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05.07.2005 Politics

Leadership Crisis In Parliament: Minister vs. Speaker

Ghanaian Voice
Leadership Crisis In Parliament: Minister vs. Speaker

The issue of who is the actual leader of or “Boss” of Parliament is fast degenerating into something very nasty.

Chain of command seems to have broken down whilst members of staff are told not to give information to the public or other Members of Parliament without the prior approval from the Majority Leader.

The problem is such that, while the Majority Leader, Hon. Felix Owusu Agyapong believes he is the Leader of the House, other members of Parliament think it is the Speaker. As a result, there is a sharp division among Members of Parliament on the matter, and the staff of Parliament are not left out of the drama, as they keep murmuring and whispering unpalatable comments around.

A month ago, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Felix Owusu Agyapong organized a one-day workshop for media houses to brief them on the role of the ministry.

In that meeting, the Majority Leader made it categorically clear, that when it comes to the administrative duty of the House, he, as Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, supersedes the Speaker.

He stated further that as a matter of principle, the Speaker is not a Member of Parliament and therefore cannot lead the House.

Instead, the Speaker has to always seek the guidance of the Majority leader to decide the direction of the House.

In a follow-up meeting with the Parliamentary Press Corps to explain the reason why he did not invite the Minority Leader or the minority group to participate in the meeting with the media houses, Hon. Agyapong said the Minority Leader has never been a Majority Leader before or even engaged in the principle of the Balancing Act, therefore, could not be invited to explain the functions of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

These explanations by the Majority Leader therefore put him as the Leader of Parliament, but this position has been angrily contested.

One of the personalities who is opposed to the Majority Leader's usurpation of power from the Speaker is the exuberant youth leader of National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Member of Parliament for Tamale South, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu. According to him the Speaker, who is the third most important person in the country is no doubt the leader of the House and not the Majority Leader. He said if the Majority leader is looking at his position as the Minister to of Parliamentary Affairs to say he is the Leader of Parliament, it would be unfortunate because that ministry is not necessary.

He explained further that in a situation where a ruling government does not have a majority in Parliament, it would be cumbersome to have the Majority Leader who definitely would come from the opposition party occupying the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

The Tamale South MP was contributing to a statement on the African Peer Review Mechanism made by the Minister of state in charge of Regional Integration and NEPAD, Hon. Dr. Konadu Apraku.

According to Hon. Haruna, even the eminent personalities of APRM have recommended the abolition of the Ministry, which was set up by the NDC government.

The Minority Leader, Hon. Alban Sumani Kingsford Bagbin have had cause to argue with the Majority Leader over the same who-is-the-leader-of-Parliament in the last Parliament when the Rt.. Hon. Peter Ala Adjetey was the Speaker of Parliament.

We are in a new Parliament and the same problem persist and causing disaffection among Members of Parliament, and even members of staff of Parliament have been given directions not give out information to the public without clearance.

The Ghanaian Voice asked the Public Affairs Director, Mr. Jones Kugblenu who indeed is the leader of the House when Members of Parliament themselves seem not to know.

He could not help saying there is a committee sitting to review the House's Standing Orders and that would be looked into. He also said when the committee finishes its work it would present its report to the entire House's consideration and that is where the decision of who is the leader of the House would be put to rest.