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My family comes first – Adwoa Safo

Source The Ghana Report

After several days of public scrutiny and backlash, Dome Kwabenya MP Sarah Adwoa Safo has finally broken her silence over her trip to the United States and absence from parliament.

The Gender Minister, who has been criticized for abandoning her ministry and parliamentary duties, says it will be difficult for her to return to the country anytime soon.

She said she is attending to pressing family issues and cannot tell when she will return to Ghana.

“I will definitely return, but as you know, my son has been unwell, so that is why I’m here in the United States — to be the mother and the best mother I could be. I am still here to take care of him.

“I have sent a word to the president, and he is aware of what is happening to my family. I want the people of Ghana, and particularly my constituents, to know that it is not deliberate or intentional, but I have to put my family first. They should also remember to pray for me,” she disclosed.

The MP wants the populace to know that she has not abandoned her party and duties as has been speculated by some colleague MPs and party faithful.

“I haven’t given up on my party. I am still very loyal to the party and the president. I will be the last person to put the record of the party into disrepute. I am still committed to the party, the president, and my duty as an MP and Minister.

“Silence is golden, and that is why I have kept quiet through all these days, but when I had to come to Ghana, I did come, and when it was out of my hands, I couldn’t do anything about it. I believe reasonable people will understand that family issues are equally important. I am going to return if issues with my family are sorted out,” she said in a Joy News interview.

Meanwhile, the Dome Kwabenya MP has stated categorically that Parliament’s Privileges Committee has not served her to appear for a probe on absenteeism, hence her unavailability for the meeting.

Background

It will be recalled that on 5 April 2022, Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, referred three members of parliament to the Privileges Committee over absenteeism.

Dome Kwabenya MP Sarah Adwoa Safo, Assin Central MP Kennedy Agyepong, and Ayawaso Central MP Henry Quartey have absented themselves for more than 15 sittings.

Notices were reportedly served on the said MPs for the meeting, which will be held in-camera, but the MP said she was unaware as she had not received any official invitation.

Ayawaso Central MP Henry Quartey was scheduled to be the first legislator expected before the house.

Per the arrangements, he will be followed by Dome Kwabenya MP Adwoa Safo, who is scheduled for 27 May 2022, and Assin Central MP Kennedy Agyapong on 31 May 2022.

The Ranking Member on the Committee, Ricketts Kweku Hagan, made this known before the hearing.

Explaining the rationale behind the dates selected, he said that “the committee got a response from the Assin Central legislator that he will be going for a medical review in the United States, hence the order in which the meeting has been arranged”.

Regarding the other two MPs, he said no official letter had been written to the Clerk informing the committee of their individual challenges.

“I expect that the two MPs are aware of what is going on, so they have no reason to be absent,” he added.

Responding to what happens if any MP fails to appear before the committee, he said the said MP would be in contempt of parliament.

“You are further complicating your situation because we are here to obey the constitution and follow what the Speaker says. As a member of parliament, we should know better, and this is a very serious matter which has to do with you.

“I don’t think it was easy for any of them to become an MP. You are here to serve your people, so there is a need to come here and explain yourself. It’s possible for one to be indisposed, but all those must be communicated,”

The issue of absenteeism came to light after a former Member of Parliament for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak, petitioned the Speaker in March 2022.

Mr. Mubarak cited four MPs: Dome Kwabenya MP, Sarah Adwoa Safo; Ayawaso Central MP, Henry Quartey; MP for Ahanta West, Ebenezer Kojo Kum; and Assin Central MP, Ken Ohene Agyapong.

He said the MPs had flouted provisions of Article 97 (1) (c) of the Constitution and Parliament’s Standing Order 16 (1), which frowns on members absenting themselves for 15 sitting days without permission from the Speaker.

Per Article 97(1)(c) of the 1992 Constitution, a Member of Parliament shall vacate his seat “if he is absent, without the permission in writing of the Speaker, and he is unable to offer a reasonable explanation to the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges from fifteen sittings of a meeting of Parliament during any period that Parliament has been summoned to meet and continues to meet.”

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