The untold story of Rt. Hon. Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye [Biography]

Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye
Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye

The Speaker of the Seventh (7th) Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye was born on 4th April 1944 to Mr. E.G.N. Oquaye of Osu, Accra (a Cocoa Merchant) and Mrs. Felicia Awusiki Oquaye (née Azu), of Odumase Krobo. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye was the third of seven children.

He was brought up at Asamankese in the Eastern Region of Ghana, where he attended the Catholic and Presbyterian
basic schools before proceeding to Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School, Odumase Krobo (O’level) and Apam
Secondary School (A’level). He studied further at the University of Ghana, University of London and Lincoln Inn,
London. He holds B.A. Hons. (Political Science); LLB. Hons. B.L. and PhD degrees respectively.

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Speaker Oquaye is a barrister of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, and a senior member of the Ghana Bar. As an academic, he achieved the singular distinction of winning within four years, the coveted International Rockefeller Senior Scholar Award and the Senior Fulbright
Scholar Award in 1993 and 1997 respectively. The Fulbright award is considered the highest award in academia. He was a visiting scholar in connection with these awards in London (SOAS),
and Virginia (George Mason), USA. He was Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Ghana, Legon (October 1999-January 2002) and also the Vice-President of Africa Association of Political Science (AAPS) (1997-1999).

His working life has been a combination of private legal practice, lecturing, active politics, civil society activism, advocacy on the marginalized in society and pastoral care. He has researched and written extensively on good governance, conflict, political education, decentralization, human rights, military intervention in politics, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), rural development, Parliamentary Democracy and gender. He is a keen advocate of the rights of women, including affirmative action. He is one man who has regularly featured in conferences on
gender in this country and abroad. His books and articles have been published in England. Canada, USA, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ghana. His rich experience in African politics has been tapped by many institutions in Ghana and abroad.
Prof. Mike Oquaye is an accomplished diplomat, legislator, politician, among others. On the diplomatic landscape, he served as Ghana High Commissioner to India (2002-2004).

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As a Politician and Legislator, he served as the Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya Constituency (2005-2013), Minister of Energy (2005-2006); Minister of Communication (2006-2007) and the Second Deputy Speaker of the Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana
(2009-2013).

During his time as a Parliamentarian, he took keen interest in legislation and made meticulous endeavor in detecting minute slips. He made brilliant statements and various comments and contributions which were rich in depth. He served on the Committee on Members Holding Office
of Profit, Standing Orders Committee, Committee on Defense and Interior, Committee on Local Government and Committee on Communication.

When he became the Speaker of the 7th Parliament, Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye attracted many distinguished personalities to Ghana and to Parliament. Notable visits include the august visit of the first ever sitting Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy
Patricia Pelosi, who was also granted audience to address the House; the Prime Minister of Barbados, Her Excellency, Mia Amor Mottley, QC., MP, who also addressed the House; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the Speaker of Uganda, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga (MP), who also visited on the Speaker’s invitation and gave
a brilliant lecture on Affirmative Action and Women Participation in Politics.

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As a Legislator himself, Rt. Hon. Prof. Oquaye’s passion for Affirmative Action led him to initiate measures to advocate for women and children inclusion, people with special needs, and gender equality. He has also shown interest in the welfare of the marginalized in the society, including
various donations to persons with disabilities and sought the release of a pregnant woman from the Nsawam Female Prisons.

The Speaker’s passion, together with the assistance of Leadership of the House have led to the rapid passing of Bills. A number of these attracted considerable public interest. They included the
following: Vigilantism and Related Offences Act, The Right To Information Act, Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act 959), Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987), National Road Safety Authority Bill, 2019, The Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation and
Prevention Bureau Bill, 2020.

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The swift pace at which the number of Sittings, Question Time, Statements on the Floor and Legislations have been heightened under the 7th Parliament led by Prof. Oquaye, is progressively
unparalleled. During his tenure, Speaker Oquaye presided over six hundred (600) plenary sittings and accepted over three thousand, two hundred and fourteen (3,214) papers, including bills,
Reports from Committees of the House and Ministries, Departments and other Agencies, Waivers, Resolutions, Conventions and Loan Agreements among others.

Speaker Oquaye presided over the review of the Standing Orders to reflect the needs of House. His legislative initiatives have reshaped the legislative outlook. These initiatives have gradually brought about transparency and accessibility to the citizenry through a series of Breakfast Forums and Citizens-Parliamentary Public Engagements. Prof. Mike Oquaye also introduced sign language interpretation in Parliament for those with hearing impairment.

For the first time in the history of the Parliament of Ghana, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye led the House to adopt a Motion for the enactment of Private Member’s Bill, on Thursday, 16th July, 2020.
Parliament has steadily seen various phases of the Physical Infrastructural Enhancement Project including: the construction of the Tower Block Annex (Job 600 Annex), the Visitors’ Waiting
Centre, Drivers’ Waiting Centre and the Chamber Support Services Block and extension works championed by Prof. Oquaye.

Apart from providing infrastructural facilities, Prof. Mike Oquaye established institutional structures including: The Parliamentary Reforms Department, Clinical Psychology Unit, the Legal Department with a unit dedicated to Legislative Drafting and the Budget & Fiscal Analysis Office. This has brought
tremendous enrichment to the work of Parliament.

The leadership of Prof. Oquaye comprehensively dealt with human capital issues in Parliament such as the institution of an Award Scheme for retiring officers, staff who exited honorably and others who have transitioned. He also worked on the enhancement of the End of Service benefits for staff; introduction of
the first ever Institution Specific Pension Scheme; institution of Special Awards for hard-working Members of Parliament, Staff and members of the Parliamentary Press Corps, the introduction of special
transportation allowances for categories of Middle to Junior Level Staff and promotion of all eligible staff which had been stalled for over a decade.

Having noticed the significant housing deficits of staff in the Service, Prof. Mike Oquaye granted waivers to staff to access their own houses at the Rehoboth Knightsbridge Housing Facility at
Kwabenya. He also instituted approaches to build human capacity and resources. He also took upon himself to acquire invaluable assets for Parliament including the Marine Drive Tourism Enclave (20
acres) and the Aviation Hub, Adentan (20 acres).

Speaker Oquaye offered home and overseas medical attention to MPs from both sides and Parliamentary Service Staff whenever necessary. He has also shown keen interest in building a knowledge hub for Parliament as an Institution. The ingenuity of the Rt. Hon. Speaker, has provided MPs and staff opportunities to participate in several sub-regional and International learning experiences. He ensured that the rich experiences and learning outcomes are documented and bound for historical reference.

Prof. Mike Oquaye employed his diplomatic skills to resolve many conflicts, petitions and issues brought before him. He would be remembered for resolving international trade issues between Ghana and Nigeria in September, 2020. Also, through his personal relationship with the Serbian Government, Prof. Oquaye
acquired scholarships for ten Ghanaian students. Also, through him, many students in Ghana have successfully completed their educational pursuit as he paid for their tuition costs.

HE WAS ELECTED HONORARY HEAD BOY OF PRESEC DURING THE 80TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SCHOOL. AN ACCOMPANYING CITATION RECOGNIZED HIS VARIOUS CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SCHOOL AND HIS PEDIGREE ATTAINED NATIONALLY IN POLITICS, LAWS AND DEVELOPMENT.

PROF. OQUAYE IS MARRIED TO MAJOR (RTD.) MRS. ALBERTA BOATEMA OQUAYE WITH CHILDREN. HE LIKES TO PLAY SOCCER, TABLE TENNIS, READ, WRITE AND LISTEN TO MUSIC.

SOURCE: Coverghana.com.gh

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