Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak
Angry members of the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament yesterday disrupted proceedings of the house by banging on their desks and insisting that the speaker ‘respects’ or gives due recognition to their leaders in the discharge of the business of the house.
This followed the failure of the speaker, Prof Mike Oquaye, to recognize the minority chief whip, Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, and the first minority chief whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, who stood up on a point of order, as the debate on the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government’s 2018 budget was to continue.
When the Speaker failed to call Mr Ahmed Ibrahim, who initially got up, the minority chief whip, Muntaka, also got up.
The speaker called on the MP for Ellembele, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah to proceed.
Mr Buah told the speaker that per the convention, when their leaders are up-standing on a point of order, he cannot take the wind out of their sail and speak because it will be tantamount to usurping their powers.
Emotions started rising on the minority side, with the NDC members saying that they would not allow the debate to continue if the speaker does not recognize their leaders.
They began banging on their desks, saying, “We will not allow the debate to continue.”
The tensed atmosphere, caused by noise and wild gesticulations from the minority members, forced the speaker to suspend sitting for consultations to take place at the leadership level.
When parliament eventually reconvened after consultations, Speaker Mike Oquaye asked the first deputy minority chief whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, to speak on the point of order he wanted.
Mr Ibrahim said that he was on a point of order concerning a very important development.
According to him, his information was that the Legislative Instrument (LI) laid in parliament on November 16, by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development for the creation of 38 new municipal and district assemblies, had been sent back to the Executive because of some errors in the LI; and for those corrections to be effected.
He therefore indicated that based on his information, it was important for the whole LI to be withdrawn from parliament and laid later after the corrections had been done because it would be against the rules of the House.
The majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, responding to the concern of the first deputy minority chief whip, said he (chief whip) had a legitimate concern but it was raised at the wrong time when debate on the budget was supposed to take place.
He therefore assured the chief whip that his concern would be addressed.
The speaker said that when debates are scheduled, there should not be any other matters to be raised for discussion.
According to him, there is always a listed agenda for the house and that members are supposed to stick to that, adding that any unlisted agenda should be treated as secondary matter.
He said that the matter raised by the first deputy chief whip was not part of the agenda for the day and that he would plead with members to cooperate with the leadership to execute the business of the house in an orderly manner.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr