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Opinions of Thursday, 9 April 2009

Columnist: Agyemang, Frank

Lessons From Appointment Committee

…….Beware of what you say!

Apart from missing the then Minority leader Hon. Alban Sumanu Bagbin, now majority leader, I will say the Appointment Committee has done a great job and deserves some commendations. Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu , the Minority leader and colleagues on the minority side did what I always enjoy when it comes to such occasions. They were very critical, analytical and methodical. Just like the previous committees, I just can’t wait for the minority leader to take his turn in scrutinizing the nominees. The fact is, personally, i always enjoy the roles of the minority when it comes to issues relating to scrutiny so far as appointments and public accounts are concerned.

First lesson is that, the minority group on the Committee is not as unpatriotic as the picture always seems. They rather bring the best out of the nominees and those of us observing get the opportunity to even monitor the body language of whoever is brought before the committee. The best performed nominees in terms of withstanding pressures and tough questions were those who were pushed against the wall and yet found routes of escape. I have great admiration for nominees who were able to face Hon. Kyei Mensah and co. for well over two hours. My admiration here is based on ability to withstand pressure and maintain calm demeanour even in the face of hostile and ambiguous questions. Let’s not take this attitude for granted because some of these appointees are really going to be under lot of pressures, be it nationally or international and under such circumstances their dispositions can go a long way to influence any decision making procedure. I was therefore not surprised when the Hon. Minority leader was disabled by demeanour of one of the nominees to the extent that he had to publicly confess it. This position leads to my next lesson from the committee, it doesn’t hurt to be humble and admit faults. Being humble before such a collection of distinguished personalities doesn’t make one a hypocrite or a fool. After all, members of the committee on a number of occasion admitted the saying “to err is human but to forgive is divine”. That even doesn’t change one’s identity even if just for the vetting period neither does that change one’s principles or beliefs. However, one must always be very confident and not sound so desperate for the position being vetted for. Truth always stands, so no matter the pressure piled, the onus lies on you to be bold and courageous to defend past words and actions without fear. That doesn’t make you arrogant or proud except that be ready also to apologise where faulted.

From the Appointment Committee, I have now learnt that whatever article I write or whatever I say via the airwaves must be based on facts and figures. It mustn’t just be on hearsay or from what has come to be known as ‘reliable source’. Should I be considered for appointment that requires vetting from the committee, the so called ‘reliable source’ won’t be around to defend or answer questions I really can’t back with facts and figures. It is therefore prudent that all persons within political arena become cautious of their words and actions. Definitely their time will come and what is more disastrous is when they really never expected it and it all of a sudden hits them bam! Just like that. One can tell from the recent vetting procedure that some of the ministers/deputies didn’t dream of their current positions because if they had, they will certainly have been mild in some of their pronouncements. One can only note the beauty of the Committee’s composition when one looks at it as a non-partisan one. It is therefore best to look at the committee members as people with a common interest, which is seeking for the best team to manage affairs of the country. It is tactically not good to approach such a committee with a partisan mentality though some members might sound such in their line of questioning. Monitoring all the procedures, it sometimes amazes me when the minority leader rather provides a rescue plan for the nominees when things seem to be getting tough. Those smart nominees are able to see through and escape whiles those who thought the Minority leader was being mischievous are caught in the web. Watching proceedings with a friend who has no idea as to which member of the committee belongs to the ruling party or the opposition is so exciting. At one time, he identifies the Chairman of the Committee Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho as an opposition member being too harsh and thinks Minority leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu is being very friendly because he is a member of the ruling party. At another occasion, he feels the vice-versa is the case. For me, that’s very interesting and indicates the level of maturity exhibited by members of the committee.

One more lesson from the Appointment Committee is the careful preparation of vital personal documents. Those who hope to be in such higher offices must begin to prepare their curriculum vitas capturing all relevant dates and placements. This goes for all political activists who could at anytime be called upon to occupy political positions. For those with different ages, that’s professional age and real age, they must quickly reconcile those details.

Personally, I think the above lessons are relevant not to only people who seek political offices but to all of us who might find ourselves in some positions to offer our services for national development. These information can help us to face any challenge in our professional endeavours.

For instance, how do we react to situations when we are faced with strong oppositions or uncertain situations at our workplaces? Are we going to be antagonistic or appreciate the fact that there is the need to always build consensus or take other views into consideration in all decision making process? In situations where we are found wanting what do we do? Do we go all out to justify our actions or humbly admit our faults and move on? How I wish the Committee’s work is extended to all other appointments including directors of public institutions and board directors. That is worth considering because this exercise can really weed out unscrupulous persons who end up messing around with state funds and eventually give politicians a bad image.

Source: Frank Agyemang

(agyemangfrank@gmail.com)