(left) Atta Kyea, Mahama Ayariga (right)
Minister-designate for Works and Housing, Samuel Atta Kyea, has watered down Mahama Ayariga’s suggestion that President Akufo-Addo’s creation of the Senior Minister portfolio is unconstitutional.
The Bawku Central MP had argued that the president breached the Constitution by making that appointment because the “nomination of any person to be vetted for the post of a ‘Senior Minister’ constitutes a constitutional aberration,” adding that “nowhere in the Constitution does the office of ‘Senior Minister’ exist.”
Ayariga had accused President Nana Akufo-Addo of surreptitiously promoting Yaw Osafo-Maafo into a Prime Minister position.
“The framers of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution rejected the position of a Prime Minister in the country’s governance system, but appointing someone as a Senior Minister is a straightforward acceptance of that position, which contravenes the Constitution,” Ayariga argued.
Summing his argument up in a 6-page document to the president, the former Environment Minister believes the Senior Minister position is also discriminatory.
“Why the discrimination? You consciously seek to elevate Hon Yaw Osafo-Maafo to a status akin to that of a Prime Minister,” he charged.
The Senior Minister will sort of supervise the works of other sector ministers.
“I have, myself, heard Hon Yaw Osafo-Maafo grant interviews and saying on radio that he is going to oversee the works of other Ministers of State you have nominated, especially for the economic sector.
“That is to say that he will superintend over the works of other Ministers of State. That interview betrays the real motives for creating the ‘Senior Minister’ post.
“It is going to function very much the same way as a Prime Minister. Hon Yaw Osafo-Maafo does not understand that you don’t intend to breach the Constitution by creating a Prime Minister status for any one particular Minister of State, if my assumption is right. For him, it is not a mere accolade based on his age and wealth of experience.”
But Mr Atta Kyea, Abuakwa South MP, in a sharp response, described Ayariga’s argument as “unfortunate and hollow,” arguing that the Constitution has not spelt out guidelines for the appointment of ministers under a particular government.
“It is very unfortunate because it has no substance and it is hollow. There is nowhere in the Constitution that any ministerial portfolio has been created… So far as they have ministerial roles and functions, the only minister who has been given constitutional recognition is the office of the Attorney General, so with due respect to him, I do not see how he will have any serious argument to press home either in the court or within parliament because it is pathetic…I am afraid his argument is jejune. They don’t see the light of state. And when you say a Senior Minister is not a Minister of State, is it a Minister from heaven? It doesn’t make sense.”
Mr Atta Kyea, a legal gem, indicated that Mahama Ayariga’s argument also “falls flat” because he sought to equate the work of a Senior Minister to that of a Prime Minister, although they perform different roles and have nothing in common.
“A senior Minister is a Minister of State, is that not so? Whether you describe it senior, super senior or upper senior, he is still a Minister of State. If you have a poor sense of who a Prime Minister is; and you want to equate a Senior Minister to a Prime Minister, then your argument falls flat because when you have a Prime Minister you do not have a President,” the lawyer explained.