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Opinions of Friday, 13 June 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Frequent Reshuffling Is The Symptom, Not The Problem

Frequent Reshuffling Is The Symptom, Not The Problem, Prof. Atsu Aryee
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Prof. Atsu Atsu Aryee may have a point in observing that the frequent spate of ministerial reshuffling may be adversely affecting the policy direction of the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC). But the fact of the matter, though, is that President John Mahama has been artlessly and erratically engaged in the frequent reshuffling of his cabinet appointees because he is too desperate for positive results in the short-term.

And, unfortunately, albeit predictably, Mr. Mahama has not been getting the kinds of results he so desperately desires because, by and large, his government has absolutely no cohesive policy strategy and agenda (See "Frequent Reshuffling Affects Policy Direction - Prof. Aryee" / 6/9/14). This is also precisely the reason why the erstwhile Mills-Mahama government, and now the Mahama/Amissah-Arthur government, has reshuffled cabinet appointees to the Ministry of Health (MOH) at least five times since 2009.

In sum, it appears as if the longest period that any cabinet appointee has held the same portfolio in the Mahama government is about 12 months. What researchers like Prof. Atsu Aryee ought to be sedulously and studiously focused on is the substance of the sector policies of the various ministerial portfolios. The problem could also stem from the procedure by which candidates are selected for ministerial appointments.

If Mr. Mahama is really serious about moving the level of the country's general development in a constructive and steady manner, he may do well to establish a non-partisan panel of cutting-edge experts to undertake the selection of ministerial appointees, based squarely on professional qualifications and amply demonstrated administrative capabilities and experience, before submitting the names of these appointees fo the Parliamentary Vetting Committee (PVC).

Members of the PVC also need to be schooled on the imperative need to put the collective and greater interests of the country over and above those of their partisan interests. Such schooling could be in the form of the hosting of periodic seminars and their required - or compulsory - attendance by the respective members of the various parliamentary committees and subcommittees. Plenary lectures and seminars could also be organized for the entire membership of the House, with lecturers and seminar leaders invited from all over the world, notably from the advanced democracies. Of course, distinguished scholars and experts from the Eastern-bloc would also have to be invited as lecturers and seminar leaders to effect the necessary and salutary balance required for efficient and constructive administration of a modern nation-state in the politically inescapable era of globalization.

Merely allowing cabinet appointees to remain in one particular portfolio for four years, or even more, as suggested by Prof. Atsu Aryee, would not necessarily bring about any political stability, unless such stable and relatively long tenure or low turnover is deftly, imaginatively and steadily coupled with a coherent and periodically well monitored, evaluated and constructively reconfigured policy agenda. This is clearly what has been woefully lacking in the way that politics is practiced in Fourth-Republican Ghana and, indeed, many a Third-World country.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
June 9, 2014