Opinions Sat, 30 Dec 2017

2017 Under Review: Akufo-Addo and the making of 'Nepotocracy'!

The 2016 political season of Ghana cannot be mentioned without the raucous sobriquet for erstwhile President John Dramani Mahama (JDM); incompetent leader.

The protracted erratic electric power supply, youth unemployment and arrogance of power which characterized JDM’s administration compelled many well-meaning Ghanaians to conclude that they were under ineptocracy [A system of government by incompetent leaders].

Thus, the transfer of power from JDM led National Democratic Congress [NDC] government to President Akufo-Addo led New Patriotic Party [NPP] was a watershed moment for many compatriots. The purpose of this write up is to reflect on Akufo-Addo’s administration under the year 2017.

The beginning of Akufo-Addo’s administration was remarkable. For the first time under fourth republic, a government was able to name almost all his ministers during the first 100 days in office. There were howls of indignation about 110 ministers.

A problematic comparison was made between the unitary system of government practiced in Ghana and the federal system practiced in the United States and Nigeria. For example, article 2 of American Federal Constitution empowers the president to appoint 16 cabinet secretaries including the Vice President.

These 15 departments are replicated in all the 50 states. This means that federal departments plus all states departments will constitute 750 secretariats. Adding their deputies will amount to 1500 secretaries. Remember, Washington D.C is not a State, there are appointees representing the people there.

There are also American territories. If one looks at it superficially, he might conclude United States has only 15 ministers but practically, the secretaries [ministers] are more than 15. The current N.P.P administration is being criticized based on what they said while in opposition about the number of appointees in their predecessor government.

Another remarkable accomplishment of President Akufo-Addo is the clamping down on illegal mining [Galamsey]. Looking at the effects of “galamsey” on environment, stopping it was a necessary intervention. Also, the introduction of Free Senior High School policy was no mean an achievement of the then nine months old Akufo-Addo administration, notwithstanding the challenges.

I was thinking the government would have adopted austerity measures to resuscitate the economy during the first year, but the program was implemented in a wholesale [without a pilot basis]. In spite of the challenges, I think the program is a good one. Congratulation Mr. President on the aforementioned two accomplishments.

However, the nepotocratic administrative style of president Akufo-Addo is not only pernicious to national integration, but equally inimical to the electoral fortunes of the would-be N.P.P presidential candidate.

I personally wrote to condemn JDM’s government which was somewhat based on ethnic extraction. I received a severe backlash from my critics then. As Socrates observed, the saddest person on earth is the one who does not know the extent of his own ignorance. People commit vice due to ignorance.

Why must any one insult and condemn a writer who preaches ethnic and regional balance relative to political appointments? A professor friend of mine teaching at Columbia College and a leadership expert, Kennedy Amofa called and underscored the significance of loyalty in leadership especially in corruption-ridden societies.

Be that as it may, no sooner had I written my article than I heard Professor Stephen Adei, the former Rector of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration [GIMPA] also corroborating my opinion on the ethnic centered government of JDM. The explanation the NDC supporters gave was that JDM’s appointees were from three regions in the north not one province.

President Akufo-Addo’s 2017 administration could somewhat be described as Nepotocracy [A system of government wherein relatives are given positions regardless of their merits].

In the nepotocratic rule even if relatives are not qualified for positions of authority, positions are given to individuals because they are related to someone in authority. Somewhat because in the case President Akufo-Addo, all the appointed relatives qualified for the Job.

However, is that the right approach? Akyem land cannot be an epitome of Ghanaian competence, Mr. President! If Cape Coast is the citadel of education, Accra; the capital of the nation, Kumasi; the garden city of Ghana how then are competence and intelligence limited to Kyebi and Akropong?

We have the right to do everything but not everything is beneficial [I Corinthians 10:23]. We are all astounded by the ethnic pogrom in Myanmar against the Rohingya Moslem minority under Buddhist Majority in Rakhine.

When the ruling minority ethnic group suppresses the other people, and creates impression that the latter is bereft of leadership skills participate in governance, it could be a recipe for conflict.

This is referred to as meta-dehumanization or dehumanizing the out-group in conflict resolution. A prime example, is extra-judicial killings being perpetrated by the Tigris ethnic minority government in Ethiopia. The beginning of every conflict appears innocent. The year 2017 cannot be discussed without political hooliganism that inundated the political landscape of Ghana.

Your administrative style could be responsible for grass-root hooliganism. N.P.P foot soldiers at other regions cannot properly connect to your Ministers from Eastern Region for relevant assistance. You must work assiduously to end political party hoodlum. This could be done by practicing regional balance.

The framers of the 1992 constitution thought of regional and ethnic balance, even so, Akufo-Addo’s administration had remorselessly and without recourse to the constitution introduced paternal and maternal family balance.

Here are some appointees who are related to the President. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice [Gloria Akufo], Chief Justice [Justice Sophia Akuffo]. People are contending that the attorney-general, Chief Justice are not related to President Akufo-Addo. They bear the same name by coincidence, granted.

Was it coincidence also that the two were all professionally trained at President’s chambers? Some of us are curious to know? The Finance minister [Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta], Roads and Highways Minister (Lawyer Kwasi Amoako Atta], Works and Housing Minister [Lawyer Atta Akyea], Nana Asante Bediatuo (Executive Secretary) Eno Ofori-Atta [Deputy MD of SIC] are all relatives of president.

I personally have no issue with Mr. Atta Akyea and Kwasi Amoako Atta because they are all legislators. Just as I had no issue when former president Kufour appointed Dr. Kwame Addo Kufour because he was also a legislator. President’s own daughter, Gyankroma Akufo-Addo is equally appointed into creative arts council. Mr. President, all these people are fantastic team, but you are gambling with NPP’s electoral fortunes.

My own region, BA, you gave us only Kwaku Agyemang Manu [I may be corrected though]. Now that Justice, Finance, housing and roads belong to one family how can we be assured of fairness? Apart from your relatives there are many ministers from eastern region also.

As Mario Cuomo observed: “I have no quarrel with people seeing me as a sinner.” Some of us will continue to write things as they occur.

Mr. President, never be deceived by the Ghanaian culture of silence. You must boldly factor regional balance into your next reshuffle, else you or NPP will only win in the Eastern and Ashanti regions in 2020.

If this continues, there could be voting apathy in the Ashanti region. JDM sidelined the people of Volta Region and he was rewarded with voting apathy during 2016 elections. Remember: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”

Columnist: Winston Churchi