Parliament begins debate on SONA …but Minority declines to participate

The Minority caucus in Parliament is staying away from the debate to approve or reject the account given by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the true state of the nation.

It follows a walkout by the caucus last Thursday moments before President Nana Akufo-Addo delivered a statement on the state of the nation in line with Article 67.

The above provision enjoins the President to “at the beginning of each session of Parliament and before a dissolution of Parliament, deliver to Parliament a message on the state of the nation.”

President Akufo-Addo in his address, among other things, declared that Ghana was in good health.

“The state of our nation is that our nation is in good health and in competent hands,” President Akufo-Addo said to loud cheers from the Majority caucus.

The House is expected to approve or reject the account of the President in a five-day debate.

But at the commencement of the debate yesterday, the Minority caucus served notice that it won’t participate in the debate.

This was after the Minister for Information and Member of Parliament for Ofoase/Ayirebi, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, had moved the motion.

As convention of the House has it, the Minority was supposed to second the motion but that was not to be.

When Mr Oppong Nkrumah was done, the attention then moved to the Minority side of the House to second the motion but after a long wait without any of them rising to second the motion, another Member on the Majority side, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, rose to second the motion.

To be clear in his mind why the Minority did not second the motion, Speaker Aaron Mike Oquaye called out the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, to inquire from him why his side of the House did not second the motion.

In his response, the Asawase MP said the Minority won’t be participating in the debate.

“Mr Speaker (seconding a motion) is a convention and not a rule. We have taken a principled position that we will not be participating in the debate,” he said.

Speaking in an interview with the press after proceedings, Alhaji Muntaka explained that participating in the debate would have defeated the purpose of staging the walkout.

“We met as a caucus and the decision was that let’s keep a certain principle. We will be responding to some of the (claims not on the floor) and climax it with a true state of the nation address,” Alhaji Muntaka revealed.

The decision by the Minority came as a surprise as they actively participated in setting the modalities for the debate last Friday.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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