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Opinions Sat, 18 Mar 2017

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Akufo-Addo's 110 reward package and the weird defence

By: Sulemana Braimah

On Wednesday, President Akufo-Addo released the list of additional Ministers and Deputy Ministers, bringing his total number of ministers to 110. As expected, the government has since been under fire from the citizenry. The citizens are angry at what is obviously a juicy reward package for party folks to feed fat on the public purse.

Not surprisingly, and to prove to Ghanaians that this government is not different from all previous ones, party and government officials are desperately defending the ridiculous number of minister appointees. They do so even as they are fully aware that their arguments are not only weird but also catastrophic.

I have read and listened to the Information Minister in his struggles to put up a defence and I got chocked. I have read from the the party's communications director and I got shocked. I have also read this morning, the president's justification for his reward to party folks, which has been neatly packaged and branded as appointments, and I got dazed .

The more I listen to the justifications from government the more I despair and feel sad. This is because I had high hopes that there was going to be real change with this government. But am realising the value may just be the same.

Here are a summary of some of the arguments and my response:

1. The challenges facing our country are so huge that it requires that number of Ministers.

MY RESPONSE:This defence is as ridiculous as someone proposing that the challenges of our country are so huge and that one president cannot manage the country so we need two or three presidents at a time to deal with the challenges.

2. The Numbers don't matter it's about efficiency.

MY RESPONSE: I thought the definition of efficiency is using less resource to achieve more and NOT more resources to achieve more.

3.Some sectors needed to be split and assigned to ministers to ensure quick progress in those areas and that is why we have separate Ministers for Aviation (even as we don't have a national airline), Railways (with a dead railway system), Transport, and then Roads.

MY RESPONSE:

What is the evidence that this works? President Kufour appointed an Aviation Minister and that was when we held the final funeral rites of our then ailing national airline, Ghana airways. He had a Minister for Ports and Railways, there was no progress in both sectors; he had a Minister of Tourism and Capital City Development and yet the troubles of our capital got worse.

President Mahama had Stan Dogbe, brought the respected Ben Dotsei Malor and had a Minister of information with two deputies all for government communications.That was when the government information machinery broke down beyond repairs. So where is the evidence?

4. NPP did not promise a lean government.

MY RESPONSE: Did they promise a fat government? A major problem we have always had has been the big size of government. So NPP was to solve this, not to worsen it. You don't solve a problem by creating more of the same problem.

5. The President knows what he is doing:

MY RESPONSE: All presidents always knew what they were doing. And Ghanaians also know what they want.

6. Majority of the appointees are MPs so people should not worry about the cost.

MY RESPONSE:

MPs buy their own cars, will the MP-ministers buy their own official cars? MPs don't have police body guards, will the MP-ministers be without police guards? What about the housing and all the other freebies? Ghanaians are not fools and we know why every MP wants to be a Minister.

The President told the Council of State to advise him properly and tell him the truth. What is the advise of the Council on this one?

Columnist: Sulemana Braimah

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