Minority MPs list questions for ministers

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The issue of the refusal of the Minority in Parliament to recognise the appointees of the President, Mr John Mahama, came to the fore in Parliament on Friday when it became clear that some members of the group had listed questions to be posed to ministers of state on Wednesday, February 27, 2013.

The Minority, in furtherance of its position not to recognise the legitimacy of the President, boycotted the proceedings of the Appointments Committee and also questioned the legitimacy of the appointees.

In a surprise move, however, some members of the group have submitted questions they intend to ask the ministers as captured in the business statement for this week.

For example, Mr Patrick Yaw Boamah (NPP, Okaikoi Central) intends to ask the Minister of Road and Highways what measures the ministry was putting in place to prevent accidents and also ensure adequate pedestrian safety on the George Walker Bush Highway.

Another member, Mr Kennedy Nyarko Osei (NPP, Akim Swedru) has submitted a question which seeks to enquire from the minister what plans he has towards reconstructing the Akim Swedru-Achiase road.

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The move shocked some members of the Majority who questioned the logic in the action by the Minority, and just after the Majority Leader, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, had read the business statement, some Majority MPs rose to their feet to state how they felt.

The first to catch the eye of the Speaker, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, was the MP for Nantong, Murtala Mohammed, who sought to know whether the Minority had the right to pose questions to a minister appointed by a President they had described as illegitimate and refused to recognise.

The second was Mr Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, who described the Minority’s action as “illogical”,  “incongruous” and  lacking in principle.

He said the lack of principle regarding the issue on the part of the Minority was likely to bring the name of Parliament into disrepute.

 Mr Adjaho ruled that every MP had the right to pose questions to any minister of state.

“Their refusal to take part in the public hearings is an entirely different matter. I have the power to admit questions and once that person is a Member of Parliament, he has the right to pose questions to ministers,” he said.

Meanwhile, the MP for Nadowli/Kaleo, Mr Alban Bagbin, has said the walkout staged by the Minority last Thursday and the boycott of the in 2007 State of the Nation Address by President J.A. Kufuor by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) were not the same.

He said the boycott of 2007 was in protest against the arrest, prosecution and conviction of Mr Dan Abodakpi, adding that the then Minority did not enter the House and walk out when President Kufuor was scheduled to enter the chamber.

Contributing to concerns raised by some NDC MPs that the boycott should have been recorded in the Votes and Proceedings, Mr Bagbin said a procedure existed for the arrest, prosecution and conviction of MPs which was completely ignored in contempt of Parliament in the Abodakpi case, a situation which led the NDC to boycott the proceedings of the House on the said date.

According to him, before President Kufuor came to Parliament to deliver his address, he was aware that the NDC group would not be present.

Mr Adjaho, after a heated debate, ruled that the events of Thursday should be captured in the Hansard.

Story by Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah & Mark-Anthony Vinorkor