The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has indicated that the Majority in Parliament will show maturity and allow the Minority to take part in the State of the Nation Address debate scheduled to start on Tuesday.
The Ofoase-Ayirebi MP revealed that there had been reconciliatory overtures among the leadership of the house to allow a healthy debate on the President’s State of the Nation Address, marred by a minority boycott.
“We need to take a higher ground to avoid what is becoming a race to the bottom. I have heard colleagues say they will obstruct the Minority from expressing their views, but we need to quickly move forward,” he said on Joy News’, current affairs programme, Newsfile.
While sounding reconciliatory, he quickly jumped to pull the stitches out of the justification the opposition MPs gave for their action.
“On the day the Minority turned their backs on the President and chose to voice out their version of the state of the nation at a press conference, ” Mr Oppong-Nkrumah said the walkout, “although a Parliamentary tool, was ill-conceived.”
He accused the Minority of shifting the goal post on why they walked out on their constitutional obligation.
SONA 2020: Minority walkout on President Akufo-Addo’s address
The signs had been on the wall. The Minority had earlier in a press conference addressed by Bodi MP, Sampson Ahi, had hinted that they would boycott the State of the Nation Address because of the failure of the government to pay their share of the Common Fund.
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah said while he agreed that the delay in the payment of the common fund was problematic, it was not enough to ground to boycott the SONA.
The Information Minister insisted the opposition MPs had not been consistent with their reason for taking the French leave.
At a press conference after the State of the Nation Address on Thursday, the Minority listed a litany of reasons for which they decided to walk out on the President’s day of accountability.
Desperate times call for desperate measures – Minority justifies their SONA walk-out
The issues the Minority raised include the failure of the government to implement the reports of the Emile Short Commission on the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, the Electoral Commission’s decision to compile a new voter’s register as well as the closure of some radio stations.
But Mr Oppong Nkrumah poured cold water on the issues and insisted that the Minority MPs, including the lawyers among them, should have known better.
“The law does not back the idea that once a Commission of enquiry presents its report, simplicita A-Z, everything in it will be accepted and implemented. The law allows the government to express a certain view and even act on what it chooses or what it agrees with.
“They[NDC] have had the opportunity to be in government. The law didn’t change then and it hasn’t changed now. It is still the same today.
He described as absurd the Minority’s claim that the President shut down radio stations and maintained that due process was followed with the owners of the stations going to court to challenge the decision.
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah said the court agreed with NCA “by failing to renew your license, you have relinquished it.”
He said the Article 67 obligation of the President was not part of the core Parliamentary business, but rather a constitutional obligation that shouldn’t have been treated with disdain.
But Mr John Jinapor, the Member of Parliament for Yapei/Kusawgu, disagreed.
He drew Mr Oppong-Nkrumah’s attention to a similar incident in 2013 when the NPP decided to walk out of the chamber before President John Dramani Mahama took his seat in the house.