Members of Parliament usually have a defined role as specified by the 1992 constitution of Ghana: the legislative function consists of passing bills and scrutinizing statutory instruments and deciding whether to annul them or allow them to take effect by the effluxion of time.
While this is clearly inscribed in black and white, one MP from the Minority side of parliament has become quite notorious for pushing beyond this fundamental role, making the job of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his government, a lot tougher.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, who is one of the youngest in parliament, has shown time without number that he can single-handedly, and in some cases, in a collective, take on the checks and balances principle of democracy and execute it to perfection.
In this GhanaWeb article, we take a look at three major national campaigns that have mostly been spearheaded by the MP and the roles he has been playing in putting the current government in check.
We begin from the most recent one.
Luxurious Jet Saga:
For over a year now, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has made it a personal responsibility to constantly update the Ghanaian populace on the details of President Akufo-Addo’s foreign travels and more specifically, on his use of luxurious private jets.
Being the Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, the MP has been able to continuously mount pressure on the government, through his detailed revelations on the expenses of the president, so much so that lately, there have been little of such ‘exuberant expenses’ made by the government.
One of the major promises that President Nana Akufo-Addo has been bent on fulfilling is his personal pledge to God to build a National Cathedral.
From the onset, with several oppositions to this decision, the government clarified that the project – a $300 million project, would not in any way be funded by the State, except for the land on which it would be built.
However, it has emerged that the government has already started making some contributions to the construction of the National Cathedral.
This came to light after the MP for South Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, once again brought to light, an instruction from the Chief of Staff of Ghana, to the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta.
He claimed on social media that more than GH¢200 million in funds have so far been released towards the project, an action he described as illegal.
Earlier, the MP had also claimed that the government released an amount of GH¢32 million to the architect of the National Cathedral project, Sir David Adjaye & Associates Limited, in 2021.
John Kumah, a Deputy Minister of Finance, has however justified this said amount, stating that the money was a legal payment paid from the Office of the President’s budget.
“Even though it may not be captured as a budget item because it is not under any specific MDA, it can form part of government expenditure as long as we have captured it in the budget that we were going to provide seed funding,” he said.
New Parliament Chamber:
Although he was not exactly at the forefront of the call by many Ghanaians for , led by the Economic Fighters League (EFL), for Parliament to abandon its decision to build a 200-million-dollar chamber , he played a critical role in it.
Captioned as #DropThatChmaber, this campaign was so vociferous that the legislative arm of government had to eventually drop the idea.
“The Board (Parliamentary Service), has, upon reviewing representations made to it by well-meaning Ghanaians, accordingly taken the development of the new Chamber block out of its present agenda,” a statement said after the idea was shot down.
The new parliamentary chamber was to, among others, expand the seating capacity of the facility to 350 seats. The parliament currently has 275 members.
The leadership of parliament had struggled to contain the outrage amid the trending social media hashtag #DropThatChamber and calls for a “2 million march,”. The march that was eventually suspended after the campaigners succeeded in getting Parliament to #DropThatChamber.