Due to the boycott by all opposition parties in 1992, the 1st Parliament of Ghana’s 4th Republic had only NDC members (189) and a handful of NCP (8) and EGLE party members (who were already in alliance with the NDC) with two Independent Members (Madam Hawa Yakubu Ogede and John Achuliwor). Effectively therefore, that Parliament was a one-party one.
The 1996 Elections followed which saw the NPP obtaining 61 of the 200 seats. At its maiden sitting to elect the Speaker and prepare for the swearing in of Jerry John Rawlings as President for the second term, Hon. J.H. Mensah as the newly elected Minority Leader gave a fiery speech. He argued that the President of the USA is sworn in Parliament and before Parliament. In the UK, the Prime Minister is sworn in Parliament and before Parliament. Being the two countries whose democracy we were following, he argued that Ghana had no option than to follow suit backing it with Constitutional clauses. Thus, the Minority will not countenance the pre-planned arrangement for the President to be sworn at a state function at the Independence Square.
The Majority Leader (J.H. Owusu-Acheampong) and his Majority could not muster enough argument to counter so eventually, the Minority won. The swearing-in took place at Independence Square in any case, but held as a parliamentary sitting with all the Standing Orders prevailing. That set the stage for a very exciting second phase of J.H. Mensah as an MP for Sunyani East. Throughout his stay in Parliament up until 2008, he was a sight to behold – great orator with deep insights into constitutional and parliamentary democracy as well as governance matters.
Hon. J.H. Mensah had decades before worked on the 7-Year Development Plan under the Nkrumah government, served as the MP for Sunyani and Minister of Finance in the 2nd Republic. Politically, he was a founding member of both the Progress Party of the 2nd Republic, Popular Front Party of the 3rd Republic and the New Patriotic Party of the 4th Republic.He has indeed paid his dues in full to Ghana and all of us must emulate his example.
May his soul rest in perfect peace.
My dear friend,