) from office. Police and chiefs in the area virtually went on their knees, begging for restraint.
The status of the discharged minister and his colleagues took the centre stage on the floor of Parliament as MPs engaged in a legal tussle for more than an hour, debating on whether they could still be in office and hold themselves as such.
According to Papa Owusu-Ankomah, MP for Sekondi, once the President nominates people to take over from ministers, the appointment of those ministers is deemed to have been revoked.
The former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice submitted that the President is obligated to indicate to Parliament if he wants the dismissed Ministers to stay in office until the new ones take over.
“It is important for the House to be certain about nominations of ministers”, Papa Owusu-Ankomah pointed out, further stressing that the President should indicate whether he is revoking with immediate effect appointments of the replaced ministers with the nominations of new ones, or he is intending to revoke the appointment at a later date.
Buttressing his point, he quoted Article 81of the constitution which states that “The office of a Minister of State or a Deputy Minister shall become vacant if (a) his appointment is revoked by the President”.
The one-time Minister for the Interior; and Education, Science and Sports noted that the President has the power to appoint ministers of state to assist him in running government business, but he must exercise such powers in a manner that leaves no ambiguity.
However, Majority Leader Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, who is replacing Albert Abongo as the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, argued that his predecessor and others are to continue to be in office until the new ministerial nominees take the “instrument of appointment” from the President and are duly sworn into office.
It was later agreed by consensus that discharged ministers should continue to be in charge until their successors are duly appointed to take over, thus giving way for Albert Abongo to answer two urgent questions on the floor which stood in the name of John Bennam Jabaah, MP for Zabzugu/Tatale in the Northern Region.
Meanwhile, the nomination of three leaders in Parliament and others have been communicated to the House by President Mills, and the Speaker, Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo, has accordingly referred the issue to the Appointments Committee of Parliament for consideration and report.
They are Alban Bagbin, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing; John Akologu Tia, the Deputy Majority leader and a trained journalist will be occupying the ‘hot seat’ as Minister of Information and Enoch Teye (E.T.) Mensah, Majority Chief Whip, replaces Stephen Amoanor Kwao as Minister for Employment and Social Welfare.
The rest are Mahama Ayariga, Deputy Minister Designate for Trade and Industry; Inusah Abdulai Fuseini, Deputy Energy Minister and Moses Bukari Mabengba, Northern Regional Minister.