General News of Saturday, 28 January 2017
The president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, yesterday swore in the first batch of 12 ministers, charging them to work towards fulfilling the campaign promise of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to bring about the change in the lives of the people.
He said Ghanaians voted for “a change in the quality of the governance, a change in the management of the national economy and a change in the national attitude. That is why we are here, that is why they voted for us so overwhelmingly. Together we shall deliver.”
“The Ghanaian people want government that would protect the public purse and ensure value for money. We cannot fail and we must not fail,” he charged the ministers.
The ministers are Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Senior Minister; Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, National Security; Mr Alan Kwakwo Kyerematen, Trade and Industry; Mr Ambrose Dery, the Interior; and Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance.
Others are Mr Dominic Nitiwul, Defence; Ms Gloria Akuffo, Attorney General and Minister of Justice; Hajia Alima Mahama, Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Boakye Agyarko, Energy; Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Agriculture and Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, Health.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, who is already in Ethiopia on a national assignment, will be sworn into office at Ghana’s Embassy in Addis Ababa.
President Akufo-Addo was scheduled to leave Accra yesterday for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to attend a two-day Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU).
Swearing in the ministers, President Akufo-Addo explained that the issue of corruption was a major issue in the 2016 elections and said that was why the manifesto before the election made a comprehensive undertaking to guarantee public accountability.
President Akufo-Addo reiterated the commitment of the government to establish by Act of Parliament an office of Special Prosecutor which would be independent of the Executive to investigate and prosecute certain categories of cases.
He explained that the office would be created in a manner consistent with the 1992 Constitution and its independence would be protected by statute to free it of any political witch-hunting and harassment.
He also declared the commitment of his government to implement an effective asset declaration regime.
Stating the relevant elements of the regime, he said, “The President, shall, within 14 days, forward a list of appointment in pursuance of Chapter 24 of the Constitution to the Auditor-General.
“The Attorney-General shall forward to Parliament, a law requiring the Auditor-General to publish periodically the list of all persons appointed under Chapter 24 of the Constitution who have declared [their assets],” he said.
He thanked the Members of Parliament for the expeditious way they vetted the nominees and said he was hopeful that same would be applied in the subsequent ones.
President Nana Akufo-Addo said “In you, we have the men and women that will quickly turn around the fortunes of this country.”
He congratulated all the appointees on their appointment, expressing the confident that they would discharge their responsibility to justify why the Ghanaians voted massively for the party.
Responding on behalf of his colleagues, Mr Osafo-Maafo pledged to work hard to achieve the goals set up by the NPP administration.
In a related development, the suspense surrounding the approval of the Senior Minister designate, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, and the Minister designate for Energy, Mr Boakye Agyarko, by Parliament was put to rest when the House, by consensus, gave the nod to the two ministers designate at its sitting yesterday reports Musah Yahaya Jafaru,
That was after the two nominees had come to Parliament to clarify some issues with the leadership of Parliament and members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament (ACP).
The Minority members of the Appointments Committee said they needed documentary clarification of some issues against the two before they could reach a consensus on their approval.
The Chairman of the Appointments Committee and First Deputy Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, had earlier presented the committee’s report indicating that members of the committee could not reach a consensus on Messrs Osafo-Maafo and Agyarko and that they should be approved by majority decision.
However, he said, the committee agreed that Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister designate for Agriculture; Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Minister designate for Education, and Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, Minister designate for Health, be approved by consensus.
Presenting the position of the Minority, the Minority Leader and Ranking Member of the APC, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said the Minority members wanted Mr Osafo-Maafo to clarify his statement to the effect that his involvement in the CNTI loan was revoked in the records of Parliament.
That, he said, was crucial because the Minority did not have any evidence to corroborate that statement.
Besides, Mr Iddrisu said the Minority had issues with the alleged ethnocentric comment that Mr Osafo-Maafo made publicly, which sought to polarise the country.
He said Mr Osafo-Maafo had told the APC that the comments were distorted.
Mr Iddrisu said the committee wanted recordings to compare what he told the committee with what was on the tape.
He said if Mr Osafo-Maafo was able to provide the recordings, clarify the statement and provide evidence to show that the CNTI loan issue had been expunged from the parliamentary records, they could reach a consensus.
On Mr Agyarko, Mr Iddrisu said the Minister designate for Energy was not able to reconcile his statement on the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) debt.
Besides, he said, Mr Agyarko alleged that former President John Dramani Mahama was involved in the sole sourcing of the Floating Storage and Regasification Units (FSRUs), and further claimed that there were three FSRUs.
Mr Iddrisu said in order to reach consensus on the approval, Messrs Osafo-Maafo and Agyarko needed to appear before the ACP members to clarify the issues with evidence.
Majority Leader supports
The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, informed the House that Messrs Osafo-Maafo and Agyarko were in the Speaker’s waiting room.
He, therefore, suggested that the leadership and leaders of the ACP should go and meet them for the clarification.
Consequently, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, granted the leadership the leave to meet the two nominees.
Outcome of the meeting
When they returned from the meeting, Mr Iddrisu indicated that Messrs Osafo-Maafo and Agyarko had clarified the issues and that the Minority had now decided that the two be approved by consensus.
Mr Iddrisu said Mr Agyarko had withdrawn his statement which sought to impugn corruption on former President Mahama on the FSRUs.
According to him, what Mr Agyarko said in relation to the FSRUs was not true, and that the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) had only two FSRUs with one outstanding outside, with no financial commitment.
On the energy debt, he said, Mr Agyarko stated that not a single agency in the energy sector could tell him the exact debt.
Mr Iddrisu said Mr Osafo-Maafo had indicated that he was not a tribalist, and the comments were misconstrued.
He added that Mr Osafo-Maafo said the CNTI loan elapsed, and that he (Mr Osafo-Maafo) did not come to Parliament for it to be expunged from the records.