Julius Debrah elevated, Oppong-Fosu fired pg 20

The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Akwasi Opong-Fosu, has been replaced by the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Julius Debrah, in an expected ministerial reshuffle.

The press release from the Flagstaff House announcing the change did not state reasons for the President’s decision to relieve the minister of his post. However, it appears public outcry over a number of recent happenings in the Local Government Ministry has cost the minister his job.

Key among the issues are the award of contract for the supply of motorcycles for a street-naming project to an IT firm, Subah Infosolutions Ltd; the cutting down of centuries-old trees at the Aburi Gardens and the garbage that has engulfed Accra and other parts of the country.

The release was silent on his new designation.
President John Mahama is not obliged to give reasons for the reshuffle, but the appointments were done in accordance with Article 79(1) of the 1992 Constitution.

Mr Opong-Fosu took office in February, last year, urging all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to initiate well-defined strategies to deal with sanitation but almost a year and half into his tenure, the mounting garbage across the country has not helped the Local Government Minister’s case.

In a move to avert an epidemic, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) last week coughed out GH¢600,000 to the nine waste management contractors to help them clear the refuse. This was after tonnes of waste was left uncollected in  the city centre, the commercial areas and even homes, as solid waste contractors failed  to lift garbage-filled containers.

In the run-up to the 2012 elections, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) pledged to rid the country off filth—a promise that found space in the party’s manifesto.  President Mahama even launched a massive sanitation campaign ostensibly to deal with the filth. However, almost a year and half into his presidency,  garbage pileup is on the increase.

After months of expectations and anxiety over the reshuffling, President John Dramani Mahama has finally carried out what appears to be the first phase of a Cabinet reshuffle.

The new appointments
According to the press release, the Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Antwi Bosiako-Sekyere, has been elevated to the position of  Minister of the Eastern Region.

Mr Bosiako-Sekyere was first appointed in the Mills-Mahama administration as a Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Welfare. He has been Deputy Minister since 2009 and has managed to keep his job in spite of four major appointments that brought to the ministry, Messrs Stephen Amanor Quao,  E.T. Mensah, Mr Moses Asaga and Nii Armah Ashittey.

On the labour front, Mr Bosiako-Sekyere is well respected for his human relations, vast knowledge and expertise in industrial relations. He was neck-deep in the negotiations that arose from the countless industrial strikes last year. He was also the Deputy Minister of the Eastern Region in the Rawlings-led administration.

Mr Yaw Effah Baafi, one of the appointees affected by the reshuffle, has been in government since 2009 as the Deputy Minister of Agriculture in charge of Crops.   In 2013 he was appointed as Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources but is now the Deputy Minister of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs. He is one of few ministers who have kept very low profile since 2009.

A former Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Alex Segbefia, also takes over the office of Mr Ebenezer Okletey TerLarbi as a Deputy Minister for Defence.  Mr Terlabi is the Member of Parliament for Lower Manya Constituency Krobo in the Eastern Region.

He is an articulate man who has stayed out of the limelight after the Mills administration.
Other appointments made by the President are: Alhaji Salifu Osman, the Chief Director of the Ministry of the Interior, who has now been elevated to the position of Deputy National Security Coordinator; Mr Emmanuel Tanga, Tema Regional Director of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), has gone a notch higher as the Deputy Director of the BNI.

An economist with the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr John Kofi Baffoe, has been appointed Technical Adviser to the Minister of the Finance. Dr Baffoe has more than 30 years experience at the most senior levels in Macro and Development Economics.

The appointment of the senior economist is a move aimed at giving Mr Seth Terkper an extra hand and brain to prop up Ghana’s economy, which is struggling to remain on its feet.


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