THE CHIEF of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr Kwadwo Mpiani yesterday dispelled any negative notion the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) had about him when he apologized to them.
“It is unfortunate that there is some misconception about my attitude to the House and to members.
“I am sorry if that is the perception members have about me,” he said.
The Minister said this following the minority side's decision not to approve the sum of GH¢110,039,251.00 for the services of Government Machinery for the 2008 fiscal year.
The House was on the verge of approving the money when the MP for Bawku Central, Mahama Yariga challenged the Minister that as long as the Office of Accountability's estimates were brought for approval in the House, the House would, in turn, expect the Office to submit its report for scrutiny annually.
The Minister, on the other had, claimed that was not important as the Office of Accountability formed part of the Office of the President.
There was a stalemate following this fracas between the minority and the Minister as Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, Ranking Member on Finance, threatened to propose a counter motion to that particular motion if the Minister did not agree to the minority's proposition.
Since that threat would definitely have affected proceedings, the Majority Leader, Abraham Ossei-Aidoo asked that the motion for the approval of the government machinery budget be stepped down for awhile.
Consequently, the leadership of the House, comprising the two sides, went out of the chamber for about 35 minutes and came to an agreement.
On their return, the Minister for Presidential Affairs told the House, particularly the minority members, that he did not disrespect them as they thought.
“The highest honour for a person is to be elected to represent his people as a parliamentarian,” he said.
Mr Mpiani recalled his days as a Member of Parliament when people like the Deputy Minority Leader, Edward Joe Adjaho, who was then a law student, came to observe parliamentary proceedings.
“I don't have an iota of disrespect for you. I wish to assure my colleagues that I have the greatest respect for members.
“Anytime that I'm invited to appear before the House, I will let members know what the Office of Accountability has been doing.”
It was after the declaration that the minority side approved the ministry's budget.
It has become obvious for the past year or more that anytime Mr Mpiani came to Parliament, there was bound to be some disagreement between him and the minority NDC.
Before the celebration of the country's 50th Independence anniversary, there was a similar incident between the Minister and the NDC when he came to Parliament. He had to express similar sentiments that he did not disrespect MPs as some of them thought.
After the celebration, the NDC wanted Dr Charles Wereko-Brobbey, Chairman of the Ghana @ 50 Secretariat, to appear before the House to render an account of the money spent for the celebration.
The Chief of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs said it was not necessary that Dr Wereko-Brobbey come as his outfit was under the purview of his (Mpiani's) ministry.
Though the Minister personally appeared before the House on the issue, his posturing on it did not go down well with the minority.
The disagreement between Mr Mpiani and the NDC MPs was made manifest once again when he appeared before the House in July this year to ask for supplementary budget to finance the Presidential Palace, being put up at the Flagstaff House.
Earlier in the day, the MP for Anlo, Hon Clement Kofi Humado, called on the Minister for the Interior, Hon Kwamena Bartels, to explain the conflicting issues in his statement to Parliament regarding the recent disturbances and violent clashes at Anloga.
The MP appealed to the President to institute an independent Commission of Enquiry to probe the role of the security agencies in the disturbances in the area.
By Sylvanus Nana Kumi and Ethel Kangbere