The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, yesterday threatened to revoke the accreditation of any journalist who deviates from his or her core duty of covering proceedings on the floor of the House.
“I want to let the media know….that you are here as guests by my permission because of the importance this House attaches to the inky profession.
“Any such deviation [of placing other happenings within Parliament above what happens on the floor] will make you an unwelcomed guests and your welcome will be dully withdrawn,” Speaker Oquaye warned.
His threat followed a complaint by the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, about the culture of reporters sacrificing proceedings on the floor to provide coverage for other developments.
According to Speaker Oquaye, though the phenomenon may be decades old, “our democracy must be developing.
“So let us make progressive development in such a manner that we should not be slaves of the evil practices of the past if any because definitely, our republic must develop and we must not major in minors nor the undeserving.”
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, MP, Suame, in his complaint said when the debate on the state of the nation begun on Tuesday, he observed that the press had left the gallery and upon further checks, he was informed that the media was covering a briefing by an individual MP on the address.
A section of the Parliamentary Press Corps, as has been the convention, left the chamber to provide coverage for a Minority lawmaker within the precincts of Parliament after the motion for the debate on the President’s message has been moved and seconded.
Unenthused by the conduct of the press, the Majority Leader in his complaint said the media was accredited to cover the chamber and must not leave at the “beck and call of an individual Member of Parliament.
“Mr Speaker, if the media is not to cover proceedings, let it be so registered,” he submitted recalling that as Minority Leader, his caucus, in order not to disrupt the press’ attention to business on the floor, had press engagements before proceedings begun if there was the need for one.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, though in support of the Majority Leader that the media must serve the institutions of Parliament and not any individual, he said the press must be allowed to do their work without any form of censorship.
“Mr Speaker, it does not lie within the mouth of the Majority Leader to determine who holds what conference where. That is why we are elected representatives. We are entitled to the media and not only parliamentary media.”
The Majority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu said was guilty of the same things he was complaining of today when he was the Minority Leader and urged the Parliamentary Press Corps to endeavour to cover plenary but not limit itself to only the plenary.
The Speaker has since summoned the Dean of the Parliamentary Press Corps and the Director of Public Affairs to have a discussion on the matter.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI