General News of Friday, 20 January 2017
Former Finance Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has defended President Nana Addo’s creation of the Senior Minister portfolio, explaining at his vetting, that his core duty will be to “coordinate the roles of the various economic ministries in the new government.”
President Akufo- Addo’s nomination of Mr. Osado-Maafo as Senior Minister, has been met with condemnations, with critics saying the it is a superfluous portfolio with no proper designation.
Speaking at the vetting of ministerial nominees underway at Parliament House, the Senior Minister nominee explained that, “the President in his own wisdom decided that he should be called Senior Minister of State.”
Osaafo Maafo made the comment while responding to Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga’s question on whether Nana Addo’s creation of the Senior Minister office was constitutional.
Supporting his argument with Article 78 (2) of the constitution, Mr. Maafo posited that, the President has the prerogative to appoint anyone to any portfolio he deems fit. Article 78 (2) of the 1992 constitution states that “the President shall appoint such number of Ministers of State as may be necessary for the efficient running of the state. “
“There is only one Minister that is mentioned in the constitution of ours and that is the Attorney General. In other clauses, other Ministers have been mentioned ; Finance, Interior and Defence under the security because they are members of the Security Council.”
“The president told me specifically that we (NPP) have had a senior minister before in the person of J.H. Mensah, whom I worked with because at the time I was the minister of finance and he coordinated the economic sector ministries. All the productive sectors are referred to as economic sector, and they will be a major bloc as a subcommittee of parliament, and they coordinate the activities of the economic sectors of his cabinet, as it may be, and he wanted me to bring my experience as a [former] minister of finance, as somebody who has done a similar job in Uganda, as somebody who has done a similar job in Liberia, to bear on his government; so I’m playing a coordinated role for the economic sector as it were.”
He added that, He explained further that, “The economic sector relates to the other ministries, so, naturally my experience will be brought to bear on my colleagues to make sure that we resuscitate the economy in a much homogenized manner so that there will be harmony. From our manifesto, one of the major priorities of the president is to transform the economy because as you are aware, the economy is in some difficulty, we are in an IMF programme and we hope to come out with flying colours.”
The concerns raised by Mahama Ayariga were also contained in a letter he earlier wrote to Nana Akuffo –Addo a few days ahead of the vetting.
In that letter, the Bawku Central MP had argued that, Nana Addo 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.”
But the Minister Nominee for Works and Housing, and a legal practitioner, Samuel Atta Akyea, subsequently watered down his concerns, describing them as hollow and shallow.
President Akufo- Addo nominated the former Finance Minister under the erstwhile Kufuor administration as Senior Minister last week, pending parliamentary approval. The Senior Minister concept was first introduced during the erstwhile NPP administration under John Kufuor.