Since the list of Presidential Staffers was officially submitted to Parliament on Wednesday as mandated by the constitution, government has tried to justify the current staff strength at the presidency.
The Chief of Staff, Prosper Bani, is heading a 678-member presidential office staff, including advisors to the President, presidential staffers, presidential aides and ministers of state to the presidency, according to an annual report on presidential office staff signed by President John Mahama himself on January 28, 2014 and released to Parliament from the presidency.
This is in fulfilment of Section 11 of the Presidential Act 1993 (Act 463), which demands that the President submits a list of staffers to the House annually.
The 2013 list is 17 more than the one inherited by President John Mahama from his boss, the late President John Evans Atta Mills.
The latest list does not also include the recent appointments at the Presidency such as Ben Dotsei Mallor as the head of Communications and Spokesperson to the President and Kojo Adu-Asare, former Adenta MP who operates from the President’s conference room at the Flagstaff House in-charge of yet-to-be-established youth fund, and other people who are known to be working at the press secretariat at the presidency.
There are five Ministers of State at the presidency namely, Major Dr. Mustapha Ahmed (rtd), Abdul Rahid Pelpuo, Fiifi Kwetey, Alhassan Azong and Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe-Ghansah.
Other important personalities on the staff are the Chief of Staff, Prosper Bani; Deputy Chief of Staff, Dr. Valerie Sawyerr; Executive Secretary to the President, Dr. Raymond Atuguba; National Security Advisor, William Kwasi Aboah; Coordinator of Human Security Project, Brigadier-General Joseph Nunoo-Mensah and Secretary to Cabinet, Roger Angsomwine.
There are four senior presidential advisors who are, Paul Victor Obeng, Dr. Sulley Gariba, Alhaji Issifu Baba Braimah Kamara, former High Commissioner to Nigeria and Dr. Cadman Atta Mills.
Nine people were also mentioned in the report as presidential staffers and they are: Commodore Steve Obimpeh (rtd), Kwesi Baffoe-Bonnie, Emelia Arthur, former deputy Western regional minister; Dr Michael Kpessa Whyte of University of Ghana; Dr. Clement Abass Apaak of University of Ghana; James Agyenim-Boateng, former deputy minister of Information; Kweku Tsen, formerly of Daily Graphic Political Desk; Kwabena Owusu Akyeampong, former deputy Interior Minister and Kale Cezario, former Upper West Deputy Regional Minister.
The presidential aides are Stainslav Xoese Dogbe, Vincent Senam Kuagbenu former Director of the National Service Secretariat; Sandow Seidu Kpedu, attached to the First Lady, Lordina Mahama and Kofi Ofori.
The list goes on and on, and despite concerns being raised over the size of the number with fears the Mahama-led administration is failing at cutting cost; Government says the huge number of supporting staff at the presidency does not translate into huge costs on the state.
Information and Media Relations Minister, Mahama Ayariga insist majority of the workers on the list have been employed through the Civil Service as required by law.
Offering an explanation, he said the 678 presidential staffers “reflects the general problem of the size of the public service that we can discuss. So let’s not create the impression that this is peculiar to the office of the President.” He further clarified the reason for the high number of staffers under John Mahama’s presidency, recalling that “in 2003, the size of presidential staffers was “696 and in 2008, the size was 613. In 2012, the size was 661 and now it is 678.”
One of his deputies, Felix Kwakye Ofosu went as far as accusing former President John Agyekum Kufuor of having a Spiritual Advisor at the Presidency.
“There was a point where they had a cocoa Advisor to the President who was at the Office of the President. There was even a spiritual Advisor under President Kufuor,” he alleged; a claim that has been strongly debunked by former Chief of Staff in the Kufuor Administration, Kwadwo Mpiani.
However, Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, says the debate of which administration had the biggest number of presidential staffers as totally needless in the face of mounting economic woes.
“If you publicly say that during President Rawlings’s era he had 500 and Kufour had 700 staff at his presidency so its normal to have 678 now….then it unfortunate. This is not something that must grab our attention…
“…So if Rawlings and Kufour erred, must the current government follow the same trend? Our leaders must think well before they come out to talk to us (Ghanaians) because at least we are educated…they talk to us as if we are just some ‘yoyos’ (useless) people…,” he counseled.
Discussing the issue on Adom FM, Mr. Pratt explained that, “Not all 678 staffers’ work at the Flagstaff House…Some of the workers there are longtime staff before even the current president took office. They are not on Flagstaff pay role…this is one truth we must point out when engaging in any analysis of the issue”.
“Office of the president is not only the Flagstaff House…its includes the Black Star Square, Australia House…, Peduase Lodge, Amejopke Facilities and so on. All these are under the office of the president”.
He however summing up by saying he believes that some workers at the presidency are not needed but have only been assigned jobs.
“Some of the jobs assigned at the office of the president are not needed…it must be removed. We need to have a second look at the list. The argument that Ex-president Kufuor had more staffers than now must stop, it’s not healthy……This country is in crisis…the masses are suffering, appointing all these people at the presidency is an unnecessary drain on the public purse,” he noted.