WITHOUT AN iota of reservation, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Kpone-Katamanso, Joseph Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo, has reaffirmed his call for the removal from office of the Minister for Information, Mrs. Zita Okaikoi.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have not changed my mind on Zita. It is a principled position I have taken and being a man of myself (sic), I have no intention of changing itÃ¢â‚¬Â, the Kpone-Katamanso MP told the Appointments Committee of Parliament yesterday.
Afotey-Agbo aka Ã¢â‚¬ËœLionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, an ardent cadre and a disciple of ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, recently asked President John Atta Mills to fire the Information Minister for poor performance.
He was however immediately nominated by President Mills as the Minister of State at the Presidency after making the call, which many political pundits saw as a move to tame the vociferous Lion.
Appearing before the Appointments Committee for vetting, the well-built and handsome Afotey-Agbo reiterated his call for the dismissal of Mrs. Okaikoi based on complaints of the people about her performance, stressing, Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was not personal and indeed she is a good friendÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As a politician you listen to the complaints of the people before taking decisions and I made the call based on what the people on the ground were saying and that has not changed,Ã¢â‚¬Â the ministerial nominee emphasised.
Asked whether his swift nomination by President Mills was to Ã¢â‚¬Å“cage the lionÃ¢â‚¬Â, Afotey-Agbo who is strongly believed to be RawlingsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ man replied, Ã¢â‚¬Å“If that is the intention I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think it will work. I have strong views and I always express them when it is necessaryÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Described by colleagues as a man of temerity with little patience for inaction and sluggishness, Afotey-Agbo indicated he will graciously express his opinion to the President on issues of national interest.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I always hold the bull by the horn. I have strong views and I have every right to advise the President and if I have to resign on matters of principle, I will not hesitate to do so,Ã¢â‚¬Â the Kpone-Katamanso MP pointed out.
However, soothing the 42-year-old Afotey-Agbo, First Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Edward Doe Adjaho, informed the ministerial nominee that Ghana operates under the Executive system of government and the President has the ultimate say.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The President has the final say in all matters and you either take it or leave it,Ã¢â‚¬Â Mr. Adjaho who is also the MP for Avenor Ave told Afotey-Agbo, advising him to be a team player.
Earlier, the Minister for Health designate, Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor, had told the Committee that the ruling NDC is still committed to its campaign pledge of instituting the one-off premium for the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Dr. Kunbuor, who was the Deputy Minister for Health until his nomination, said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Having been at the Ministry for sometime now, I am convinced the one-time premium is achievable and sustainableÃ¢â‚¬Â.
According to him, 70 percent of the population is already exempt from payment of premium and that if the Ministry is able to plug even 35 percent of Ã¢â‚¬Å“financial hemorrhageÃ¢â‚¬Â in the system, the on-time payment will be feasible without over-burdening the people with more taxes for the sustainability of the scheme.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Widely accepted by colleagues and peers as a hardworking and brilliant personality, Dr. Kunbuor, a former law lecturer and legislator, told the Appointments Committee he takes over the Ministry of Health with strong commitment to work as a team player and also inspire all the personnel to work to their full potential.
He announced that a new Mental Health Bill will soon be brought before Parliament, noting it has delayed because the initial draft bill did not meet the approval of the Wealth Health Organisation.
By Awudu Mahama