On December 1, the Chamber of Parliament erupted into chaos after Speaker Joseph Osei-Owusu declared a one-hour suspension of the proceedings.
This is because the Speaker refused the Minority’s motion to set aside the approval of the 2022 Budget which occurred on November 30, 2021.
“There are a few matters which I wish to clarify that first, it must be clear that a Deputy Speaker is not a Speaker. Indeed, article 96(1) of the Constitution says, and I quote. ‘there shall be two deputy speakers of Parliament who shall be elected from the Members of Parliament’ and to contrast that, Mr. Speaker is not a Member of Parliament.”
“I am a member of Parliament and the Second Deputy Speaker is a member of Parliament, and our role is to assist the Speaker in managing the house. So any attempts to read and interpret the Constitution to include the Deputy Speakers is a misreading” he said.
“Honourable members let me put on record that I am a member of Parliament, I was counted to form the quorum but I did not vote. I did not vote whiles presiding. Therefore, the request for application is refused,” he ruled.
Ahead of the business of the day, members of the Majority and Minority Caucuses arrived in Parliament to further conversations on the 2022 Budget and Economic Policy. This is due to the contention by the Minority that it was unconstitutional for the Majority to approve the budget in their absence.
To set the ball rolling, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu raised an objection against the approval of the Budget by the Majority-only House, the previous day.
He reiterated the nullity of the approval pursuant to the provisions of the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament, as the House lacked the required quorum to do so.
In his view, the 1st Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who assumed the powers of the substantive Speaker, could not be counted as a member of the House. Therefore, it was wrong for him to have included himself in the members present and voting.
Haruna Iddrisu, therefore, filed a motion for a rescission of the approval of the Budget, calling for a quashing of same. His motion was subsequently seconded by the MP for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga.
Having admitted the motion, the Speaker then set the stage for members of the house to advance their respective arguments regarding the motion that had been filed. He gave the floor to each side of the House to allow three of their MPs to submit their positions on the motion.
On this note, the Majority did not take kindly to the motion by the Minority Leader, leading to minutes of legal exchanges and spirited counterarguments in the Chamber.
On the Minority side, MP for Bolgatanga East, Dominic Ayine, and his colleague, Mahama Ayariga buttressed the concerns of Haruna Iddrisu and supported the motion for the rescission of the approval of the 2022 Budget.
The Majority also had the likes of the MP for Damango, Samuel Abu Jinapor, and his counterpart, Joe Ghartey, punching holes in the legal arguments from the Minority Caucus.
The exchanges prolonged for a while, with both sides refusing to see eye to eye on the matter.
Amidst the back and forth, Member of Parliament for the Dome-Kwabenya Constituency, Sarah Adwoa Safo caught the eye of the Speaker. She refuted claims by MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, that she was impersonated by an unknown lady during Tuesday’s proceedings.
According to her, she was present in the House, thus described the allegations by Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa, as “an insult to womanhood”. She subsequently demanded an apology in that regard.
After this clarification, the substantive debate continued until it was time for the House to vote on the issue.
However, the acting Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, remarked that, ‘a Deputy Speaker is not a Speaker’ and declared a one-hour suspension of the proceedings.
Reacting to this, Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak fumed at Joseph Osei-Owusu’s pronouncements; arguing that there was a pending motion to be voted on, and therefore the Speaker could not unilaterally rule on the motion and order a suspension of proceedings.
This was followed by minutes of heckling and altercations between the Members of Parliament, after which they exited the Chamber.
JoyNews Parliamentary Correspondent, Kwesi Parker Wilson, narrates that the heated mood in the Chamber led to the MP for Ashaiman, Ernest Norgbey attempting to take away the Speaker’s seat, in reaction to Joseph Osei Owusu’s pronouncement that as a Deputy Speaker, he’s not a Speaker.