Overruling my decisions unconstitutional – Speaker

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has berated his First Deputy, Joseph Osei-Owusu, for overruling his decisions.

“It is interesting that this is the second time the First Deputy Speaker has taken the chair and has made a ruling which in effect, was to overrule a position I had earlier on established before the House.

“The penchant of the First Deputy Speaker to overrule my rulings is to say the least, unconstitutional, illegal and offensive,” Mr Bagbin stated.

His criticism was necessitated by the decision of the First Deputy Speaker to shoot down on Tuesday, a private members motion, admitted by the Speaker, seeking to probe COVID-19 expenditure by the government.

After listening to both sides of the House on a preliminary objection raised by the Deputy Majority Leader to the motion as moved whilst the Speaker was in the seat, the First Deputy Speaker who took over from the Speaker ruled that Mr Bagbin shouldn’t have admitted the motion.

“My view is that this motion ought not to have been admitted. It is improperly laid before the House,” the Deputy Speaker ruled as he dismissed the motion.

That was the second time the First Deputy Speaker has overturned the ruling of the Speaker; the first being the reversal of the rejection of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government in November 2021.

That notwithstanding, Mr Bagbin said he would not undo the ruling of his deputy who is also the Member for the Bekwai Constituency.

“Be that as it may, I shall not be taking any steps to overrule the decision of the First Deputy Speaker to dismiss the motion.

“The Deputy Speakers and I will deliberate on how to present a more coherent and uniform structure in respect of rulings so that the House is guided at all times during deliberations.”

He, however, urged the sponsors of the motion – the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka and Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson – to follow laid down procedure to have the motion refiled.

Clarifying how motions and preliminary objections should be treated, Mr Bagbin said once the motion was moved, whoever an objection ought to have done so before same was seconded.

This he said was the case on Tuesday before he vacated the seat when he oversaw the moving of the motion and for his deputy to continue by listening to the objection.

That, however, was not the case as Mr Osei Owusu allowed the motion to be seconded before listening to the objection, setting the tone for the motion to be debated and a vote cast on it.

“When I was handing over to the First Deputy Speaker that was the message you saw me transmitting to him that I had ruled that the Deputy Majority Leader should be allowed to raise his objection to the motion after it is moved but before it is seconded.

“We must observe the rulings of Mr Speaker and not attempt to vary them to our advantage as and when they appear convenient.”

The expectations of Ghanaians of the eighth Parliament, considering the composition of the House, Mr Bagbin said were not being met and that there was the need to do better.

“I can tell you that the country is not happy with our performance. We have to up our game.”  

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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