By: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
The scandalous revelation that a whopping 72-percent of all deputy cabinet appointees in the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) are college students, ought to give the country a situp for a serious national conversation on this issue (See “72 % of Mahama’s Ministers Still in School” Today Newspaper 8/12/14). This eye-opening revelation was made by Dr. Maurice Ampaw, president of the Legal Advocacy Foundation.
What makes this revelation significant is the acute insight that it provides about some of the major causes underlying the gross incompetence of the key players of the Mahama administration. In particular, it disturbingly underscores the fact that the overwhelming majority of the deputy ministers in the Mahama government may not only be woefully under-qualified for their cabinet portfolios, but also may be working only part-time while being fully salaried as full-time workers at the expense of the struggling Ghanaian taxpayer.
If the figure provided by Dr. Ampaw has validity, and credibility – and we have absolutely no reason, so far, to contradict him – then such policy decision on the part of President Mahama is at once unconscionable, criminal and morally calamitous. It also confirms Nana Akufo-Addo’s assertion that his main opponent in the 2012 presidential election primarily envisages the presidency as a bonanza, or a gold mine, by which to inexorably and ravenously exploit the suffering masses of Ghanaian blue-collar workers for the benefit of his cronies and associates.
Well, it ought to become clear to the likes of Dr. Akoto Osei, the former Finance Minister in the J. A. Kufuor government, by now that the effective bankrupting of the national economy by President John Dramani Mahama has far little or absolutely nothing to do with the justifiable expansion of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) to include more hardworking and deserving Ghanaian workers. Rather, it has everything to do with the reckless decision of President Mahama to have woefully under-qualified and under-employed cabinet appointees paid fat salaries which the overwhelming majority of these appointees clearly do not deserve.
Indeed, the President needs to be immediately summoned before Parliament and the people’s representatives to explain precisely why he would so cavalierly presume to misspend the taxpayer’s money. But wait, my dear reader, there is an even more scandalous aspect to the preceding act of criminality. And that aspect deals with the fact that the tuition fees of these cabinet appointees are also paid for by the Ghanaian taxpayer, in addition to the fat salaries paid these deputy cabinet appointees.
Dr. Ampaw also notes that the overwhelming majority of these deputy ministers are in attendance at such major public academies as the University of Ghana and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). It would also be interesting to find out just how vigorously these freeloading politicians are actually working for their college degrees, and also to what extent their presence on these college campuses may be unhealthily impacting the academic freedom and professional integrity of their tutors and lecturers, in terms of their having to significantly lower student workload, academic expectations and grading standards in order to accommodate these powerful and well-connected politicians who may not necessarily be up to snuff, or qualified, for the courses and specialties into which they have been enrolled.
And on the preceding score may also be recalled the fact that not very long ago, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana publicly and vehemently accused President Mahama of presuming to insult the intelligence of Ghanaians by jam-packing his cabinet with “schoolboys and girls.” In retrospect, it goes without saying that Prof. Emmanuel Martey, himself a notable academic, knew precisely what he was talking about.
Dr. Ampaw’s call for Ghana’s 1992 Constitution to be thoroughly revised must also be accorded serious consideration, in particular the sections of this august instrument of governance pertaining to the number of cabinet portfolios which any sitting president may be authorized to create, as well as the number of cabinet appointees and their deputies, with stringent regard to the availability of financial resources and the functions and qualifications of such appointees, vis-a-vis the needs of the nation at any particular moment in time.