There were heated exchanges during various parts of the hearing on the first day of the hearing of the Parliament’s ad hoc committee looking into a motion of censure against Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta.
These were either conversations between chairmen and members or between regular members. In some cases, the chairmen also had a conversation with the minister’s lawyer, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko.
One of the most memorable scenes included Gabby and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, a North Tongu member of parliament who served on the committee.
The MP’s inquiries concerning alleged government spending that may have contributed to fiscal irresponsibility—one of the reasons the Minority is seeking to oust Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta—were the catalyst.
Gabby stepped in and said the MP would be better off calling a news conference for what appeared to be a political problem that was not included in the seven-point censure motion as Ablakwa attempted to exploit the National Cathedral project to support his case.
Other committee members and the chairmen intervened to mediate, which led to a back and forth between the two men that lasted for more than two minutes.
Below is a complete transcript of the conversation:
Gabby: He can hold a news conference to address those issues, but I believe we are here for a specific cause, so let’s stick to that. We are not here to make political statements, and this is not the place for that. These are serious claims, I beg you, seriously serious allegations.
Ablakwa: Since this is Parliament, I don’t believe he would instruct me on how to carry out my duties. I can’t be taught how to perform my duties in Parliament.
No, there are regulations here, says Gabby.
Ablakwa: Not at all. I won’t learn how to do my job from you. He cannot enter this area and use his influence. I can’t learn how to do my job from him. I vehemently object to being required to make a news conference. That won’t fly with me.
Gabby: I won’t chuck it about because I only weigh 78 kilogrammes.
Ablakwa: You are not the chair; you do not direct the members’ actions.
Sammy, we understand the point you’re trying to convey.
Ablakwa: I won’t hold a press conference, I’ll do my job, and you won’t tell me how to do it.
Mister Chairman, I believe that anyone testifying before this committee needs to be advised. You can read our standing orders to see how we operate. This committee may choose not to hear from outsiders.
Who is the stranger right now, KT Hammond?
Ablakwa: The Standing Order describes him as such once one ceases to be a member of Parliament. The Standing Orders define them in this manner. You can’t come and say we should go and hold a press conference, we are working and we are here to do a job, so, please. Let that be clear.
KT Hammond: Yeah, that’s fine, it’s clear.