The vetting of five deputy minister nominees by the Parliamentary Appointment Committee yesterday became very interesting when the deputy minister-designate for Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who was known for his unsolicited defence of judgment debts as deputy Minister of Information, told the MPs that he was an ardent member of the Scripture Union (SU) of the Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School at Legon in Accra.
He said during his days as a student of Presec, he used to do dawn evangelism of the gospel in school and at home to win souls for Jesus Christ.
He added that during one of such expeditions to win souls for Chirst at Dansoman Keep Fit area, an angry landlord, who thought he (Ablakwa) was disturbing his sleep at dawn, released his ‘wild’ dog on him and he had to put on his running shoes and ran as fast as he could to ‘save’ himself from trouble.
“Mr Chairman, in fact being the vice president of the SU at PRESEC, I was so much interested in evangelism and was evangelising everywhere I found myself even in trotros,” he said.
This was after a member of the committee, Baba Jamal, had asked about his position as a vice president of the SU at PRESEC as stated on his curriculum vitae.
He could, however, not tell the exact number of souls he won for Christ when he was asked to tell the committee.
When Ablakwa was asked about the vexed question of the strike action by teachers at the university, he was quick to say that because of the sensitive nature of the strike action, he would not be comfortable to comment on it.
He, however, said so much attention had been paid to monetary reward for teachers, stressing that it was important that adequate and lasting motivation was given to teachers at all levels of education.
Okudzeto Ablakwa also supported the three-year duration for secondary education instead of four years saying that it did not matter how long one spent in school to be a good student, but what mattered was the availability of good teaching and learning materials and dedicated teachers to teach the students.
He used the occasion to deny the allegations that he had acquired series of petrol stations, oil haulage trucks, fleet of cars and a house in the US saying that those allegations were figments of people’s mind and that those allegations had caused him so much mental agony.
The Deputy Minister-designate for Lands and Natural Resources, Barbara Serwaa Asamoah, also told the committee that she dropped out of school at John Teye Memorial Institute in Accra because her mother asked her to assist to take care of a brother.
While at home, she got pregnant at the age of 19 but through perseverance she has been able to pass through the Ghana School of Law to become a lawyer after reading English and Law at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). She recounted this when she was quizzed about her background.
Her beautiful 21-year-old daughter, who was at the conference hall where the vetting took place, looked on with a smile as her mother was grilled on her background.
According to her, she attended St. Jerome Secondary School at Abofour for one year and sat for the GCE ‘O’ Level after the headmaster of the school had intervened on her behalf to continue with her education.
The 40-year-old deputy minister-designate said she went on to the Sunyani Secondary School to do her ‘A’ Levels before going to the KNUST and still remains single.
When she was asked about government-acquired land which were lying fallow and not being used for any project, she said it was only fair for government to re-consider that policy of taking lands and not using them.
“Government can look at this fairly and return the lands to their original owners if they are not being used for any project,” she said.
The Deputy Minister-designate for Justice and Attorney-General’s department also spoke on the intended strike action by Judicial Service Workers Association of Ghana (JUASG) saying the Judicial Service Act did not permit the workers to go on strike.
He said officials of the Justice ministry and the judicial service should help find amicable solution to the problems of the Judicial Service workers so that there would be a smooth running of the service.
The Deputy minister-designate for Information, Felix Ofosu Kwakye, was queried more on his CV which had serious problems in terms of certain factual omissions.
He told the vetting committee that he was going to help push the agenda of the government forward by accurately and timeously feeding members of the public with information from the government.
Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, deputy minister-designate for Finance, was also vetted.
The vetting of five other deputy ministers-designate including Ambassador Thomas Kwasi Quartey, deputy minister-designate for Foreign Affairs and Dr Bernice Adiku Heloo, deputy minister-designate for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation are slated for today.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr