The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has underscored that there is no rift between him and the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, although they tend to have distinct ways of addressing issues.
According to him, it would be utterly unfair for people to draw such conclusions because there have been several instances where they had opposing views on particular issues before their current portfolios in the House.
His comment follows Speaker Alban Bagbin’s dissatisfaction with him for dismissing a motion to constitute a bipartisan Committee to probe into government’s Covid-19 expenditure.
Mr Bagbin had indicated on Wednesday, February 23, that Joseph Osei-Owusu’s decision to overrule his ruling over the matter, particularly when he had admitted the motion is unconstitutional, illegal and offensive.
But in an interview on Newsfile, Saturday, the Bekwai lawmaker stressed that the comments by the Speaker amount to intolerance of other people’s views.
“The fact that Mr Speaker may have ruled differently doesn’t make mine offensive; it only shows that we look at the same thing from different perspectives. To say that because my ruling is different from how he may have ruled, it’s unconstitutional and offensive is the height of, in my view, intolerance of other people’s views, and that is my challenge.”
“Frankly, in my view, there is no tension. We disagree on the way we interpret things. That is not the only time we have disagreed; so, disagreeing with him is not new, but to say disagreeing with him now because probably he’s the Speaker is most unfair and, in my view, the height of intolerance of other views,” he told Samson Lardy Anyenini.
He added: “When he [Alban Bagbin] was Chairman of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee, I was a Ranking Member. On a number of occasions, we disagreed strongly. I recall when we were discussing the property rights of spouses, we took two very strong different views. Because we couldn’t reconcile, he actually said we should refer the Bill back to the Executive because couldn’t reconcile.”
On Tuesday, Member of Parliament for the Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam Constituency, Ato Cassiel Forson, moved a motion for the House to constitute a bi-partisan committee to look into the activities of government concerning 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 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.”
“We are demanding transparency and accountability in the utilisation of Covid resources, and we, simply, are telling the Ghanaian public that neither the Finance Minister nor minister responsible for sectors, including the Health Minister, has adequately accounted for the expenditure of Covid resources,” he stated.
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