The minority in parliament has come under heavy criticisms for walking out of parliament last Thursday when the president was scheduled to give his fourth State of the Nation Address.
Many individuals and organisations have condemned the act with some asking the minority to apologise.
Since the inception of the fourth republic in 1992, there has been a total of 17 instances where the National Democratic Congress and New Patriotic Party have boycotted proceedings in the house whilst in the minority.
GhanaWeb goes back in time to recall what led to all those boycotts.
1. August 22, 2003: Then Minority Leader, Alban Bagbin, led his side to boycott the debate on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Bill stating that there were “fundamental flaws in the Bill”.
The NDC further accused the then Kufuor-led administration of deceiving Ghanaians.
The party said the government was being pressured by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to fulfil the agreement it had reached with the Fund to include a five per cent increase in the VAT in the 2003 budget, hence the haste.
2. February 23, 2005: The Minority in Parliament staged a walk-out in protest of the motion to pass the Customs and Excise (Petroleum taxes and Petroleum related levies) Bill
The bill that sought to impose taxes on petroleum products was described by the minority as an illegality because it would have a retroactive effect when passed.
The Minority argued that government was attempting to regularise the illegal collection of the petroleum tax since the hike in the prices of petroleum products on February 18 that year.
SOTN2020 – Minority boycotts Akufo-Addo’s address
3. February 9, 2006: The Minority in Parliament served notice of its decision to boycott Parliamentary business till further notice.
This was in protest of what it has described as the “wanton and flagrant disrespect for minority rights” by the majority.
The Minority said its decision was based on a matter referred to the Privileges Committee by the Speaker the previous day and the entrenched stance taken by the Majority in respect of the Representation of the Peoples (Amendment) Bill (ROPAB).
4. February 19, 2010: Then in opposition, the NPP boycotted proceedings in the Parliament of Ghana in protest of the arrest of Nana Darkwa, a communication officer of the party.
Nana Dankwa was arrested while taking part in a morning show programme of Top radio for claiming former president Jerry John Rawlings burnt his own house.
The former president’s house had been reduced to ashes on Sunday February 14, 2010.
With members clad in red and black attires, Leader of the Minority said, “the Minority has decided not to participate in the proceedings of the House until further notice.”
5. February 8, 2007: In justifying their decision of boycotting of parliament, the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Aseidu Nketia stated in a Press Conference that the party’s decision was constitutional.
The minority NDC in 2007 accused the NPP government of manipulating the judiciary in the case involving the former Minister of Trade and Industry and Member of Parliament for Keta, Dan Abodakpi, who was facing a jail term of 10 years for causing financial loss to the state.
According to the NDC, their failure to be present in parliament was to show their loyalty to the party. All NDC parliamentarians were absent when the president at the time, John Agyekum Kufuor presented the State of the Nation address.
6. 4th August 2010: Aside the MP for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, P.C. Appiah Ofori, the Minority in Parliament staged a walk-out during the debate on the controversial STX Korean housing deal, after a prolonged sitting.
The Minority contended that the NDC Majority had betrayed a trust they had in them after an initial agreement, in caucus, that the debate should be postponed for a week more, for more diligent work to be done on the agreements.
7. November 15, 2013: The Majority in Parliament approved a 2.5 percent increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) despite a walk out of the Minority, moving the then 12.5 percent to 15 percent.
The Minority members walked out after a heated debate, accusing the Majority of smuggling in the 2.5% without Parliamentary debate and due process.
The chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, James Avedzi, however, noted that the increment was necessary as it would aid government in building the infrastructure needed by the country in its development agenda.
The Minority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, at a press conference described the introduction of the 2.5% as a “nocturnal conspiracy” by government to up the threshold of VAT.
“We all know that there are massive leakages and corruption in the system. If government wants to increase the VAT threshold, they should tell us what measures they are taking to plug the loopholes in the system”.
