For what it is worth, before the Minister of Energy, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, appeared before parliament to present an update on the situation of the man-induced floods in the Volta Region, as well as other parts of the country, as a result of the spillage of water from the Akosombo Dam, the MPs directly affected were already unhappy about a lot of things.
Among those things was how the government, which has been largely blamed for this disaster because it was an exercise undertaken by the Volta River Authority (VRA), has not shown enough commitment to restoring hope to the tens of thousands who have been affected by the spillage.
And so, after his address to parliament on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, when some of the Members of Parliament, especially those whose constituencies have been affected, got up to comment, it was expected that things might escalate just a little bit.
However, there was a brief but tensed moment where two good friends from either side of the House (Majority and Minority) locked horns in disagreement over an allegation made by one of them.
This was with respect to the distribution of relief items to the affected constituents in the Central Gonja District.
The MP for the area, John Jinapor, in his comments on what the energy minister told parliament, raised a concerning point about how, supposedly, a chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in his backyard was the one leading the distribution of relief items.
Making a call for the need to delink politics from such a sensitive activity, the Deputy Majority Leader and Member of Parliament for Effutu, Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin, took a strong exception to the claims.
He requested that his dear friend, Jon Jinapor, withdraw that statement since it was without evidence, but that was quickly challenged by the former, who pulled out video evidence to support his claims.
In the following few minutes, the two MPs challenged and counter-challenged each other, with Afenyo-Markin misunderstanding aspects of what Jinapor said as well as the evidence that was provided by the former.
GhanaWeb has captured the transcriptions of the interaction of the two men, as well as the interjections of Emmanual Kofi Armarh Buah, the Deputy Minority Leader in Parliament, below. It begins with the submission of John Jinapor:
“This issue of providing relief items, that is not the solution to the problem. But even more disturbing; I come from the Central Gonja District. Today, and this might sound political, but that is the reality – the NPP chairman is the one leading the distribution of relief items in Buipe. That is the truth; people are using this for political football and I think that this House should rise above all these issues and deal with the issues the way they ought to be dealt with,” he said.
“Mr Speaker, with all due respect, we know the rules governing the business on the table now. I would plead with my respected colleague to withdraw that aspect of his submission to the effect that it is an NPP chairman who is sharing relief items. Mr. Speaker, earlier, the position had been that nothing at all had been done in the constituency and now it’s changed to an NPP chairman.
“I hold the view that in the words of the then acting Leader, this is a sensitive matter; it is of national character. Shall we, therefore, focus on this matter and construct our submissions in this line?”
Emmanuel Armarh Buah:
“Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Majority Leader, I thought was going to say that point that was made was factually-incorrect or was untrue, but he couldn’t say that. You are saying that it’s not true. He didn’t say that.”
“Mr. Speaker, this is indeed a serious matter and I don’t take these things lightly. Mr. Speaker, this is a video – a video. This is the NPP chairman; these are the relief items and the media should capture this. It is here.
“I don’t just come and stand here and just throw out things like that. Mr. Speaker can decide to rule me out but the people of Central Gonja, they know the truth, and when I rise up and I speak the truth, instead of you to support me so that we do the right things, he says that what I’m saying is not the truth? I think I’ll come and sit here and conjecture? You think I’ll come and sit here and peddle falsehood? That is not John Jinapor.
“At least, you are my friend. You know I won’t do that. So, when I raise these issues, it’s a key issue – it’s a very key issue. So, Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with an issue where we are pleading that when it comes to the distribution of these items, we should not politicise them,” he added.
“Mr. Speaker, this is the House of records. Mr. Speaker, in an attempt to defend his stance, all he did was to show us a picture of somebody standing somewhere with certain items behind the person. Mr. Speaker, please, with the greatest respect, we know the rules, would my respected colleague withdraw that aspect of his submission? It is only fair, that’s why I’m making an application to the Speaker. It doesn’t warrant the shout.”
“The honourable member is ready to tender in the video evidence – it is very clear. And so, there is nothing to argue about. He has backed it up with video evidence and he is ready to present it to this House. There’s no point in arguing.”
“Mr. Speaker, the statement you admitted came from the minister, was admitted on the strength of Order 72. And Mr. Speaker, the rule requires of us to make comments within the confines of that statement. That’s exactly what our rules say.
“So, you’re not to introduce new matters, controversial issues. Mr Speaker, bring matters of factual accuracies, and Mr. Speaker, if we allow this to stay in the records, Mr. Speaker, it will amount to giving an open cheque to any member to stand here and say anything merely by showing us a picture. Mr. Speaker, today, we have that liberty in this House. Tomorrow, he may not be a Member of Parliament and somebody will be a Member of Parliament saying certain things about him and he will not have a right of audience to respond.
“The man you claimed to be doing what you claim he did is not in this chamber to defend himself, meanwhile, you do not have such evidence to support such claim. Mr. Speaker, I have made an application to you. Your duty is to consider the application to either, Mr Speaker, dismiss or uphold. I am inviting you to uphold it because I am fortified by the rules. When he was given the opportunity, he could not factually prove that indeed, the man was distributing relief items instead of officials of NADMO,” he added.
“Mr. Speaker, I humbly ask that you outrightly reject his proposal because the honourable member has not only spoken, but he has backed it with clear evidence and he’s prepared to tender it into this House.”
“Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Majority says I spoke of things off the discussion. The minister is here. He spoke about relief items. Did the minister not speak about relief items? I think you will exercise patience, Majority Leader.
“So, when I talk about the distribution of relief items in my constituency, and I raise a problem, it’s a legitimate problem. In winding up, Mr. Speaker, he says that I did not show evidence. I did not just show a photo; you were not watching, and next time, please pay attention. I showed a video – it’s here. But, Mr. Speaker, beyond this, Mr. Speaker, he says where is the video? This is the video.
“Instead of you to support us to do the right thing, you are (sic). Mr. Speaker, on this note, I am fortified by the truth and I speak nothing but truth to power,” he added.