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General News of Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Source: Class FM

Parliament approves Otiko Djaba

The nomination of Otiko Afisa Djaba as Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection has been approved by parliament after the House subjected her nomination to a vote.

The number of legislators who voted in support of her approval was 152, which is more than half of the votes of the 275-member house. No vote was recorded against her nomination as the Minority abstained from voting.

This followed a controversy after Minority MPs raised an objection that the ballot papers did not have the signature and stamp of the Speaker and, thus, could not be used for the ballot.

On Friday 3 February, the Minority in Parliament pushed for the vote to be cast immediately, but the Majority insisted the vote be deferred to today, Tuesday, February 7.

Debating Ms Djaba’s approval, Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu said: “She does not have our support and she will not have our support until she behaves in a manner befitting a minister.”

All the Minority legislators on the Appointments Committee voted against her approval citing her inability to undertake her national service as well as her posture during her vetting as reasons.

However, the Committee as a whole recommended Ms Djaba and other nominees for approval by majority decision despite Ms Djaba’s refusal to apologise for describing former President John Mahama as “evil", "wicked” and “an embarrassment” to people of the regions up north.

Mr Iddrisu maintained that Ms Djaba’s failure to participate in a one-year service to the nation after her undergraduate studies at the University for Development Studies disqualified her from public service.

Mr Iddrisu said he was “referring to Act 426 section 7 of the Constitution”, adding: “It is also a national obligation. She, in her answers, was forthright and was candid with the committee that ‘I have not done national service’. Therefore, can she work in the public service of Ghana and hold the high office of a minister of state?”

Act 426 section 7 of the Constitutions deals with matters concerning persons liable to national service and instructs against employment contrary to the provisions of the Act.

It states:

“(1) A person who has not commenced and completed his period of national service shall not:

(a) obtain employment outside the Scheme; or

(b) be employed by any other person outside the Scheme; or

(c) be engaged in any employment outside the Scheme, whether self-employed or otherwise, without the prior permission, in writing, of the Board.

(2) It shall be the duty of every employer to ascertain from every employee, upon his appointment, whether or not he is liable to national service and if he is, the employer shall notify the fact to the Board forthwith.”

However, Suhum MP Frederick Opare-Ansah pointed out that the requirement of ministers is similar to that of parliamentarians and if parliamentarians were not requested to present a national service certificate before being cleared to contest as MPs, it would be needless to request for a national service certificate from Ms Djaba.

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