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Feature Article of Friday, 18 January 2013

Columnist: Adu, Kwasi

Lobbying Galore

By Kwasi Adu

Following the announcement of the results of the 2012 Presidential elections, and the declaration of President Mahama as duly elected, there has been frantic lobbying for political appointments from all manner of people.
Under very normal circumstances, there is one consideration that should inform the President in making appointments: THE NATIONAL INTEREST. Furthermore, there are two main categories of appointments: policy-making positions and technocratic positions. There should be no reason why an appointment to a policy-making position should be awarded to someone who does not demonstrably share the political orientation of the NDC and the President. As for the positions for technocrats, such as CEO’s and board memberships, one would think that they should be given to people who are capable and have the skills to undertake the job. These are the only basis under which the national interest could be pursued.
The lobbying is so intense that one can even touch it. All sorts of tricks are being used. In the current frenzy, some go on a back-biting spree, cutting down the reputations of suspected competitors, stabbing others in the back, etc. It is war out there.
Even people who, six months ago, openly declared that they wanted the NDC to lose and were frantically working for the defeat of the NDC are lobbying for posts. Then there are the arrogant ones who described Mills’ government, including the then Vice-President as Team B, who now want to work under the Team B Captain. Some of such people scheme with the media to announce their names as being under consideration for political appointments, and cunningly come up to deny it, adding that they would accept anything. Such transparent hypocrisy has become the order of the day in present-day Ghana.
While most of the lobbyists are NDC members, there is also a significant number that have no known affinity with the NDC. In fact, some of these lobbyists, until very recently, did not want to be associated with the NDC; neither did they want to make any statement or get involved with anything that would inure to the benefit of the NDC. Some are even privately anti-NDC and are hiding behind pressure groups to project themselves to be appointed into political positions. For example, a gender NGO, called Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) has presented names of 65 women that the group wants President Mahama to appoint into various political positions. Whereas some of them are known NDC members or sympathizers with excellent pro-NDC credentials, others are plainly elitist women who have entered the gender industry to use it to advance themselves rather than the interests of the ordinary woman. They would shift to any political worldview as long as it advances themselves. Otherwise, why would WiLDAF, which has affiliated groups whose leaders think that the ideal vocation for people from the North, including President Mahama, is to be cattle herders and “watchmen” think that a government led by a potential cattle herder should include them in his government? It is such arrogance and condescending attitude towards the President that makes WiLDAF believe that it can dictate to the President who should be into his government. They even feel so bold as to request Parliament to reject President Mahama’s political nominees if the initial appointments do not contain enough women to constitute the 40% demanded by them.
Then there are the “fair-weather” friends, who since they left secondary school or the university, have never bothered about the President but who have now rummaged through their personal archives, pictures from school and dusted them, and are pushing for access to show the President that they have been old mates and therefore need to be appointed.
Unfortunately, we may have cronyism winning the day and even possibly seeing core NDC members set aside while people from other parties are given the “commanding height” positions around the Presidency.
Then there are those who are now carrying themselves as people from the same region or ethnic background of the President and who have suddenly discovered that the President is their “brother”. Again there are the others who think that they are friends and the meat is now cooked for them to chop. These people have no consideration for those who fought to organise the grassroots to enable the President to achieve victory. As far as they are concerned, they should now chop. I remember a very “close” friend of President Mills who convinced him to appoint him unto a Lands Commission. He abused the position to such an extent that he grabbed state lands and bungalows left and right for himself, and still insisted that no one could stop him because he was President Mills’ friend. In the final days of President Mills, when he came to find out what his “close friend” had done, his heart was broken. But it was too late.
President Mahama should be guided by these events and shun those who want appointments only to use the state institutions to further enrich themselves. President Mahama should remember that he is on probation for four years, and that if his appointees are not national-interest appointees, he would rue the day when the time comes for him to be assessed for confirmation for another four years.
There are those political appointees who, until their appointment, would be diving in “Datsun” cars; but as soon as they are appointed would want their Ministry to buy them the latest BMW’s for official use. If a political appointee suddenly acquires the taste for a Maserati V8 car with 4,244 cc with 92.0 mm bore, 79.8 mm stroke, 11.0 compression ratio, double overhead cam, variable valve timing/camshaft and four valves per cylinder, then you know there is something seriously wrong. It is not the national interest which is the driving force behind such a person lobbying for a post.
It is for the NDC as a party to determine who, in view of their political orientation and long-term strategy, should occupy policy-making decisions and not those who want it for the sake of wanting a post. If I were President Mahama, I would ask anybody who comes to lobby to spell out the issues of national interest considerations that make them fit for a position. In the ideal world, the President should reject anyone who comes to lobby him from outside the NDC strategy.
All said and done, there is a historical characteristic of NDC leaders. They prefer appeasing their opponents to the neglect of those who, because they believed in their political philosophy, fought alongside them in the trenches. Perhaps at the end of the day, the lobbyists would have their way. But the President may do well to remember the tragedy of President Mills who appointed personal friends but who let him down by grabbing government bungalows and state lands “behind his back”. With such “friends”, does President Mahama have to look further in search of enemies?

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