8. February 21, 2013: The NPP minority walked out on President John Mahama as he prepared to deliver his State of the Nation speech this morning, even though they announced the previous day they would attend.
Undeterred, the president began his much-anticipated speech to cheers and applause.
The minority NPP yesterday, after further deliberations with members of their party and the NEC, announced that they would be present at the president’s address contrary to widely publicised opposition by the party.
The NPP, following a petition at the Supreme Court contesting the results of the December 2012 elections, have boycotted all processes they believed weakened their petition in court, including boycotting the inaugural ceremony of the president, appointments committee sittings and debates in parliament engineered by the president.
9. November 19, 2014: The Minority in Parliament staged a walk out from the House while deliberations were ongoing on the 17.5% Special Petroleum Tax.
The Finance Minister, Seth Terkper submitted the bill to Parliament after presenting the 2015 budget statement and requested for Parliamentary approval.
But the Minority refused to participate in the debate on the bill, stressing that it will not be part of what it said was an attempt to deepen the hardship of Ghanaians.
The Majority side, however, proceeded to pass the bill into law.
10. February 18, 2015: A majority of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Parliamentarians boycotted sitting and joined the ‘w?n gbo’ demonstration. The party’s 2016 Presidential candidate, Nana Akufo Addo, led the demonstration, with support from other NPP stalwarts: Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, Kwabena Agyepong, Alan Kyeremanten, Fred Oware, among others.
Since Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo took over as president of the country in 2017, the Minority NDC has boycotted parliamentary proceedings twelve times.
11. August 1, 2017: The NDC Minority in parliament staged a walk-out during deliberations on the controversial $510 million AMERI power deal.
The walkout followed concerns raised by Minority MPs over being gagged and prevented from making contributions on the floor.
The Majority caucus’ booed’, shooed and chanted ‘away, away, away’ as the NDC MPs filed out of the chamber in anger and frustration.
12. October 18, 2017: The NDC Minority in Parliament boycotted Mines and Energy Committee meeting in Parliament considering a $510 million AMERI deal which government said was “over-priced”.
Explaining their absence, Chairman of the Committee, Emmanuel Gyamfi, said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentarians do not want to be associated with the decision to demand a $150 million refund.
13. March 24, 2018: The Minority in Parliament staged a walkout from Parliament over the Ghana-US defence cooperation agreement before the House.
The joint-committee on Defence and Interior Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Parliament gave it a green light.
This is despite massive public protest against the deal which many, including the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), described as “dangerous” and a sale of Ghana’s sovereignty.
14. June 10, 2018: The Minority announced a boycott of the registration exercise at Parliament for national ID cards, citing legal, procurement and cost concerns.
In a statement, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said the National Identification Authority (NIA) had not been honest with the Ghanaians over the cost of the project with two figures – $1.4billion and $293 million, – according to reports.
15. November 16, 2018: The Minority boycotted proceedings in the chamber, accusing the Speaker of bias.
The Opposition MPs said the Speaker Prof Mike Oquaye had time without number, been disrespectful to Minority members.
They did not hesitate to register their protest during a debate on the proposed creation of new regions.
According to them, the Speaker once again failed to acknowledge their leaders anytime they rose on the floor to put their arguments across.
16. February 6, 2019: The NDC MPs, led by the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, walked out of the chamber of Parliament before Lydia Alhassan was sworn into office as the new Ayawaso West Wuogon MP.
The Minority members, clad in black, displayed placards with the inscription “Bloody Widow” before walking out of the august house.
Minority boycotts swearing-in of Lydia Alhassan
17. February 28, 2019: Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu led his side to boycott the second reading of the controversial Public Holiday (Amendment) Bill and other issues related to the Bill before Parliament.
According to the Minority, the Bill was an attempt to change the long-held history of Ghana with the view that, globally, Dr Kwame Nkrumah was the founder of Ghana, hence their decision to walk out, when the Bill was being debated.