Opinions Sat, 18 Mar 2017

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Size and efficiency matter in governance

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

It is not wholly accurate, as his Information Minister would have the country and the rest of the world believe, that then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo did not promise to run a lean government, if offered the sacred mandate of the Ghanaian people (See “110 Ministers: NPP Never Promised Lean Gov’t – Hamid” Modernghana.com 3/15/17). It is not wholly accurate because yours truly vividly recalls Candidate Akufo-Addo asserting that he could run a very efficient administrative machinery with a remarkably less number of cabinet appointees than the number and size of the cabinet of then-President John Dramani Mahama. And so the logical question to ask here is that if, indeed, numbers did not matter or count the least bit, then why would the then-Candidate Akufo-Addo join the fray over the purportedly unwieldy size of the Mahama cabinet?

For both his information, no pun is intended here, by the way, and his edification, it is important to observe that numbers, indeed, do matter when the context is in regard to the hiring or employment of cabinet appointees; for we are not talking about the employment or hiring of day laborers or volunteers here. The contents of the national till or treasury is inescapably at stake here; and we all know that the salaries of cabinet appointees are considerably higher than the highest of paychecks that are periodically cut for the topmost civil and public servants in the country. I suppose what Information Minister Mustapha Hamid meant was that Ghanaians ought not to be too fixated on the number of cabinet appointees in the Akufo-Addo government, so inordinately that we lose focus on the detailed contents of the President’s development agenda.

Nana Akufo-Addo has responded to his critics by insisting that the enormity of the problems that he inherited from former President John Dramani Mahama necessitates the hiring of more men and, one supposes, women as well, in order for his New Patriotic Party (NPP) government to effectively tackle the same and move the country along a salutary path towards socioeconomic and cultural advancement. And so, even as Mr. Fritz Baffuor tersely put it the other day, you do not want to give Nana Akufo-Addo a facile excuse in the event of him failing to deliver on his campaign promises, by denying him the full panoply of personnel that he claims to require in order to run an efficient government.

It is only a matter of time before the former New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament for Akyem-Abuakwa-South is either vindicated or proven wrong in his quite momentous decision. And then, of course, the Ghanaian voter would have another opportunity in a little under 4 years from now to either renew the mandate afforded President Akufo-Addo or give him the heave-ho, as it were. One also hopes that in deciding to run unarguably the largest ministerial cabinet of Ghana’s Fourth Republic, that Nana Akufo-Addo fully appreciates the far-reaching implications of his most favorite economic slogan, to wit, “Value for money.” Which simply means that 4 years from now, President Akufo-Addo ought to be able stand before the Ghanaian electorate and creditably acquit himself vis-à-vis how efficiently he was able to deliver on the most significant of his campaign promises, namely, the effective cessation of “Dumsor,” or erratic power supply; the remarkable enhancement of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS); tuition-free Senior High School educational package; One-District, One-Factory project; and agricultural self-sufficiency, among a remarkable number of others.

Mr. Hamid also indulges in a bit of sophistry when he observes that although the cabinets of Presidents Atta-Mills and Mahama were relatively leaner than those of Presidents John Agyekum-Kufuor and Akufo-Addo, such executive trimming, as may be envisaged on the surface of things, did not amount to the operation of more successful governance. Simply put, according to Mr. Hamid, New Patriotic Party governments are still the proverbial gold standard or the precedents to best. He is perfectly right that size is not synonymous with efficiency but sound judgment and visionary leadership. But it is equally perfectly logical to argue that regardless of the level of a government’s efficiency, a bloated cabinet still leaves much to be desired, if also because there is never enough liquid cash to go around.

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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