“Has Bagbin served too long as MP?” was the headline of a news article filed by your Upper West correspondent in the Monday 22nd October edition of the Daily Graphic. The writer unfortunately leaves this all-important question hanging on the page unanswered, and rather chooses to give the reader an ear full of the individuals who over the years, had dared to lock horns with Bagbin in the balloting trenches of Nadowli West and came out (all of them) the worse for wear. But the fact that Bagbin had always handsomely thrashed all his contenders for the Nadawli West seat, was left in doubt by your writer.
And then half the story is a grudging admission of some of the most telling achievements of the man Bagbin as narrated at a recent Press Conference held in Kaleo by his youthful support base. Indeed, keen followers of Bagbin like this writer, know for a fact that the man has always given credit to other change agents in partnership with whom he has over the years impacted his community, not to mention his nation. These partners include the Nadowli District Assembly, Traditional Authorities, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision International, Lasalians of the U.K., Equal Opportunities, Ghana Book Trust. ADRA, and some individuals in the constituency.
I think that your correspondent, and others like him need some inspiration from history:
Ever heard of one Francis Knollys of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom? This Honourable gentlemen was first elected as MP for Oxford in 1575 at the age of around 25 and was MP for Reading at the time of his death in 1648 – a period of 73 long years in Parliament!
The oldest in modern times was Samuel Young (1822–1918) who was MP for East Cavan until his death at the age of 96 years 63 days. And if you did not know this, you should at least have heard of the man Winston Churchill. He put in the longest span of service of an MP during the 20th century and was first elected on the 1st of October 1900, and left the House of Commons on 25 September 1964. A proudly productive period of 63 years, 360 days in service to his people.
In the US Senate, a good number of the people’s representatives have served and continue to serve for periods ranging from 30 to 50-plus years. Ted Kennedy, also known as “Lion of the Senate” was elected at the age of 30 and continued to work in Congress throughout his life until his death in 2009..
In our nation Ghana of course, where we show little or no respect for our elected representatives, it is fair game to cynically degrade their performance today. And one day, when they are fully stretched out in state, and completely dead and gone, we gather around their funeral pyre and shed copious amounts of worthless tears and empty eulogies in their memory.
In my humble opinion Hon, Alban Bagbin has deservedly earned the title of the quintessential man of Governance, Leadership and Statecraft; and the only person in Ghana who served as both the Minority and Majority Leader in Parliament. He has served both his constituents and nation well. I do not come from Nadowli West, but how I wish the man were my Member of Parliament! A nation that does not celebrate its leaders, they say, is not worth dying for!