26 February 2013

Ghana: You Can't Stop NPP-Speaker Tells NDC MPs

The Majority National Democratic Congress (NDC) caucus in Parliament on Friday launched a blistering attack on their Minority NEW Patriotic Party (NPP) counterparts, in an attempt to prevent them from posing questions to Ministers of State appointed by the President.

In their view, since the Minority Members do not recognize the legitimacy of the President and his ministers, it was morally not right to question them on matters relating to their respective positions.

They (NDC) however, sought refuge in the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho, to use the powers vested in him to pull the breaks on the Minority Members from posing questions to President Mahama's ministers.

The NPP had indicated that it shall not participate in any event that seeks to endorse the legitimacy of Mr. John Dramani Mahama as President of the land in protest against the verdict of the 2012 Presidential polls announced by the Electoral Commision.

To this effect, they did not participate in the inauguration ceremony and the State of the Nation address delivered by the President. They have also not participated in the grilling of Ministers nominated by the President.

It all started when the Member of Parliament for Nanton, Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed, moments after the Majority had presented the Business Statement of the House for the ensuing week, rose up to find out whether the minority members had the right to pose questions to ministers of state, whose vetting they boycotted.

His stance was provoked by a question in the said Business Statement, standing in the name of the MP for Okaikwei Central, Patrick Boamaha, who wanted to find out from the Minister for Roads and Highways what measures the Ministry is putting in place to prevent accidents and also ensure adequate pedestrian safety on the George Walker Bush (NI) Highway.

On the same statement, the MP for Akim Swedru, Kennedy Nyarko Osei had posed a question to the Minister for Roads and Highways what plans the Ministry has towards reconstructing the Akim Swedru-Achiase Road.

Mr. Murtala's sentiments were backed by the MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, "Mr. Speaker, we are extremely surprise that the Members from the Minority will be seeking to ask questions from the minister, whose vetting they did not participate in. We, therefore, find it incongruous, we find it illogical and we think that it is improper, and for this House to be seen serious by the good people of this country, we must be consistent; we must be principled in the way we conduct affairs in this House," Mr. Okudjato argued.

He added, "We think that the path which our colleagues are leading us is a path which can bring Parliament into disrepute and the citizens of this country will not take us seriously in the way we are pursuing the mandate they have given us."

However, their agenda hit a snag when the Speaker ruled that the action of the Members on Minority side, who were seeking to ask the minister some urgent questions were consistence with the Constitution and Standing Orders of the House.

He argued that nothing could stop the House from exercising its oversight responsibility on the Executive and that the action taken by Mr. Boamah and Nyarko Osei was consistent with the rules and regulations of the legislature.

"Hon. Members, the question is whether the person posing the question is a Member of Parliament. If the answer is yes, then the rules of the Standing Orders in terms of admissibility of questions come into play. And that is exactly what I did.

" Once the person remains a Member of Parliament, he can pose questions to any minister. I have to admit the question and once it is consistent with rules of the House, it will be admitted. As to whether they didn't take part in the vetting is a different matter," Rt. Hon. Adjaho explained.

Members on the Minority expressed their desire to respond to the sentiments put forth by those on the Majority side but the Speaker stood his grounds and insisted that once he has ruled the matter, there was no need for further comments.

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