Press Statement: Parliament cannot continue to take the People of Ghana for granted

Parliament has demonstrated that it fails to properly appreciate the people of Ghana as a result of overfamiliarity, through its collective action and the individual actions of its Members earlier today regarding the procedures adopted on the report of the Special Committee tasked to investigate what has become popular as the Cash-for-Seat saga.

By our estimations at PNAfrica, the institution of Parliament may have spent about half a million Ghana Cedis of taxpayers money on this matter, only to have its Majority and Minority MPs dribble the good people of this country on the altar of parliamentary practices and procedures.

Without attempting to go into the merits or demerits of the conclusions of the Committee’s Report, considering that the House has already adopted that Report; and also in our attempt not to infringe on any matter of parliamentary privileges and immunities, noting that the Rt. Hon. Speaker has directed the Committee of Privileges to further look into the matter; we submit that we disagree with the Majority and Minority Caucuses on their handling of the procedural matters, and further disagree with some actions of the Rt. Hon. Speaker on the matter as per the points below:

In a country with painful history of how MPs have failed to diligently consider papers before them, leading to some embarrassing parliamentary decisions in the past, we fail to appreciate how the 270 other MPs who were not members of the Special Committee were expected to make proper sense of a Report of over 140 pages in a matter of Hours in order to arrive at a good decision.

Whereas the Hon Majority Chief Whip moved a motion for Order 80(1) which speaks about the length of notice required for the debate of a motion to be suspended for which the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee seconded and the House agreed to by majority decision as per its powers under Order 3(1), we are minded to point out that the Order 3(2) was not adhered to as the reason for the proposed suspension of Order 80 (1) was not “distinctly stated.”

The Minority in Parliament, should also not take us for granted by wanting to suggest that the only way that they can protest a procedural matter is through staging a walk-out. What happened to their rights under Order 114 which clearly provides for Procedure on Divisions?

The Rt. Hon. Speaker cannot also assume for all the people of Ghana that the right way to deal with a matter of national public interest is to address it with dispatch even if it means diligence and thorough scrutiny will be sacrificed.

We urge the public, through you our friends within the fourth estate, to ask the probing questions in order for us to come to the conclusion of this matter in a way that will allow us break the jinx of having the august House take us for granted often. We must collectively pursue the following courses;

The Clerk to the Special Committee and its administrative staff must provide for the record of the House, the minutes of the deliberations of the Committee with respect to the decisions taken during the in-camera sittings of the committee that sought to finalise the Committee’s report. This way, we will know which of the set of Members on the Special Committee are telling us the truth and which set is lying to us. Order 212 (2) allows for minutes of proceedings of Committees to “whenever possible be brought up and laid on the Table of the House…” We will know whether there were divisions at the Committee level and how each Member voted in relation to the division.

How much did the recall and the associated engagements on this matter cost the people of Ghana? The Parliamentary Service and its administrators must answer.

Signed

SAMMY OBENG

Executive Director

+233(0)206-713-612

sobeng@parliamentafrica.com

February 6, 2018

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