Four Deputy-Ministerial nominees faced the Appointments Committee on Monday, June 7, 2021. First to appear before the Committee was the Deputy Minister-designate for Energy and Member of Parliament for Sekondi Lawyer Andrew Egyapa Mercer.
Three others, Deputy Minister-designate for Education, John Ntim Fordjour, George Mireku Duker who was pencilled for the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and Deputy Minister-designate for Health, Tina Gifty Naa Ayeley Mensah took turns to inform the 25-member Committee about how they will contribute to the success of the second administration of President Akufo-Addo.
Deputy Energy Minister-Nominee Andrew Egyapa Mercer graduated from the University of Ghana with Honours in Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and Bachelor of Law and later studied at the Ghana School of Law and qualified as a lawyer after passing his Bar examination.
The nominee denied any knowledge of workers’ agitation at GRIDCo but stressed that current power outages and challenges facing the country was largely because of the stability programme that the power transmission company was rolling out aimed at improving the power sector.
He stated that there was no conflict of interest when he held a position at TG Energy Company which was later found to be part of the PDS and added that it was appropriate for Lawyers to be appointed as Directors and Secretaries as well as play their roles as Lawyers and further indicated there was no indication of fraud during the suspension of the PDS deal.
According to him, some material breaches had occurred which were going to be investigated, and on the issue of him heading to the Energy Ministry when the company TG Energy currently at court with the Ministry of Energy is indirectly part of the PDS deal, the nominee said he was willing to change his views on some issues of fraudulence he first did not subscribe to.
Second-term Member of Parliament for Assin South with an academic background in Mineral Engineering, Economic Policy Management and Foreign Policy John Ntim Fordjour appeared next before the Committee for evaluation and suitability for the Education Ministry.
A minister of the gospel, he holds a Master of Arts Degree (MA) in Economic Policy Management from the University of Ghana, Legon and Postgraduate Certificate in Governance and Anti-Corruption Methods from Georgetown University, Washington D.C. and is at the concluding stage (5th Year) of his PhD in Political Science.
According to him, the Government over the past five years has made major investments in education without compromising the quality and stressed that annual reports from the education sector show that quality has not been compromised.
He informed the Committee that Government will have complete abandoned school projects started by previous governments and hinted President Akufo-Addo has completed 29 of the E Block projects while the VALCO Trust intervention, among others, was geared towards eradicating schools under trees.
Asked if the free SHS policy could have been implemented differently with regards to infrastructure and funds in some constituencies where there are no classrooms, the nominee replied the Constitution doesn’t permit discrimination against individuals who seek to access education.
On the issue of the school feeding programme, he said the National Food Buffer Stock has been engaged to address challenges about the supply of food to Senior High Schools in the country in order to continue the supply of food to them and that the necessary stakeholders would be engaged as promised by the Ministry and also ensure the completion of abandoned projects under the GET Fund Projects.
The nominee admitted to sacrificing about 400,000 students because of infrastructure which according to him was not the best alternative, hence the reason to introduce the track system while assuring that the issue of infrastructure was being expeditiously addressed.
Next to face, the Committee was the nominee heading to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Member of Parliament for Tarkwa-Nsuaem George Mireku Duker.
He obtained an M.S.C in Oil and Gas Management from the University of Plymouth, U.K, a B.ED in Accounting from the University of Education and a Cert A from Komeda College.
According to him, about 20 concessions of large mining companies have been ratified by Parliament and admitted that though excavators were being seized, no gold and other resources have been confiscated.
According to the Deputy Minister-designate, the menace of illegal mining or galamsey has not reached a state of emergency level hence there is no justification to call for a declaration of a state of emergency in the fight against the menace. He however admitted that he supported the burning of excavators since he subscribed to the assertion that extraordinary conditions call for extraordinary measures.
The nominee said there exist legislative frameworks to address land quarrying and sand winning and urged the Committee and other Members of Parliament to be active in the ongoing projects in their various constituencies for there cannot be other amicable ways of addressing illegal mining issues rather than burning the excavators.
Deputy Minister-Designate for Health Tina Gifty Naa Ayele Mensah, MP for Weija-Gbawe constituency and nominated for the same position she held during President Akufo Addo’s first administration was the last to be vetted for the day.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Masters in International Relations and Diplomacy from GIMPA.
The appointee informed the Committee Chairman Joseph Osei Owusu and the leadership of the Committee on how she would assist the sector Minister in her Ministry.
She said the Ministry of Health is the acritical sector of the economy that seeks to improve the health status of all people living in the country thereby contributing to the Government’s developmental agenda and underscored the importance of ensuring health literacy to be an effective health promotion approach that can accelerate action.