Minority NDC accuses Speaker of bias
July 27, 2017
The conduct of the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, has come under severe criticism, with the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) threatening to initiate impeachment process against him.
In the view of the NDC MPs, the Speaker has since the inception of the 7th Parliament of the 4th Republic, been bias against them, cataloging a number of critical moments where the Rt. Hon. Prof. Oquaye has denied them to either voice out their displeasure or question ministers of state that appear before the legislature to answer to issues relating to their ministry.
“The day before yesterday, when we were doing the motion about the non urgency of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 and the Zongo Development Fund, I stood up and if you noticed, for a long time he refused to call me. What I wanted to say was that the process we were using was wrong. Because the constitution under Article 106 (13) says that it has to be done by a committee but they wanted us to do was to ask the House whether they agree or not. The constitution didn’t say that the House has to decide but rather the Committee that has to do that. So, I decided to draw his attention to that. When that failed, yesterday in the morning, I went to him and when he came I raised these things that Mr. Speaker we are not happy about the way things are going. We argued and ended it and I thought he has taken a cue. Mine was not the first.”
“If you remember it is the same problem when Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader stood up for almost fifteen minutes and the Speaker will not call him. We raised this objection with him in-camera in his holding room. How many times must we remind and I remember in one instance, the Majority Leader, Hon. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had to lead the Minority to talk to the Speaker about our displeasure over the way he is handling our issues. How many times do we have to do that? When we respect the chair and we come to you in your holding room and for the past six months we are just being frustrated.”
“We have used all avenues to address it but it is failing. So we are left with no other option than to vent our anger on the floor. So, you have to understand us. Just yesterday we drew his attention to it and in less than 24 hours, he is repeating it. What else does he want us to do? It is out of respect for the chair that we are not using all those avenues that we have. But if we are pushed to the wall, we will be left with no option than to trigger all the avenues that are available to Members of Parliament – that if the Speaker is not being mindful, we will use any of them. If you look at our Standing Orders, there are many avenues and we will use it. We have the numbers to do whatever that we want to do,” Minority Chief Whip, Hon. Mohammed Mubarak-Muntaka noted in an interview with journalists on the sidelines of Thursday’s sitting.
The Minority Chief Whip’s comments were at the backdrop of an incidence that occurred on the floor of Parliament on Thursday, when the Minister for Food and Agriculture appeared before on the floor to answer to some questions relating to the Planting for Food and Jobs campaign.
Getting to the end of the question time, the Speaker of Parliament called on the Minority side of the House if they had any question to ask the Agric Minister.
Hon. Mubarak-Muntaka got up and asked two questions. But just when the Speaker was about to turn to the Majority side of the House, the Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu stood up and as he was about to ask his question, the Speaker intervened and told him that an opportunity was offered to the Minority side which had been utilized by the Minority Chief Whip and that for want time it would be proper for their side to select one person to speak for them next time.
The Speaker however granted Hon Iddrisu the opportunity to ask one question.
But his comments did not go down well with the Minority Leader who argued that he had several questions to ask and if he had been given just one opportunity, then he will no more ask whatever he had planned to ask the Agric minister.
The Speaker then thanked the Agric minister for attending to the House to answer to some questions relating to his ministry. He was then granted the permission to leave.
But Muntaka who was livid about the actions of the Speaker poured out his frustrations insisting that the bias towards them were becoming too much.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu reacting to the concerns of the Minority NDC MPs said their actions were uncalled for.
He said if they (NDC MPs) had any concern with regards to the conduct of the Speaker, they come with a substantive motion, referencing Order 93(5) of the Standing Orders of Parliament to buttress his point.
Order 93(5) of the Standing Orders of the House states that “The conduct of Mr. Speaker, Members, the Chief Justice and Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature shall not be raised, except upon a substantive motion, and in any amendment, Question to a Member or remarks in a debate on a motion dealing with any other subject, any reference to the conduct of the person mentioned shall be out of order.”