Speaker Oquaye goes wild Over Journalists failure to report on one-sided SONA debate… Threatens to revoke their accreditation

Speaker of Parliament Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, yesterday lost his cool, when some journalists reporting from Parliament left the chamber to find out from the minority Members of Parliament who had earlier walkout from a debate on the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

In the heat of things, the Speaker threatened to revoke the accreditations of members of the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC) from covering proceedings in the House because they provided coverage to a press briefing by the Minority side during Sitting hours of Parliament.

The Speaker’s outburst came as a result of complaints made by Majority Leader Mr Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu o’ the floor of the House.

Mr Kyei-Mensah who is the worst culprit in engaging the media on the sidelines of chamber business when in opposition did not take kindly the engagement of the media by the minority while proceedings were ongoing on the floor.

The Majority leader with anger written all over his face, made an official complaint to the Speaker over the matter.

Facts

While the one-sided praise singing debate by the majority on the President’s SONA was ongoing on the Floor of the House, the Minority engaged the members of PPC in a briefing on the Energy Sector in responds to some statements made by President Akufo-Addo in his address.

According to Prof. Oquaye’s understanding , since the media in Parliament is there at his pleasure, any unwelcomed conduct by the media which deviates from their primary mandate of covering proceedings in the House may warrant their expulsion from covering proceedings from Parliament entirely.

“I want to let the media know, if that which is reported to have happened should happen anymore, I have reminded you of the fact that you are here as guests by my permission because of the importance this House attaches to the inky profession. Any such deviation will make you an unwelcomed guest and your welcome will be withdrawn,” the Speaker warned.

The issue gained currency on the Floor of Parliament on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 when the Majority Leader, Osei-Kyei Mensah Bonsu, drew the Speaker’s attention to the incident which happened the previous day where the MP for the Ellembele Constituency, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah and the MP for the Sagnarigu constituency, Alhaji A. B. A. Fuseini had engaged the Press Corps while the debate was ongoing in the Chamber.

The visibly angry looking Majority Leader, was livid about the fact that the media chose to abandoned the House during the SONA debate to attend to a briefing by an individual Member of Parliament outside the Chamber.

“A Member of Parliament who had opted not to be in the House to participate in the debate had engaged the press outside about the content of the President’s speech, for which reason the press had followed that Member outside. Mr. Speaker, let it be on record that the media are accredited to come and cover proceedings in the Chamber,” Mr. Kyei-Mensah retorted.

Prof. Oquaye in his ruling on the matter, cautioned the media to be wary of the fact that they are strangers in the House according to the Standing Orders of Parliament and should therefore be conscious of their primary duty of covering the House.

“I take a very serious view of the matter before us. Apart from the recognition and permission granted by the Speaker, Members of the Parliamentary Press Corps would be strangers in this Chamber. In other words, you have our permission to be here by dint of the profession and the work expected of them, and we regard them very highly.

“I want to make it clear that as much as they could do interviews before or after the plenary proceedings inside this honorable House, in which interviews or contributions could be from the Majority or the Minority any day. But it is forbidden if they have any doubt to abandon the permission given them to cover proceedings in this Honorable House and go outside the Chamber itself and do some other work other than coming to cover proceedings in this Honorable House.”

Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
Writer’s email: franklinadonkoh@gmail.com

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