There were high tempers in parliament when members were informed of the absence of the finance minister in the chamber.
Speaker, Alban Bagbin, announced that Ken Ofori-Atta had sought permission to absent himself from parliament due to an equally important engagement with some delegation from China.
The minister was supposed to respond to questions filed by some members of the house.
The speaker, however, indicated that the finance minister said he will be available on Friday.
Following the speaker’s announcement, the deputy minority leader raised concerns about the absence of the minister stating that “the house is not impressed with the record of Minister of Finance’s attendance” but will allow the house to move on with the next minister available.
“A very good reason why the minister is not here so we allow the Minister for Housing to take the question. But, Mr Speaker, this house is not impressed with the record of Minister of Finance attendance but we will allow that letter to stand,” Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah stated.
In response, the deputy majority leader raised concerns over Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah’s comment which to him, suggested that the whole house held the same position about the minister.
Alexander Afenyo Markin thus urged Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah to withdraw his statement reiterating that the house did not hold the same opinion as the Minority.
“…Mr speaker I know my respected colleague opposite me expect that people treat him fairly in terms of choice of words, I have taken note of his concerns about some approach in dealing with issues of disagreement but I would beg you to withdraw the aspect of his statement ‘This house is not impressed’ if you are talking about your own impression about the minister say so for the record. but don’t let Hansard capture the phrase, ‘this house is not impressed’. This house is a house 275 members and I do not know anything untoward that has been done by the Finance Minister to warrant this statement from you on behalf of the entire house.”
“The minister as courtesy demands, has written to Mr Speaker and the Speaker has read it out aloud to us as a house, so, I do not think the least you can do is to say that the house has not been impressed with his conduct. What did he do?”
“Mr Speaker, I beg that that aspect of his statement be withdrawn or be expunged from the records. It is needless with the greatest respect,” Afenyo Markin said.
Emmanuel Buah, in response, clarified that their side of the house, which is the minority agreed while citing Afenyo-Markin as always twisting people’s words for popularity and not paying attention.
“Mr Speaker, the respected Deputy Majority leader is always not paying attention and his rise to fame is through basically twisting people words. Mr Speaker I was very clear about what is said, I was talking about attendance. We are talking about the minister of Finance’s presence today, we have a letter that says that he is engaged and I accept that. And I said this house of course I was speaking in terms of this side of the house(The minority side) is not impressed with his attendance. What is wrong with that? So, Mr Speaker I don’t withdraw that statement because that is what I believe in, if he has a problem he can just modify that statement but that is what we believe in,” Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah said.
But Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin wondered why the Deputy minority leader modified his words instead of accepting he made a mistake.
He called Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah out for not being courageous and honourable enough to accept his mistake while insisting that he didn’t twist his statement.
“Mr Speaker he who comes with equity must first do equity and must come with clean hands, you see the deputy minority leader is a very sensitive person, who is sensitive to words, now you are saying that a statement that you boldly made that this house is now been modified to mean that side of the house. If that is what you meant, why didn’t you say so and you are not courageous and honourable enough to accept your mistake. Then you now say that somebody’s rise to fame is twisting people’s statements. I didn’t twist your statement and I didn’t use that to rise to any fame, I don’t need it. I would want to earn it through hard work and merit, so with the greatest respect it is your statement that I sort to get you to clarify, The Minister for Finance is a human like you,” he noted.
Zanetor Rawlings also caught the speaker’s eye and raised concerns over Afenyo-Markin’s comment stating that the deputy minority leader was not courageous and honourable. According to her, the statement was unfair.
The speaker, Alban Bagbin, also urged the MPs’ language must respect their colleagues, as the house can only stand on consensus building and respect.
He said it was right for the deputy Majority leader to contest the comment of the deputy Minority but in the exchanges, they must respect one another,
“That is your view and that can’t be taken away from either of them.” He noted.
He added, “Please Deputy Majority leader, you know this issue has been hanging on for sometime and the minority leadership have made it clear that you are one of the problems that they face here. I thought that direct statement would have made you changed your discourse but yesterday when I gave you another opportunity what you said fuelled the situation, so I want to urge you to move away from it but the case,” Alban Bagbin said.
The speaker while defending the finance minister noted that Ken Ofori-Atta has improved in his attendance in the chamber as he [Ofori-Atta] usually will seat from morning to night and there is pressure at the ministry of finance at this time.
KT Hammond said it was unfair for Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah to state that Afenyo- Markin rises to fame by twisting people’s words.
In a bid to clarify himself, Emmanuel Armah insisted that Afenyo-Markin was twisting his words.
“Mr speaker I rose again to basically say that what I stated earlier that honourable Afenyo-Markin was twisting it, as you correctly stated I was making reference to the Minister’s absence.
What I said was that honourable was twisting my words and that he rose to fame was about twisting words of people, I was using exactly what he did as an example.”
The speaker interjected and asked him to withdraw his statement as it was unfair.
Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah withdrew his statement but immediately added that “Afenyo-Markin will have the courage to tell me, honourable Kofi Buah, a four-term member of parliament who has worked 20 years in the cooperate world, who has served as deputy minister properly vetted, served as a minister of state that I don’t have the courage. I am a courageous man that is why I served this country honourably. Have you ever been a deputy minister in this county since I have been here? You?” Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah fumed.
“…we don’t appoint deputy ministers, ministers of state based on their courage. So that one is not a good bases to say that because you serve as a deputy and minister for state you have courage. Courage is something else oo,” Alban Bagbin said.