General News of Thursday, 24 January 2013

Source: Daily Guide

Mahama's appointments; Job For The Boys

President John Dramani Mahama’s latest list of ministerial appointments has raised eyebrows among the public because he nominated as many as six Ministers of State with no particular portfolios at the presidency alone.

Also appointed is Mawuena Dumor Trebarh, a former communications director for MTN, the mobile service provider.

A statement released on Sunday and signed by the Executive Secretary to the President, Dr. Raymond Atugubah, stated that Hon Alhasan Azong, lone PNC Member of Parliament, Alhaji Mustapha Ahmed, MP, Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare, Fiifi Kwetey, former Deputy Finance Minister, Alhaji Limma Mohammed Muniru and Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe Ghansah have all been appointed ministers of state.

The rationale for such a huge number has baffled many who described it as “Jobs for the Boys,” a popular phrase used to describe the penchant for past presidents to create appointments to satisfy a league of party supporters.

“What is the work of six Ministers of State at the Castle when there are already presidential staffers, so what are six Ministers going to do there? This is jobs for the boys,” said James Kwabena Bomfeh, an executive of the Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP).

“ …As it were, it is only the president who can explain why this number,” Franklin Cudjoe, the Executive Director of the think tank IMANI Ghana, told DAILY GUIDE in a telephone conversation yesterday.

“I suspect that when people are making those comments, they are actually looking at the way that power is balanced with the [public] purse. Because, if you have six ministers of State who are essentially without any portfolio, it begs the question as to why they should be on government payroll,” noted Mr. Cudjoe.

He noted that the system of government run by Ghana mandated the President to make such interesting appointments, adding, “The fact of the matter is that we run a very powerful executive presidency.

The President has the prerogative; he has the right to appoint anyone he chooses. I suspect that once again, you can’t necessarily fault the President because the constitution gives him the power,” he said.

Three Wise men

Meanwhile, the President has also made three equally interesting appointments. There is a sub-list of three appointments comprising some bigwigs who missed out on the main ministerial slots. Some critics have tagged the three as the “Three Wise Men.”

These gentlemen have been nominated by President Mahama to man a portfolio to “coordinate the implementation of presidential priority projects,” stated the President’s Executive Secretary.

They are Enoch Teye Mensah, former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Alban Bagbin, former Minister of Health and Cletus Avorka, former Majority Leader in Parliament.

Essentially, the three gentlemen are supposed to coordinate the construction of 200 Senior High Schools, 10 Teacher Training Colleges one public university in the Eastern Region, the Development of ultra modern Regional and Specialist Hospitals and the development of new International and Regional Airports.

“It is purely superfluous, it is purely duplicatory, the President is yet to break the tradition when it comes to these things,” Mr. Cudjoe Charged.

“Honestly, it looks to me like Avorka who hasn’t had experience running this kind of infrastructure-related projects… it looks to me like the two other men [Bagbin and E.T Mensah] are coming into this position with a lot of baggage, I mean don’t forget the STX, Snecou Group and Guma,” the IMANI boss stated.

Incidentally, these were also grand housing and construction projects that were scuttled under the supervision of the former Housing Ministers, Alban Bagbin and E.T Mensah.

IMANI believes that those projects failed because the Minister did not initiate effective due to diligence, adding, “They failed abysmally…I certainly would be cautious having them close to these kinds of projects.”

The turf War.

Critics believe the portfolios would apparently create problems with specific sector ministers of the projects in terms of budgetary allocation and the chain of command.

The IMANI boss was of the view that those projects were already under sector ministries (the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education).

“The other question is also the issue about the budgetary allocations because we have the Ministry of Works and Housing that has to supervise these things anyway. What is going to happen, are they (the “Three Wise Men”) going to have separate budgets? Then also, the issues about turf war,” Franklin Cudjoe observed.

The Roll call

So far, President Mahama has released three separate lists of his possible executives, the first one comprised staff that would be working directly with him at the Presidency, while the remaining two are made up of both cabinet ministers and ordinary ministers.

So far, it appears the full list of ministers is exhausted. The president is yet to appoint deputies for these ministers though it is unclear when he would nominate regional ministers.

Out of the 25 ministers nominated so far, six are women, constituting just about 24 percent of a government that announced plans to select women executives.

A rare nomination

An outstanding aspect of the nominations is that, for the first time, a visually impaired person, Dr Henry Seidu Daamaa, has been named a Minister. He is the Minister of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs.

Despite his disability, Dr. Daamaa’s nomination is undoubtedly apt because he is believed to be the most formidable authority in chieftaincy affairs in Ghana. He has written several research papers on Ghana’s chieftaincy institution.

Mawuena’s new role

Meanwhile, Mrs. Mawuena Dumor Trebarh, popularly known as the face of MTN in the corporate world, has been nominated by the President to head the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC).

She would be taking over from the embattled Chief Executive, George Aboagye, who was hounded away from GIPC following a streak of misappropriation of public funds for personal and political use.

Mrs Trebarh, a highly effective public relations officer, would have her work cut out for her because recently the GIPC had been embroiled in an image-denting situation in which both the Board Chairman of the GIPC, Ishmael Yamson, and the Chief Executive had been cited for using funds from the Centre to fund lavish birthday parties and to facilitate political party supporters.