Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye last Wednesday, August 2, 2017, practically insulted operatives of one of the country’s biggest market by urging Members of Parliament (MPs) to approach business of the house with the highest level of decorum, but not like people in Makola Market.
Rating himself and the MPs above the traders, the Speaker stated “There is a way of talking in the church, which is different from the Makola market and I will like to say the way you say a thing, where you say it, how you say it, should be part of parliamentary ethics. Your right to have a say of course does not include unbridled gesticulations. That which the ordinary Ghanaian does say, cannot be done in the chief’s palace. I think this is what our people expect from us. …The dignity of parliament should be the key throughout our discourse. We should definitely adhere to laid down rules for the resolution of our grievances if any, in advance and the appropriate way at the appropriate time.”
The Speaker’s admonishing to the MPs not to turn Parliament into Makola Market, follows a string of protests by the Minority caucus against the Speaker’s style of leadership and his “biased” conduct.
According to the opposition MPs, the Speaker’s action, leaves much to be desired, as he is in a way trying to gag the Minority caucus from making their arguments on the floor.
But in his closing remarks before the House went on recess last Wednesday, Prof Oquaye, is quoted by Accra-based Class FM, as advising MPs to adhere to laid down rules for the resolution of their grievances.
He welcomed criticisms of his style of leadership, but urged the MPs to do so respectfully.
But the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said the Minority would not be “intimidated” and called on the Speaker to safeguard the Minority’s right to expression in the house.
“Let me assure you Mr. Speaker that we’ll remain a firm Minority and we’ll continue to discharge our duties without fear or favour and we will not be intimidated in the pursuit of that endeavour. We shall implore all available parliamentary and constitutional means towards the realisation of the goal for the good of our country. …Mr. Speaker, in the last few days it’s as if there have been major disagreements and conflict, yes, there is. The Minority should have its say and the Majority its way is a known established political cliché and we are aware that we are a party in the Minority possibly working into the future into the Majority. The people of Ghana expect that the Minority will keep an eye and an ear on public concerns and matters of public interest. We will support you in this House to maintain order, but our ‘right of say’ must be safeguarded by you as the chair of this House.”
For his part, Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, called on the Minority to be governed by rules of the House in their criticisms of the Speaker.
“The Minority as we just witnessed the Majority Leader say, must have its say even if Majority will have their way. …The Majority has also stated that the Minority’s right to have their say must be situated within the confines of our standing orders and the constitution. Opposition is needed and indeed required to keep government on its toes but opposition must always act responsibly. Parliament as we are all aware is the primary expression of the people’s will and this House has a responsibility of holding government accountable. The notion of accountability must also reflect in parliament’s discharge of its mandate…”