The tension between the Minority in Parliament and the Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Oquaye, has escalated a step further with the National Democratic Congress (NDC) legislators warning the Speaker against any further acts of what they said was disrespect towards their leadership.
This was during the debate on the slash in petroleum taxes on Thursday, February 15.
The bill which was presented under a certificate of urgency, is expected to amend the Special Petroleum Tax act, 2014(Act 879) and to provide for a change from an ad valorem rate to a specific tax rate on selected petroleum products. This will see a 1.39% decrease in petrol with diesel being reduced by 2.6% effective the 16th of February when the President assents to the bill.
With the conclusion of debate, the Minority led by their Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, attempted to arrest the vote amidst arguments that the House didn’t have numbers to pass the bill.
However proceedings continued while the leaders of the minority stood on their feet for close to 10 minutes.
When they finally caught the Speaker’s eye, Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said any further unfair conduct by the Speaker will not be taken lightly by the opposition side.
“You owed me every duty and every standard of care to hear me on this matter, I’m within the rules. Mr Speaker, you are chair of this House, you must hold us together…nobody has an objection to what we are doing. A revision of the Petroleum Tax, I did a press conference, we spoke on it [and] it is a good thing to do so if I rose, Mr Speaker, you owe me. I don’t want to ever disrespect you but if you invite me I will,” He said.
Adaklu MP, Kwame Agbodza, and Sagnarigu MP, Alhaji A.B.A Fuseini also criticised the Speaker over what they said was lack of objectivity and fairness since the inception of the 7th Parliament.
However, in a sharp rebuttal, Second Deputy Majority Whip, Matthew Nyindam, has justified the Speaker’s conduct. He told Class FM’s Parliamentary correspondent, Ekow Annan that strictness is important in parliamentary democracy.
“Let’s all respect the rules of the House and admit that it is not all the time that you will have your way. So, it is not all the time that you think that you should get the opportunity to say whatever you want to say,” he indicated.
He explained that the debate on the bill started at 2pm when the House was supposed to be on adjournment “because of some petty arguments”.
“So the Speaker must sometimes bring discipline in the House and that is it,” he emphasised.