The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament staged a walk-out from the chamber yesterday to protest against what it described as ‘deliberate gagging’ of the minority by the speaker, Prof Mike Oquaye
The angry NDC MPs stormed out of the chamber over a motion in respect of the possible cancelation of the controversial $510 million AMERI.
The motion was moved by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member for Adansi Asokwa, Kobina Tahir Hammond.
The NDC MPs, who were seen making gesticulations, boycotted proceedings when the speaker disagreed with the minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, that the motion moved by K.T. Hammond should not have been admitted by him (speaker) because parliament, which approved the agreement, was not a party to the agreement.
Two NDC MPs – Kwabena Donkor, former Power Minister and his deputy, John Jinapor – are already before the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service over the alleged stinking deal.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu referred to Order 93 (3), which states that “It shall be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific question which the House has come to a conclusion during the current session, except upon a substantive motion for rescission.”
He said the motion ought not to have been admitted in the first place by the speaker
The minority leader added that even if Order 93 (3) had been ignored and the motion admitted, the normal practice is that when a motion is moved and seconded, it is open for debate but the speaker decided to refer the motion first to the Committee on Mines and Energy and after a recommendation was made by the committee, the report would be allowed to be debated at the plenary.
The ruling by Speaker Mike Oquaye to refer the motion first to the Mines and Energy Committee angered members of the minority, especially the MP for Yapei/Kusawgu, John Jinapor, and the MP for Bongo, Edward Bawa, who were seen clearly instigating the boycott in a very angry mood.
Some minority members even vented their anger on the NDC MP for Keta, Richard Quashigah, who wanted to stay in the chamber momentarily to enable him ask the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources the plans the ministry has to provide water to some communities in his constituency.
He had filed the question long before, which was to be responded to by the minister yesterday.
The Keta MP was later prevailed upon by the leadership of the minority to leave the chamber or face their wrath.
The speaker explained to the minority members that it was important for the Mines and Energy Committee to present a formal report on the motion since it was the same committee that made the recommendation for the approval of the AMERI deal in the Sixth Parliament.
Later at a press briefing, the minority chief whip, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, told journalists that the minority would continue to fight the speaker until he recognizes the need for him to give them (minority members) enough space on the floor to have their say or advance their argument.
He said the speaker was trying to gag the minority leader, who was using the law to object to the admissibility of the motion.
According to Muntaka, the speaker had been running the affairs of the seventh parliament like ‘a teacher and his pupils’ in a classroom, unnecessarily truncating arguments by minority members and their leaders.
The minority chief whip insisted that his side would not stand to be treated as “small boys” and that they would continue to “fight” if the disrespect continued.
“We don’t want to look as if we are just complaining and complaining but one thing we shall assure Mr. Speaker is that we shall continue to fight until he understands that this is a house that every member must be given space,” he articulated.
The majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, addressing the media on the boycott by the minority, said the NDC’s action could have been an orchestrated plan to cause embarrassment to the speaker because at the pre-sitting meeting between the leadership and the speaker, he (speaker) made it known that K.T. Hammond would be allowed to move his motion on the need for parliament to rescind its decision on the AMERI deal yesterday.
He added that the motion was subsequently referred to the Committee on Mines and Energy.
According to the majority leader, the minority leader agreed to that position and said that the NDC members would be prepared to debate the motion but would certainly abstain from any voting on it, if there should be any such move, so he (majority leader) was surprised to see the minority members turn around and behave in that manner.
The mover of the motion, K.T. Hammond, told DAILY GUIDE that the AMERI deal was a very stinking deal and that he has the core facts on the whole deal to prove at the committee level that the deal was not in the best interest of Ghana at all.