It appears anger over the disability comments made by the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin is far from over, although the lawmaker has explained his initial point.
Disabled Civil Society Groups, including the National Stammerers Association, have described his apology as “non-apology” and want the longest serving Parliamentarian to do the right thing.
The NDC presidential aspirant during a meeting with party members in the Volta Region said “Traditionally, if you are not a whole person can you be a chief? Can you be a queen mother? So if you are going to appoint the minister of chieftaincy and you appoint a very bright lawyer who unfortunately is blind what are you telling the chiefs? The chiefs rejected it, and they spoke, we refused to change him. Do you expect them to vote for you?
“When Prof [Atta Mills] was in power, Haruna Iddrisu was our linguist in charge of communication, when my brother John [Mahama] came to power, he substituted him for Dr Omane Boamah who is a natural stammerer,”
"He is a very intelligent boy, he is smart but when he is speaking, he wastes time in coming out and Ghanaians do not have that much patience, so, they are always looking for those that are rattling."
These comments infuriated a section of disabled group who sees the comment as derogatory and called on Mr Bagbin to apologise.
At a press conference to finally address the issue, Mr Bagbin who said he had been out of the country stood by the comments he made, but offered an explanation.
"Never, I did not say that," he insisted, adding he only questioned the "wisdom" of the appointments made by former President John Mahama.
"They were assigned to inappropriate ministries. I never questioned the competence of the appointees… to the contrary I praised them. I only questioned the wisdom in placing the three of them in the designated ministries,” he added.
President Stammerers Association of Ghana, Alies Apreku says what the Nadoli Kaleo MP did could be anything but not an apology.
“I don’t know whether that is an apology to us persons who stammer,” he said.
According to him, what the Association wanted from the MP was for him to apologise and retract the derogatory comments, but that was not done.
“So let’s ask ourselves, did he apologise to the issue being discussed, no. Did he retract the statement, no, he didn’t. So we still stand by the fact that he hasn’t apologised and he as to.”
Apreku says the leadership of the Association and Federation of Disability Organisation will be having a meeting to deliberate on the way forward.
The Ghana Blind Association supports the decision taken by the Federation.
Executive Director, Dr Obeng Asamoah says his Association is unsatisfied and disappointed by the MP’s response.
Mr Bagbin finds nothing wrong with his comment
“We do not think that was an apology. What he said was very diluted, he was playing with words. Nobody had any problem with him being late with a response. We had problems with the things he said and that is what we expected him to apologise for.
“For now, what he has said is nothing and we don’t see that as an apology,” he added.
Dr Asamoah said Mr Bagbin’s comments could result in disabled people not getting jobs or getting appointed to certain high offices where their skill is needed.
He believes the comments are in violation of the law of Ghana and in contravention of international laws.
“The disability Act which he voted for to come into being, frowns against it. The United Nations convention on the right of disabilities which the government of Ghana signed frowns against that. The Sustainable Development Goals also frowns against these things.”
He said the statement is discriminatory and “we find that very wrong and offensive.”
“If you are not aware and we point it out, the honourable thing for any honourable member of parliament to do is to honourably apologise.”
The Federation of Disabled People in Ghana, Dr Asamoah says will be meeting to take a collective decision on the issue.
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