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Opinions of Thursday, 18 June 2015

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Portuphy's Ill-Timed Resignation

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
June 14, 2015

The decision to appoint Brig.-Gen. Francis Vib Sanziri as Acting National Coordinator of NADMO (the National Disaster Management Organization) may strikingly be a knee-jerk appointment, coming almost immediately in the wake of the June 3 and 4 flood-fire conflagration that ravaged the Nkrumah Circle area of Central-Accra (See "Prez Mahama Appoints New NADMO Boss" / 6/9/15). Unless Gen. Sanziri's appointment is in expectation of parliamentary rubber-stamping in the offing, his acting status is one that does not gibe with the temper of the times. We are in an emergency situation, and the former NADMO head clearly indicated, in the wake of his election as National Chairman of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), that his deputy, Ms. Anita D'Souza, was hopelessly under-qualified for the job.

This, of course, means that Ms. D'Souza was appointed to the job based on everything except merit or professional qualification and competence. The latter revelation came to light when the NADMO Deputy Coordinator, who also doubles as the NDC's National Women's Organizer, made her intentions of replacing Mr. Portuphy public. At the time of the latter's vehement protest, I vividly recall asking why Mr. Portuphy would consent to Ms. D'Souza's appointment as his deputy, knowing full well that Ms. D'Souza was grossly unqualified for the job. As of this writing, it is not clear to me whether Ms. D'Souza is still the deputy NADMO Coordinator and if so, what the reason is for keeping such a professionally unqualified and an administrative basket case at post.

In one of the news reports announcing the appointment of Gen. Sanziri as Acting NADMO Coordinator, we are mischievously told that Mr. Portuphy resigned his post as substantive NADMO Coordinator "some months back." Nothing could be so nauseatingly farther from the truth. To be certain, some of us media commentators and columnists had to literally scream Mr. Portuphy out of office. And it wasn't until barely three or four weeks ago that an official announcement of the resignation of the now-NDC National Chairman was put into the public media domain by the so-called Presidency. How NADMO and the government respond to the latest Accra disaster, as well as others around the country, would pretty much depend on how professionally prepared and materially equipped Gen. Sanziri is. And on the latter count, the blame must be squarely laid at the doorstep of the presidency.

Already, there are widespread complaints that the distribution of relief supplies to people affected by the June 3 and 4 disaster is being unconscionably done along partisan lines. Mr. Mahama and his hangers-on may need to promptly investigate the practical reality behind this story. And if it is found to contain any iota of validity, the culprits must be severely punished, including immediate removal from their posts. That the flood-fire did not pick and choose its victims between supporters and sympathizers of either major party, ought to have meaningfully signaled to the NADMO officials and their minions that there is absolutely no room for prejudice where access to relief supplies is concerned.

We also learn that Gen. Sanziri is presently the Director-General of Joint Operations at General Headquarters, whatever the latter means. I am assuming "General Headquarters" to either refer to the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense or that of the Ghana Armed Forces. Whatever be the case, I hope Gen. Sanziri will not be allowed to wear two hats the way President Mahama allowed, either by deliberate default or complicity, Mr. Portuphy to maintain his job as substantive NADMO Coordinator while also retaining his job as the newly elected National Chairman of the ruling National Democratic Congress. This kind of egomaniacal and rapacious attitude towards public service does not augur well for the long-term development of the country.

This is not to say that I have any firm belief in the goodwill or the ideological determination, on the part of the Mahama government, for the steady and salutary development of the country. I am still convinced that this role remains the especial preserve of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). Which is neither to say nor imply that I am in no way ready, even this late in the game, to afford President Mahama the benefit of the doubt.