Cassiel Ato Forson
A motion to approve President Akufo-Addo’s nominations for appointment as Ministers and a Deputy Minister was halted in Parliament yesterday, as opposition lawmakers demonstrated their willingness to obstruct the government.
The Appointments Committee’s report on K.T. Hammond as the new Minister for Trade and Industry, Bryan Acheampong as Minister for Food and Agriculture, Stephen Asamoah Boateng as Minister designate for the Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Dr. Stephen Amoah as Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, and others has been put on hold for some time.
Yesterday, after Speaker Alban Bagbin announced that the leadership of both caucuses had agreed to carry it out, the House agreed to take the motion on the nominees, but it quickly turned dramatic, with the Minority NDC MPs filibustering.
A number of them abruptly rose to their feet, informing the Speaker that they had not been provided with copies of the report that was laid before the House in February.
After receiving copies of the report, some Minority MPs rose again to ask the Speaker to give them enough time to read it because it was lengthy.
Speaker Bagbin, sensing filibustering, informed the MPs that the House would proceed to consider the report due to an earlier agreement.
He said even though he had been elected by the MPs, he was not going to be a pliant, shouting, “I am not a Rokorkor,” and urged the Minority lawmakers to make do with 15 minutes.
After some back and forth, the motion was finally moved and seconded, but half-way through, the Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, requested that the Speaker halt the motion and suspend the House for a joint-caucus meeting on the subject, to which his Minority counterpart, Kwame Governs Agbodza agreed.
According to him, they needed one hour to allow the two caucuses to try to reach an agreement on the issue at hand first.
With 138 MPs for the Majority NPP and 137 MPs for the Minority NDC, pro-government lawmakers feared the motion would be defeated due to the absence of some of their members from the debating chamber.
Article 104 (3) of the Constitution says, “Where the votes on any motion are equal it shall be taken to be lost.”
The close numbers have worried NPP MPs since the start of the Eighth Parliament, and these protracted negotiations over consensus approval of the President’s nominees and approval of three key revenue bills, it is feared, might stymie efforts to get board-level approval of the IMF deal.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House