4 August 2017

Ghana: Don't Bring Makola Talk to Parliament - Speaker Tells MPs

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye has broken his silence over the Minority's accusation against him, that he does not allow them to make their statements on the floor or have their say.

He said the right to have a say goes with some responsibilities, especially where parliamentary etiquettes are concerned.

According to the Speaker, who is a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Dome-Kwabenya, the choice of words in the church is not the same as those at the market.

"There is a way of talking in the church, which is different from those at Makola market, and I would like to say that the way you say your thing, where you say it, how you say it, should be part of parliamentary etiquette," he stated.

His comments followed a series of accusations by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs that the Speaker of Parliament had, on several occasions, denied them the opportunity to have their say on the floor.

The Minority, together with its leadership, took to the media to register their displeasure with the father of the House, whilst describing him as 'biased.'

The matter escalated to a point where the opposition NDC MPs boycotted a day's sitting in proteset. Subsequently, they held a presser, threatening to impeach the Speaker.

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, had earlier at a meeting with the Council of State, at the Speaker's Conference Room, lodged a complaint over the alleged 'unfair' treatment being meted out to the Minority.

Giving his closing remarks yesterday to adjourn the Second Meeting of the 7th Parliament sine dine, Prof Michael Oquaye explained that, the fact that one had the chance to say anything did not mean unnecessary gestures.

He said: "The right to have a say, of course, does not include unbridled gesticulations.

That means, what the ordinary Ghanaian says cannot be done in the Chief's Palace. "I think this is what our people expect of us [MPs], and we must stand to the occasion.

"The dignity of Parliament should be the key to our discourses. We should always adhere to laid down rules for the resolution of our grievances, if any, and advance to the appropriate course in the appropriate way, at the appropriate time... " Prof Michael Oquaye remarked.

Concluding, he urged both sides of the political divide to assist him and the deputy speakers to continue to steer the affairs of the House "... with dignity, fairness, and full knowledge of the procedures of this House."

On his part, the Minority Leader, who spoke before the Speaker, reminded the Speaker that he (Haruna Iddrisu) had, at the beginning of the session, pledged the commitment of the Minority to act as a responsible and constructive opposition.

Whilst assuring the Speaker that where it was necessary for the Minority to be magnanimous in supporting government policy, they would have no hesitation in doing so for the good of the country.

"But, let me assure you, Mr. Speaker, that we will remain a firm Minority, and we will continue to discharge our duties without fear or favour, and we shall not, will not, be intimated in the pursuit of that endeavour.

"We shall employ all available parliamentary and constitutional means towards the realisation of the goal, for the good of our country.

"Mr. Speaker, in the last few days, it is as if there has been major disagreement and conflict - the Minority should have its say, and the Majority its way.

"It's a known established political cliché. And we are well aware that we are a party in the Minority, possibly, working into the future into the Majority, we've been there before.

"But, Mr. Speaker, the people of Ghana expect that the Minority will keep an eye and an ear on public concerns and matters of public interest. We will do so jealously, as I have indicated," he noted.

The First Session of the 7th Parliament of the 4th Republic had 39 sittings before rising for recess, and it is expected to resume in early October this year.

The House passed the Customs Amendment Bill, 2017 into law, and also adopted a number of committee reports, notable amongst them, reports on the proposed formula for the distribution of the Ghana Education Trust Fund/GetFund for the year 2017, and the proposed formula for the disbursement of the National Health Insurance fund for the 2017 year.

Meanwhile, the Majoirty Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, observed that despite some inconveniences, the members made themselves available to ensure that the House discharged its mandate creditably.

"I must commend members for their attendance to the House. In general terms, Mr Speaker, we had a fruitful discourse during this meeting."

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