Ministers Grilled

Alex Tettey-EnyoAs the seconds tick into minutes and hours into days, time seems to be catching up with the 35 ministers-designate nominated by President John Evans Atta Mills to form the first Cabinet of the new National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

The nominees, one after the other, would appear before the Appointments Committee of Parliament to be grilled, with proceedings being broadcast live to the entire nation through some half a dozen television cameras strategically-positioned in the hall.

This year’s vetting is expected to be one of the hottest in the nation’s political history in the face of the head-loads of petitions that have been sent to the committee’s tables.

Members of the committee, who are all MPs, have just been fired up through a week’s induction course at GIMPA in Accra and should be in the best of shapes for the marathon vetting exercise.

Apart from that, observers have also opined that withholding of the MPs mouth-watering ex-gratia packages, through public outcry, would further prompt them to approach the exercise with eagle eyes.

Even though some of the petitions may sound rather funny, insiders say Members of the committee would leave no stone unturned during the vetting process.

Starting today, Alex Tettey-Enyo (Education), Cletus Avoka (Interior), Joseph Yieleh Chireh (Local Government and Rural Development), Ms. Akua Sena Dansua (Women and Children’s Affairs) and Juliana Azumah Mensah (Tourism) would be given a baptism of fire.

A member of today’s batch could be in hot waters as he would have several explanations to give over his real age. A gaping hole in the CV provided by the nominee strongly suggests that he had massaged the age, probably to stay longer in the Civil Service.

A simple calculation has revealed that the former civil servant must have started school the very day he was born.

He also spent seven years to complete both primary and middle schools, instead of 10 – a situation which suggests he must have been ‘jumped over’ three times.

Eyebrows have also been raised over the moral lives of some nominees, with one person virtually entangled in two sex scandals, but political analysts say morality has little or nothing to do with politics.

Tettey-Enyo, MP for Ada, who is seen by many as an introvert of a politician, seems to have been overwhelmed by his nomination and made some controversial statements to the media.

Being the first to speak about the nominations, he embarrassed some members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) when he announced that he strongly lobbied to get the position.

The statement reportedly exposed the President, who had insisted that all his nominations were on merit.

An NDC presidential aspirant, who was sidelined in the nominations, also frowned at the way party members were elbowing one another and lobbying to get appointments.

The Ada MP, ahead of his final appointment by Parliament, announced his intentions to reverse the four-year Senor High School system to three years, which observers say was to score cheap political points.

For tomorrow, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni (Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration), Joe Gidisu (Roads and Highways), Dr. Oteng Adjei (Energy), Ms. Sherry Ayittey (Environment, Science and Technology) and Alhaji Collins Dauda (Lands and Natural Resources) will go through the same process.

 At least one person in tomorrow’s batch has been cited by the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) for criminal charges, and had thus petitioned the committee.

At a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, AFAG contended that Alhaji Mumuni had been indicted by an Auditor-General’s report on his running of the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, and stressed that the minister designate should be made to refund the huge financial losses his decisions caused the state.  

“It is remarkable that those findings were to the effect that through the gross negligence of Alhaji Mumuni, the state had lost a colossal 15 billion old cedis through his involvement with the NVTI alone. Further, Alhaji Mumuni was found to have authorized the fraudulent release of amounts in excess of 19 billion old cedis from the Consolidated Fund”, AFAG alleged.

Also cited by the group is Ms. Sherry Ayittey, who was allegedly implicated for financial impropriety, fraudulent behavior and forgery.

“It is totally wrong and prejudicial to the interest of the nation for Ms. Ayittey to be nominated,” the group said, adding that the nominee must purge herself of the adverse findings against her in the Auditor-General’s report before being presented for consideration as minister.

A number of other nominees are also in the rumour mill for one thing or the other. Wife battery, weak moral life, visa fraud, plagiarism, falsification of certificates, dishonesty, fuelling ethnic conflict, causing financial loss to the state and fraud are some of the cases being peddled against some of them.

Legal pundits have predicted that at least one lady and two men would be shot down by the committee if things go as expected, stressing that the casualty figure could be higher.

By Bennett Akuaku