Fifty-two cases, two deaths and ‘all you care about is a new chamber’. This is a comment by one social media user who is struggling to understand the Speaker of Parliament’s seeming obsession with a new chamber.
Huge uproars and demonstrations were witnessed last year when Ghana’s parliament made a proposal to build a new chamber.
Social media campaigns turned into demonstrations as Ghanaians all over pressed home their rejection for what they believe would be a waste of public funds.
Arrests were made and some members of the demonstrating group were allegedly harassed by law enforcement officers but the ultimate goal of #DroppingThatChamber was achieved as parliament eventually shelved the idea of getting themselves a new, ‘expensive’ and bigger house.
Fast forward to 2020 and the issue of getting Ghana’s lawmakers a new and bigger chamber has resurfaced.
As the nation attempts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the leadership of Parliament is mulling over the possibility of moving sittings to the Accra International Conference Centre where the space is big enough for MPs to observe the social distancing protocol advised by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
On Monday March 23, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye relayed to the house the decision by the leadership to temporarily move to the AICC.
In advancing his argument for the decision, Mike Oquaye suggested that the current situation is a further justification for the new chamber.
The Speaker’s attempt to bring in the project which was estimated to cost $200m at a time when government is struggling to cough up $100m to fight the coronavirus did no go down well with some Ghanaians.
In various social media posts, the Speaker was vilified for being insensitive and being out of touch with reality.
Some users could not comprehend his fixation with the project and raised suspicions that he might have a personal interest in it.
Below are some comments
Some are thinking of better health facilities after this pandemic. Others are concerned about something different. https://t.co/iS7y6VRyES
— Manasseh Azure Awuni (@Manasseh_Azure) March 23, 2020
To even think the bigger chamber arguement creeped into the speaker’s thoughts at this trying time is frightening.
Context or not this is overly someway.
— Michael Oti Adjei (@OtiAdjei) March 24, 2020
From the speaker, the head of people’s representatives … it is a shame. https://t.co/mSwCeSbqbI
— Monsieur_Edem (@EdBakufo) March 24, 2020