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Opinions Thu, 16 Mar 2017

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Order, Honorable members

By: Nana Kwaku-Jr

Discipline, like Dictionary.com explains as, “training to act in accordance with rules; drills.” Discipline, like Oxford-dictionaries define as, “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.”

Given the definitions above, the two renowned online rostrums’ interpretations explicitly pivot around keywords such as: training, accordance, rules, and punishment. And these interpretations by far couldn’t be erroneous, except to observe that the aforementioned online rostrums have subtly failed to remark and emphasise, whether or not the anticipated conduct(s) ought, and must at all times be exhibited even at the instance of nobody. In that regard, and like I have always mentioned to my baby sister- Lawrencia and equally maintained that, "discipline is behaving oneself at all times, especially at the instance of nobody.”

This deliberation on the subject matter is long overdue, and grounded on some actions and inactions of the entire citizenry of Ghana of which I am a part, but particularly, some Members of Parliament (MPs); display of gross indiscipline with impunity devoid of recourse to given circumstances around them, i.e. even on National TV at the mercy, watch, and judgment of viewers in Ghana and the world over.

Members of the supposed august house are titled, “Honourables”, and in most cases are addressed as such, which is virtually the right thing to do. Founder and former CEO of UT Holdings, Mr. Prince Kofi Amoabeng once mentioned that, “respect is due everyone”, suggesting even if you met someone for the very first time and regardless of foreknowledge of his/her personality, title(s), and achievement(s) you should still proffer him/her due reverence until further notice.

There had been precedents where colleagues, friends, and kindred of some of these MPs had to quickly and duly address them (MPs) upon the immediate realisation of having forgotten to prefix their names with the stately title- “Honourable”. Is it not dispassionate to assume that these MPs are anticipated to follow suit, hence, act in pursuance of their “adorable” titles? Well, I’m certain devoid of a shred of skepticism that these defective acts of demeanors on the part of some MPs commenced not just today, but from the first ever composition and inception of Parliament in Ghana’s history. The appalling status quo that appears to have become a meme grows unnecessarily boisterous and ear-splitting once a Political Party in Ghana takes turn to become the Minority in the supposed august House. Fast-forward to present day Ghana; 1992 till date, it is courteous to rebuke Political Parties that ever had and/or continue to have representation(s) in the House, especially, the two main Political Parties (NDC, NPP)- both Parties have ever been in Minority (Opposition) in the House. Now, the allusion that necessitated the composition of this article is the “unparliamentary”, unconstitutional, debasing, and shameful heckling, interrupting, and discomfiting of proceedings in the House, especially at the instance of some visitors: President who visits to present State-Of-The-Nation’s-Address, Finance Minister who comes to read Budget Statement, Minister who visits to answer pressing questions, etcetera.

This disgraceful act of passionate and intermittent heckling has now been institutionalised and conveniently exhibited by Minority with gross exception sans acknowledging the relevance of the Speakers’ (1992 – till date) “ORDER, ORDERR, ORDERRRR HONOURABLE MEMBERS.”

Few cases in point amongst a plethora of them

In February 2013, during Ex-President Mahama’s State-Of-The-Nation’s-Address, NPP MPs whom at the time were the Minority in the House introduced placards with bold inscriptions, “STEALERS”, suggesting Government contracts have been overpriced.

It’s also on record that the current Speaker of the House, Right Honourable Prof. Mike Ocquaye and leadership from both sides of the House admonished MPs nearly a week prior to the Finance Minister’s maiden visit to the House. And this counsel was to deter MPs not to introduce any more placards into the House, and also concludes that it was “unparliamentary”, an opinion the erstwhile Speaker, Right Honourable Edward Korbly Doe Adjaho also held in November 2013.

However, Prof. Ocquaye’s recent order was disregarded with ease by some NDC MPs on a conscious effort and purpose, where they introduced into the House placards with bold inscriptions “419 Budget”, suggesting the 2017 Budget Statement read by the sector Minister, Mr. Kenneth Ofori-Atta was fraudulent. Whether or not it appeared fraudulent, it was only prudent that the NDC MPs should have behaved themselves for a sound presentation, only to take turns to debate on the floor of the House as scheduled for March 8, 2017- already executed.

Recommendations

This derogatory, yet, institutionalised misdemeanors in the supposed august House should as a matter of urgency be assumed to have reached its peak, therefore, concerned authorities should act in accordance to avert future grave felonies that in my opinion have been mistaken for subliminal misdemeanors. Only God knows the placards with inscriptions that might be introduced next, perhaps, this: “YOU ARE COLD AS MY EX-GIRLFRIEND.”

Now, if the House has been likened to the Supreme Court of Ghana, with enormous discretionary powers bestowed upon the Right Honourable Speaker, Prof. Mike Aaron Ocquaye then it’s only decent for me to assume that the current Speaker, like his predecessors reserve the right to sanction some NDC MPs, especially, some occupants of the backseat or per the findings after a thorough probing. The suggestion to sanction is owed to the recent case in point during the just ended 2017 Budget presentation.

Food for thought

If there are clear confirmations that Standing Orders of the supposed august House are being persistently treated with undue contempt, sans an omen of ruefulness on the part of MPs, and also without subsequent sanctions from leadership of the House, do you think Parliament still reserves the moral and constitutional right to haul, and consequently mete out punishment(s) to individuals- ordinary citizens, who may have been perceived to have dragged the House’s name into ignominy, particularly when the House remains hesitant to display same level of discretionary powers on its own Members (MPs)?

Nana Kwaku-Jr (JR DOCKET) Email: Jr-docket@writeme.com.

Columnist: Nana Kwaku-Jr

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