One of the most difficult decisions President Akufo-Addo had to take since he was sworn into office five months ago was to decide who among his “large size” and lopsided Ministers join his 19-member Cabinet, The aL-hAJJ can confirm.
Though the President has been reluctant naming his Cabinet, sources in government say the pressure on him from some sections of the Ghanaian populace was becoming unbearable, hence his decision to release the names of those who constitute the roundly criticized Cabinet.
“Putting together this Cabinet wasn’t easy for His Excellency. Though the constitution did not mention which Ministries should constitute Cabinet, several factors come into play when doing some of these things,” the source stated.
Adding that, “at the end, His Excellency was forced to sacrifice some key Ministries in order to achieve regional and gender balance.
Even with that, people are still raising eyebrows because you cannot have a Cabinet without your National Security Minister, Local Government Minister and even Science and Technology Minister.
These are priority areas for most governments around the world in modern times so when they are left out of Cabinet it sends some signals to the public.”
A highly placed source at the Flag Staff House also told The aL-hAJJ that the President had no choice than to leave out some key ministerial portfolios from his overly delayed 19-member Cabinet which has been described by many as “rubber stamp”.
“In constituting this Cabinet, the President had to focus on regional and gender balance and forget about the sensitiveness and importance of this or, that Ministry.
If he had focused on the latter, some regions may have been left out of his Cabinet. Because most of the key positions have been concentrated in two regions,” the source disclosed.
After persistent pressure from Ghanaians, President Akufo-Addo last week reluctantly made public his Cabinet through the Speaker of Parliament, Prof Aaron Mike Ocquaye who announced the list on the floor of Parliament.
The names include, Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeremanten, Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta; Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul; Minister of Interior, Ambrose Dery; Minister of Energy, Dr. Boakye Agyarko; Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway; and Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto
Others are Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh; Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu; Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei; Ministry of Regional Reorganization and Development, Dan Kweku Botwe; Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu; Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, Joseph Kofi Adda.
The rest are Ministry of Railway Development, Joe Ghartey; Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Bafuor Awuah; Ministry of Transport, Kweku Ofori Asiamah, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Art, Catherine Afeku and Ministry of Special Development Initiative, Mavis Hawa Koomson.
However, President Akufo-Addo has been criticized for ignoring key Ministerial portfolios and also leaving out Muslims. Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak expressed reservation about the exclusion of Local Government Minister and Senior Minister from Cabinet.
Alhaji Muntaka said their exemption was indicative of the fact that these portfolios were not considered priority areas by the President.
“If they were, I don’t see why they would not be on the cabinet list…you look at the issue of local development and the way it cuts across, and they don’t find representation in the Cabinet.
They [Senior and Local Government Ministers] may be attending as participants, but it is surprising that for the first time, you don’t have the Local Government minister and the Senior Minister.” the Asawase MP told Accra based Citi FM.
While Ghana’s constitution allows a President to invite any person including non-Cabinet Ministers to attend Cabinet meetings, such persons have no voting rights and are therefore less influential as far as Cabinet decisions are concerned.
According to Hon Muntaka Mubarak, such invitees also forfeit all rights, privileges and other emoluments attached to Cabinet Minister Portfolio.
“It comes with salary, it comes with other conditions of service, and it comes with participating at cabinet sub-meetings.
It comes with a lot of influence. If you know the emolument structure and a number of things, you will know that for Cabinet ministers and non-Cabinet ministers, the weight allotted to them is different,” he noted.