Parliament denies bias allegation against Speaker

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The Office of Parliament has denied the Minority accusation that the Speaker of the House, Prof Mike Oquaye, is biased towards them. The Speaker reportedly refused to grant adequate time to the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, to make contributions in the Chamber because his (Haruna’s) time was given to Mubarak Muntakah, Minority Chief Whip.

But, a statement issued in Accra yesterday, and signed by Kate Addo, Acting Director of Public Affairs, explained that the accusation was not entirely true.

The following is the full statement.

The attention of the Office of Parliament has been drawn to certain unfortunate happenings in the House on Thursday the 27th of July 2017, which have generated public interest. This is to correct certain erroneous impression created.

The allegations that speaker was biased against the minority are palpably false and baseless. In some cases, pertinent background information of the incident are left out of the reportages.

It is the practice of the Speaker to call on the “Leadership” of the two sides to have one speaker from the leaders to speak after the ordinary members have contributed to deliberations on the floor of the House.

On that day, when the Speaker invited the “Minority Leadership” to contribute, the Minority Chief Whip, Hon. Muntakah stood up and spoke on behalf of the Minority Leadership. Later, the Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu also got p to make an intervention. The Speaker said, although the Minority Leadership had taken their turn, “out of deference” to his position as Minority Leader, he was going to allow Hon. Haruna to ask one additional question. The Minority Leader angrily refused the offer. He said he was entitled to more questions. The Minority Chief Whip, Hon. Muntakah then came in with all the unfortunate remonstrations seen live on TV.

Some weeks ago, in similar situation, when the “Majority Leadership” was asked to have their turn, the Majority leader beckoned another person to speak. Then the Majority Leader rose to speak further. The Speaker said the Majority Leadership had taken their turn and that what the Majority Leader was seeking to do was tantamount to “having a double bite at the cherry”. The Speaker then graciously allowed the Majority Leader two minutes to make his submission. The Speaker said this was to show respect to Majority Leader. The Majority Leader complied with the directive, spoke to the issue within the time allocated to him and sat down. This was dignifying.

It is clear that the Speaker is mindful of applying the directive to BOTH sides of the House and he has consistently done so. There was therefore no need for the inexplicable outburst in the House.

Notably the contributions allowed by the Speaker on that day at Question time clearly favoured the minority. It is reproduced from the official report as follows:

Supplementary Questions (Majority Side)

  1. Frank Annoh Dompreh (NPP – Nsawam Adoagyiri)
  2. Samuel Ayeh Paye (NPP – Ayensuano)
  3. Steven Siaka (NPP – Jaman North)
  4. Kwabena O. Darko Mensah (NPP – Takoradi)
  5. Mohammed Hardi Tuferu (NPP – Nanton)

Supplementary Questions (Minority)

  1. Ras Mubarak (NDC – Kumbungu)
  2. EbenezerOkletey Terlabi (NDC – Lower Manya Krobo)
  3. Alhaji Collins Dauda (NDC – Asuifi South)
  4. Cassiel A.B. Forson (NDC – Ajumako/Anyan/Essiam)
  5. Sampson Ahi (NDC – Bodi)
  6. Thomas Nyarko Ampem (NDC – Asuogyaman
  7. Clement Kofi Humado (NDC – Anlo)
  8. Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntakah (NDC – Asawase)

Let the public know clearly that the Minority rather was favoured. Indeed, by their numbers in the House, the Speaker could even use a ratio of 60:40 in favour of the Majority.

The Standing Orders (Order 60:2) provide one hour for the entire Question Time. On this occasion, the Speaker allowed one hour ten minutes for one minister and one question alone and gave e bigger percentage to the minority. This is generosity, not bias.

The Standing Orders provide a process for appealing against a Ruling by the Speaker. The conduct under review is clearly un-parliamentary.

It should be added that last Friday when Hon. Muntakah discussed with the Speaker, police checks in the homes of some Minority MPs, the Speaker immediately acted on the matter. The Speaker could only have assured Hon. Muntakh that he would take the matter up with the authorities, but he went further to say he would have the matter raised on the floor of the House in full public view. The Speaker indeed allowed the matter to be raised and also has since taken up the matter with the authorities.

The dignity of the House and its rules and practices must be respected.

Source: The Chronicle

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