The First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, last Friday stamped his authority in the House when he stopped the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale North from disrupting ongoing private business concerning the interests of members of the House.
On about three occasions, Mr Osei-Owusu prevented Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini from interrupting business in the House when the MP raised objection about lack of quorum for the conduct of business on the floor.
The Speaker candidly told the House that when it was time for questions and answers, as well as statements, which consisted of private business in the House for ministers to respond, there was no need for objection on lack of quorum.
Standing firm on his ground, Mr Osei-Owusu on about three occasions muted the microphone of Mr Suhini, who desperately drew the Speaker’s attention to the lack of quorum and prayed for sitting to be adjourned at about 1.10 p.m.
Citing Article 102 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 48 (2), Mr Suhuyini prayed the First Deputy Speaker to adjourn sitting, considering the limited number of MPs present for business.
Mr Suhuyini raised the objection while the Minister of Roads and Transport, Mr Kwasi Amoako-Attah, was on the floor responding to a question by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) member for Asante Akyem North, Mr Andy Appiah-Kubi, who had asked what plans were underway to address the increasing congestion at some sections of the Accra-Kumasi highway, particularly at Anyinam and Konongo and how soon any plan outlined would be executed.
Barely 30 minutes later, Mr Suhuyini once again rose to his feet to raise the same objection when the Second Deputy Majority Whip, Mr Habib Iddrisu, got up ask the minister the extent of progress on the Tamale Interchange and when it was expected to be completed given the increasing inconvenience the construction was causing to road users.
Responding, Mr Osei-Owusu told the House that the Standing Orders gave him clear “powers” to even suspend the Standing Orders to allow proceedings to continue uninterrupted.
He also asserted that he would refuse to recognise members who disrespected the rules of the House.
Heeding to the request of Mr Suhuyini later, Mr Osei-Owusu, who is the MP for Bekwai, told the House that he had directed the Table to count the members present and once he had obtained the figures, he would take a decision.
“But I would not be bamboozled by a member standing and hijacking the order and talking into the microphone,” he asserted further.
He told Mr Suhuyini that once he had raised an objection on the floor over lack of quorum, “the thing is in my bosom and do not worry as I would attend to it.”
Intervening, the First Deputy Minority Whip, Mr Ahmed Ibrahim, described the Speaker as being fair to allow proceedings to go uninterrupted.
He said he had personally told Mr Suhuyini that questions and answers were purely private business for which an objection of lack of quorum had to be raised.
“I even asked Nii Lante Vanderpuye, who is a senior member, to go to Suhuyini to tell him that this is private business.
“Mr Speaker, to be fair private business is a private business and we agreed yesterday that we should help you to maintain order in the House,” he said.