Mahama Ayariga, the member of parliament for Bawku Central, has defended the petition he and other minority lawmakers made to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) leadership regarding the reorganization of the minority leadership.
Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson replaced Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu earlier this week as the NDC reorganized its parliamentary leadership. In addition, James Klutse Avedzi, an MP for Ketu North, was replaced as the deputy minority leader by Ellembelle’s Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, and Muntaka Mubarak, an MP for Asawase, was replaced as the minority chief whip by Kwame Governs Agbodza.
Several MPs signed a petition to protest the party’s decision. A different group of MPs also asked the NDC leadership to disregard requests for the reorganization to be undone.
On January 28, 2023, the party’s Council of Elders issued a statement warning the party’s disgruntled members, MPs, and party leadership from making any additional public statements.
Speaking with Selorm Adonoo on The Big Issue on Citi TV, Mr. Ayariga clarified that the petition is not meant to contest the national executives’ choice but to spark discussion among party members about potential future national leadership nominations.
“The objective of the petition is to provoke a conversation or discussion for us to have an understanding. I believe that those whose names are there are not necessarily against the decision of the national executives. We all joined the rank and file of the party to elect them as our leaders. The last thing we will do is to undermine their authority,” he clarified on The Big Issue.
The lawmaker said that although the party’s constitution does not explicitly outline the procedures and standards for choosing the minority caucus’ leadership, the national hierarchy might have engaged the MPs.
Although the petitioners have no legal grounding and their request is unclear, the Bawku Central MP said that their opinions may have been obtained.
The departing leadership’s and party members’ feelings should have been taken into account before the national executives made their choice, Mr. Ayariga continued.
He insisted that appropriate engagements might have been conducted but emphasized that he does not harbor resentment toward the new minority leader.
“My name is among the list that petitioned the Council of Elders. The petitioners are raising a number of issues. As a lawyer, I believe that those issues really lack some clarity. The petition is fundamentally raising a question of consultation. We are not against the appointments. We are simply saying that in a matter like this about our welfare, you would have engaged us also. They are saying they haven’t been consulted, I was out of the country, but the wider caucus was not consulted.”
“As a lawyer, I know that there is no clarity in the matter of what we are demanding because there’s nowhere in our standing order, rules, or constitution which indicates that when the party is going to designate leaders, it must consult members of its caucus… There’s no precedent, and our rules are not clear, this is a novel situation. We don’t stand on any legal basis, but we are humans with feelings; we could have been consulted,” Mr. Ayariga noted on The Big Issue.
The lawmaker believed that the needless media teasing should have been prevented.
He urged his fellow lawmakers to heed the Council of Elders’ guidance and declare a cease-fire.
“Those of us who petitioned and those on radio defending the decision, we have all faulted, let’s all ceasefire and give the Council of Elders the platform to resolve the issue,” he advised.