General News of Thursday, 26 January 2017
Parliament will later today, Thursday 26 January discuss the report of the Appointments Committee on the first 10 ministerial nominees vetted.
The consideration of the report was deferred from Wednesday to today pending the resolution of a few issues.
Meanwhile, the committee has put on hold the approval of Senior Minister-designate Yaw Osafo Marfo and Energy Minister-designate Boakye Agyarko.
The nominations of eight other Ministers-designate, who were vetted, have been approved.
They include Alan Kyerematen – Trade, Ken Ofori-Atta – Finance, Dominic Nitiwul – Defence, Albert Kan-Dapaah – National Security, Gloria Akuffo – Attorney General and Justice Minister, Ambrose Dery – the Interior, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey – Foreign Affairs, and Hajia Alima Mahama – Local Government & Rural Development.
With regards to Mr Osafo Marfo, the committee withheld his approval pending further investigation into alleged ethnocentric comments he allegedly made in 2015.
When he appeared before the committee on 20 January, Mr Marfo denied ever saying or implying that only Ghanaians from five resource-rich regions, all of which happen to be Akan-dominated areas in the country, should lead Ghana.
In February 2015, he was reported as saying even though about 90 per cent of Ghana’s natural resources were concentrated in the five mainly Akan-speaking regions, it is rather people who come from resource-poor regions who were at the helm of affairs at the time he made those alleged comments.
The comment was contained on an audiotape secretly recorded as the former Finance Minister, who is also the Chairman of the New Patriotic Party’s Eastern regional Council of Elders, was addressing some party members ahead of the 2016 general elections.
Mr Marfo, who spoke the Twi language punctuated with some English, was heard bemoaning why Akan-speaking people, whose regions are rich with natural resources, are not the ones at the helm of managing those resources.
“…You have all the resources, but you have no say in the management of your resources and that is what is happening. Your development depends on the one who has no resources,” he said, cautioning: “You can’t say this openly,” except among Asantes. “We should protect ourselves, we should protect our income. No one who is the source of income, the source of revenue, the source of resources allows another person without those resources the chance [to rule over them]. It’s never done anywhere in the world. In the world over, it is the group with the most resources that rules and not the other way around,” he added.
In his estimation, as reported at the time, “86.5 per cent of resources in Ghana come from five regions: Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern, Western, and Central. This is where 86 per cent of the resources of Ghana come from. … And the oil was also discovered in the West. It will change the formula to about 90 per cent. We cannot ignore these five regions. We should not.”
Clarifying the comment to the Appointments Committee of Parliament on Friday, 20 January during his vetting as Senior Minister-designate, Mr Osafo Marfo said: “This is one of those distorted ‘cut and paste’ statements.
“I’m the Chairman of the Council of Elders of the NPP in the Eastern Region. We were fighting this election  on the economy and I was giving a series of lectures on the economy to various groups within the region. When it got to the turn of the Council of Elders, the regional chair spoke, Hon Hackman spoke, I spoke and I spoke on the economy, but you don’t talk about the economy by starting with the resource location; … I started by talking about how poorly this economy has been managed that we have gone from GHS9.4bn debt to GHS110bn debt at the time, and how growth, without oil, was 1.9bn and had dwindled to about 4% etc., … And I said something which I’ve said in this room: that Ghana is not poor and that the resource base of this country is found in five regions and I mentioned the regions specifically because I was making a strong economic argument.
“Now people removed all that I said about the poor management of the economy and then made it look like I started by talking about the resource locations of this thing and put it forward and changed certain things to make me look like I was being a tribalist and it was bad, this is where I find people very mischievous; … You take the whole thing out of context and make it look very tribalistic, so, I think, yes, it happened, newspapers reported something wrong and I think people should be ashamed of themselves when they do this kind of ‘cut and paste’ to create that wrong impression in the system…” Mr Osafo Marfo clarified.
He also refused to apologise for the alleged comment when he appeared before the committee. “Mr Chairman, I cannot apologise for what I have not said.”
The committee intends listening to the said tape in an attempt to seek clarity on the alleged ethnocentric comment.
As far as Mr Agyarko’s nomination is concerned, committee member Mubarak Muntaka told Accra-based Joy FM on Wednesday that “for the nominee to say the World Bank was breathing down the neck of former President Mahama, it was very much uncalled for”.