House in disarray over Saturday sitting
Parliament was on Friday thrown into a frenzied state, following a proposal by the Business Committee to extend next week’s sittings of the House to Saturday.
The idea of the proposal was to make do with the time that would be lost on Friday, September 21, 2012, a commemorative day of the Founders Day which is a public holiday.
However, after about thirty minutes debate on the issue, a common ground was reached, with the Speaker directing the leadership of the House to do further consultations on the matter in his ruling.
The proposal for the Saturday sitting, which was captured in the Business Statement for the third week of the emergency sitting ending Friday September 21, 2012, was presented to the House by the Deputy Majority Leader and Member of Parliament (MP) for Wa Central, Alhaji Abdul-Rahid Pelpuo.
“Rt. Hon. Speaker, Friday, 21st September 2012 is the commemorative day of Founders Day, and is expected to be observed as a public holiday. Rt. Hon. Speaker, having regard to the fact that the House would not sit on Friday, 21st September 2012, due to the holiday, the Business Committee proposes that the House sit on Saturday, 29th September 2012, the following week, to compensate for the lost sitting day,” noted Alhaji Pelpuo.
However, the Wa Central’s MP proposal was greeted with mixed reactions, with the minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) members opposing it, while those of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) on the majority side conformed to the suggestion.
The Minority Chief Whip and NPP MP for Suhum, Frederick Opare-Ansah, who led the assault from the opposing side, expressed dismay that the proposal found its way into the Business Statement when the idea was totally rejected at the committing sitting, with the reason that it would put a burden on the members.
“I do not believe that this is a proposal coming from the committee. Indeed, I was at the committee. The chairman did hint his thinking at such a point at the committee. I advised him not to allow his thoughts go in that direction. So, I cannot understand how the thinking of the possibility of such a thought will become a proposal from the Business Committee and find expression in the committee’s report,” he said.
According to Mr. Opare-Ansah, since the members of the House would want to take advantage of the holiday to visit their constituencies, it would be prudent to forego the proposal of the Saturday sitting.
Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, NPP MP for Old Tafo, who could not fathom how the business of the House was being conducted for the emergency sitting, waded into the debate. He wondered why the Order Paper could be so much packed with government business, but the House ends up considering only a few, or nothing at all.
“Mr. Speaker, I am bit saddened about the way the House goes about things. We are being asked to forget our holidays for three months, just to make sure that we can move the nation forward. And so, when we come, we expect that work should go on. Mr. Speaker, yesterday, when I brought your attention to the Order Paper on the fact that we seem to put a lot of things there that do not belong there, what is the Business Committee doing about it to make us do business of the House? We need to take ourselves serious,” he asserted.
He, therefore, craved the indulgence of the Speaker to set them on the proper path, so that when they come to the House, “we do proper business of the House.”
However, the NDC MP for Wa West, Joseph Yieleh Chireh, who saw nothing wrong with the Saturday sitting proposal, pleaded with the minority members to reconsider their thoughts, since the proposal was in the best interests of the nation.
“The issue of Parliament sitting on Saturday is a matter of substitution. We are losing 21st as a national holiday. What is also important, as members of Parliament, are that you can be recalled to come on a Sunday, which is also a Sabbath. We are not talking about C.I.78. We are talking about C.I.75, which is also very important in the conduct of the elections. And, if we are pleading that all of us should sacrifice for one Saturday, so that we can make a lot of progress, I think that it is very important,” he argued.
The NPP MP for Sekondi, Papa Owusu Ankomah, not happy with the trend of argument over proposal, called on the Speaker to defer the matter for further deliberations, to enable the members reach a common ground over the matter.
“I believe it is not fair for any of us to suggest that those who may hold a contrary view do not have the interest of the nation at heart. It is so unfortunate, particularly around this time, when we are all trying to ensure that we create a conducive atmosphere. My suggestion is that next week Saturday is not 29. It is obvious that it is not part of the business statement. I am suggesting that, in the line of divisiveness that this matter has introduced to this House, we defer this proposal so that further discussions are held,” he noted.
His suggestion was spot on, as the First Deputy Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, who presided over the business of the House, ruled for further deliberations on the matter by the leadership of the House.
“I believe sincerely that let’s deepen the consultation on this issue, so that when the next business statement comes, we abreast ourselves on this matter,” Mr. Adjaho intoned.
Short URL: http://thechronicle.com.gh/?p=47412