The General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketia, has encouraged the Minority in Parliament not to relent in their efforts to ensure the Standing Orders of the House are strictly adhered to.
Addressing the party’s youth wing in the Ashanti Region on Saturday, February 5, Mr Nketia stated that if need be, Deputy Speakers must be compelled through physical means to ensure they execute their mandate while sitting in for Speaker Alban Bagbin.
“As long as impunity does not stop, resistance has been imposed on us as a duty,” he said.
“So if a Speaker or the Deputy Speaker says he will be a referee as well as be the one to kick the ball for a penalty, and also blow the whistle that a goal has been scored – if a slap will ensure he does not do that, slap him so that he comes back to his senses,” he said.
Asiedu Nketia….. pic.twitter.com/FbFLtxgUM7— Andy Ogbarmey-Tettey (@AndyOgbarmey) February 7, 2022
His comments were in reference to a scuffle that broke out in Parliament on Monday, December 20, 2021, when the House sat to deliberate on the Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy) Bill.
The House was to decide whether the E-Levy Bill should be accepted under a certificate of urgency or not.
First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who presided over the sitting decided to vacate his seat as Speaker in order to cast his vote, as the MP for Bekwai. In his place, the Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Asiamah Amoako, who had already cast his vote as MP for Fomena, was expected to chair the sitting.
Some MPs threw their fists while others fell to the ground. Proceedings were then adjourned due to the chaos that erupted.
Following the event, Joseph Osei-Owusu explained that, unlike Speaker Alban Bagbin who is not an MP, he is.
According to him, due to this, he does not lose his right as a legislator when presiding in the House in the absence of the unavailable Speaker.
“A few matters I’d want to clarify. First, it must be clear that a Deputy Speaker is not a Speaker. Mr. Speaker is not a Member of Parliament. I am a Member of Parliament. The Second Deputy Speaker is an MP and our role is to assist the Speaker in managing this House.”
“But when Mr. Speaker is not available, either of us could preside on the House, so can any other member if necessary. Any other member can be elected by the House to preside. That member does not lose his right to be a member of the House. That is what our Standing Order says,” he stated.
The Bekwai MP clarified that “when it comes to the question of voting, it is very clear anytime any of the Deputy Speakers or any other member elected to preside is in the chair, that member does not vote. That has never been in dispute. I did not vote while presiding.”