The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has cautioned members of the House not to substitute physical strength for intellectual prowess because “Parliament is for the brain and not the brawn.”
According to him, MPs are now trading brainpower for physical prowess in addressing issues in the chamber, pointing out, “there is too much sound and fury on the floor of the House.”
During a late-night session in December 2021, a brawl broke out in Parliament over the contentious levy on electronic transactions, with MPs shoving, pushing and throwing punches at each other.
The chaos started after opposition MPs rushed forward to prevent Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei-Owusu from leaving his seat to vote. With new Minority protests on Thursday evening, a near-chaotic atmosphere was created.
Minority members raised loud protests about the Draft Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations 2023 and the status of the Ghana Card.
In his remarks to the House, Friday, the Speaker urged the leadership of both caucuses to address the issue of relying on brawn rather than brain.
“Leadership, you must show the way and I am sure your members will follow your good example.
The House is a House for brain, not for brawn. A brawn belongs to another arena and not on the floor of the august House,” he intimated.
He added, “Please let’s continue to jaw-jaw in decency. There are some exceptions, but it should not be the rule that every day the heat is being generated rather from Parliament, but not from actions outside Parliament.”
“I don’t think that is right. Please, I urge the two caucuses to immediately organise workshops. The budget is there to fund the workshop for you to go through the rules together, particularly the etiquette of the House,” Mr Bagbin posited.
He disclosed that he was getting a lot of concerns expressed by Ghanaians and that he would fail in his duty if he did not convey the concerns of Ghanaians to the lawmakers.
“Please, this House is so fragile and we must all be very careful on how we conduct business in the House,” he entreated.
Parliament has remained deadlocked as the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs and their Majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) counterparts stuck to their various positions on the proposed constitutional instrument by the Electoral Commission (EC) to undertake continuous registration of eligible voters.
On Thursday, the House was forced to adjourn during the Committee of the Whole meeting following noisy protests by Minority members demanding for the Chairperson of the EC, Jean Mensa, to appear in person to brief the House on the proposed Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations 2023.
The commission had been represented by the Deputy Chairman in charge of Corporate Services, Dr Bossman Asare and Director of Elections, Dr Serebour Quaicoe at the briefing meeting.
The First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, Daily Guide reported, tried his best to conduct the business to get the EC officials and their counterparts from the National Identification Authority (NIA) to brief the House but failed as the opposition MPs stuck to their demand, banging on their tables.
The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Jean Adukwei Mensa and the Executive Secretary of the National Identification Authority, Prof. Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah have been summoned to Parliament.
The House was considering the adoption of the report of the Committee of the Whole on the Status of Registration, Printing and Issuance of the ECOWAS Identity Card (Ghana Card) and Related Challenges when matters degenerated into confusion.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had moved the motion on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee and it was seconded by the MP for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwami Dafeamekpor.
The debate arose and the question was put, with the MPs agreeing to the motion, but the sitting was suspended at 5:40 p.m.
When the sitting was finally resumed at 8:07 p.m., Speaker Bagbin took the Chair and summoned the Chairperson of the EC, Executive Secretary of the NIA to appear in the House in response to the concerns raised at the Committee of the Whole.
They are to brief MPs as soon as possible on the proposed Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2023, as well as the status of the Ghana Card registration.