A Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Rachel Appoh, appears to be going through hell in the hands of her immediate boss, Nana Oye Lithur.
Ms Appoh, who is also the Member of Parliament for Gomoa Central in the Central Region, yesterday narrated the ordeal she had been going through at the Ministry for almost two years now.
This was when she spoke on Accra-based Adom FM’s ‘Edwaso Nsem’ programme, describing existing situation at the Ministry as “very sad.”
What provoked the stunning revelations was her absence when the ministry took its turn of the ‘Meet-the-press’ series on Tuesday where a Deputy Minister – Designate, Dela Sowah – who has not been vetted by Parliament – was accorded a space at the widely televised press briefing addressed by the substantive Minister, Nana Oye Lithur.
Host of the programme, Captain Smart, therefore wanted to know why she was not present at the meeting.
But Rachel Appoh, who operates from a makeshift office she has created for herself at the Department of Social Welfare – because she has been denied an office accommodation at the Gender Children and Social Protection Ministry – said she was not invited to the event.
According to her, she was in Parliament when one of her colleague MPs, who is also a minister, asked whether they had finished the ‘Meet-the-Press.’
This, Rachel said, came to her as a surprise since she had no idea about any such event.
She therefore asked her former colleague, a Deputy Minister at the same Ministry, Benita Sena Okity Dua, if she was aware of the event.
Upon inquiry, Ms Appoh said her colleague also expressed surprise and wondered why she was not given a memo to that effect, since the event was supposed to come off on Thursday, but had to be called off.
From Parliament, the deputy minister said she went straight to the ministry to inquire from Nana Oye why she was excluded from the event.
But for close to the three hours she was there, Ms Appoh said she was not allowed to see the minister.
Similar attempts to get some explanation from directors of the ministry also proved unsuccessful.
Ms Appoh was therefore compelled to ask the minister’s secretary whether she had indeed informed her she wanted to see her (Nana Oye) which she replied in the affirmative.
The following day (Friday), Ms Appoh said she decided to go and discuss her concerns with the director since she and her other colleague Deputy Minister, Benita, had always had cause to complain about being sidelined at the ministry because, “I feel that even if we are not grown-ups, we are leaders, having been elected as MPs and subsequently made ministers.”
She continued, “The moment you become a minister, you should be mature so I should not be seen as always going to the Flagstaff House (the Presidency) to complain about what the chief director has to do or an issue that we can manage at the ministry,” she noted.
Having complained to the chief director the previous Friday, Ms Appoh said she thought she would be given a memo for the event on Monday.
According to her, she was there Monday evening when the chief director called her to inform her of an upcoming ‘Meet-the-Press’ the next day and she asked why she had not been given a memo to that effect.
But the chief director told her they would discuss that later.
According to her, the director therefore asked her to see her secretary to that effect.
However, when she asked her secretary on Tuesday morning whether she had received any memo to that effect, the secretary said no – the reason she (Appoh) decided not to attend the event since the embarrassment had become too much for her liking.
Asked about the relation between her and the minister, Ms Appoh first laughed, declining to comment because according to her, she needed not say everything as she is a politician.
“As I speak to you now, for the past two months, my constituency executives have summoned me to come and appear before them but I have not been able to go and update them about happenings at the ministry; but to be sincere with you, it is very difficult,” the troubled deputy minister narrated.
That notwithstanding, she told host of the programme: “To be sincere with you, we don’t relate too well and I have tried several times. Our director will be my witness; Benita Okity Dua will be my witness that I want to meet her so that if I’ve done anything wrong I will go down on my knees to beg her for her to forgive me because before the elections, I had to kneel down and beg some people.”
“To be sincere with you, if I tell you I know what I’ve done to her, I will be lying; I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. But if there is something like that, why not? I will apologise because she is my boss. But as at now I’ve not gotten that opportunity,” she said in a sombre voice.
Aside that, she emphasised: “If you are going to her office, you find it very difficult. We are not allowed to go there because when you book an appointment they will say ‘honourable go to your office, when she is ready we will come and call,’ you but it never happens.”
Surprisingly, Nana Oye has been seen attending events with the yet-to-be-vetted Deputy Minister-Designate for Gender, Dela Sowah.
An obviously shocked Captain Smart asked Ms Appoh whether she was having an affair with Oye Lithur’s husband, Tony Lithur – who happens to be President Mahama’s lawyer – making her remark with laughter and say, “This is very serious.”
She replied: “I never knew her husband until somewhere last month when we, members of the Public Accounts Committee, went to the Ashanti Region. On my way back at the airport, I saw the President, some ministers and a lot of people. That was when I saw her husband. Until then, I had never known him and it was Barbara Asamoah who introduced him to me and wondered why I didn’t know him.”
Ms Appoh said she had been neglected and therefore operates without a budget or an accountable imprest; she uses her own resources to work.
According to her, she had not been given a single opportunity to travel outside the country on the ministry’s ticket and that when someone or an institution gives her an opportunity to make a presentation, she is not allowed to go in the name of the ministry because the minister tells her she would be going in her personal capacity.
Rachel is however unfazed by the actions of her minister since her only commitment was to help President Mahama achieve his aim.