General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketiah has justified his presence in Parliament on Friday when debate on the 2022 budget was supposed to be finalised.
According to him, he did no wrong in sitting in the public gallery of the Parliamentary Chamber even after the Speaker directed all Ministers who are non- MPs to exit the Chamber since he was in the House to observe proceedings for the day.
“I came to sit in the public gallery. I wasn’t speaking to anybody. I was just sitting down observing things. So how do you see me and just say ‘Asiedu Nketia is in the Chamber, so must leave’ when other members of the public gallery were still in the gallery?” he told JoyNews’Kwesi Parker-Wilson after he exited the Chamber.
Asiedu Nketia’s presence in Parliament on Friday, November 27, 2021, generated a lot of drama.
The NDC General-Secretary, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Service Board visited the House to observe proceedings but his presence was disapproved by the Majority Caucus.
Prior to the vote to approve the 2022 budget, the Finance Minister appealed to the Speaker to allow him to further engage the leadership of Parliament over the budget. But the appeal was turned down by the MPs through a voice vote.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, then challenged the Speaker’s ruling and called for a division. A division is a form of voting from MPs whilst ensuring that all non-MPs are cleared from the lobby.
In view of that, the Speaker directed that all non-MPs will have to vacate Parliament for that form of voting to take place.
At this time, the Finance Minister was in the chamber, yet was not a Member of Parliament. His presence was opposed by the Minority MPs.
They contended that Ken Ofori-Atta was a Minister, hence, his ineligibility to be in the chamber.
After noticing that the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress was in the public gallery, the Majority also demanded the removal of Asiedu Nketia from Parliament.
Whilst the NDC MPs remained calm, their colleagues on the other side created a chaotic scene, banging on the table and accusing the Speaker of bias.
Minutes later, the leadership of the Majority side staged a walkout. The Speaker then suspended the proceedings.
Several minutes later, the Speaker returned and asked if there was a quorum for business to continue. After establishing that proceedings could continue, he put out the question again – whether the appeal from the Finance Minister should be considered.
After the Minority had their way through a voice vote, he therefore proceeded to the main agenda of the day; the approval of the budget.
Alban Bagbin subjected the approval of the budget to a voice vote and the Minority had their way.
Speaking on whether or not the Speaker was right in ordering the Finance Minister to exit the Chamber, Asiedu Nketiah stated that once the Majority had specifically requested for a division, it was only right that everyone in the Chamber who was not an MP exited on the orders of the Speaker.
“There’s a procedure for division in the standing orders and that needed to be followed. If the Speaker ordered that those Ministers who are not members of Parliament must leave upon the ringing of the bells for a division by the Majority themselves, the orders must be obeyed.
“When there was a voice vote, did you see the Speaker walking out any Ministers? But if you specifically call for a division then the procedure for division in the standing orders must be followed; it means that the lobbies must be cleared and anybody who does not have a vote must leave,” he added.