Parliament can stop Cabinet appointments run amuck

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 Source: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

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

Ordinarily, and in theory – and here, of course, I am thinking about the principle of checks and balances that governs the relationships among the three branches of democratic governance, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary – the Parliamentary Majority Leader, working in close concert with his whips and other leadership associates and the Parliamentary Minority leadership, of course, ought to be able to put the kibosh on the cabinet appointments diarrhea that seems to have afflicted the Presidency, if, indeed, protecting the public purse is the priority of the present government (See “If More Men Will Help Fix Economy, Employ Militia Men – Franklin Cudjoe to Gov’t” MyJoyOnline.com / Ghanaweb.com 3/15/17).

But don’t hold your breath just yet, because with a Parliamentary Appointments Committee (PAC) that well appears to operate on an established culture of bribery, going by the euphemistic tag of “sitting allowances,” at full-throttle, it is highly unlikely, if not downright impossible, for the leadership of the august House to be able to induce the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to practice the sort of fiscal discipline that then-Candidate Akufo-Addo rapturously preached while he was the country’s main opposition leader.

Frankly speaking, I had hoped that President Akufo-Addo would be able to operate a cabinet half the size of that which had been operated by former President John Dramani Mahama. But, somehow, President Akufo-Addo appears to believe that for his government to perform better than his predecessor’s, he needs to operate with a cabinet considerably larger than the previous regime. I find such trend of thinking to be very bizarre, especially coming from a leader who made a mantra out of the operation of a lean government synonymous with the protection of the public purse.

But, of course, unlike IMANI-Ghana’s Mr. Franklin Cudjoe, I do not intend to be rude or disrespectful of the President of our Republic by the unseasonable use of the impertinent language of sarcasm. In fact, the original caption of this column was to have been “Cut this Sarcasm, Mr. Cudjoe,” especially after reading that portion of the afore-referenced news report in which the IMANI think-tank president volleyed the quite distasteful sally to the effect that if all President Akufo-Addo required to run an efficient government was more men, “then [he needs] to add militia men as well; and probably give them spoons, instead of shovels, to dig holes.”

The rhetorical choice is definitely his inalienable free-speech right, all right. Still, if I were in his shoes, I would not hesitate to apologize to the President for sounding rather too mean-spirited, when Mr. Cudjoe, understandably convulsed with spur-of-the-moment conniption, actually meant well. I, however, wholeheartedly concur with Mr. Cudjoe that just because Ghana’s 1992 Constitution has been egregiously remiss in not putting a cap on the number of cabinet appointees that any president, or chief-executive-of-state may have does not necessarily mean that any Chief Resident of the Flagstaff House can appoint his cabinet members at whim.

Needless to say, Akufo-Addo has also put a damper, and one that is likely to linger for quite a while, on his goodwill accolade of “incorruptibility,” if also because his behemoth-sized cabinet inescapably reflects the facile temperament of a leader to whom the word “merit” or “meritocracy” is decidedly alien. I have since long promised to remain on the political sidelines and to call the shots as I see them, and this is precisely what I am doing here.

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

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame
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