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Opinions of Friday, 13 January 2017

Columnist: citifmonline.com

Afanyi Dadzie writes: When the voters for change become pessimists

I am a bit puzzled, that the majority of Ghanaians who voted for change, are already lamenting, just because some form of change has only started with the creation of new ministerial portfolios, an increase of seven (7) from what existed in the previous government, realignment of a few, and in some cases a merger of ministries.

Seriously? Why should this be my headache? I thought we all knew that the only permanent thing in this world is change?

I think I need help, because I really don’t understand the cacophony of noises that have greeted what seems to me like an innovation by a new government that may want to do things differently from the past.

Maybe someone should show me whether as a country, we’ve had a stagnant template in governance style that binds all governments. I am only Thirty-Three years, and may not have witnessed all governance styles, but at least I know that since our democratic dispensation in 1992; the number of ministries or ministers has always varied among different administrations.

The number of ministries under the three NDC administrations led by Jerry Rawlings, the late Atta Mills and John Mahama, were different, although those leaders believed in the same ideology.

The New patriotic Party administration led by then John Kufuor, had a number that is entirely different from the current number by the same NPP, led by Nana Akufo-Addo.

And this is understandable because at every point, each of the leaders had different set of goals and how they hoped to achieve them.

I think that most commentators on this trending issue are sadly failing to put things in proper perspective and context; either ignorantly or deliberately to score cheap political points.

In Jerry John Rawlings’ first term after the 1992 elections, he had Nineteen (19) substantive ministers, but he increased to Twenty-Five (25) in his second term.

John Agyekum Kufuor in his first time increased the number of substantive ministers to Thirty-One (31), and maintained the same number in his second term.

The late John Evans Atta Mills in his first term managed to beat down the number to Twenty-Three (23) to fit into his vision. It must however be noted that, he had six (6) Ministers of State in addition to the Twenty-Three (23) bringing the number to Twenty-Nine (29).

He unfortunately didn’t have a second term after his demise.

John Dramani Mahama in his first time had Twenty-Four (24) substantive ministers, with Five (5) Ministers of State at the presidency, making it Twenty-Nine 29, the exact number Atta Mills had.

Nana Akufo-Addo chooses to increase from Twenty-Four (24) substantive ministers in the Mahama administration, to Twenty-Nine (29), with six (6) Ministers of State at the presidency, and One (1) Senior Minister, bringing the total to Thirty-Six (36), a difference of seven (7) from the previous administration, ostensibly to fit into his vision.

In all, the new government has seven (7) newly created portfolios; has reintroduced five (5) portfolios which were under the erstwhile NPP regime, and maintained the Twenty-Four (24) generic ministries that have existed in the previous administration.

Must hell break loose over this? If Nana Akufo-Addo today has such ambitious promises for which reason Ghanaians are keenly watching and expecting heaven from him, must I be bothered if he decides to use a certain unpopular or new approach to achieve his goals?

Well, its human nature to react to things we haven’t heard before. Change is often received with such posture.

And like Mary Shelley, an English author once said, “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” I must admit, that I found some of the new ministerial portfolios not just weird, but laughable.

But at the same time, I found others like the Water Resources and Sanitation quite laudable.

It’s a known fact, that sanitation in our country is one of our biggest problems, although this should not be the case after nearly sixty years of independence, when others are building planes and ships.

But if the new government wants to put this problem in sharp focus by carving a Ministry for it from the Local Government Ministry, why should that be my worry?

Those who say such ministries will mean that the country will spend more paying ex-gratia and allocating funding, also need to know, that ‘nothing goes for nothing’.

Life is a risk, sometimes all you need is the courage to take that bold step; and you will succeed before you know it.

We have seen lean governments so-called in this country under some administrations, yet we witnessed wastage and corruption in gargantuan proportions.

So a lean government isn’t a guarantee that we will spend less money. On the other hand, another can choose a bigger government so-called, and yet manage resources much more prudently.

Perhaps we may have to revisit the Constitution to put a cap on how many ministers are reasonable, because at this point, it is an uncontrolled space, and what is lean or big is subjective.

I will be excited to see a very clean Ghana, and if Nana Addo and his team need a Ministry for Sanitation and Water Resources to achieve that, so be it. The reason many of us have been stuck in the race of life is because we fear to take a step of change.

And the result is that, we unconsciously become pessimists. I know politicians in this country have dimmed the light of optimism in us, so we virtually receive every decision with cynicism or suspicion.

Can we for once be optimistic for the change we so much yearn for, and give the new government the opportunity to work with these modules?

I do not want to behave like I am the wise King Solomon, and that I know better than Nana Akufo-Addo and his team who sat down to come up with these ideas.

Margaret Mead, an American cultural anthropologist once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

I think that genuinely; those who should be worried about these new creations, are Nana Addo and his appointees and the NPP, because they have put themselves in the most challenging situation to the point that the party will be dealt a heavy blow if they fail to deliver.

And that means they would have exposed themselves to the worst ridicule in our 4th Republic.

If a party that had a Railways, Ports and Harbours Ministry failed woefully in that sector in the past, now returns to office and creates a new ministry solely for the Railway sector’s development, I see that as a bold statement to do what they could not do before.

I can only look forward to a vibrant rail sector nationwide and nothing more – if they fail me, my thumb will fail them when the time comes.

For once, we have seen a President explain to us why he has appointed certain people and created specific ministries, so why should I have a headache over his approach?

I just want to trust that he and his team will deliver for us the good governance that we expect from them.

I do not want to judge a government by the number of appointments it made or ministries it has created, but by the outcome of its work; and the positive impact on the citizenry.

They (Government) are the students in this scenario; and we the citizens are the examiners; we shall mark their work at the end of the exams; and give them the marks that they deserve – case closed.

Just to let you know, I don’t represent the neutrals or the majority view, I represent the truth – and I owe it to my conscience, and to my maker.

And like Mahatma Ghandi once said, “Even if you are in the minority of one, the truth is the truth.”