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Opinions of Sunday, 8 February 2009

Columnist: Affenyi-Dadzie, Kow

Open Letter to President Mills

London 30th January 2009

His Excellency President of the Republic of Ghana
The Castle
Osu-Accra
Ghana

Dear His Excellency Professor J.E. Atta-Mills,

Where are these, Spio-Garbrah,

Ben Kumbuor, Tony Aidoo, ET Mensah, Kojo Yankah? This is a call from young Ghanaian professionals, 40 years and below, currently residing in the United Kingdom, sympathetic and/or with strong affiliations to the NDC. Our diverse backgrounds range from Medical Doctors to Social Workers, Lawyers, Engineers, Lecturers in diverse subjects, IT specialists etc, who meet very often to discuss Ghana and the NDC. We have rendered our support to the NDC in subtle ways, and with majority of us holding PhDs, we believe we represent the core of NDCs future and Ghana's progress...

This election was not just a wake-up call for the NPP but for all politicians of all political fraternities, old and young. It is amazing how all of us, although far away from home, kept vigil to see the tail of the big elephant vanish in our sight. It brought a sigh of great relief to see the NPP exit the realms of affairs of our beloved country for many reasons. Certainly, we knew a new dawn of change had emerged, and we all expected or still expect “wonders” from the respected professor and the NDC. Obvious to many Ghanaians, the learned professor, who is now our respected president, campaigned on a promise of change. He promised to hit the ground running with the change that Ghanaians yearned and continue to yearn for, and nothing but change. Some of the changes that folks both home and abroad expect from the new government are all embodied in Prof. Mills’ campaign and inaugural messages;

1. Expansion of the country's infrastructure

2. Investment in the citizenry

3. Creation of jobs

4. Open and honest government

We know there have been calls for Professor Mills to keep away the old faces and bring fresh faces as part of the change that the people called for, and that seems to be what is happening with the list of ministerial nominations so far. We appreciate that the learned professor may not want to make the mistake of surrounding himself with an insular of new faces with little or no experience or people who are unfamiliar with Ghanaian politics and governance in general. However, we wish to remind the learned professor that effecting real change requires not just that experience in politics but also the right expertise. With some very experienced faces obviously missing out of his team, the questions that we have started asking are: 1. Is the professor rewarding people simply for having been by his side all these past eight years? 2. Is the professor sidelining others with the right expertise, experience and the skill to help him effect the change that Ghanaians want simply because they have been away?

3. Are some of the very experienced, well-groomed old faces of the NDC just ignoring the professor's call for them to serve the nation?

4. Are some of the very experienced, well-groomed old faces of the NDC just reluctant to serve the nation for fear of NPP retribution if they should win an election again?

Simply put, we are confused! Where are we heading? On a first look, the presiden's list of ministerial nominees may seem a well-blend of old and new faces, but it is obvious that people were expecting to see names like Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Dr Ben Kumbuor, Dr Tony Aidoo, Mr ET Mensah, Mr Kojo Yankah and a few others. We were expecting His Excellency to fall on the expertise and experience of people such as these to help at a time when the global economy is nothing but an unpredictable “game of chess”. Sir, we believe in your ability to appeal to people, and therefore, even if these persons are reluctant to join the government, it should not be a problem for you to convince them to join you in moving the country forward.

Having promised us to keep a lean government, it was immediately a welcome news when we heard that our president had scraped the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, but we also expected that the Ministry of Information and (Tele)-Communication could have been merged and given to no person other than Spio-Garbrah, who has not just held that portfolio before, but is currently at the top of his career in such a field and so stands out as the obvious candidate in the NDC. That said, this same Spio-Garbrah, per his position at the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation (CTO), has acquired the additional skill and expertise of liaising with foreign organisations and meeting with foreign dignitaries from across the globe and so the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should not be alien to him. These obvious analyses, when missed, make you wonder if we shall see the change that His Excellency promised us on his campaign. If the goings-on in the USA are anything to take a cue from, then His Excellency should not relent in convincing Dr Spio-Garbrah to join his government just as Obama managed to get Mrs Clinton as his topmost diplomat, given that Spio-Garbrah contested with him for the flagbearership, conceded honourably to him, and campaigned for him soon after the NDC congress some three years ago.

Similar good things can be said of Dr Tony Aidoo, Dr Ben Kumbour, Mr. E.T Mensah, who in diverse ways worked tirelessly to bring the NDC back to power, and who are expected by their constituents to be rewarded with decent and dignified positions in the administration of H.E the President. Although he has been in the wilderness for ages, we believe that Mr Kojo Yankah has been doing marvellously well in the field of information, journalism, communication and education. This fine man, with his incredible expertise and experience, could easily fit in the aforementioned portfolios.

What is important in this exposé is that, all the analyses that we have made in the past prior to the elections have come to pass, which give us the confidence to believe that our assertion could not be wrong. To bypass these men and go for unknown faces, blending them with a few old faces that deputised in the past, just to satisfy our quest for change is simply risky, His Excellency. Let us not put round pegs in square holesbecause effecting real change requires not just that political experience but also the right expertise! We want you to succeed as your success keeps the greedy NPP away, and so we cannot afford to waste any time experimenting. Please Sir, bring in the people with the expertise and experience, and task them to effect that change that we all want, let the newer faces but with immense political experience work alongside these experts to effect the change we need. For our expectations are greater than you may think!

We would further suggest that, despite the high numbers of young men in the NDC, there is the need to mentor several more to fit into the shoes of the older ones so that they could take over as the unfortunate fate of ageing starts taking its toll on the current bigwigs.

Let us give opportunity to these younger ones to understudy the older ones, let us create opportunity for the younger ones to do internship under ministers even when they are fully employed elsewhere, expose them to governance and teach them to be humble, and above all build their confidence so that in times of need, they will be there to “refuel” the party.

Long live the NDC, long live Ghana, long live Africa and God bless us all!

Dr Kow Affenyi Dadzie On Behalf of Young Professionals of The NDC in UK London, UK.