The minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament yesterday sent a strong signal to the speaker of the house, Prof Mike Oquaye, that it would start an impeachment process against him if he did not shed his political cloak in the handling of the affairs of the House.
According to the minority members, the speaker has obsessively been biased against them and had persistently treated them with disdain, suppressing, bullying and denying them the opportunity to have their say, especially their leaders, who are supposed to be given unlimited space to express their views and sentiments on issues on the floor.
The warning followed an incident in the House yesterday when the speaker allowed the minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, only one slot of question to pose to the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto.
He was in parliament to answer an important question on a major government programme – ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ – which was asked by the NDC MP for Asunafo South and ranking member of Food and Agriculture, Eric Opoku.
The legislator wanted to know the current status of the programme and the expenditure so far made on it.
This prompted the minority members to bang their desks and made all sorts of gesticulations towards the speaker and later decided not to participate in the business of the house in protest against his action.
The minority chief whip, Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, registered his anger in a robust way by saying that the minority would no longer countenance any act of disrespect by the speaker because he (speaker) had of late been treating the front bench of the minority with a lot of disrespect.
Haruna Iddrisu, the minority leader, also added that it was not right for the speaker to allow him to ask only one question, adding that in recent times he (speaker) had intentionally been crippling the leadership of the minority in parliament in an effort to minimize their influence.
In a rebuttal to the minority’s action in parliament, the majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said that it (action) was predictable because the ‘long arm’ of the former speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, in the last parliament during the era of the NDC, was still controlling the minority and so were trying to create confusion and make the House ungovernable
The majority leader noted that the attitude of the former speaker (Doe Adjaho) was worst, adding that he (Adjaho) was very partisan during his time and deliberately denied the then minority NPP opportunities to speak on some sensitive issues on the floor.
He alleged that the former speaker had implored the leadership of the minority to boycott the in-camera meeting of the chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei, with the leadership of parliament on Wednesday.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu added that it was not surprising when Mr Haruna Iddrisu, after the Committee of the Whole meeting with the EC boss, objected strongly to the meeting between leadership of the house and Mrs Charlotte Osei.
He further alleged that the former speaker wants to indirectly control the affairs of the house, even though he is no longer at post.
The majority leader said that the threat by the minority to impeach the speaker was contemptuous of parliament, according to Order 30 (j), while the riotous behaviour of the minority members was equally contemptuous as captured under Order 30 (a) of parliament.
He said that the minority leadership might have a point but the way they went about it was completely wrong and an affront to the speakership of parliament.
He said the current speaker had introduced a lot of innovations to broaden the frontiers of freedom of expression in the House.