Confusion is brewing in the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) over the President’s decision to appoint certain individuals as Deputy Ministers.
A week after the names of the Deputy Ministers-designate were released, the bickering had not subsided, with disenchanted party members continuing to agitate.
The list of Deputy Minister-designates contained the names of 25 individuals including Member of Parliament for Juaboso Samson Ahi, Victoria Hammah who contested but lost the Ablekuma West parliamentary seat to Ursula Owusu, Baba Jamal, MP for Akwatia, actress Dzifa Gomashie, the Ashanti Regional Secretary of the NDC, Joseph Yammin, Benita Okity-Dua, MP for Ledzokuku, Rachael Florence Apoh, MP for Gomoa Central and a host of others.
The nominations had since generated heated debates among the rank and file of the party, with the appointment of the likes of Victoria Hammah and Samson Ahi as well as Joseph Yammin being the most criticized of the President’s nominations.
One Member of Parliament (MP) in the Greater Accra Region, who pleaded anonymity, told DAILY GUIDE, ‘Some of us are safe in Parliament but we will see how the Victoria Hammahs can help the President’s agenda.
Rachael Florence Apoh
‘It is as if we don’t have the men and women… This is a lady who… does not have any real public service experience, has not held any proper job except a late night sex talk show and you put her in a ministry as crucial as Communications? … My God we are doomed. If they want to know how…the Information Minister should put her on Newsfile with the Akomeas and Kweku Baakos. People are not happy. We just can’t talk publicly,’ he noted.
As a sign of protest and disappointment, some members of the NDC communications team were said to have adopted a go-slow or feet-dragging attitude when asked to represent the party on various radio and television programmes.
DAILY GUIDE sources said top party gurus like Ato Ahwoi, and Dr. Kwabena Adjei, who were very active under President Mills, had allegedly decided to take back seats; and were observing the unfolding events from afar while President Mahama does his own thing with Asiedu Nketia in tow.
This, according to sources at the party headquarters, was part of the reason why the likes of Haruna Iddrisu, Kakrah Essamuah, Dr Omane Boamah, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, Kobby Acheampong, Kojo Twum Boafo and others who were hitherto vociferous on radio and TV, had suddenly vanished into thin air.
A day after their appointment, various social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter were awash with criticisms.
A member of the communications team, Benjamin Akyena Brantuo posted these words on his Facebook wall: ‘the second mandate of the NDC/Mahama administration is almost three months old. How do you rate their performance so far, any observations; negatives or positives, and strategic advice,’ while his colleague Alhaji Halidu Haruna also posted: ‘Godfathers in Ghana politics hmmmmm. It shall be well.’
The party’s defeated parliamentary candidate for Ablekuma North, Ras Mubarak, who was allegedly tipped for a deputy ministerial appointment, had since opted to take a back seat from mainstream politics.
He also wrote on his facebook wall: ‘leaving front-line politics. Spending more time with family and focusing on academics. Always been my dream to be a University Lecturer. This is the time to build myself up for that.’
However he had since withdrawn his statement saying that he was still active in politics.
Even though Victoria Hammah, who had been nominated as Deputy Minister for Communications, declined to comment when DAILY GUIDE contacted her, a group calling itself the Forum for Public Accountability (FoPA) defended her nomination, saying that she was capable of supporting the substantive minister.
Her colleague, Samson Ahi said, ‘I am not going to begrudge them for what they have said…Whether somebody qualifies or not, it doesn’t lie in the bosom of anybody to say it. They can say it but it won’t do anything.
‘Unfortunately, those who are making those comments don’t have the mandate to do so; it is the prerogative of the President to do the appointment and the President has done so. So whether they like it or not is not an issue,’ he emphasized.
In another development, the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the NDC, Yaw Obimpeh has disclosed to Accra based Okay Fm that his neck was nearly broken when a group of irate members from TERMA (Task Force and Motor Riders Association) attacked party executives over the nomination of Kojo Bonsu as the Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive.
‘The mobsters attacked all the executives and one of them hit my neck with a plastic chair. I had nothing to say and I had to take to my heels. We went straight to the Regional Minister and informed him of what they had done. He quickly called their leaders and spoke to them till they understood we hadn’t taken any bribe from Kojo Bonsu,’ he said.
The group, mainly made up of NDC supporters, accused Obimpeh and the regional executives of being bribed with an amount of GH¢200,000 by the nominee to get the post.
Though Mr. Obimpeh informed Okay FM that calm had returned to the area following the intervention of the Regional Minister, Eric Opoku, he stated that it was clear the group was misled by somebody.
Support For Victoria Hammah
According to FoPA it had examined the list of deputy ministerial appointees and found that there were absolutely no special qualifications that the 22 men had that Victoria Hammah lacked, in terms of academic qualification, professional experience or self development.
FoPA, which described itself as non partisan, said in a release that there had been a deliberate attempt to overlook her rich public life beginning as a student leader and gender activist.
It said Ms Hammah had authored several people-centred articles on gender, education and the economy over the years, adding that she had proven to be disciplined, with a principled conviction in line with the beliefs of her party.
The group said the allusion that she rose through the political ranks as a result of moral laxity, advantage of her physical appearance or sexual favour represented the most devastating attack on Ghanaian womanhood.
‘This growing trend of sexism, chauvinism and social reaction that is gaining tolerance must be put to a halt. It runs against the stated principles of our democratic culture,’ the group’s convener, D. Ofori-Atta said.
FoPA said Ms Hammah was not the only victim of this barbaric trend, stating that Ursula Owusu, Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West, had also suffered such repugnant public degradation of her personality.
The group condemned the loud silence of women’s rights organizations and civil society in general on the matter.
According to FoPA, ‘This issue goes beyond the person of Ms Hammah or partisan consideration. It is about giving concrete meaning to our objective of gender equity and women’s liberation’.
Mr. Ofori-Atta called on religious leaders, civil society organizations, trade unions, gender rights activists and the media to take positive interest in this development and denounce the attack on women in public life.
‘It must be noted that a deputy minister is not a technical, administrative or operational staff of a ministry but a representative of political authority with the responsibility to guide and advice on policy based on general aims and objective priorities of government,’ he said.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu & Cephas Larbi