Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin through the Parliamentary Service issued a March 7, 2022 statement in which matters relating to his medical trip to the United Arab Emirates were addressed.
The statement essentially dealt with the purported reports around the composition of his delegation on one hand, per diems paid and claims that his children were part of the delegation.
“We want to place the following on record: The Rt. Hon. Speaker did not travel to Dubai with his children as is being alleged. Indeed, Mr. Speaker has never included his children in any of his trips.”
Are the expenses higher than prescribed?
“Travel expenses for Mr. Speaker’s trip to Dubai is in accordance with what is prescribed for the Speaker of Parliament long before Rt. Hon Bagbin became Speaker, and also for analogous members of government such as the President, Vice President and the Chief Justice.”
The issue of per diems
“The figures quoted in the story as per diem are false. The Speaker has no hand in the computation of his per diem and it is available as part of the official records of the State. It is part of the mischief that the publication is aimed at.”
How big was the Speaker’s delegation?
“For purposes of clarity, Mr. Speaker traveled with the medical doctor in charge of Parliament Medical Centre, his spouse as career and two other officials of Parliament as the least in practice. There is no advance party. no children , and certainly no other member on his entourage.
The statement without mentioning names disclosed that other top officials of state were undertaking even more frequent travels than the Speaker has since taking office.
It also disclosed that some persons in Parliamentary leadership were also travelling more than Speaker Bagbin, but the media had ostensibly chosen silence on those personalities.
“…there is complete silence on the travels of other members of government, the frequency of which is far higher than that of Mr. Speaker. Even within the hierarchy of Parliament, there are members of the leadership whose frequency of travel is far higher than that of Mr. Speaker.
“It is also on record that Rt. Hon. Bagbin, in his 14 months as Speaker, is the least travelled of all previous Speakers of Parliament within the same time frame,” the statement added.
Why Bagbin’s travels are a big deal
Bagbin has undertaken medical trips to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates since last year for an undisclosed ailment.
His travels have become topical because of the hung nature of the current Parliament, where his absence means there are 137 MPs apiece on both sides, in which case all things being equal, government cannot pass important Bills.
He has serially been attacked by pro-government voices who have insisted that he should vacate the seat and take care of his health if need be, in order not to obstruct Parliamentary business.