General News of Tuesday, 31 January 2017
Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister-designate Otiko Afisa Djaba’s defensiveness during her appearance before parliament’s Appointments Committee is likely to set the tone for political opponents to hurl invectives at President Nana Akufo-Addo in the run-up to the 2020 presidential elections, Osei Kwadwo Addo, a lawyer and lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, has warned.
Ms Djaba, during her vetting by parliament on Monday January 30, stood by some comments she made against John Mahama when the latter was president. The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP)’s Women’s Organiser told the committee she would not apologise to ex-president John Mahama for once describing him as having “the heart of the devil”, “evil”, “wicked”, and “an embarrassment” to Ghanaians of Northern extraction.
“I don’t owe him (Mr Mahama) or you (Alhassan Suhuyini) any apology…” she said in response to the Tamale North MP’s question during her vetting on Monday, 30 January about whether she would apologise to the ex-president on whom she used those words during the electioneering period ahead of the 7 December 2016 elections.
“My comment about he being an embarrassment was in relation to SADA, it was in relation to SADA that I said he had embarrassed Northerners and the Northern chiefs themselves had come to say same,” Ms Djaba justified, explaining: “When I talked about his wickedness, the people of Ghana were asking for reductions, they were asking for ‘dumsor’ to be solved, people were losing jobs and so forth … what I said was within the context of that period.”
When asked by Tamale South MP Haruna Iddrisu if she would withdraw those words owing to their harshness, which the minority took “strong exception to,” Ms Djaba retorted: “Are you saying that we cannot criticise in this country? Are you saying that my right to speak [is curtailed?] … It was not an insult, it was a criticism and I’m allowed as a citizen of Ghana to criticise the president and these are descriptive words, it is not an insult.”
Asked by Mr Iddrisu if she stood by her words, Ms Djaba said: “Yes Mr Chairman. … I did not insult the president, I criticised him.”
In 2014, Ms Djaba told Moro Awudu on Radio XYZ’s breakfast show that: “This president (Mr Mahama) is not serious. He has embarrassed a lot of Northerners.”
Reacting to Mr Mahama’s promise, at the time, to progressively make senior high school education free as announced in the State of the Nation address presented to Parliament in that year, Ms Djaba said: “He’s embarrassing Mother Ghana and the IMF is telling him: ‘E no dey go well’, so he should stop the ‘edey be k?k?’, put down his Dubai things and get down to the ground and give us the bread-and-butter things that we need for the development of this country.”
Also, in the heat of the 2016 campaign, Ms Djaba said: “President Mahama’s time is up. …President Mahama is extremely wicked, and, so, he must step down. We need change, we need someone who is passionate about this country. You have to vote massively for Nana Akufo Addo. We need change this year. Your time is up President Mahama.”
However, airing his views on the matter on Accra News on Monday January 30, Mr Addo said the nominee’s decision to stand by the words she used on the ex-president even when given the opportunity by parliament to retract them only provides ammunition to political opponents to direct similar vitriol at President Akufo-Addo during electioneering in 2020.
“She has set Nana Akufo-Addo up for attacks, such that if any of his ministers gets mired in scandal, the criticism will be directed at Nana [Akufo-Addo] and it won’t be in good taste. This was an opportunity for Otiko Djaba to make politics clean and more attractive. But with her demeanour during the vetting, the things that will be levelled at the president during the 2020 polls will not be good,” he told Nana Ama Agyarko.
According to Mr Addo, Ms Djaba, during yesterday’s screening, should have learnt to separate “political platform talk” from the “serious business” that speaking in parliament enjoins, instead of justifying the remarks she made during party campaigns.
He further described her as a “vindictive” character who, if approved, people will find “very difficult to work with”, a trait he said is not apt for one assigned to manage people. Such conduct, the lawyer explained, was at odds with “building bridges”.