Ghana’s longest-serving Member of Parliament, Alban S.K. Bagbin and the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament is saying that Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye threatening to cause the withdrawal of accreditation for the media in Parliament for failing to cover the debate on President Akufo-Addo’s State of the Nation Address is wrong.
According to Bagbin, it is the discretions of the journalist in parliament to cover what they deemed newsworthy in parliament.
Journalists in Parliament on Tuesday stepped out of the chamber following the decision by the Minority to abstain from the debate on the address in line with their earlier walkout.
The media, however, returned after interviews with the NDC MPs regarding their decision to abstain from the debate. But Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu today took an issue with the action of the media with a reminder that their allegiance is to parliament and not individual MPs.
Speaking in an interview on the Happy Morning Show (HMS), the Nadowli-Kaleo MP said “it’s wrong for the speaker to have said that. The journalists should be able to decide what they cover in parliament. They determine what is news worthy. We give them accreditation to cover what happens in parliament, not on the floor of parliament.”
He added that the Speaker might have been by carried away during the time he made that statements. “I think the Speaker might have slipped because the journalist is there to link whatever happens in parliament to the society and so whatever they see in parliament as newsworthy they have to cover it, in fact, they don’t have to see or hear, they have to investigate and unearth things that are happening there. The media opens up parliament. Parliament is the only arm of government that transacts its business in the open, unlike the executive.”
However, the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu agreed that journalists in parliament must focus on the chamber but argued the majority of MPs did worse when they were on the other side.
Prof. Oquaye registered his disdain for the action of the media threatening to make them unwelcome guests should the episode repeat itself.