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Furore in Parliament over Speaker’s directive  

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Muntaka Mubarak

The Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, on Thursday protested a directive by the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, to allow the Leadership of the House to ask only one question.

This came up after members had asked questions, eliciting answers from Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Food and Agriculture Minister.

Dr Akoto answered a major question that stood in the name of Mr Eric Opoku, MP for Asunafo South, which sought to know what the expenditure, participation and status for the Planting for Foods and Jobs Programme was.

Members of the House asked supplementary questions and when it was the turn of the Leadership to ask questions, the Speaker reminded the House that he would allow them only one question, as Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South, was on his feet to ask questions.

The Minority Leader registered an unsuccessful objection and declined to ask the question.

The Speaker then gave the Majority Leader the opportunity to ask his question, but the Majority Leader indicated that he would not ask any question.

Alhaji Muntaka, who had been on his feet for some time without catching the eye of the Speaker, vehemently protested the directive of the Speaker.

Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensa- Bonsu said it was wrong for the Minority Chief Whip to have banged his hands on the table to protest the directive from the Speaker.

The Speaker had ruled that: “I have consistently made it clear to both sides of the House – Majority and Minority – that no one will be allowed a double bite as I said on many occasions. In all honesty you all know that.

“Let me make it clear that this argument was most unnecessary and in future what is going to happen is no leader shall have double bite at the Chamber,”

he said.

Mr Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu continued that: “Our Orders, Order 93(5) provide that the conduct of Mr Speaker, Members, Chief Justice, Judges of the Superior Courts of Judicature shall not be raised except upon on a substantive motion.

“So the Orders provide sufficient avenue to redress any grievance of a member. This is a House of rules and procedure so if my colleague, the Chief Whip for the Minority, is unhappy about a directive or a ruling by the Speaker, the avenues are opened to the person.

“I think it will be wrongful for the member to rise and be referring to the conduct of the Speaker not on a substantive motion [and] at the same time be banging the table, that is unacceptable.”

The Minority side stayed on in the House, but refused to participate in proceedings after the development.

Speaking to journalists afterwards, Alhaji Muntaka accused the Speaker of treating the Minority with disrespect.

He said both sides of the House were happy to have a former colleague MP as Speaker, thinking that they would have enough space, at least, for the “Minority to have their say, and the Majority, their way.”

However, the Minority Chief Whip said: “Since this Speaker came, we have been treated with a lot of disrespect. We are not given the space to raise concerns so what are we going to be sitting there doing if we can’t have the space to be heard.

“We have lost all the opportunities to show our frustration so we had to burst in anger, unfortunately, which was unnecessary.

“He is making the space so narrow for the Minority to even have their say which is the common thing that every Minority member can have. Now we can’t have our say and we can’t have our way, this is unbearable for us.”

The Minority threatened to “advice itself,” including walk out, boycott or impeachment of the Speaker.

Source: GNA

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