Feature Article of Monday, 4 June 2012
Columnist: Adofo, Christiana
I read with much astonishment and dismay an article with the caption “NDC LEADERSHIP OBSESSION WITH ZITA” written by a certain JULIAN ESHUN in Washington and posted on Ghanweb and my conclusion was that this was an article written by someone who truly has not been in Ghana for many years especially the past six years or if in Ghana was through the article just doing the bidding of her pay masters.
From the beginning of the article it could be said that the writer sought to belittle the intelligence of His Excellency President John Evans Atta Mills, the Counsel of State which he consults before making appointments and also the Parliament of Ghana.
Perhaps Julian Eshun having stayed out there for many years doing some menial jobs has not had the opportunity of reading the constitution of Ghana especially the section that deals with appointments of Public Office Holders so decided to write an article basing it on feelings and not real knowledge.
Also I could deduce from the article that the writer was not in the country during the 2008 general elections and therefore did not see or hear about the contributions of Hon. Mrs. Sabah Zita Okaikoi (Former Minister of Information and later Tourism) to the turning around of the electoral fortunes of the NDC in the Dome-Kwabenya Constituency in the Greater Accra region.
I don’t intend to bore readers with a long article but will just provide in this article factual information about the contributions of Hon. Mrs. Okaikoi for readers to judge whether as JULIAN ESHUN put it Hon. Zita undeservedly got the opportunities she got to work in the current NDC administration lead by no mean a person than His Excellency John Evans Atta Mills.
Dome-Kwabenya is/was one of the newly created constituencies in 2004 by the then ruling party the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to enable them increase their seats in the legislature and this constituency undoubtedly was carved to mainly constitute strong areas of the NPP in the area namely TAIFA, ATOMIC, DOME etc. with TAIFA being the strongest hold which could undo votes from NDC strongholds like Haatso, Kwabenya etc.
The seat was won in 2004 by no mean a person than History Professor, Prof. Mike Ocquaye who was then Ghana’s Ambassador to India and this victory could be said to have been a cool chop considering the fact that the NDC virtually was not visible in the contest.
The NDC Parliamentary Candidate, Isaac Adama then an Accounts Clerk was new in politics and had little resources to pump into the elections so serious was the situation that some areas within the Dome-Kwabenya Constituency did not have the posters or wooden miniature billboards of the NDC Parliamentary Candidate.
At the end the NPP Parliamentary Candidate Prof. Mike Ocquaye won by more than 60% with the NDC Candidate Isaac Adama could manage a little over 25% of the total votes cast.
Then came 2008 and the NPP again fielded the incumbent MP. Prof. Mike Ocquaye who had now served in various governmental positions including Minister of Energy , Ambassador etc and typical of the NPP had amassed enough money to pump into the elections to ensure that he retained the seat.
All this while the NDC Executives where still struggling to get a Parliamentary Candidate to contest Prof. Mike Ocquaye because the Former Candidate after his humiliating defeat had gone into political hibernation and there was no way he was going to associate himself with the NPP since one could guess considering the political temperature of 2008 that with the flamboyant campaign and so-called massive infrastructural development of the ruling NPP the odds were against the NDC to win the 2008 elections.
Fortuitously for the Executives during their scouting for a Candidate this they had done by approaching a lot of well known party members in the constituency to contest the NPP’s political stalwart Prof. Mike Ocquaye including a young woman who also lived in the Constituency and was a stronger ardent supporter of the ideals and principles of the NDC.
Later we got to know her as Mrs. Sabah Zita Okaikoi, a Lawyer and the owner of a pub and eatery joint in the area called Zita’s Inn this meant that her name was already known by patrons of the place and it was therefore going to be a wonderful idea for her to contest.
Mrs. Okaikoi believing in the NDC and having already played different roles since 1996 she agreed to the proposal of the Executives to contest the seat on the ticket of the NDC damning the consequences and the risks associated with it that if the NDC did not win the elections the vindictive nature of the NPP was going to affect her business and her young profession of as a Lawyer.
The Constituency Executives although having got a Candidate still went ahead to open nominations for interested party members within the Constituency to pick up forms but at the end it was only Mrs. Okaikoi who picked the forms and was therefore by popular acclamation at Taifa (the strong hold backyard of the NPP) declared the NDC Parliamentary Candidate for Dome-Kwabenya to contest the NPP’s Prof. Mike Ocquaye.
The 2008 elections could best be described as a make or break for the NDC because another defeat was perhaps going to mean the demise of the party into political oblivion but bearing this in mind the party was unable to galvanize enough financial and other resources for their Parliamentary Candidates the various Constituencies especially the orphan ones.
Despite all these challenges for the first time in the Dome-Kwabenya Constituency NDC supporters where re-energized and showed with one sense of purpose and goal that they were determined no matter how difficult the task to wrestle power from the NPP.
This could clearly be attributed to the selfless exemplary leadership exhibited by the Parliamentary Candidate, she exhibited beyond reason that names does not play politics and with the little resources she had for the first time in Dome-Kwabenya, one could find huge billboards and posters in every corner of the constituency with the very beautiful face of Mrs. Okaikoi and the Presidential Candidate Prof. John Evans Atta Mills.
There were lots of campaign programmes which kept the moral of members very high including rallies, keep fit activities, door-to-doors etc and all these strategies helped the NDC to significantly pull many votes during the elections so that the Parliamentary Candidates popularity within a year of campaigning was so high that she got many more votes in many areas more than the Presidential Candidate.
At the end although she could not annex the seat she had above 40% which many political pundits admitted was no mean achievement and saw it as a major contributory factor to the NDC winning the 2008 elections.
It is worthy to note that whiles all these campaigning was on-going Mrs. Okaikoi was also representing the party as a spokesperson and analyst on many radio and TV programmes including the Breakfast show on GTV, this many saw as a positive signal that the NDC was making efforts to face out the old know faces and give the younger ones the chance.
My question now to JULIAN ESHUN is with all the above contribution to the 2008 elections did was it going to be wrong for Mrs. Okaikoi to be given an appointment when the NDC came to power since clearly she (JULIAN ESHUN) was nowhere near the NDC in 2008.
I wish to let the writer of the earlier article understand that the NDC since 1992 has displayed that it believes in rewarding hard work based on merits and this has been the guiding principles and very foundation that has kept the party going till today and the order I believe will not change anytime soon.
Now to the issue of Mrs. Okaikoi’s at the two Ministries she served as Minister namely Information and later Tourism and I can’t fathom why someone without any measuring scale can sit at the comfort of her desk and according to her own lenses conclude that Mrs. Okaikoi failed at both Ministries as sector Minister.
Perhaps the only basis will be because she was reshuffled but I believe and can say confidently that Mrs. Okaikoi was not removed based on incompetence or any reason near, to my best of knowledge the President who hired her services equally has every right to replace where necessary and this he owes no one an explanation.
I wish to pick each of the Ministries and expand on the achievements of the Former Minister so that readers will understand that the gibberish written by the earlier writer is borne out of jealousy and unfounded hatred for a young woman who has been able to achieve both national and international recognition within a short span of time.
At the Ministry of Information Mrs. Okaikoi supervised successfully the Communications Committee of government in charge of the historic visit of United State of America President , President Barack Obama and this supervision earned her a personal citation and an embossed signature Silver Cup from President Obama.
It is a well known fact that the NDC since time immemorial has never had the best relationship with the media so with this backlog any Information Minister will have to devise equally good strategies to get government information the general public and this Mrs. Okaikoi did very well by introducing the “people must know” programme, the weekly cabinet briefings, the FACEBOOK interaction concept and continued with the Meet the press series.
She also at any given opportunity always articulated government positions and programmes on issues of national interest to the public on radio, TV and other public forums.
As the adage goes “no matter the kind of latest dance the hen dances to the hawk, the Hawk will never be impressed” so no matter what Mrs. Okaikoi did at the Ministry of Information the NPP and other forces within the NDC including agents like JULIAN ESHUN were determined to destroy Mrs. Okaikoi at the least opportunity.
The President in his wisdom decided to re-assign her in 2010 to the Ministry of Tourism and this was a Ministry many felt she was best suited for considering her appearance and multitalented nature.
It could be said that Mrs. Okaikoi at the Ministry of Tourism lived beyond the expectations of many and worked to lift the tourism sector of Ghana so high that by 2011 the Ministry of Tourism and had hit its set target of attracting more than one million Tourists to visit Ghana.
This she did by spearheading the organization of the first ever Tourism Investment Forum which brought into the country investors across the world to invest in our Tourism sector, also as part of her desire to promote domestic tourism she spearheaded the first ever Family Fun Games at the Aburi Botanical gardens.
Mrs. Okaikoi also ensured that Ghana’s Tourism industry received international recognition by participating in various international events in, Nigeria China, USA , Germany, United Kingdom, Spain , Italy, Brazil etc and her presence at all these functions raised the Tourism flag of Ghana high.
Also she vigorously promoted other existing events of the Ministry of Tourism namely the Kwahu Paragliding festival which many still hold the view witnessed the highest patronage in 2010, also the annual Emancipation and PANAFEST celebration received a lot of attention during her tenure.
She personally pushed to ensure that all was set for parliament to pass the Tourism Bill into law by the end of 2010 and this was equally almost 80% achieved through her excellent lobbying as well as inter-personal skills.
With the above achievements at both Ministries one will wonder why the NDC Leadership will not have such an obsession towards such a hardworking woman.
Within her two years stay in government Mrs. Okaikoi was awarded with loads of awards including the Forty under Achievers Award by The Network Journal, The Noble Forum Award etc.
I had wanted to ignore the issue of her loss at the Dome-Kwabenya primaries but all I can say is that I urge Julian Eshun if she is truly in Washington to come down to Ghana specifically Dome-Kwabenya and conduct her own research and update herself as to whether it will be possible for the current Parliamentary Candidate Ms. Sophia Karen Akuaku to win the seat in 2012.
It is in the interest of the NDC party to also divide part of Dome-Kwabenya and go through the appropriate formalities for a more credible and hardworking candidate to contest the seat for the party so that at the end the party can at least win one and save it any serious embarrassment which is eminent if things remain as it is now.
I urge Julian Eshun to do enough cross-checking before putting pen on paper because of the popular adage that the “the pen is mightier than the sword”.
Mrs. Sabah Zita Okaikoi( the last time I checked she was still legally married to the husband , let us not behave like ostriches there is no marriage without issues) contributed to the success story of NDC in 2008 and will continue to do so in 2012 in other means including being the party’s Candidate for Abokobi. The NDC needs such hardworking women in the party and PULL HER DOWN (PHD) Holders like JULIAN ESHUN should understand and wake up from their slumber.