The disgraceful chaos in parliament on January 7
In the village of Fankyeneko, there were rival factions that were bitterly opposed to each other. On one occasion, members of the factions were invited to a banquet. The bitterness existing between the two was such that members of the faction rushed to the “Ahenfie” or palace to occupy particular seats even though this was needless. They started attacking each other and nearly caused serious injuries to each other.
What happened on January 7, 2021, in parliament, comparable to this, was so disgraceful and embarrassing that many people could not believe their eyes as they saw Members of Parliament bringing their names into disrepute on the basis of what took place on that day.
Many students and young people raised question as to whether this is how our MPs behave in parliament since they found that behaviour unacceptable. So unacceptable was this that they condemned them and reduced the level of respect for our MPs who over the years have been performing creditably well for the people of this country and for the nation.
The whole situation arose because it looked as if the level of antagonism was so high that each side was prepared to jump at each others’ throat and crucify them to show which side was stronger and more diabolic when it comes to creating negative acts in this “holy” and “revered” place. Probably, they have all forgotten that as Members of Parliament they have to behave in a way to let the public know why they are referred to as honourable members.
Creation of awful scene
It was not one incident in parliament that created the awful scene that should not have been exposed to the public but a series of incidents and/or actions that culminated in casting a slur on parliamentarians on that day. It is known that parliamentarians everywhere tend to shout and exhibit emotion about issues that are dear to their hearts but what happened on that day was one out of the ordinary, creating an ugly scene in the early hours of that day.
Indeed, parliamentarians are also humans but seeing that they occupy special positions in society and command special respect from the public, it is important that they comport themselves in a manner that would portray them as honourable members of society. What happened on that day was a big shame in the lives of our parliamentarians.
Scoring political points
Each side from the NDC and the NPP tried to score some points by defending and justifying the action of its members in contributing to this shame or disgrace but no matter how they examined the issue or tried hard to justify it, no right-thinking Ghanaian would be prepared to accept it. In other words, it was simply a shameful act that should not be repeated in this country no matter what. It is believed that by now many of the parliamentarians, whether NPP or NDC, now regret what took place on that day and wish it had never taken place.
How did the whole chaotic situation begin?
It began when one group of parliamentarians, the NDC, resolved that they were bound to occupy the majority side in parliament and portray to the world that they were now a majority side when it comes to law making in the Ghanaian parliament. This came as no surprise since the NDC had already claimed that they had won more seats than the NPP.
Press conferences upon press conferences organised by the NDC told Ghanaians that they were far ahead of the NPP as far as winning majority of the seats were concerned and that they had even won the presidential election. This was, however, proved wrong in the light of collation by the Electoral Commission, the body mandated by law to announce election results in the country.
The position of the NDC has now changed in view of the petition they took to the Supreme Court. In the petition, the NDC pointed out that former President John Mahama won 46 per cent of the votes while Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo won a little above 49 per cent and for which reason they are asking the court to order the EC for a re-run of the presidential election this time between only the two presidential candidates of the NDC and the NPP.
Going to parliament early
Having initially believed that they had won majority of the seats though falsely, the NDC MPs were influenced to go to parliament very early on that day to occupy what was known to them as the Majority side of parliament. By the time their NPP counterparts had reported, they were already there and refused to vacate the seats for their brothers and sisters on the other side.
This nearly resulted in attacks from both sides but we are told that the NPP leadership prevailed upon their side to keep their cool but not engage in any physical brawl. This was heeded to and helped to calm down nerves and prevent what would have been a blood-shed for the first time in the history of the Ghanaian parliament. The NPP MPs had to sit on the other side of parliament usually reserved for the Minority. But this brought about peace so we all welcome it.
The second issue that nearly marred the beauty of the day was the refusal of the NDC side to acknowledge or accept a court order restraining the then MP-elect for Assin North Constituency Mr. James Gyakye Quayson from holding himself as someone who had been elected a member of parliament since he was holding two citizenship, Canadian and Ghanaian, which was against the laws of this country. Since they were determined to add this MP to their votes, they encouraged him to sit and vote for the Speaker. The MP accepted it and became encouraged to sit in parliament and hold himself as a parliamentarian even though the injunction from the court at Cape Coast showed that he was not to have done so.
It became clear that the clerk in parliament at the time who acted for the Speaker was coerced into submission and so could not come out boldly to prevent the Assin North MP from voting. Some people say this was a good strategy by the NDC but to others it was a needless shameful act that could have resulted in an open brawl had the NPP side also resolved to prevent the Assin North MP from voting.
The third incident that sparked off the chaotic situation in parliament revolved around some of the NDC MPs such as Muntaka Mubarak and Sam George who went around kicking the election booths and ballot boxes within parliament. This was unbelievable but it continued unabated since, here again, the NPP side tried as much as possible to restrain themselves. We thank God that the worse did not happen to put an indelible shame on the name of Ghana as a democratic country.
The fourth and final incident was when Carlos Ahenkorah swiftly snatched some ballot papers and started running away. So swift was he that at a point in time some of us did not believe that it was ,indeed, Carlos Ahenkorah who was running away at that unbelievable speed. In fact, on that day, he was so fast that some people believed that he ran faster than the rabbit. It was on that day that many of us realised that he had enough energy to run a 100-metre race.
These incidents brought shame to parliament. Some people, from the NDC and the NPP side, have tried to justify each of the incidents that brought about this shameful act in parliament but it must be noted that none of them is justifiable. If this is the case then party supporters and communicators should refrain from any attempt to justify each of the actions in parliament, whether from the NDC or NPP side. They are all shameful and should not be supported by anyone.
Similarly, the media must also be fair when reporting on such incidents so that only the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth will be reported for consumption by the people of this country. On Radio Ghana (GBC), for example, one Bobo Klinoko wrote a radio news commentary condemning the NPP side while at the same time trying to exonerate the NDC from any blame. This was unacceptable and the leadership of that network must sit up and do what is acceptable next time round.
Again, one Emmanuel Akorli of UTV also reported that they say Carlos Ahenkorah contacted somebody before embarking on his famous run ,therefore, he must have been encouraged by that person to do what he did. He kept saying that “Yese, yese” meaning “they say, they say,” Carlos contacted someone even though he could not ascertain for sure whether it was true or not. Such reportage should not be encouraged because they tell you straight away where the reporter is coming from.
A few other journalists also followed suit and committed the same blunder even though this blunder was avoidable. Journalism, whether broadcast or print, is a noble profession and should ,therefore, be held as such and no attempt should be made by anyone to bring it into disrepute.
So far, the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has exhibited fairness to both sides, the NPP and the NDC. It is hoped that this fairness will continuously be exhibited to all sides so that parliamentarians will work together in the interest of the nation but not to be too partisan since there are still numerous socio-economic challenges ahead of us.
By Dr. Kofi Amponsah-Bediako