Otiko Afisah Djaba
Parliament yesterday unanimously approved five additional ministers-designate who were vetted this week, except the Minister-designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisah Djaba, whose approval the National Democratic Congress (NDC) minority Members of Parliament (MPs) strongly kicked against.
The minority’s argument was that Otiko Djaba did not do her national service and also she used ‘insulting’ words to describe former President John Mahama during the electioneering campaign last year.
According to the minority MPs, they did not understand why she called the former president ‘wicked and a man with evil heart’ and when she was asked to apologise at the vetting, she stood by her words, saying she did not owe the former president any apology and that she was only criticising him for plunging the economy into a mess.
Apparently seeing Otiko’s vetting as a ‘payback time,’ the minority has blocked her approval until she renders an apology to John Mahama.
Wa Central MP, Rashid Pelpuo, spoke the minds of his colleagues when he demanded the withdrawal of the alleged offensive comments against former President Mahama, before Otiko could be considered for approval.
“My surprise is that she is coming to occupy a ministry that demands a lot of compassion. She is going to occupy a ministry that demands a lot of humility, but she did not show any of these things when she was confronted with the question of insulting a former president. In our tradition, you don’t look in the face of the elderly and say; ‘you are stupid, your head is big and you are evil.’ Nobody does that in our tradition.
“Mr. Speaker, because she did not reflect the kind of person who should occupy that position, I want to suggest that we suspend her approval and bring it up at a later time,” Pelpuo, a former minister at the presidency, posited.
The five ministers-designate approved by consensus were Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, for Monitoring and Evaluation; Dan Botwe, Regional Reorganisation and Development;
John Peter Amewu, Lands and Natural Resources; Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Employment and Labour Relations and Samuel Atta Akyea, Works and Housing.
The Appointments Committee had recommended that Otiko Afisah Djaba be approved by majority decision at the plenary after the minority had kicked against her approval at the committee level.
The voting by the MPs to approve her was, however, deferred to Tuesday, February 7, after Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu and other minority MPs had strongly objected to her approval.
They are calling on the majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) members to also reject her because “she would not be a good minister, looking at her countenance and demeanor at the vetting” which according to them, depicted a high degree of arrogance.
The Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka, said for the nominee to have refused to do her national service indicated that she’s not patriotic.
He said the NPP MPs call themselves patriotic because the name of their party even suggests that; and for them to be supporting a nominee who is ‘unpatriotic’ enough not to have done her national service would be a betrayal of their beliefs.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the argument of the minority did not hold water because every nominee for ministerial position is judged by his or her competence and qualification for the job.
He said the ability of a nominee to perform as minister should not be judged by her hairstyle, the size of her nose or her beauty, among others.
He said Otiko Djaba acquitted herself well and proved that she has the competence to do the work.
He said Article 94 and clause 3 of the same Article of the Constitution are clear on the criteria a nominee should meet before becoming a minister.
The majority leader said the House could have carried out voting to approve the Minister-designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection but it was late in the day so the voting should be deferred to Tuesday, which the speaker agreed.
The minority members spoke highly of the five other nominees, who were approved by consensus, especially Dan Botwe, Atta Akyea and Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, for their affability and depth of knowledge to run their respective ministries.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr