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Opinions of Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Columnist: Appiah, Papa

Mahama scores an A*, B+ for Botchwey, B - for Boakye Agyarko

Hajia Alima Mahama Scores an A*, B+ for Shirley Ayikor Botchwey, B- for Boakye Agyarko

I am no expert. I have no way of knowing who will actually be a good minister and who will not. I only speak from the perspective of an ordinary Ghanaian who has had the pleasure of seeing the people chosen to lead me interviewed. And yet, interviews remain a most important part of the recruitment process. It is by no means a perfect method. Mistakes can be made and people are often judged wrongly. It is the duty of the interviewee to present themselves in a manner that does not sell their capabilities short.

I watched three potential ministers interviewed yesterday. And of the three, Hajia Alima Mahama impressed me most. She was articulate and amiable and had good knowledge of local government issues.She had clear views on issues and seemed ready to jump into the ministerial seat and get going, She even stood up to Haruna Iddrisu, Muntaka and co, who are becoming notorious for giving each appointee a hectic time. I believe she is an excellent choice for the Minister of Local government and I believe also, that she has the potential to get to the very top in Ghanaian politics. I wish her all the best in her new job. A straight A*!

A wise man once told me, that success in interviews did not only depend on what you knew, but also on what you said when you did not know the answer. That is why Shirley Ayikor Botchway, the president's nominee for foreign affairs and a woman I had looked forward to listening to, having heard a lot of good things about her, disappointed me a bit. She adopted a non-commital stance, ducking and weaving her way through the process with a disarming smile. She appeared very tactful and diplomatic, and while these are attributes that may serve her well as she parades foreign corridors serving the interest of Ghana, they did not really put her in the best of lights at the vetting, none more so than in her response to a question on the dispute between Morocco and the Western Sahara. While there may be genuine diplomatic reasons why she could not take a strong view either way, I had expected a more articulate neutral position from my new foriegn minister than a ridiculous "decisions will be made at presidential level". A B+ seems fair, though I have a feeling she can do much better.

Mr Boakye Agyarko put up a good and brave fight. But when he came up against the NDC bully boys, he started to wobble a bit. I call them bully boys because they have been in power for eight years, been involved in decision-making at the highest level and are armed with facts and figures the poor Mr Agyarko may have seen for a week or two, if at all. It was thus an unfair battle. In any case, Mr Agyarko, who is a banker, has no deep knowledge of the technical issues involved in the issue of power. I believe he was nominated primarily to help streamline the financial base of our power sector, while depending on experts for the technical issues. Having said that, I would still have expected a better grasp of issues from a man who probably has known for a while that he was in line to become the power minister. A B- thus seems fair.

It's getting more interesting. I'll keep watching.

Papa Appiah

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