Members of the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) nearly boycotted proceedings yesterday during the consideration of a motion to approve eight out of the 13 Ministers-designate vetted by the Appointments Committee.
This deepened the drama in the house over the approval of eight of the nominees instead of 10, withholding the approval of Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Senior Minister-designate and Boakye Agyarko, Energy and Petroleum Minister-designate for today.
The minority members’ anger was over the controversial DKM microfinance saga which pitched them against the majority members, causing huge commotion on the floor.
The NDC MP for Asunafo South and immediate past Brong-Ahafo regional minister, Eric Opoku, contributing to the debate on the motion, raised the issue of DKM and said the Finance Minister-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta, had told the Appointments Committee that refunding monies to DKM victims was not captured in the NPP manifesto and so he could not promise whether the money would be refunded to the victims – who are mostly in the Brong-Ahafo Region – or not.
Mr Eric Opoku said the answer given by Mr Ofori-Atta at the vetting conflicts with the campaign promise made by then candidate Akufo-Addo when he toured the region.
However, the MP for Nsawam/Adoagyiri, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, stood on a point of order and drew the speaker’s attention to the sweeping statement made by Eric Opoku regarding the purported promise made to the people of the Brong-Ahafo Region by Nana Akufo-Addo, and that he (Opoku) should prove with evidence on what he was saying since parliament is a place of records.
The speaker, Prof Mike Oquaye, upheld the point of order and asked Mr Opoku to either provide ‘hard’ evidence of his allegation on what Nana Akufo-Addo was purported to have said in the Brong-Ahafo Region or immediately withdraw that aspect of his argument.
This directive by the speaker resulted in an instant chorus of ‘No’ from the minority side, followed by constant chanting of “DKM, DKM, DKM” by them.
When the speaker insisted, with the minority members still being defiant, the minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, wanted the speaker to give him the opportunity to speak to the issue but for some time, he was not being called, making the minority members to threaten a boycott.
They had to be prevailed upon by the minority leader who eventually caught the eyes of the speaker.
When Mr Iddrisu took the floor, he pleaded with the speaker to allow Mr Opoku to provide evidence and conclude with his debate since he had googled and found the date and the place Nana Akufo-Addo made that statement.
After the plea, the minority members burst into continuous chanting of “DKM, DKM” again, while the majority members also responded in like manner chanting, ‘Na Who Cause Am?’ ‘Na Who Cause Am?’
Most of the NDC MPs, including Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central; James Agalga, MP for Builsa North; Laadi Ayii Ayamba, MP for Pusiga and Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu praised the Finance Minister-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta; Minister-designate for National Security, Albert Kan Dapaah and Minister-designate for Interior, Ambrose Dery, for their calm disposition at the vetting and also for distinguishing themselves.
Majority NPP MPs like O.B. Amoah, MP for Akwapim South; Nii Titus Glover, MP for Tema East and K.T. Hammond, MP for Adansi Asokwa, also praised the nominees for their competence and depth of knowledge at the vetting.
The majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the issue of DKM should not be a matter of serious contention because through the strong advocacy of NPP MPs who were then in opposition, the past government put in place all the processes and measures to have DKM victims’ money paid back to them.
Except the Senior Minister-designate, Yaw Osafo-Maafo and Minister-designate for Energy, Boakye Agyarko – whose approval was put on hold pending some unresolved issues – all the 8 nominees in the first batch of ministers-designate vetted by the Appointments Committee – were unanimously approved by the MPs.
They are Alan Kyerematen for Trade and Industry; Albert Kan Dapaah for National Security; Ambrose Dery, Interior; Hajia Alima Mahama, Local Government and Rural Development; Dominic Nitiwul, Defence; Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance; Gloria Akuffo, Attorney General and Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Foreign Affairs.
Two of the nominees whose approvals were scuttled DAILY GUIDE learnt had submitted documentary evidence demanded by the MPs.
Messrs Yaw Osafo-Maafo and Boakye Agyarko stand to be approved today alongside the last three nominees vetted by the committee, bringing the number to 13.
First deputy speaker and chairman of the committee, Joseph Osei Owusu, told DAILY GUIDE that the two nominees had submitted material evidence to support some “statement that they have made.”
“Hopefully, we can lay [the report for their approval] tomorrow…we will add them to the last three nominees,” he said.