New team at Flagstaff House (FEB 17, 2015)


President John Dramani Mahama has sent perhaps the strongest signal of his readiness to tame some of the  challenges facing the country with a shake up at the Presidency  with the appointment of a new Chief of Staff and his deputy, a new National Security Adviser and a retired career police officer to restructure the Narcotics Control Board into a Commission. 

By appointing Mr Julius Debrah as his new Chief of Staff, the President has chosen the injection of new ideas over continuity as he tries to tighten and sanitise his inner loyal circle.
A diplomat by nature, Mr Debrah has gone through the political mill, cutting his teeth as a grass roots National Democratic Congress (NDC) and die-hard loyalist before becoming the party’s chairman in the Eastern Region.
President Mahama, who is under pressure to speed up the revival of the Ghanaian economy and also tackle the energy crisis ahead of his 2016 election campaign, will need a man whose ability to touch base with people from all walks of life has been described as exceptional.
That quality will be necessary to lead the Office of the President, which had 678 employees, including Ministers of State, washermen and sanitary labourers, in 2013.

Julius Debrah

A man of few words, Mr Debrah, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Archaeology/Sociology from the University of Ghana, not too long ago served as the Chief Executive Officer of the then Ghana Tourist Board (GTB), now the Ghana Tourist Authority (GTA).
He first came to prominence as the Eastern Regional Minister in 2013 and later appointed Minister of Local Government in 2014.
His persistent crusade against the filth that has engulfed the country in the National Sanitation Day campaign endeared him to many.
Mr Debrah ,a man of exceptional organisational skills and abilities, is seen by many as a bridge, as his appointment is viewed as an olive branch to the old guards of the NDC who, somewhat, feel alienated by the current system.
Even before he takes office, the policy think-tank, IMANI Ghana, has charged the new Chief of Staff to enhance the image of the office.
He will probably become the new public face of the administration and be the long-term successor to the former Chief of Staff, Mr Prosper Bani, who has been left in the cold after the latest shake up at the Presidency.
The President, before his February 26 State of the Nation Address, appears to use his house-cleaning exercise to set ambitious goals as he completes his first term next year and sets his eyes on a second term.
When Mr Debrah was appointed the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, a local governance expert, Mr George Kyei Baffour, said of him: “He was an active part of the PNDC regime and had a lot of insight into that administration, and in the current NDC administration he has been a regional chairman before and I believe he has gained the clout to deliver.”
That is a sentiment many Ghanaians who hope the ruling government could surmount the current challenges facing the country will share in hoping that Mr Debrah brings to the Presidency the magic wand to whip the President’s men and women into line to deliver.

Alhaji Baba Issifu Kamara

His is a name very few people would associate with security, especially when in the past few years he has been in the limelight as a diplomat.
Very few people would understand why President John Dramani Mahama, for the first time since the National Democratic Congress (NDC) came to power in 2009, would appoint a civilian as a National Security Adviser.
More so, for a man whose career has nothing to do with the military, the police or the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), Alhaji Baba Kamara’s appointment comes as a surprise in the latest shake up at the Flagstaff House.
However, that could only be for people who are in the dark about the Senior Presidential Adviser’s academic sojourn in the world of security and governance.
Currently studying for an Executive Masters in Conflict, Peace and Security at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre in Accra, Alhaji Kamara has, since 2010, been angling for the national security job if his academic pursuit is anything to go by.

Security and governance credentials

While in Nigeria as Ghana’s High Commissioner, the soft-spoken but tough politician took a shot at building his capacity on security issues with Nigeria’s State Security Services.
In 2012, he was at the US State Department for a Senior Intelligence Management Training course.
At a time when he was rumoured as a prospective candidate to take the job as President Mahama’s Chief of Staff in 2013, Alhaji Kamara was back in the State Department for advanced training in intelligence management, gathering and analysis (counter terrorism).
In December 2013, he was at the prestigious Harvard University in the US to undergo training for a certificate in National and International Security.
At a time the red flag continues to be raised in global terrorism and West Africa’s most dreaded terrorist group, Boko Haram, is just around the corner, perhaps Alhaji Kamara brings a certain level of reassurance, given his training and the time spent in Nigeria.
Apart from being in the inner circle at the Presidency, the former High Commissioner also comes with a wide network in the sub-region and beyond as he served as Ghana’s Permanent Representative to the ECOWAS Commission from 2009-2012.
The 1974 Bawku Secondary School product, apart from certificates in Good Corporate Governance, Senior Management and Development from  the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, also has an Executive Masters in Governance and Leadership from GIMPA in 2007, a certificate in Public Diplomacy from the University of California (2010) and certificates in International Relations and Politics (2003).

