Mrs Joycelyn Bamford Addo, the first woman to become Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, has not openly declared her intention to maintain her position or relinquish it.
On January 6, 2013, Parliament will be dissolved and despite her spectacular contributions to the promotion of democracy in Ghana, she is yet to make her intentions clear.
Indeed, her record will not be forgotten or erased from the political history of the country, not withstanding the fact that her leadership was characterised by challenges.
The Africa Watch Magazine performance index of Members of Ghana’s Parliament in 2010, gave the Speaker B+, which sparked controversy, yet she continued to carry out her duties patiently, diligently and maturely.
Given the chance, some people would prefer that she is maintained in the position, but others are of the view that the 75-year-old Speaker needs rest.
The question is, is it possible to have another woman Speaker of Parliament? Already all the people who have been targeted for the position are only men – Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, the current First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Ken Dzirasah, a former First Deputy Speaker, and Dr Obed Asamoah, a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Mr Cletus Apul Avoka, Majority Leader in Parliament, and National Democratic Member of Parliament (MP) for Zebilla, told the Ghana News Agency that Mrs Addo discharged her duties confidently and won the respect of all MPs.
The Majority Leaders said the Speaker had positive attributes and was able to maintain discipline in Parliament, saying: “ She did not exhibit partisan posture and has been objective in her work.”
Mr Avoka noted that with her experience as a Supreme Court Judge and a former Deputy Speaker in the Consultative Assembly that wrote the 1992 Constitution Mrs Addo learned very fast on her job.
This was due to her past experience, which gave her background knowledge in Parliamentary procedures and nature of Parliamentary work.
Mr Avoka said Mrs Addo’s achievements are remarkable as she assumed the position after four male Speakers, the late Mr Justice D. F. Annan (1994-2001), the late Mr Peter Ala Adjetey (2001-2005) and the Mr Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi-Hughes (2005-2009).
Mrs Addo had made her mark, and other women who aspire to occupy the seat of Speaker, must demonstrate their ability to delivery on the job.
“They should not have it on a silver platter just because we want to balance the male-female equation in Ghanaian politics.
“Mrs Addo’s performance has only demonstrated that given the chance, hard working and experienced women can also climb to the top of the political pinnacle,” the Majority Leader said.
Mr Paul Collins Appiah Ofori, the New Patriotic Party MP for Asikuma/Odoben/Brakwa, said Mrs Addo is not rickety and can go another four years.
Mr Appiah Ofori said the Speaker has raised the image of Ghanaian women and her exit from Parliament would be a lost to Ghana’s democracy because of her rich experience.
He noted that “Mrs Addo has always demonstrated fairness to the Majority and Minority sides of the House”.
Mr Appiah Ofori said the Speaker would call any MP who catches her eyes to speak, something that some previous Speakers failed to do sometimes.
He said Mrs Addo is an excellent example for other women striving to climb the political ladder.
Some journalists reporting from Parliament were unanimous that though Mrs Addo has been able to handle two sides of the House fairly, she should rest because of old age.
They told GNA that Mrs Addo worked assiduously and fairly as she applied the same rules to all political parties with representatives in the House.
It is welcome news that the number of women elected to Parliament in the 2012 parliamentary polls, has increased from 19 to 29.
Despite the less number of women in Parliament, those who have gained entry to the House should emulate Mrs Addo and work hard to become role models for other women.
But Parliament should not be the only platform for women to realise their political ambitions since they can explore other outlets like the District Assembly.
It is unfortunate that many Ghanaian women are scared of participating in politics due to the fact that that area is characterized by insults, harassment, acrimony and vindictiveness.
It is significant to encourage Ghanaian women with experience and the relevant qualification to aspire to political positions such as the Speaker since they play a major role in nation building and national development.
Author: Josephine Naaeke