Ghana?s Parliament was last Friday plunged into a state of fury after a proposal was made by the Majority for the House to sit on Saturday, September 29, 2012.

Presenting the business statement for this week, Deputy Majority Leader Alhaji Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo requested that the House sits on Saturday September 29, 2012.

The proposal was apparently made for the House to sit on the said date so that the controversial Constitutional Instrument CI 78 would mature early after 21 parliamentary sitting days to facilitate the creation of 45 additional constituencies.

Parliament was recalled from recess on September 3, 2012 under state of emergency to consider the CI 78 among other unfinished business of the House.

However, the request was rejected by the Minority caucus, generating tempestuous debate between the Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Majority National Democratic Congress (NDC) on the floor of the House for almost an hour.

Whilst the Minority caucus opposed the Saturday sitting and described it as ?unreasonable? the Majority side indicated it was reasonable.

?I think you are stretching our understanding and cooperation to intolerable limits. Under normal circumstances, Parliament sits from Tuesdays to Fridays. You have added Mondays in this emergency sitting and we have accepted to make do with that and you now adding Saturday, why are we overstretching ourselves,? MP for New Juaben North Hackman Owusu-Agyeman quizzed in dismay.

According to Pelpuo, who is also the deputy chairman of the business committee as well as Member of Parliament for Wa Central, the proposed sitting on September 29 was to make up for Friday, September 21, 2012, which is a commemorative Founders Day public holiday.

?Rt. Hon. Speaker Friday 21st September 2012 is the commemorative day of Founders Day and is expected to be observed as a public holiday.

Rt. Hon. Speaker, having regard to the fact that the House would not sit on Friday, 21st September 2012 due to the holiday, the Business Committee proposes that the House sits on Saturday, 29th September 2012 the following week to compensate for the lost sitting day,? Alhaji Pelpuo requested.

But Minority Chief Whip, Frederick Opare-Ansah said his side was unhappy with the fact that the proposal was incorporated into the Business Statement when the idea was totally rejected during sitting of the committee.

?I do not believe that this is a proposal coming from the committee. Indeed, I was at the committee. The deputy chairman did hint his thinking at such a point at the committee. I advised him not to allow his thoughts to go in that direction. So, I cannot understand how the thinking of the possibility of such a thought will become a proposal from the Business committee and find expression in the committee?s report,? he lamented.

According to Opare-Ansah, who is also the MP for Suhum, since members of the House would want to take advantage of the holiday to visit their constituencies, it would be prudent to forego the proposal.

MP for Old Tafo, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei wondered why the House failed to conduct enough business on weekdays during the emergency sitting.

?Mr. Speaker, I am a bit saddened about the way the House goes about things. We are being asked to forget our holidays for three months just to make sure that we can move the nation forward. And so, when we come, we expect that work should go on,? Dr. Akoto Osei fumed

But NDC MP for Wa West, Joseph Yieleh Chireh pleaded with the minority members to reconsider their positions since the proposal was in the best interest of the nation.

?The issue of Parliament sitting on Saturday is a matter of substitution. We are losing 21st as a national holiday. What is also important as members of Parliament is that you can be recalled to come on a Sunday which is also a Sabbath. We are not talking about C.I.78. We are talking about C.I.75 which is also very important in the conduct of the elections. And if we are pleading that all of us should sacrifice for one Saturday so that we can make a lot of progress, I think that it is very important,? Yieleh Chireh argued.

Not enthused with the raging controversy, MP for Sekondi Papa Owusu Ankomah called on First Deputy Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho to defer the matter for further deliberations to enable members reach a common ground.

?I believe it is not fair for any of us to suggest that those who may hold a contrary view do not have the interest of the nation at heart. It is so unfortunate, particularly around this time when we are all trying to ensure that we create conducive atmosphere for cooperation and rapprochement,? he noted.

Accordingly, First Deputy Speaker, who presided over the business of the House, directed the leadership to do further consultation on the matter.

Even though he indicated the House had previously sat on a Saturday he said, ?I believe sincerely that let?s deepen the consultation on this issue so that when the next business statement comes, we abreast ourselves on this matter.?

By Awudu Mahama

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