General News of 2014-01-14

Merbank Saga: Parliament failed the country - Okudzeto blasts

Astute Ghanaian legal practitioner Sam Okudzeto has blasted Parliament over what he described as unnecessary politicization of national issues depriving the population of the true benefit of democracy.

He was speaking on Adom FM’s “Burning Issues” program about the way Parliament handled a motion by the Minority to investigate the takeover of Merchant Bank by Fortiz Equity.

The Speaker of Parliament had initially allowed the motion which stood in the name of Bimbila MP Dominic Nitiwul, but the Speaker made a u-turn and over-ruled the motion contrary to his earlier position.

The MPs then engaged in a heated debate on the floor of Parliament, with each side of the house maintaining strong partisan positions.

Lawyer Okudzeto accused the MPs on both sides on the house of allowing their partisan interests to override their conscience and national interest.

He said the conduct of the MPs pose a threat to the fortunes of the nation because “Parliament is the only institution constitutionally mandated to protect the interest of the public.”

Meanwhile, the Minority in Parliament has vowed to begin its own investigations into the sale of Merchant Bank and publish its findings to show if due diligence was done before the sale.

Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul, who was also on the show, lauded Lawyer Okudzeto for his forthrightness.

He agreed that “Parliament will lose its relevance due to how national issues are being politicized in Parliament and the Majority side will be the biggest loser.”

Hon. Nitiwul wondered why a bank such as Merchant Bank with a solid performance since 2007 could be sold that cheap.

He said those on the Minority side in Parliament did not have the full fact about the MerBan-Fortiz deal and therefore there was the need to seek clarification.

Meanwhile, the Bimbila MP says he has a document which shows that the staff of SSNIT would have preferred the sale of MerBan to South Africa’s First Rand rather than to Fortiz.

Majority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka agreed with Sam Okudzeto’s concerns about the danger of partisan interest in Parliament, but also maintained that “issues cannot be discussed in Parliament without partisan interest.”

He insists the decision by the Speaker was in the right because the motion called for Parliamentary investigation into issues which are in court, and that could lead to a dangerous precedent.