The FALAS Lifetime Legal Achievement Award is the highest award under the reputable scheme of awards by the Federation of African Law students that could be awarded to any legal luminary on the continent of Africa. The award is as a result of one’s unprecedented impact in the legal industry who is worthy of recognition, admiration and commendation.
Having followed the track-record of excellence and being a figure that represents all that students labor to achieve, Ghanaian legal heavyweight, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye Snr,PhD, the Speaker of the 7th Parliament of the fourth Republic of Ghana is amongst the first ever recipients of the “FALAS Lifetime Legal Achievements Award“.
The Rt. Hon. Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, Speaker of the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic, 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).
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); 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).
Ghana’s High Commissioner to India
His tenure as Ghana’s High Commissioner to India recorded unrivaled achievements which include:
Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in Information Technology, a show-piece in Africa;
•Ghana Presidential Palace and Office Complex;
•Tractors on concessionary terms to revamp agriculture and
•One Hundred and Two Million Dollar (USD 102,000,000) facility to Ghana, which had forty eight percent (48%) grant element, twenty five (25) years repayment period, five (5) years moratorium and 0.5 percent interest rate per annum.
Minister for Energy
As the Energy Minister, he presided over the:
•Expansion and maximum application of the Tema Oil Refinery
•Unprecedented petroleum exploration. He actually negotiated an signed the agreement with Tullow Oil, which led to the first discovery of oil in Ghana;
•Recapitalization of the Volta River Authority (VRA) and Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) was identified and steps intensified to resolve same;
•Amendment of the VRA Act, which brought about the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in Ghana. This allowed Asogli and other IPPs to operate;
•Commissioning of the West Africa Gas Pipeline by President Kufuor;
•Signing of Bui Dam Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sino-hydro Corporation of China in September, 2005.
Minister for Communications
•Ghana and China signed a US$30 million agreement for the National Backbone project;
•The World Bank gave Ghana a US$40 million concessionary facility after all the relevant benchmarks had been satisfied in record time;
•The Ghana Society for the Blind was provided with the braille computer system with the help of the Government of India.
•He was in charge of the initial steps for the divestiture of Westel and Ghana Telecom;
•Ghana attained record Teledensity and rural telephony target with Chinese assistance.
Parliament of Ghana
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 Defence and Interior, Committee on Local Government and Committee on Communication.
As the Second Deputy Speaker, his evenness and equanimity pleased both sides of the House when he presided.
Having risen through the ranks to become the Speaker of Parliament for the 7th Parliament, Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye’s aura attracted many distinguished personalities to Ghana and to Parliament House, including 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.
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.
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 of the Institution. 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 very obvious benefits of our disabled brothers and sisters.
Enactment of Private Members’ Bills
On 18th December, 2020, the House passed the first ever Private Members’ Bill, i.e. the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Parliament has steadily seen various extension works championed by Prof. Oquaye. Under the Physical Infrastructural Enhancement Project, Speaker Oquaye oversaw the construction of four (4) vital facilities. They include: Job 600 Annex to accommodate offices for all Members of Parliament, Visitors’ Waiting Centre, Drivers’ Waiting Centre and the Chamber Support Services Block. He also spearheaded the facelift of the existing Parliamentary Chamber. As an academic, Prof. Mike Oquaye took keen interest in revamping the Parliamentary Training Institute (PTI).
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.
Human Capital and Talent Development
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 honourably 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. Speaker Oquaye offered home and overseas medical attention to MPs from both sides and Parliamentary Service Staff whenever necessary. Together with Parliamentary Service Board, Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, initiated fast track promotion for staff who have had their promotion stalled for over ten years. Furthermore, the Board, chaired by Speaker Oquaye, expanded the tiers (salary levels) to prevent stagnation and a backlog on promotion in the future.
Creation of Knowledge Hub
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.
It is noteworthy that under the leadership of Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, the following books have been published:
•Rulings of the Speaker
•Statements on the Floor (in four volumes i.e., 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020).
•Private Member’s Bill in Ghana – A Guide and
•Addresses by the Speaker and Leaders
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. Several Ambassadors and international partners have called on Speaker Oquaye with regards to pertinent global issues. He is a founding member and key spokesperson in advocating for Africa’s debt cancellation to alleviate the unprecedented socio-economic pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Scholarships for Students
Also, through his personal relationship with the Serbian Government, Prof. Oquaye acquired scholarships for ten Ghanaian students. Through him, many students in Ghana have successfully completed their educational pursuit as he paid for their tuition fees.
Asset Acquisition for Parliament
Speaker Oquaye also took upon himself to acquire invaluable assets for Parliament House including the Marine Drive Tourism Enclave (20 acres) and the Aviation Hub, Adentan (20 acres).
Prof. Mike Oquaye was elected 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. Aaron Michael Oquaye is married to Major (Rtd.) Mrs. Alberta Boatema Oquaye with children. His hobbies include playing soccer, table tennis, reading, writing and music.