The appearance before the Appointments Committee of Parliament yesterday of heavily-pregnant Deputy Minister-designate for Agriculture, Dr Hannah Louisa Bissiw, was very brief as a result of her condition.
Some members of the committee jokingly asked her to forego the vetting because ‘two’ people could not sit on the witness chair to be vetted at the same time.
Just before the Deputy Minister-designate was vetted, Chairman of the Appointments Committee Ebo Barton Odro appealed to members to ask just a few questions to enable the nominee to leave quickly.
‘Honourable members, as you can see, the Deputy Minister-designate is heavily-pregnant and should therefore not be made to sit here for long,’ the chairman said.
Answering a question posed by Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa as to how she would advise owners of pets, like cats and dogs, to take good care of them because such pets could be a ‘delicacy’ for some ethnic groups, Dr Bissiw, in a composed manner, narrated her own experience.
She said she had a beautiful cat as a pet but the cat ended up in someone’s soup because she did not take very good care of it.
‘Mr Chairman as a young girl, I had a beautiful kitten as my cherished pet, but there were some young men in our house who sometimes took the pet and fed it till the kitten grew into a fat cat. But one day my cat was nowhere to be found, so I asked the young men in my house whether the cat had come to them and the answer was that if I could only split their stomachs open, I could find the cat there; meaning they had killed and eaten the cat,’ she narrated.
She said it was important for pet owners to take very good care of their pets and ensure that they got vaccinated against diseases so that such pets could live long and provide them the companionship they needed.
Speaking on the recent outbreak of anthrax in the north, the 40-year-old Deputy Minister-designate, who is a Cuban trained veterinary doctor, said constant education should be carried out in those areas on the need for cattle farmers to periodically vaccinate their cattle against the bacteria that causes the disease.
She described anthrax as a highly contagious disease.
She bemoaned the dwindling number of veterinary doctors in the country, stressing that the government should sponsor more people to specialize in veterinary services so that they could promote public health.
She stressed the need for the government to assign veterinary doctors to certify meat prepared at the abattoirs and brought to the market for consumption by members of the public.
She used the opportunity to debunk public perception that she had been undermining her ministers when she was a deputy minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing under President Mills.
When the Deputy Minister-designate for the Northern Region, Alhaji Alhassan Bashir Fuseini took his turn at the vetting, his penchant for proverbs attracted intermittent laughter at the conference hall where the vetting was taking place.
He used a proverb to describe the ‘numerous’ problems facing the Northern Region, explaining that the vastness of the region came with the vastness of the problems.
He said as an indigene, he would use his unique position to ensure that development got to the region.
He said in collaboration with the substantive minister, he would ensure that projects initiated by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) truly benefited the people of the region.
He called for the resuscitation of the rice projects in the North so that it could help stem the migration of the youth from the North to the South in search of non-existent jobs.
When he was asked whether his appointment would not be dangerous to the unity of the Northern Region, especially when as a member of the Andani family, he had vociferously called for justice for the murdered chief of Dagbon, he said he was rather a unifier who would unite Dagbon.
‘Mr chairman, despite the 2002 incident of the murder of our king which brought a lot of pain to us, we are inextricably linked together, as brothers with a common destiny, and must rather focus on one thing which is eradicating poverty amongst us,’ he said, adding that because of his acceptance by both gates, a broad spectrum of people from both sides came to offer moral support during his vetting yesterday.
The Deputy Minister-designate for Fisheries, Aquinas Tawiah Quansah told the Appointments Committee that the government would be building storage facilities along the landing beaches in the country to ensure that big catches were preserved.
He said a new fish processing plant was going to be built at Elmina for processing fish and a School for Fishing would be established at Saltpond this year.
He denied that the supply of heavily-subsidised pre-mix fuel was being politicized and that operatives of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) had hijacked the allocation of the fuel.
He said all pre-mix committees were made up of representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, fishmongers association, fishermen association as well as the chief fishermen and so there was no way activists of the ruling party could control the allocation of the pre-mix fuel.
When the two deputy ministers-designates for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Benita Sena Okity-Duah and Rachel Florence Appoh took their turns, they both pledged to work closely with their minister to ensure that the rights of women and children were respected and protected.
They said irrespective of their inexperience in governance, they had something unique to help realize the vision of his Excellency President Mahama in creating that ministry.
Yesterday’s vetting brought to a close the special vetting session that saw 34 deputy ministers-designate appearing before the committee.
It was not known whether or not the whole house would be re-called to approve the recommendations by the Appointments Committee on the vetting of the 34 deputy ministers-designate before Parliament officially reconvened on May 28.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr