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Feature Article of Sunday, 9 September 2012

Columnist: The Herald

Is Cletus Avoka, A Square Peg In A Round Hole?

How sloppy and ineffective can a servant of the people be? A representative of the people who is expected to represent and defend their aspirations and interests must always live above reproach, and his work must be exemplary.

I am sorry and I stand corrected, but what position of responsibility can Hon. Cletus Avoka fit in?

Since the assumption of office of the late President John Evans Atta Mills, in line with fulfilling the Constitutional requirement of choosing majority of his Minsiters from Parliament as well as ensuring regional balance in his administration, not forgetting the principle of giving due where it is due and rewarding those who have sacrificed for the party when it was in opposition, appointed Cletus Avoka to head the Interior Ministry.

In spite of the fact that his entry into that Ministry was hailed as triumphant, his performance was nothing but disastrous, that is even being charitable.

The President re-assigned him after a no-show at the Ministry to head the August House, as the Majority Leader. I am sure without second guessing that the late President’s decision to re-assign him was informed by his experience in that House, having served two Constituencies. First as a Member of Parliament (MP), for Bawku from 1993 to 2005, and representing the Zebilla Constituency in 2088, both in the Upper West Regions.

Perhaps his non-performance or lack of it stems from the big shoes left behind by Alban Sumani Gbagbin, the Minister of Health, who was the Minority Leader, when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was in opposition, and got elevated to the Majority Leader, upon the party’s victory in the 2008 elections, having won majority of the seats in Parliament.

One day when the true and accurate story of the late President Mills is told, perhaps one of the mistakes he made was in not maintaining the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs created by his predecessor, John Agyekum Kufuor. His electoral promise to cut the size of government and prune down the Ministries is what has gotten us to where we are today.

I do not know what the title of a Minister brings, but it certainly does bring some privileges that could have made Alban Gbagbin to be pissing in and attacking the government because he was kept out, and wanted in.

So it came to pass that the late President was left with no choice but to rope Mr. Gbagbin in to serve as a Minister, and appointed Cletus Avoka as leader of the August House, and since then hell has broken loose, and nothing seem to hold.

The government and the work of the Majority have always being called to question. Important acts or legislations have to be withdrawn, changed, tabled and then withdrawn again because, sometimes, of typographical errors. So you ask what the Majority leader is doing.

The Minority led by Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, has had a field day in the House, holding everybody and everything to ransom. They always have their way and seem to be in charge of the House.

I hope, but I do not have the space and the time to catalogue the various comedies of errors displayed by the Majority in terms of various bills laid before the house.

The most recent one being the supplementary budget presented by the Finance Minister, Dr. Kwabena Dufuor, which was to be debated but had to be withdrawn simply because of typographical error.

I stand to be corrected, maybe I am unnecessarily questioning the capacity and capabilities of the Majority Leader, but I am aware that the Leadership of the House is given the priority notice by a sneak into the documents before they are given to the rest of the House. So if that is accurate, then what is Cletus Avoka’s defense?

The latest tragedy confronting the nation and the NDC is the Constitutional Instrument 73 (C.I 73), that the Electoral Commission (EC) has tabled before the House for consideration. This became possible after the government, in line with the latest Population Census conducted by the Statistical Service, decided to create additional Districts.

The EC also in fulfilling their constitutional mandate also followed up with creating additional 45 New Constituencies.

What followed this development is comedy upon comedy, mistakes upon mistakes, and issues that are so simple and basic that you begin to wonder if the Fat Cows on the Majority side are really in the business of enacting laws or without declaring it threatening to boycott sittings because their allowances have not been paid or their salaries not increased.

The C.I 73 have gone through what I would call unnecessary transformation, from 73 one, it went to 73 two, to 77 to now 78. Haba what kind of ineptitude is this.

Is the sabotage coming from the EC or the Assembly Press where the material is being printed or from Parliament? It is the responsibility of the Majority Leader and the Majority in the House to ensure that all the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed before laying the bill for consideration and debate.

Personally, I think time is not on the side of the EC and the political parties to create the new Constituencies and have political parties open nominations, vet the candidates and hold primaries to elect candidates to contest those constituencies. The NDC should have ensured that the bill was passed into law before rushing to hold primaries.

Whilst they were holding primaries, their Majority members in Parliament were sleeping on the job, and not taking the business of the House serious.

When the NPP asked for Biometric Voter’s Register, the NDC gave it to them, when they asked for Verification, you gave in to their demands. Why not also get your way, especially when yours is a Constitutional mandate being fulfilled by the EC.?

Cletus Avoka should have reminded the House that whilst, the Minority were kicking against the creation of additional 45 constituencies, members of their party (NPP), have already started lobbying and campaigning to contest those seats. Cletus Avoka, must wake up from his slumber and begin to exert his authourity and show some leadership.

He must insist on his men on the Majority side doing what they have to do. He must check to see whether there is anybody at the Assembly Press tasked to sabotage the NDC.

Until he does that, he is only a square peg in a round hole.

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