A career blot? 

Perhaps the only blot in the long-standing career is his being named in the 2011 Mabey and Johnson scandal in which the bridge-building British company mentioned Alhaji Kamara as one of a string of foreign politicians and officials who received payments from the company.
That case is still lying on the files of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
After the Supreme Court had given CHRAJ the go-ahead to investigate the matter, Alhaji Kamara raised an objection to the investigations.
He had argued that CHRAJ could not investigate him because at the time of the alleged corruption he was not a public official.
However, the Supreme Court ruling, as read by Mr Justice S. A. Brobbey, held that CHRAJ, in exercising its mandate to investigate acts of alleged corruption involving public officials, could equally investigate a private individual.

Mr W.K. Aboah

If there is one state institution that has received a lot of flak in the fight against drugs in the country, it is the
Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), especially in the wake of the Nayele Ametefe cocaine scandal in which the drug baroness was grabbed by the British authorities when she attempted to smuggle the drug o the United Kingdom.
That incident, and the promised fight against drugs in the ruling party’s campaign seemed to have pushed the President to the edge, forcing him to appoint Mr William K. Aboah as the man to see to the restructuring of NACOB into a commission.
The veteran law enforcement officer had his first bite of political office when he was appointed by President John Atta Mills as Minister of the Interior, following a Cabinet reshuffle in January 2012.
Born on June 4, 1939, Mr Aboah has a rich legal background as a former external examiner in Criminal Law and lecturer in Criminal Law at the Ghana Law School and lecturer in Criminal Law at the Ghana Police College.
Between 1954 and 1974, he passed out from the Police Training Depot as a constable and was assigned general police duties.

He was appointed a detective after going through successful training at the Detective Training School.
Between 1974 and 1976, he was promoted to the rank of Inspector and took charge of several units and stations, including Regional CID in Accra, Volta, Central and at the CID Headquarters, after which he enrolled at the Police College and passed out successfully with the rank of ASP in 1976.

His meteoric rise in the Police Service took him to the Ashanti Region where he became the Ashanti Regional Police Commander and was later seconded to the Ghana Immigration Service where he served as the director.

He became Head of the CID in August 1999

In 1983, Mr Aboah was posted to Ghana’s High Commission in London as Counsellor in charge of the Passport and Immigration Section until 1989 and is reputed to be the only person to combine the administration of the two institutions in Ghana.

He attended the Larteh Presby Boarding School from 1951 to 1954 and followed up at the Workers College, Accra, from 1965 to 1970; the University Of Ghana, Legon, from 1978 to 1981, where he studied Law (LLB).

He went to the Ghana Law School, Accra, from 1981 to 1983 (BL) and finally to the University College, London, UK, where he graduated with an LL.M from 1984 to 1986.

He was awarded the Sword of Honour presented by the Head of State of Ghana for being the all-round Best Cadet Officer in 1977.

The new Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Jonny Osei Kofi, is probably the man with the sharpest rise in the administration.

For a man who served as a government appointee in the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) in 2013, his appointment appears to be a move by the President to bring the Flagstaff House closer to ordinary people.

A former lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Mr Osei was appointed a member of the KMA’s Sub-committee on Development Planning.

A little over a year into his work at the assembly, he caught the President’s eye and was appointed Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing in June 2014.

Although the name Jonny Osei Kofi is not a household name in political circles, especially in Ghana politics, in NDC circles in the Ashanti Region he was part of the formative years of the NDC.

Before the formation of the NDC he was also associated with the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR).
He also taught at St Louis Senior High School for 24 years.

He has also been working for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Kumasi and also the Catholic Church in the Ashanti Region because his interest in working for communities is very high.

Mr Osei is the Founder of the NGO that ensured the setting up of the Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation at KNUST to fight for the welfare of  people with disability.

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