Be civil, no fights – Oppong Nkrumah to MPs as sitting resumes

As Parliament resumes sitting today Tuesday January 25, Information Minister and Member of Parliament for Ofoase Ayirebi, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has asked his colleague lawmakers especially those in the Minority to be civil in their conduct in the House.

He indicated that disagreements among legislators are normal because that indicates a robust democracy.

However, he cautioned the lawmakers not to resort to brawls as happened in the first session of the 8th Parliament of the fourth Republic, in making thee disagreements manifest.

“The past few months in Parliament’s history will go down as some of the most embarrassing

“I am one of those who believe that there is ab9slutly nothing wrong with disagreeing on a matter. Indeed, if we all agree on everything this would probably not be a robust democracy . But while it is ok to disagree with each other it is not ok to physically obstruct parliamentary business with violence and unruly behaviour simply because we disagree,” he said in a statement on Tuesday January 25.

Last week while answering a question as to whether the fights in Parliament over the E-levy policy proposal in the 2022 budget will taint Ghana’s image on the international market, during a press conference addressed by the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta in Accra on Wednesday January 19, he made the same point urging the opposition lawmakers not to physically obstruct process in the House even if they strongly disagree on an issue.

He said MPs are allowed to disagree with the government on any issue but they must commit themselves to a civil, mature process of resolving the disagreements.

He said “I think colleagues, you have to help us speak some truth to ourselves. Chaos is not a way of resolving disagreements. There is nothing wrong with parliamentarians disagreeing on a particular measure on the table. The rule says that when we disagree we debate to try and and convince one another, we can have conversations and engagements like the Minister has done through out and then, when we finish, we subject it to a vote.“

“In this country, on the 7th of December every four years, prior to that, we may disagree on who should be president, we don’t fight about it. We allow people to campaign and debate and in the end we all queue up and vote, they count and take the decision that where the Majority went is where Ghana wants to go.

“That way, chaos does not ensue, international market and everybody else looks at us as a civilized, mature Republic.

“It is the same thing we have to do in Parliament. There is nothing wrong with a disagreements, there have been various disagreements in times past, one side may say I don’t agree, I am going to walk out , I do t agree I am going to abstain, I don’t agree I am going to vote against it.

“But to begin to physically obstruct the process is something all of us collectively must speak against. It is not, will you go and beg them, will you go and negotiate, no. We must speak the the truth that physically obstructing the process , imagine somebody going to physically going to obstruct voting on the election day in this country, we will agree that that is not the right thing to do. It is the same spirit we must bring to bear on this one.

“There is nothing wrong disagreeing but we must commit ourselves to go through a civil, mature process for resolving that disagreements.”

On Monday December 20 Members of Ghana’s Parliament could not hold their emotions as some exchanged brawls in the House just before the final vote on the controversial Electronic Transfer Levy Bill, also known as e-levy.

The sit-in Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, had announced that a division would be followed to approve the Bill, presented under a certificate of urgency, and he was going to vote as well in his capacity as a Member of Parliament.

That appeared to have provoked the National Democratic Congress (NDC) members, who questioned his decision to vote after presiding over the night’s proceedings.

They moved to the front of the dais, issuing threats at the Bekwai MP.

This got the Majority MPs to also start agitations and immediately Mr Osei-Owusu handed the presiding role to the Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Amoako Asiamah, the fight broke out