Members of Parliament (MPs) are set to debate a report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (C.I. 126) after it was laid on Thursday, June 4, 2020.
The Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) 126, which gives legal backing to the plans by the Electoral Commission (EC) to conduct a new registration of voters, will become mature on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, after enjoying 21-day parliamentary sitting.
Members of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation voted 12 – 9 in favour of the C.I. and subsequently laid their report in the House for debate on Friday.
Vice-Chairman of the Committee, Bernard Ahiafor laid the report on behalf of MP for Bolgatanga East, Dr. Dominic Akuritunga Ayine, who chairs the committee.
The NDC MPs at the committee meeting voted en bloc against the approval of the C.I. in line with their party’s aspiration.
However, their counterparts from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) voted for it, but the debate did not come as scheduled.
Dr. Ayine told Parliament, after he was summoned by the Speaker, that the report was not ready, noting that the Ranking Member of the committee, Yaw Buaben Asamoah had “significantly altered the report” when he (Buaben) “decided to correct my report.”
According to him, members of the committee met with the officials of the Electoral Commission on Wednesday for deliberation and “finalised things around 4pm”, yet other equally important assignments could not permit him to put together the report as expected.
“That day I had other commitments so I was not able to work on the report. On Thursday, I quickly worked on the report and sent it to my ranking member for him to see if we had captured diligently all the issues raised during the deliberations of the committee.”
“What then happened was that my ranking member decided to correct my report which I did not have a problem with. But he significantly altered the report such that what he presented to me did not resemble what I had written. He virtually re-wrote the report I had submitted to the secretariat,” Dr. Ayine explained.
After back and forth of allegations and counter-allegations, the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye stood down the debate and rescheduled it for Tuesday, after backing the committee’s chairman that the report was indeed not ready.
“Notwithstanding the earlier instigations of the ranking member, we are not in the position to subjugate the chairman’s position to any other view in this particular instance and circumstance.”
“You are further instructed by order 210, particularly with regard to the views of members of the committee – any member may bring up an issue for consideration, and it goes on to tell us what you are to do,” the Speaker charged.
“In the circumstances, the chairman of the committee is to get his members to have a look at the report as he desires at and when a chairman stands in this honourable House to say whatever it is I have not been able to align what others suggested regarding the views of my members, definitely it must be taken seriously so that the report will be the committee of the house’s report.”
“I am not going to curtail anything whatsoever. I will ask that the honourable chairman should ensure that his committee as far as possible, even if today (Friday) and then at the next possible day of return which is Tuesday the matter will be taken up accordingly.”
“By which time, even on Monday, your report had been distributed to all members so that we can all effectively take a good debate,” Prof. Oquaye directed.
Earlier, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had said there had been many instances, referrals were made to the committee and no reports were submitted to the House.
“Mr. Speaker, I have always insisted that, that is not the way to handle affairs. I have always insisted that it will be better for them to submit reports to this house. At least for the simple reason that it will be registered in our hansard that a document was referred to them and they submitted this report.
“It was last week that I urged the committee that it should not wait until the expiry of time. They should submit their report. Indeed, last week when I submitted those statements I strongly urged that by Wednesday of this week they should report.”