The seemingly conflict between the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) and the Speaker of Parliament, Monday, reached its crescendo when the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, officially lodged a complaint about the conduct of the Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, to the Council of State.
“I know you are coming at a time that in the last 24 hours, there has been reportage in the media about the minority. We are a responsible minority. Indeed, I am not as young in Parliament given the 2005 budget that President Akufo-Addo together with Prof. Oquaye, John Mahama and co … I was part of the Parliament therefore I am very familiar with the practices and processes of Parliament.
“But we need to counter balance and check possible excesses and abuse of the exercise of the state authority. That can be the role of a political minority. And it is not for nothing that every country has a government but it is only democracies that have opposition so therefore, the opposition has a role to play in deepening good governance and making room for the counter balancing act of checking excesses in the exercise of state power and or authority, we intend to do that. It is also a known practice … it is established global – I am saying it because it is a contemporal issue. We know our responsibility even out of courtesy, I will respect age and I will respect authority.
“But the right of the minority to have its say should not and would not and cannot be compromised at any giving time. We know that as a minority we cannot have our way but we can have our say and that jealously must be protected. In every parliamentary democracy, the minority’s right to have its say is a respected norm. Therefore, we are responsible and we behave in a manner which is responsible.
“We say so because in the public interest and in the interest of democratic stability, the rights of the minority to have its say must be safe guarded. I trust that the leadership of Parliament will do that. So, I intend as I said along the line, the minority will seek audience with the Council of State on our own request.
“There are happenings within the public service that we are not happy about … it’s about one being dismissed just by letter from the Office of the Executive or the President undermining Article 195 and others. We are not happy about it – thus politicization of the public service of the country. We will seek audience with you at the appropriate time to dialogue more on this issue. But we need to develop a more tolerant culture even as we build our democratic block,” the Minority Leader emotionally complained.
Members of the Council had paid a working visit to Speaker Oquaye to interact with him over how the two institutions could work hand-in-hand to deepen the country’s democratic credentials.
But the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Aaron Prof. Oquaye, in a sharp rebuttal said “Things are said mindful of the time in the circumstances and the place when you are saying a particular thing. If I had the opportunity to rule whether the person is out of order, I will not hesitate to do so because it is most unfortunate and we must train ourselves and mindful of these things which are part and parcel of public affairs. But just so that Hon. Members of the Council of State may know – on that day [Thursday], it is on record that the Speaker allowed six (6) Members of the Majority to speak during our question time and nine (9) Members of the Minority.
“It is a formula now created by a Speaker who loves congeniality, conviviality and equity that the Members who are ordinary Members should finish having their say and then the Speaker comes to leadership and that collective expression has become a term of act which we are regularly using. When it comes to the turn of leadership, one person from the leadership then speaks on behalf of leadership – very often, the Minority Leader or the Majority Leader.
“But sometimes, they allow other members of the leadership to contribute. Then in that case they have exhausted their opportunity. In fact, about a month or so, when the Minority Leadership had completed their good contribution and I said Majority Leadership, the Majority Leader decided to concede to somebody else. When that person finished, the Majority Leader wanted to speak and my expression as captured in the Hansard is that – Majority Leader, you like this wanted to have a double bite at the cherry and that will not be right.
“But nevertheless, being the leader, he may speak for two minutes. The Majority Leader did not remorse it. He spoke for two minutes and sat down. On this occasion, having giving the Majority contributions to the Minority, then when I said Minority Leadership, it is collegial, it is collective. The Hon. Muntaka got up and spoke. When he sat down the Minority Leader got up and I told him what I had earlier told the Majority Leader and added that out of preference to your office, I will allow you one question. This is sign of respect. This is exactly what happened on that occasion,” he noted.
He added that the claims by the Minority are not true, stressing that “posterity will judge us.”
The conduct of the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, came under severe criticism on Thursday, July 27, 2017, with the Minority NDC 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 respective ministry.