Is the government afraid of its policies being monitored?

Wed, 6 Nov 2013 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Monday, November 4, 2013

Folks, Dr. Tony Aidoo, Head of Policy, Evaluation and Oversight Unit at the Presidency, is out again, raising his concerns of neglect to a higher notch for public attention. He is reported to be demanding answers from the government regarding the status of his office. Reasons?

i. He and his office are denied “the needed funds to run his office”

ii. His outfit has been rendered almost redundant and dormant since the death of President Mills

iii. Prosper Bani, Chief of Staff has not shown courtesy to him by failing to acknowledge the letters that he has sent to the government to explain issues for him to know why his office is being so maltreated—in effect, lack of courtesy to him.

It has been reported that “a frustrated Tony Aidoo told the media that problems such as non-payment of salaries of his staff for the last six months were not issues that he would normally put out for public consumption. He, however, said his outfit had been abandoned by the NDC administration for no apparent reason”.

He said many more:

• President Mahama had been made aware of these predicaments about nine months ago and had promised to resource the office.

• His readiness to throw in the towel and walk away at any time, if his services were no longer needed.

• He has written numerous letters to the Chief of Staff, Mr. Prosper Bani, asking that a bold decision be made on his somewhat 'defunct' position in government.

• His letters to the Chief of Staff on regulating the appointments of his staff and clear definitions on the functions of his office have been disregarded.

• It appears his office, in practical sense, is defunct, but administratively, he always receives correspondence from the Presidency which bears the letterhead of his position.

(See: https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=290835)

Expression of genuine frustration or concern? Yes. Any particular reason why President Mahama won’t support Dr. Aidoo’s work? I have no idea but can guess that there is something amiss.

Pertinent questions:

• Why did the late President Mills establish the Policy, Evaluation and Oversight Unit at the Presidency? Was it because of the need for direct input from that Unit to assist the President in knowing the state of affairs regarding the policies that his government enunciated and implemented? What did that Unit do to that effect to warrant its being retained in the Mahama administration?

• Why has the government turned round to disregard it to warrant Dr. Aidoo’s outbursts? Has this Unit justified its existence by way of performance? Or, is it just now being exposed as a redundant unit whose work is already being done by other state institutions?

• What prevents President Mahama and the Chief of Staff from spilling the beans to lay minds at ease—if, indeed, Dr. Aidoo’s work is irrelevant or if the Unit isn’t providing the input needed to solve problems regarding policy implementation?

• What will Ghana lose without this Unit? In other words, is this Unit in existence just to serve purposes of job-for-the-boys and is now exposed as such to be trampled upon? Who is to take the bold decision to disband it on that score? Or is the President playing hide-and-seek to wear Dr. Aidoo and his Unit down and out of contention?

We acknowledge the fact that for a President to establish such a Unit at the Presidency, he must have seen the need for direct support to help him be abreast of the times as far as his government’s policy initiatives and their impact on national life are concerned. Was that the motivation for the late President Mills’ establishment of this Unit? What has changed for President Mahama not to want that Unit anymore and treat it this way as Dr. Aidoo is chafing over?

You see, folks, the issues emerging over the relationship between the Presidency and appointees cannot be glossed over as infinitesimal nor should we just dismiss the grouchy functionaries as being petty or “enemies within” the government. They highlight deeper-level problems that we must be interested in as citizens wishing that our leaders would be up-and-doing to make life livable for us through the policies that they enunciate and implement.

And the rationale behind government policies should be clearly understood and appreciated so that nobody takes the situation for granted. If, indeed, President Mahama and his team are bent on solving national problems through the policies that they enunciate and implement, then, they should not be afraid of supporting a Unit that is tasked with monitoring those policies and reporting on their impact.

In this vein, it beats my understanding why Dr. Aidoo’s Unit is being shortchanged. Is anybody hiding anything? What for? Or, is the centre refusing to hold for the Mahama administration? Let no one be deceived into thinking that nation building is a child’s play thing. From what is emerging, I am tempted to suspect that some needless head-butting is going on in officialdom that must be stopped forthwith!!

As government functionaries come out to bare their teeth, they paint a nasty picture of the government and President Mahama’s governance style which, in and of itself, has the tendency to erode public confidence in him. Within the past two days, we’ve been given that picture by Alban Bagbin and Dr. Aidoo. How many more will follow suit?

As the economic situation worsens and Ghanaians sit on tenterhooks, anything that portrays the Mahama-led administration in a bad light should prick everyone’s concern. That is why it is imperative for the President to be on top of the game (of politics) and do all he can to ensure that the boat is not rocked at will. He must stamp his authority on the administration and get things done!

In this early part of his reign, one expects more dynamism and focus than what has ensued so far. Is he listening at all?

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.