Otiko Djaba approved by Parliament at last

Ms. Otiko Djaba, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection

Ms. Otiko Djaba, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection

The Minority in Parliament yesterday had its say but the Majority caucus had its way in the controversy that surrounded the approval of Ms. Otiko Afisa Djaba as Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister.

The fate of Ms. Otiko Djaba was down to voting in accordance with Standing Order 172(5) of the House with the Majority voting massively to endorse her candidature.

“Each member shall be provided with a sheet of paper on which appears the names of all candidates for approval or rejection. Against the name of each candidate shall be two columns, one for AYES indicating approval and the other for NOES indicating rejection,” the Order reads.

A candidate who fails to secure fifty per cent of the votes cast is rejected, clause eight of the Order adds.

Though the Minority abstained from the vote, the Majority massively voted to endorse the nomination of Ms. Otiko Djaba who doubles as the NPP’s National Women Organiser with 152 votes of the 169 Majority members in the House. The Minority recorded zero votes.

The voting exercise, the first in the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic, was preceded by heated legal argument between the Majority Leader, Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and his counterpart on the Minority side, Haruna Iddrisu.

Ms. Otiko’s approval was put on hold last Friday following a disagreement between the majority and the minority caucuses of Parliament over her failure to honour her national service obligations.

According to the Minority, her failure to do her national service was a violation of the National Service Scheme Act of 1980, Act 246 which makes national service mandatory for every Ghanaian above 18 years to undertake.

The Minority was of the conviction that approving the minister-designate could be a disincentive to yet-to-serve Ghanaians.

But the majority NPP contended that once Ms. Djaba qualified to be a Member of Parliament, her inability to undertake her service could not be a blockade.

The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, deferred the decision on the nominee to yesterday to allow for further consultations over the weekend or the extreme, putting it to vote, if a common ground was not reached.

Espousing his legal positions before the voting, Haruna Iddrisu, the Tamale South MP, said the majority side of the house was violating the constitution because the National Service Act, is consistent with the 1992 Constitution and cannot be brushed aside.

He premised his argument on Article 94(2g) of the constitution which states that a person shall not be qualified to be a member of Parliament if he (or she) “is otherwise disqualified by a law in force at the time of the coming into force of this constitution, not being inconsistent with a provision of this constitution”.

This, Haruna Iddrisu, former Employment and Labour Relations Minister, said that should settle the argument whether or not Ms. Djaba qualified to be an MP.

But the Majority Leader said the position of the Minority was untenable.

He said the nominee must be given the nod because he has written to the National Service Board, for a waiver but was unable to proof that to the Minority caucus.

Announcing the results of the secret voting, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye, said by virtue of the votes, Ms. Djaba has dully been approved by the House.

By Julius Yao Petetsi

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