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Feature Article of Thursday, 24 January 2013

Columnist: Ebo Quansah

Mahama’s 3 Wise Men Are Merely 'Simpa Panyin'

Two of the three wise men named by President John Dramani Mahama to oversee what the official statement described as Presidential priority projects – Enoch Teye Mensah and Albas Kingsford Sumaila Bagbin have one thing in common.

They both took charge of the Ministryof Water Resources, Works and Housing, and by the end of the first four years of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Mark II administration, water was even more scarce and not a block was added to the national housing stock.

The third wise man, Mr. Cletus Apuh Avoka, was Minister of the Interior, when his own backyard, Bawku, was on fire.

While Mr. Bagbin and E.T. Mensah are the true Mugabe’s of Ghana’s Parliament, Mr. Cletus Avoka has been drifting in and out of Parliament since 1992.E.T. Mensah and Bagbin took charge of the infamous STX Korea scam, under which the state of Ghana handed over a sovereign guarantee to a Korean company to go on a global search for cash for the construct ion of 30,000 affordable housing units for state security, in addition to a $250 million insurance cover. In the end, not a single block was laid in the name of the project.

As you read this piece, not many Ghanaians are aware of what ever happened to the sovereign guarantee handed to the Korean company. The people of Ghana are also not privy to what happened to the $250 million insurance cover.

Alban left the Water Resources and Housing Ministry for Health, where he had a running battle with public doctors throughout the country, until the nation went to the polls on December 7 and 8.

Meanwhile, Mr. E.T. Mensah, certainly not the musician, took a long time in catching the eye of late President John Evan s Atta Mills for a ministerial appointment.

When he did, he was posted to Employment and Social Welfare, before being sent to mop up the remnants of the STX Korea scam, when the cover was blown.

In effect, there is nothing special about the three wise men chosen to invent more political twists and bureaucracy to projects, which normally, should be routine. The only thing to wonder about their appointments is their own status in the scheme of things in the Mahama administration.

Are the President and his image makers trying to equate the positions of these three people to ministerial positions? Are we being told that overseeing construction of school projects is tantamount to being a cabinet minister?

Some of us are seeking more clarifications to their positions. Are the three personalities going to sit in Cabinet and be given offices for supervising over projects that the President would be dreaming about?

I have my own ideas about these appointments. I do not believe that Cletus Avoka, Alban Bagbin and E.T. Mensah are in the ranks of ministers anymore. President John Dramani Mahama has decided that it is time to show them the exit.

He apparently has problem with communicating that to them and has, therefore, decided to give them an honourable route out of government.

I do believe that the construction of 200 new Senior High Schools and the construction of a university for the Eastern Region is beyond the means of the Ministry of Education and the GETFUND, once the resources are available.

I do not believe it is the intention of President Mahama to ask the three ex-ministers to look for the funding for these projects outside state resources or external borrowing.They are at best, glorified do-nothings. In Fante folklore, all the three are Simpa Panyin. They are supposed to b e sleeping in the comfort of their rooms. But their legs are well outside the confines of their bedrooms.

As a Ghanaian, I am beginning to feel uncomfortable with the President’s ministerial appointees, and their roles in the administration of this country. I am beginning to nurse the feeling that there are too many men of Northern extraction in this administration.

The names of the last batch of nominees sound more like a northern caucus than ministerial nominees, aimed at uniting the country. Dr. Henry Seidu Daanaa for the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs, Mr. Mark Woyongo for Ministry of Defence, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu at Ministry of Trade and Industry, Abdul Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, and Mr. Nayon Bilijo, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.

Just before going to press, we were told that Alhaji Pelpuo had been re-designated. He is now swapping places with Mrs. Elizabeth Ofosu-Adware. Alhaji is now joining those creating a ministerial outfit under the Presidency. In the new concept being pioneered by the President, as many as six ministers are to operate directly under the President.

We are being told that chief propagandist, Fiffi Kwettey, who as Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning was commuting at public expense to Her Majesty’s Great Britain to school, is heading a new treasury being created at the Presidency.

In other words, the state of Ghana is going to operate a Finance Ministry separately from Castle Finances. I am getting the vibes that President Mahama intends to operate a financial outline at the seat of Government, entirely different from what the state would run.

With resources from oil likely to increase with the announcement of increased yields from the Jubilee Fields and new fields coming on board, the idea of the Presidency operating its own finances could be a very innovative idea.

Fiffi Kwettey galvanized 81,000 votes from Ketu South -comprising of Aflao, Denu and their environs. 81,000 votes deserve a special treatment. It would be an interesting experience watching the President at the international forum with the Castle Minister of Finance in tow.

The new government at the Castle would be boosted by six ministers, including the new look Fiffi, having benefitted from British education. The five other ministers operating from the Castle are Mr. Alhassan Asong, Alhaji Mustapha Ahmed, Alhaji Pelpuo, Alhaji Memuna Doyoe and Ms. Comfort Cudjoe Ghansah.

I am getting confused about the new definition of regional balance in Mahama’s Government. For all I know, apart from Mr. Armah Kofi Buah, named as Minister-Designate for Energy and Petroleum, the Western Region is lacking in ministerial representation in this administration.

The other day, when The Chronicle complained that the first four appointees of President Mahama had three northerners and a solitary Volta Regional representation, someone wrote to The Chronicle stating that three northern appointments and a Voltarian constituted regional balance in the new scheme of doing things. If it were so it is a very interesting development indeed.

It is beginning to look like after four years of being all that she surveyed in the Central Region, Ms. Ama Benyiw-Doe, alias Ama Chavez, is bidding farewell to the Central Regional Residency, which has been her home for the past four years.

When Ms. Benyiwa-Doe was appointed to head the region, I wrote that the late Prof. John Evans Atta Mills had insulted the people of the region. I argued then that the Regional Minister’s behavior was unbecoming of a states woman. Her departure, one hopes, would inure to the benefit of the region.

For me, the only consolation in all the political ramifications in which the legitimacy of the President of the Republic is being challenged in court, is that it would help to reform our political system, especially our electoral process, in which occupants of Government House nakedly exploit the resources of state to virtually buy the votes of hard-up Ghanaians. We can surely do better than this!

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