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Opinions of Sunday, 3 February 2013

Columnist: Norvor, Justice Dansu

To The Defense Of The President

In the wake of a former Brong-Ahafo Regional Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Alhaji Abdallah Ahmed-Abdallah making startling revelations of some leaders of the NDC who lobbied for ministerial and deputy ministerial positions for their girlfriends in the Mills-led administration, I stand to oppose those who are faulting the President for the appointments made thus far. First, it was Asiedu Nketia who rushed to the seat of government to demand answers from the President on the appointment of his Chief of staff who is relatively unknown in the NDC lineage.
Afew days later was the usual tough-talking “senior” journalist Kwesi Pratt Jr. who descended heavily on His Excellency President Mahama on what he termed as “non- consultative” appointments of Ministers, made in a manner he described as “sloppy” and fraught with “confusion”,
There are also several tongue-lashing party members who hypocritically behave as though all is well in order not to be perceived as stubborn nuts.
Yes, let’s agree that it is troubling to appoint the likes of Prosper Bani, Nana Oye Lithur, Dr Raymond Atuguba, Dr Sulley Gariba,, Prof Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman, and several others who openly belong to other parties or have no strong NDC affinity into government ahead of prominent and well-tested NDC gurus like Alban Bagbin, P.V. Obeng, Akua Dansua, Ekwo Spio- Garbrah, Ama Benyiwa-Doe, Richard Quarshigah or even E.T. Mensah. The list goes on but wouldn’t it be fair if we give the new appointees at least the first 100 days in office to assess their performance before the criticisms/
But in all this do we blame the President for appointing those he trusts could better help him execute the mandate given him by Ghanaians?
I stand to differ.
With the presence of lobbyist and the various lobbying groups putting undue pressure on the President, one should expect nothing than months of tongue- lashing on our revered President.
But do we need lobbyists or lobbying groups in our society? I strongly believe we need lobbyists to strengthen our democratic credentials, meaning people should be involved in the decisions that affect them and that advocacy for a variety of causes is a crucial part of good decision making. After all, other than that how will certain minority groups, such as women, the youth, the disabled, religious bodies, or even some ethnic minorities ensure that their interests are protected? On the other hand, it is a shame that some traditional rulers should be opposing the President’s appointment of a blind man to head the Ministry for Chieftaincy. Our chiefs need to wake up to modern trends, and put past superstitions behind them. .
While lobbyists can play useful roles, we need to guard against the fact that through lobbying, some stooges also easily make their way into government as happened during the President Mills’ administration. I believe in the assertion made by the former Brong Ahafo Regional Chairman that some people lobbied for their girlfriends, as I saw in a DCE in the Upper East region, a woman who lacked even a “basic family training”.
But if one may ask, who is a lobbyist? Most people think they know what lobbying means, but this field is one where the definition is part of the controversy. One clear definition is offered in the "Principles for the Ethical Conduct of Lobbying" which defines lobbying as the deliberate attempt to influence political decisions through various forms of advocacy directed at policymakers on behalf of another person, organization or group. So in this case, some youth from the North who went on a silly rampage before Haruna Iddrissu could be appointed can be said to have used an improper lobbying method and must be condemned. Also some chiefs of the Western Region who demanded for the Minister of Petroleum to hail from the Western Region as though the Jubilee oil is not for all citizens of Kwame Nkrumahs’s Ghana are to be considered as having lobbied improperly and must be condemned also.
Never has lobbying become so pervasive in our political landscape than in Prez. Mahama’s young government to an extent where Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, the Vice-Presidential candidate of the NPP could use his family link with the President to lobby for a DCE appointment for a close friend in the North. I wonder if Dr. Bawumia still supports his petition challenging the election which brought to power the President that he is lobbying. Or has he realized the petition he is a signatory to lacks substance? Maybe, Nana Akuffo Addo should have known better that Bawumia still has the NDC blood in him.
I want to entreat Ghanaians to have confidence and assurance in the President because the more the cries on the appointments that he makes, the more the indications are that he has shunned many efforts by politicians and friends to impose stooges in his cabinet.
Let the various interest groups hold their resentment for sometime as the President has more appointments to make: Deputy Ministers, High Commissioners, Ambassadors, CEOs, Board members and so on. I have a strong conviction that from the appointments he has made so far, the President has the national interest at heart and will appoint competent NDC loyalists as well as non-NDC personalities to his government. Let grassrooters also be rightly assured that, their favorites such as, Akua Dansua, Ekwo Spio- Garbrah, Ama Benyiwa-Doe, Richard Quarshiga, Okudjeto Ablakwa, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, Tony Lithur, Larry Adjetey, Joseph Yammin, Kofi Adams, Victor Smith and the likes will definitely play a major role in the Better Ghana Agenda. This I am sure of, for their loyalty and sacrifices made in the past.
I do not intend to be the last lobbyist but the President also needs to be aware that, all-inclusiveness does not necessarily mean to appoint qualified Ghanaians at the expense of our renowned and competent party members. All inclusiveness must start from within as we all saw the divisions that characterized our party in the previous government. Our footsoldiers will only appreciate their efforts if all those who through their call of duty for the common good of the party are seen today as antagonist to some party executives. This is where the all inclusiveness must start from if we are truly a democratic party. Some of these party gurus still have a lot of following who voted us to power and my dear President must be reminded of the saying “ those who you meet on your way going up are the same people you meet coming down”.
We cannot ignore them as we need their push when we are coming down the ladder to campaign in 2016.
May God Bless our great nation.

By: Justice Dansu Norvor