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Florence Benford: The woman who has cooked for Ghana’s MPs since 1993

Madam Florence Benford joined parliament as a staff cook in 1993 – the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana and has since served parliament to date.

Madam Florence Banford who is now the Principal Catering Officer, 55, said she did not expect she will be in parliament this long.

In an exclusive interview with GhanaWeb’s Nimatu Yakubu Atouyese, she detailed that she was employed by parliament at the age of 25 under the leadership of Justice D.F Annan and now under the leadership of Alban Bagbin.

“…I joined parliament at the age of 25, when we to came parliament in 1993, the leadership was Owusu J.H Acheampong, Owusu Agyekum and Justice Annan.

“We started serving the MPs when they were very few, as the other party boycotted parliament. But as you can see, there are now over 200 MPs. I served the leadership in 1993 and I enjoyed everything I was doing,” she said.

“Everybody I served in 1993 to 1996 were friendly open and we could actually go to them and they also come to us when there is a problem. Most of them also took our advice when there is something wrong, for instance, some of them will come out of the chamber furious, then after speaking to us, we advise them and they take it easy,” she said.

Auntie Flo as she is popularly called recounted how Yaw Osafo Maafo, president Nana Addo and former president John Mahama would usually come around and have their breakfast, during which time she would engage them in conversations.

She said the provision of food to MPs was proposed by the former clerk of parliament; Samuel Ntim Darkwa after he noticed MPs were eating from places around, therefore in order to reduce the risk of their exposure, he proposed parliament provided breakfast and lunch to MPs.

This was in place for some time but changed in 1996 when MPs demanded money for their meals rather than parliament providing it for them.

“…the former clerk of Parliament, Samuel Ntim Darkwa did not want the MPs to eat outside as it was very risky. So initiated that MPs should be provided with breakfast and lunch. But in 1996 the MPs said they did not want parliament providing them with meals and wanted their money, so the cafeteria started selling foods for those who wanted to buy from them,” she told GhanaWeb’s Nimatu Yakubu.

Florence Benford is married with four children and is expected to retire from her work as a caterer in parliament in five years.

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