By Movement for Development – Ghana
Over the past few days, the political atmosphere has been polluted with allegations of the giving and receiving of bribes by some members of Parliament of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). The allegations have to do with the ongoing vetting of President Akufo-Addo’s ministerial nominees, which, until then, was proceeding well, and would have gone into the records as the fastest ever constituted cabinet by any president, since the inception of the 4th Republic.
The Movement for Development of Ghana does not want to spend time giving the details, since the accusations and counter-accusations have been widely publicised. It is sad though, to note that accusations and retractions simply do not add up, and have made the accusers laughing stocks in the eyes of well-meaning Ghanaians. We strongly believe that it is a ploy by Mahama Ayariga, Alhassan Suhyuni and Okudjeto Ablakwa to draw attention to themselves, and to stall a rather smooth and impressive vetting process.
Diverting attention from very pertinent national issues has been the trademark of the NDC, even when they were in power. It comes as a surprise that rather than putting their house in order after a very humiliating electoral defeat, they have resorted to such diabolic acts to cast a slur on the integrity on the Chairman of the Appointments Committee and Second Deputy Speaker, Right Honourable Joseph Osei Owusu, and the Minister of Energy, Mr. Boagye Agyarko.
The allegation against these eminent public figures is so serious that it cannot, and should not, be swept under the carpet. So far, the man alleged to have received and distributed the bribe from the Second Deputy Speaker, Honourable Mubarak Muntaka, has openly denied receiving and distributing any money to the trio – Mahama Ayariga, Okudjeto Ablakwa and Alhassan Suhyuni. This makes the three accusers appear in the public eye as mean, petty and ignoble. That such high calibre of people should dabble in such an evil scheme to score political points is very detestable, to say the least.
Though we urge the accused not to be distracted by these baseless accusations, they should take the necessary legal action to clear their names and the institutions they represent. We also urge the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the leadership of Parliament to launch separate investigations into the allegations. If possible, the security agencies should take keen interest in the case, since giving and taking bribe is a criminal offence.
- The President’s ministerial nominations are compatible with his vision
An analysis of the composition of the first, second and third batches of ministerial nominations by President Akufo-Addo has revealed two things about the vision of the President. The first is the fulfillment of the ruling New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) promise to allocate 30 percent of all political appointments to women. The second is in line with his desire to target specific areas of the economy that need urgent redress, for which he has appointed ministers under his purview to address the issues.
Given the speed with which the President released the list of nominees, he should be commended, especially for keeping his promise to bring more women into frontline politics and public decision, making space. Statistics indicate that out of the 36 ministerial nominations and presidential staffers, 11 are women, bringing the total to 26 percent, just a five percentage points short of the promised 30 percent. The female nominations so far announced are;
- Frema Opare Addo (Chief of Staff),
- Adjoa Safo (Deputy Majority Leader)
- Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey (Foreign Affairs)
- Otiko Afisah Djabah (Gender Children and Social Protection)
- Gloria Akuffo (Attorney General)
- Hajia Alima Mahama (Local Government)
- Ursula Owusu Ekuful (Communications)
- Mavis Hawa Koomson (New Business Development)
- Elisabeth Afoley Quaye (Fisheries and Aqua Culture)
- Cecilia Dappah (Aviation)
- Katherine Afeko (Tourism)
Apart from these substantive female nominations, our search has additionally revealed that out of the 38 female Members of Parliament elected to the current Parliament, 26 are from the NPP, which further convinces the Movement that President Akufo-Addo and his party have the strongest desire to give a voice to women in Ghana.
While the Movement encourages the President and his advisors to give more power and voice to women in subsequent appointments, we commend him for proving that he is a man of his word, and urge the opposition to give credit, where credit is due, as the country embarks on a new agenda of inclusive and participatory governance.
As we commend President Akufo-Addo for empowering women this far, we also challenge all the female nominees to adopt a collaborative and integrated approach to solving all children, women and gender-related issues, once they are approved by Parliament and sworn in by the President. Of particular significance to the Movement is the unfortunate specter of female head porters, popularly called ‘Kayayeis’, dotted all over Accra and Kumasi. So disturbing is the menace of head porters that we urge all the female ministers-designate. and female Members of Parliament. to use their platforms to address it. No doubt, the ‘Kayayei’ menace is a blot on our collective conscience. by our failure to keep these unfortunate daughters and sisters in school. or getting them to learn vocations that could lift them out of poverty.
It is unfortunate that in that in 21st Century. when trucks, trains and planes are conveying goods across borders, we still have valuable human resources making a living through carrying goods on their heads. with babies at their backs. These young girls are a potential pool of human resource for the country’s development, if our government puts mechanisms and policies in place to reduce the numbers engaged in the trade, or abolish it in the long term. We are glad that the President has nominated a very capable hand, in the name of Otiko Afisah Djaba, to take on the challenge of providing a conducive environment for ‘Kayayeis’ to transform their lives. As stated earlier, the issue needs a collaborative integrated approach by all female public decision makers.
- Is the cabinet too large?
The other issue connected with the President’s vision is the overall size of Cabinet, especially, the creation of seven ministers of state to tackle specific areas of concern. The special positions include;
- Inner-city and Zongo development
- Regional Reorganization
- Business Development Minister
- Sanitation and Water
- Monitoring and Evaluation Planning etc
- Sanitation and Water Resources
- Special Development initiative
We have heard attempts by the government’s key opponent to pour cold water on these specialised ministerial portfolios. For some of the critics, the issue is about additional public expenditure, when the President has to be cutting costs. For some, it is about jobs for ‘boys’ and girls’, while to another category, which includes Mr. Inusah Fuseini, the MP for Tamale Central, President Akufo-Addo created the portfolio for Inner Cities and Zongo development out of disrespect for the people living in Zongos. For an MP of such standing to have spewed such bizarre words, only sums up how he is out of touch with contemporary developmental issues.
While we do not begrudge those holding such views (for that is beauty of democracy), our position is that they have simply failed to catch the vision of the President to address critical areas of the economy. The areas for which the President appointed special ministers were spelt out in the NPP’s 2016 manifesto, based on which the electorate gave the President and NPP the overwhelming mandate. It is our candid opinion that, after taking the mantle of leadership, the onus is on the President to deliver on those promises. We think the President’s position on these ministries is so clear that, Ghanaians only need to pray for their success, rather than getting at the throat of the President. He has outlined his vision, and if it would take this number of ministers for him to deliver the vision, so be it. It is too early for anyone or group to seek to score political points out of these nominations.
Nii Ayi Aryee