Politics of Friday, 1 March 2013
Two Minority members of Parliament who listed questions to be posed to the Minister of Roads and Transport, yesterday withdrew the questions before the sitting of the House.
Mr Patrick Boamah (NPP, Okaikwei South) had sought to ask the minister what measures the ministry was putting in place to prevent accidents and also ensure adequate pedestrian safety on the George Walker Bush Highway while Mr Kennedy Nyarko Osei ( NPP, Akim Swedru) had sought to know from the minister what plans the ministry had towards reconstructing the Akim Swedru-Achiase road.
The move by the two last week drew a lot of flak from members of the Majority who questioned the logic in the action and asked if they had the right to pose questions to a minister appointed by a President they had described as illegitimate and refused to recognise.
At the sitting of the House yesterday, the Speaker, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, announced that the two members had withdrawn the questions in two separate letters addressed to him.
The reason for the withdrawal on the part of Mr Boamah was not stated but in the case of Mr Osei, the Speaker said he had explained that there had been a new development regarding the reconstruction of the road and he, therefore, needed to confer with his constituents on the issue.
Mr Adjaho said when he received the letters, he consulted the Clerk of Parliament who advised that the two members should come to the floor of Parliament to withdraw the questions in line with the Standing Orders of the House.
According to Mr Adjaho, unfortunately one of them had asked permission to absent himself from sitting yesterday and, therefore, would not be present in the House.
Under the circumstance, he said, both questions should be considered to have lapsed.
The statement brought the Majority Leader, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor (NDC, Nandom) to his feet to draw the attention of the House to the fact that it would be setting a “dangerous precedent” if it allowed the two minority members to withdraw the questions in the manner they had sought to do.
He said there was a procedure through which questions were withdrawn from the floor of Parliament and advised members on both sides of the House to consult their leadership if in any doubt.
The member for Bodi, Mr Sampson Ahi (NDC), humourously asked the Speaker whether Mr Osei had stated in the letter that the people of Akim Swedru no longer needed the road hence his withdrawal of the question, a statement which drew some laughter from members.
Mr Adjaho, in a reply, said once he had ruled that the two questions had lapsed, he would not take further questions on the issue.
Earlier in the House, the abandonment of the main business of the Parliament to cover the press conference of the Minority drew the ire of some members of the Majority who entreated Mr Adjaho to “call the media to order.”
As at 10.27 am when the Speaker entered the Chamber, the press gallery was empty except for the Daily Graphic reporter who was present taking note of events. All other media men and women were at the press conference of the Minority which had been dubbed “The real state of the nation.”
All the seats of the Minority were also empty.
The first to draw the attention of the Speaker to the issue was Mr Alban Bagbin (NDC, Nadowli/Kaleo) who said the situation was “not normal.”
He said Parliament did “business” with the media and it was, therefore, an anomaly that there were not present. In his view, the situation was unacceptable and needed to be addressed.
The member for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa (NDC), also drew the Speaker’s attention to the issue but at the time he did, a few journalists had trickled in.
The Speaker did not appear to be interested much in that issue as compared to the absence of the minority and informed the House that the members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament had informed him that they would be late for business.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, (NDC, Tamale South), sought to know from the Speaker whether the Minority had assigned any reason for the “good reason” why they would be late for business to which he replied: “Honourable members, I do not want to go there.”
Mr Adjaho at yesterday’s sitting, also advised members against commenting on petitions sent to his office in the media.
He made the comment after Mr James Agalga (NDC, Builsa North) sought to find out from him whether he had received a petition he had filed at his office against the walk-out staged by the Minority.
Mr Adjaho replied in the affirmative but said he was shocked to learn that Mr Agalga, after filing the petition, had gone ahead to speak on the issue on a radio station and added that that move was wrong.
“I am the only person who can refer a matter bordering on abuse to the Privileges Committee and if you bring a matter before me, you do not turn around to make comments in the media,” he said.