There was drama in parliament yesterday when the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) tried to torpedo the approval of the maiden budget of Nana Akufo-Addo’s government by invoking Article 252 of the Constitution.
According to the minority members, the government had impudently breached the Article in terms of appropriation of total revenue to the District Assembly Common Fund.
Even before the voice vote was put for the eventual approval of the budget – after the curtain had been brought down on the debate – all the minority members had left the chamber in apparent show of defiance to approve the budget.
The leaders of the minority caucus who remained in the chamber to press for the suspension of the approval, were not recognised by the speaker, compelling the minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, to describe the speaker as partisan and showing great disrespect to the minority leaders.
The minority leadership intentionally asked its members to leave the chamber at the time of the approval of the budget because they thought if the invocation of Article 252 failed, they could not use their inadequate number to torpedo the approval; but the speaker went ahead with the voice vote, with the majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) overwhelmingly endorsing the approval of the budget, subject to the passage of the appropriation which would follow after the consideration of the various estimates for the various sectors of the economy.
After the approval, Mr Haruna Iddrisu and the minority chief whip, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, charged on the speaker, saying that he was becoming too partisan.
The minority leader said he and his colleagues took strong exception to the disrespect shown to them by the speaker, stressing that they would be forced to behave in the same manner towards the speaker.
The minority leader said “by this conduct today, the speaker wants to be disrespected by the minority because respect is reciprocal.”
But the majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, also charged on the minority leader for showing gross disrespect to the speaker.
He said the minority leader must apologise to him (speaker) for using such strong words against him.
According to the majority leader, the minority members were being chased by their own shadows and that when the NDC was in power, the speakers did worse things – sometimes showing open biases on very important matters
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the way the minority had started it does not augur well for consensus building in the house.
He reminded the leadership of the NDC that the NPP has an overwhelming majority of 169 members out of the 275-member house and could easily have its way.
He said if it is the way the minority wants to go, then the majority are prepared for them and will not bother about their unnecessary antics to frustrate and prevent the Akufo-Addo government from fulfilling its promises to Ghanaians.
The minority members after the standoff, stormed out into a crucial caucus meeting. It is not known whether they intend to boycott all government businesses in the house thenceforth
By Thomas Fosu Jnr