Speaker Alban Bagbin has expressed dissatisfaction with First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, for dismissing a motion to constitute a bipartisan Committee to probe into government’s Covid-19 expenditure.
Speaking on the floor of the House on Wednesday, Speaker Bagbin indicated that Mr Osei-Owusu’s decision to overrule his ruling over the matter particularly when he had admitted the motion is unconstitutional, illegal and offensive.
He described the recent happenings as the First Deputy Speaker’s penchant to overturn his rulings.
Recalling a statement he made during 2022 budget-related matters, he said: “Although our standing orders are silent on this, many standing orders and rules from several sister Parliaments provide persuasive rules that suggest that when Deputy speakers are acting as speakers, whatever happens in the House is that officer’s responsibility. The Speaker cannot be called upon to overrule it.
Similarly, the reverse is also the case, that when a speaker is in the chair, whatever happens in the House is the Speaker’s responsibility and the Deputy Speaker or Acting Speaker cannot be called to overrule it”.
The Speaker added: “The penchant of the first Deputy Speaker to overrule my rulings is, to say the least unconstitutional, illegal and offensive.”
On Tuesday, Member of Parliament for the Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam Constituency, Ato Cassiel Forson, moved a motion which was for the House to constitute a bi-partisan committee to look into the activities of government with respect to Covid-19 expenditure.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, rose to make a preliminary objection to the tabling of the motion. The Speaker then requested that he suspends his objection, wait for the motion to be tabled and then proceed to submit his objection.
Mr Afenyo-Markin sought clarification on the extent of the Speaker’s ruling. The clarification provided was that “it was improper to object to a motion that had not even been tabled in the first place”.
The Bekwai MP, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who assumed the role of the acting Speaker in the absence of Speaker Bagbin threw out the private members’ motion for a probe into government’s Covid-19 expenditure.
He argued the motion ought not to have been admitted by Bagbin in the first place.
Following his action, the Minority in Parliament accused the First Deputy Speaker of usurping the Speaker’s powers
Addressing the media on Tuesday, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, argued that government is avoiding accountability.
“A Deputy Speaker presiding to serve nothing but a narrow partisan interest, I hope that he’s not impugning the authority and integrity of the Speaker, neither is he undermining the mandate and authority of the Speaker as a subordinate.”
According to the Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu has been notified of his unacceptable conduct.
“Honourable members, it is interesting to note that this is the second time the First Deputy Speaker has taken the chair and has made a ruling which in effect, was to overrule a position I had earlier established before the House.
In fact, the First Deputy Speaker was in my office and what I’m telling you today, I told him before he left to the airport.”
Meanwhile, Speaker Alban Bagbin has admonished the Minority to apply the standing orders to challenge the dismissal of the motion by the First Deputy Speaker.
“Be that as it may, I shall not be taking any steps to overrule his decision to dismiss the motion as moved by the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee.”
Also, the Speaker threatened to compel the Marshals to drag out MPs who are in breach of parliamentary proceedings. The noise in the chamber according to the Speaker, often leads to misunderstanding of proceedings.
“What is happening in this Parliament is completely unacceptable. I’m not sure you have an appreciation of the temperature of the country. Neither am I sure you know the arduous nature of the responsibility that has been placed on your shoulders. You are all matured adults.
The Marshal department, get ready. I’ll be compelled to get the marshal to get people arrested and sent out.
Parliament is not a place for joking. It is a place for serious national business. The Parliament we are in has never been (seen) in Ghana, even Gold Coast. This is a different type of Parliament. We must be prepared to change to accept the decision of the people and work together.”