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Opinions Mon, 7 Jun 2010

No Deputy Upper-West Regional Minister?

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

This is a story about the firing of Mr. Mahmood Khadid, the former Upper-West Regional Minister. It is, however, not about either/and/or the merits or demerits of the firing itself; rather, it is about the apparent breach or lack of proper chain of command with regard to Mr. Khadid’s most immediate replacement.

Ordinarily, one would have thought that the vacuum created by the Upper-West’s regional minister’s firing would be logically filled by the latter’s deputy, but in this instance it was Mr. Moses Mabenga, the Northern Regional Minister, who was asked in a statement signed by the presidential secretary, Mr. J. K. Bebaako-Mensah, to deputize “until a substantive minister” was appointed. This is rather bizarre, since almost every one of the ten major administrative regions of Ghana has an officially appointed and/or designated Deputy Regional Minister, who is paid to perform and act not only as a Lieutenant-Governor of his/her particular region, but also as a ready and immediate successor to the substantive Regional Minister in case of an emergency or should the need arise. And in the case of the Khadid dilemma, this clearly appears to have been the situation.

At any rate, assuming that at the time of his dismissal Mr. Khadid either had no officially designated deputy or one who was deemed competent by the “Atta Chimp” presidency, couldn’t Osu Castle have asked the Deputy Northern Regional Minister, instead, to serve as interim Upper-West Regional Minister until a substantive one was appointed in the offing by the presidency and promptly confirmed by Parliament, I suppose?

In other words, the procedure by which the presidency went about the replacement of Mr. Khadid, disturbingly bespeaks of the cavalier attitude of the current NDC government towards the people and affairs of the Upper-West Region and, in fact, the entire northern sector of the country at large. More so because not very long ago, the people of the Northern Region, the largest in land size, were clamoring for the region to be divided up into at least two discrete administrative units, on the quite geographically plausible grounds of poor transportation/communication infrastructure.

So how come, then, that now President Mills, after all, clearly appears to be siding with those of us who have vehemently argued in the recent past that the chief ministerial administrators of the three northern regions are, indeed, also the most underemployed in the country?

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But you just wait a minute, dear reader: that is not quite the point that I am driving at. The real issue in focus here is the fact that the government of the so-called National Democratic Congress has been so incredibly successful in portraying the New Patriotic Party as anti-Northern that when the people of the Upper-West Region got so thunderously slighted recently, it made absolutely no dent, whatsoever, on our national conscience. Rather, it was Mr. Mahmood Khadid who was given the heave-ho and conveniently scapegoated for what appears to have been his admirably non-partisan approach to the awarding of public contracts.

But that both party executives and the regional youth wing of the NDC would accuse Mr. Khadid of “favoring his cronies” in the awarding of public contracts must raise eyebrows. For precisely who are these “cronies,” if not fellow NDC journeymen and women? And on the latter score must also be vividly recalled similar accusations registered during the Kufuor-led NPP tenure, to the quizzical effect that contractual awards were being outrageously afforded the “morally undeserving,” by which critics simply meant that some supporters and sympathizers of the then-opposition National Democratic Congress were being unduly allowed equal access to government/public contracts, something to which they were inalienably entitled by virtue of their being citizens of Ghana, assuming, of course, that such contractual candidates and winners had also met competency criteria for such awards.

That Mr. Khadid and his supporters and sympathizers have vehemently denied the cronyism charges is really beside the point, vis-à-vis our present discourse. What is relevant here is the apparent lack of distinction between political partisanship and the noble business of national governance, or statesmanship, among the membership of the ruling National Democratic Congress. And this is very disturbing, in view of the fact of the Mills-Mahama government clearly seeming to have sided with those who would have the rest of us – civically responsible and law-abiding Ghanaians – believe that, indeed, it is “Party Time in Dzelukope,” rather than beam with pride for having, in fact, entrusted the affairs of our dear nation into the hands of people who believe in the inextricable organicity of our common destiny.

Mr. Mahmood Khadid has also publicly observed that he has absolutely no regrets for having acted with a good conscience and in good faith while he served as regional minister. And we have no reason to believe that he ought not to be happy for having been liberated from the boorish tentacles of partisan piranhas. We also hope that this evidently fine gentleman would now find his way into the purposeful company of those of us who believe in the salutary instrumentation of politics as a functional conduit for statesmanship and stateswomanship, for that matter.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), and the author of 21 books, including “Crosscurrents” (Atumpan Publications/Lulu.com, 2009). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame
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