Finishing unfinished business: Parliament reconvenes on Monday
After weeks of going on recess to allow incumbent MPs to seek re-election, Ghana’s lawmakers are expected to reconvene on Monday, December 14, 2020, to finish their unfinished business.
It has been a case of mixed fortunes for both sides of the highly polarised house after the December 7 elections in which more than 50 MPs failed to get the required endorsement from their constituents.
With just 18 days to the end of the year, Right Honourable Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, has ordered the legislators to return for their final lap of duties.
The Director of Public Affairs at Parliament, Kate Addo, in a statement, said the directive was in accordance with Order 6 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.
“All Honourable Members and staff are to take note and attend upon the House timeously. Please note that all Covid-19 protocols will be observed at all Parliamentary Sittings,” the release said.
The tenure of the current Parliament ends on the midnight of January 6 as the eight Parliament is expected to be sworn-in minutes later.
One of the most polarised parliaments in recent history, it recorded as many controversies as cheers.
Among some of its success are the passage of the Right to Information Bill into Law after more than 20 years, the passage of the Anti-Vigilante and new Companies bills into law.
On the side of controversy, the passage of the Agyapa deal from which the government sought to swap 49% of the country’s mineral royalties to raise a billion dollars from the London and Ghana Stock Exchange for development projects incurred the wrath of a section of the public and civil society organisations.
The Minority would have none of it and walked out on passing the deal– one of many boycott this session of parliament witnessed.
In February, the Minority in Parliament, the National Democratic Congress, has sensationally boycotted the President’s final State of the Nation Address, citing issues with plans to introduce a new voter’s register.
The move created a buzz on social media, with several NPP MPs asking the NDC to apologise. The NDC insisted boycotts are part of democratic tools of protest.
- On August 1, 2017, the NDC Minority in parliament staged a walk-out during deliberations on the controversial $510 million AMERI power deal. The walkout followed concerns raised by Minority MPs that they were being gagged and prevented from making contributions on the floor. The Majority caucus’ booed’, shooed and chanted ‘away, away, away’ as the NDC MPs filed out of the chamber in anger and frustration.
- October 2017:The NDC Minority in Parliament boycotted Mines and Energy Committee meeting in Parliament considering a $510 million AMERI deal which government said was “over-priced”. Explaining their absence, Chairman of the Committee, Emmanuel Gyamfi, said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentarians do not want to be associated with the decision to demand a $150 million refund.
- On March 24, 2018, the NDC Minority in Parliament staged a walkout from Parliament over the Ghana-US defence cooperation agreement before the House. The joint-committee on Defence and Interior Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Parliament gave it a green light. This is despite massive public protest against the deal which many, including the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), described as “dangerous” and a sale of Ghana’s sovereignty.
- June 2018: The NDC Minority in Parliament announced a boycott of the registration exercise at Parliament for national ID cards, citing legal, procurement and cost concerns. In a statement, the MinorityLleader and Tamale South MP, Haruna Iddrisu, said the National Identification Authority (NIA) had not been honest with the Ghanaians over the cost of the project with two figures – $1.4billion and $293 million, – according to reports.
- On November 16, 2018, the NDC Minority in Parliament boycotted proceedings in the chamber, accusing the Speaker of bias. The Opposition MPs said the Speaker Prof Mike Oquaye had time without number, been disrespectful to Minority members. The NDC MPs did not hesitate to register their protest during a debate on the proposed creation of new regions. According to them, the Speaker once again failed to acknowledge their leaders anytime they rose on the floor to put their arguments across.
- On January 31, 2019, the opposition NDC pulled out of the Ayawaso by-elections. The National Chairman of the NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, said the party withdrew from the elections for security reasons.
- February 6, 2019: The NDC MPs, led by the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, walked out of the chamber of Parliament before the new Ayawaso West Wuogon MP, Lydia Alhassan, was sworn into office. The Minority members, clad in black, displayed placards with the inscription “Bloody Widow” before walking out of the august house.
- On February 28, 2019, the Minority National Democratic Congress, (NDC) in Parliament led by the Member of Parliament for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, boycotted the second reading of the controversial Public Holiday (Amendment) Bill and other issues related to the Bill before Parliament. According to the Minority, the Bill was an attempt to change the long-held history of Ghana with the view that, globally, Dr Kwame Nkrumah was the founder of Ghana, hence their decision to walk out, when the Bill was being debated.
- On April 9, 2019, the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) ‘boycotted’ a commemorative statement made by the NPP MP for Ayawaso West Wuogon, Lydia Syram Alhassan, on World Health Day.