The Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, Freddie Blay, has intimated that the Speaker surrendered his discretion to outsiders by receving a petition from former MP, Ras Mubarak, to inform his decision to refer the three absentee MPs to the Privileges Committee.
According to Freddie Blay, he agrees with the assertions that the procedure the Speaker undertook was wrong to have received petitions from outsiders. He reacted that the Speaker’s actions were supposed to be based on information from officials in Parliament.
“Definitely, he is surrendering his discretion to outsiders over it. Because if one is not attending Parliament, it is the clerk that will draw his attention to it. If he was aware, why then do you allow a stranger from outside to draw your attention to it and then based on that you refer that to a Privileges Committee?”Freddie Blay
The NPP Chairman then suggested that the Speaker should have called those individuals to find out their reasons for not coming to Parliament. “Some people might have been in the hospital and when they were in the hospital, they didn’t have the opportunity to inform you.”
According to Freddie Blay, he finds it a little “bizzare” concerning the issue at hand stating that absenteeism from Parliament is a problem on its own. He averred that it is not peculiar to Ghana but typical of all Parliament and several jurisdictions in the world. As such, he was expecting the Speaker to admonish and advise the MPs and later allow the caucuses to “whip” their members so that they will be up and coming in their duty as representatives of their constituencies.
The NPP Chairman indicated that the Speaker is not “a headmaster who marks attendance” but he is notified of such absenteeism through his clerk. He intimated that if the Speaker was aware of such a conduct by the MPs, he finds it a little bit strange that somebody from outside Parliament had to come in for him to take action.
Suggesting how the Speaker should have addressed the underlying situation, he stated that the Speaker shouldn’t have taken that step. “Absenteeism is headache in Parliament. To deal with it is not to get up one day and say I am dealing with.”
MPs Chided over absenteeism
Meanwhile, Seasoned Journalist, Kweku Baako, has chided Members of Parliament who absent themselves from the House. Addressing the issue of absenteeism, Kweku Baako questioned why an MP would absent himself or herself from Parliament without prior permission of the Speaker, stressing such conduct is unacceptable.
“It is your duty to represent your constituents and make laws on behalf of the country. It’s non-negotiable, so, why become an MP if you are not dedicated to the business of the House?”Kweku Baako
Kweku Baako emphasized that the culture of absenteeism in Parliament must be dealt with and applauded the Speaker of Parliament for taking such steps.
“The decision by the Speaker to bring it to the front burner and to trigger some parliamentary proceedings and processes to cure that mischief is welcome in principle.”Kweku Baako