The practice of highly placed government officials having their equally highly qualified adult children and relatives serve in responsible and generously salaried executive positions of public trust is far more of the norm than the aberration around the globe.
Where such practice is generally disdained is when the adult children of government leaders are deliberately groomed to replace their parents more in the form and shape of hereditary appointments, such as has been done in Togo, Kenya, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Syria.
The list goes on and on and on. Even in constitutional monarchies, such as Britain, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the system has often been skewed or corrupted to favor the closest kin of sitting monarchs or those recently expired. I never saw any of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s most virulent critics whine when Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, II, recently named her dauphin, to wit, Prince Charles, as the new Head of the Commonwealth of former British colonies and colonials.
The same critics did not seem to have had any qualms with former President John Agyekum-Kufuor, when shortly after assuming the democratic reins of governance, Mr. Kufuor almost immediately named his immediate younger brother, Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor, as his right-hand man and his Defense Minister. There would be other relatives, such as Mr. Ivor Agyeman-Duah, the former President’s nephew and biographer, who would be put on a cabinet-level salary as an auxiliary diplomat in the Ghana High Commission in Great Britain, the United States’ Embassy in Washington, DC, and elsewhere. Then there were, of course, the well-known cases of Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, a Kufuor relative, who served as the former President’s Executive Chief-of-Staff for all the 8 years that Mr. Kufuor held the democratic reins of governance. Then there were also the executive and cabinet appointments of Messrs. Charles Wereko-Brobby and Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen, respectively. And, by the way, there is another of the Wereko-Brobbys in the current Akufo-Addo Administration.
Mister Kyerematen, widely alleged to have been a lame-duck President Kufuor’s favorite political steed in the leadup to the 2008 Presidential Election, or rather the New Patriotic Party’s 2007 Presidential Primary, presently also serves as President Akufo-Addo’s Trade and Industry Minister. What is interesting here is that even those ardent Asante micro-nationalist – they are actually Asante Supremacist – critics of Nana Akufo-Addo appear to find this seemingly quid-pro-quo political arrangement to be perfectly legitimate and even kosher, while in the cases of Finance Minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta, Housing Minister Samuel Atta-Akyea and the Akuffo aunt and niece who, respectively, serve in their more than well-deserved and qualified capacities of Chief Justice and Attorney-General, these same critics would rather have some other Ghanaian citizens serve in those same capacities. And by the way, both Chairman Jerry John Rawlings and the late President John Evans Atta-Mills also had their close relatives, friends and associates play active and major roles in their governments. But, somehow, these same caustic Akufo-Addo critics see absolutely nothing wrong with such “patently nepotistic” appointments.
The situation was perhaps even worse under former President John Dramani Mahama, who initially adamantly refused to vacate his officially assigned Vice-President’s Residence, even after having served as Ghana’s substantive Chief Minister of State for an unprecedented four-and-half years, and who effortlessly and artlessly combined naked tribalism with ethno-regionalism in his cabinet and other political appointments. Somehow, the same critics who do not seem to have found anything amiss or wrong with the political appointments of the relatives of the aforementioned National Democratic Congress’ leaders, plus former President Kufuor, of course, now see everything wrong with the appointments of qualified Akufo-Addo and Osafo-Maafo relatives into positions of public trust. The fact of the matter is that in absolutely every single one of the foregoing cases, another equally qualified, or perhaps even better qualified, Ghanaian citizen who was not known to be the relative of any of these leaders could have been appointed to serve in those capacities into which they had appointed these relatives.
The fact of the matter, as I have had umpteen occasions to highlight, is that political appointments are invariably made on the basis of the input or contribution of the appointees to the electoral and/or political victories of the shot-callers or appointers. They are also based on trust and loyalty, not simply because the critic of any particular President or Head-of-State would rather have somebody else appointed to these veritable taxpayer-underwritten jobs.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York