The rancour over which side of the House of arliament forms the Majority and Minority sides in the House of Parliament appears to have been sorted out.
The sitting arrangement when the House resumes today will have the New Patriotic Party (NPP) expected to become the Majority caucus and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) the Minority.
The ruling NPP and opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) are split, 137 seats apiece. Leaders of both parties in Parliament have given indications that the NDC MPs will sit on the left-hand side of the Speaker’s chair reserved for the Minority caucus.
Leader of the opposition lawmakers, Haruna Iddrisu, announced yesterday at a press conference that members of his side did not bother sitting on the left-hand side of the Speaker’s chair when Parliament reconvened.
“We have no difficulty sitting on the left (hand side of the Speaker’s chair). We are responsible Ghanaian citizens.
“The people of Ghana want to see Parliament functioning and functions effectively to serve their purposes and needs.”
The parliamentary chamber has a seating accommodation for 275 members with the seats divided into four blocks. The Block No.1 and 2 are on the right-hand side of the Speaker’s chair and seats there are occupied by the members of the party with the highest number, while block No. 3 and 4 are on the left-hand side, with the seats occupied by members belonging to the party with the lower numbers.
Mr. Iddrisu said what happened in Parliament on the dawn of January 7, 2021 “did not please many and therefore in the interest of peace and ensuring that Parliament functioned effectively to serve the needs of the Ghanaian people, my side would have no difficulty sitting on the left, while we make the demands that our strength be respected in the composition of committees and in the determination of the leadership of committees.”
“But even more importantly, they appreciate that Fomena is only arithmetic but not legal and constitutional,” he argued.
In a response, the leader of the NPP caucus, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the NPP looked forward to constituting the majority side after the independent MP decided to pitch camp with the NPP side in the House.
According to him, even though the NPP and NDC both have 137 seats apiece, the addition of the independent MP to the NPP settled the issue, asserting that “giving the circumstances that we find ourselves in, the person who bears the trump card is the independent MP. Wherever he decides to pitch his camp will determine which side constitutes the majority.”
“We recognize that as political parties, ensuing from the conduct of the general election, we have 137 seats to the NPP and 137 to the NDC.
“As far as the two parties are concerned, we have split down the middle – 137, 137. But Ghana’s Parliament is not an even number Parliament and the rules of our Parliament recognize only two sides – the Majority caucus and Minority caucus.
“I am aware that my party has been making efforts to reach out to him. Why? Because we know the reality. The reality is to pitch camp with us to give us plus one advantage in the House and become the Majority side.
“The leader of that side will become the Majority Leader of the House. That comes without equivocation. I am aware that the NDC has also been trying to reach out to him, and it is born out of the confession of the Chief Whip at ‘Joy’ that he was disappointed in the fact that he (Asiamah) turned them (NDC) down.”
“Why was he disappointed and what was the purpose in trying to reach out to him,” Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu asked rhetorically.
However, the NDC leadership insisted there was no clear-cut Majority in the Eighth Parliament and that they were ceding the right-hand side sitting of the Speaker to their colleagues on the other side on condition that they would respect their strength and numbers in the House.
“Nobody should be engaged in any fruitless effort to add on what he or she did not possess or have. By our official record, the Parliament of Ghana is one of equal strength and equal numbers – 137 and 137,” Haruna stressed.
He continued, “It has never happened under our democratic history and in particular under the Fourth Republic. It is unique and it comes in its wake with its own opportunities and challenges that we all must seek to address.”
According to him, although the Fomena Independent MP had written to the Speaker to indicate that he “shall, for the purposes of transacting business in the House, associate with the NPP caucus in Parliament,” that in itself did not give the NPP the Majority.
“His words did not say I am joining the NPP. For the avoidance of doubt, I do hereby affirm that I shall cooperate and collaborate with the NPP caucus in the Eight Parliament,” he emphasized.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House