Prez names 13 as ministers designate

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday announced his first batch of 13 ministerial appointees who will help him steer the affairs of the state.

The names of the 13 have already been submitted to Parliament for vetting and approval.

The nominees are blend of people who served as ministers and deputy ministers in the Kufuor administration and leading faces of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

The list includes Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, who served as Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Education, Youth and Sports in the Kufuor regime, for the position of Senior Minister, which was first introduced by the Kufuor administration in its first term but later abandoned during its second term in 2006.

The rest are Mr Albert Kan-Daapah, National Security; Mr Alan Kyerematen, Trade and Industry; Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance; Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Agriculture; Mr Boakye Agyarko, Energy; Mr Dominic Nitiwul, Defence, and Mr Ambrose Dery, the Interior.

The others are Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Foreign Affairs; Ms Gloria Akuffo, Attorney-General, and Hajia Alima Mahama, Local Government.
The rest are Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Education, and Mr Kwaku Agyemang Manu, Health.

Expeditious approval
Making the announcement at a press conference at the Flagstaff House in Accra yesterday, President Akufo-Addo said he had already submitted the names of the 13 to the Speaker of Parliament for approval.
He said he had asked the Speaker to act expeditiously, so that the government could execute its mandate and agenda.

The President said the splitting up of the Ministry of Energy into different segments was, in his view, not the best and had, therefore, decided to streamline the operations of that ministry.

Who has been where?
Five of the nominees — Mr Boakye-Agyarko, Dr Opoku-Prempeh, Mr Nitiwul, Dr Afriyie Akoto and Mr Ofori-Atta — have not held ministerial positions before, while four — Mr  Kan-Daapah, Mr Osafo-Maafo, Mr Kyerematen and Mr Dery — held ministerial positions in the Kufuor administration.

Two others — Ms Akuffo and Mr Manu — were deputy ministers in the Kufuor administration.
Hajia Mahama had been both a deputy minister and a minister in that administration.

Only three of the nominees — Ms Akuffo, Hajia Mahama and Ms Botchway — are returning to the ministries where they worked as deputy ministers during the Kufuor administration.

The only political outsider on the list is Mr Ofori-Atta, the Co-Founder of Databank, who was in the background of the Nana Akufo-Addo campaign in the run-up to the December 7, 2016 general election.
Seven of the nominees —  Ms Akuffo, Mr Ofori-Atta, Mr Dery, Mr Nitiwul, Ms Botchway, Hajia Mahama and Mr Kan- Dapaah — worked with the Joint Transitional Team on the same portfolios they have been assigned to.

Election of chief executives
President Akufo-Addo said there was the need for the decentralisation process to be made more meaningful in such a way that power would be well devolved for ordinary persons to have a direct hand in the decisions that affected their lives.

To that extent, he announced that in 2018 the process towards the selection of local government leaders would be made elective and thus competitive.

Interview with appointees
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Minister-designate for Agriculture, Dr Afriyie Akoto, said his vision was to make agriculture the mainstay of the economy by ensuring that all identified groups and individuals took to practices that would ensure food sufficiency for all, with surplus for export.

He said his policy direction would be along the line of the type that was implemented by a former Head of State, Colonel Kutu Acheampong, who pursued the ‘Operation Feed Yourself’  programme that ensured food sufficiency.

Concerns have been raised over the position of the Senior Minister, since it may conflict with that of the Chief of Staff, but the Attorney-General-designate, Ms Akuffo, told the Daily Graphic that the Constitution gave the President the power to appoint his ministers with defined roles and responsibilities.

The work of the Senior Minister, she explained, was in no way going to be in conflict with that of the Chief of Staff.

For her, the issue of staff attrition at the Attorney-General's Department was one troubling issue that she would deal with in order to attract and retain the best legal brains for that department.

The Minister-designate for Finance, Mr Ofori-Atta, said the issue of whether the pact the country had with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be reviewed or not would be determined by the figures that would be inherited from the past  administration.

He said the government expected a team from the IMF in a couple of weeks and that should there be the need for a review, it would be a matter of friendly discussion and not a hostile engagement.

Appointments Committee ready

Meanwhile, Parliament has constituted a 26-member Appointments Committee to vet the nominees.
The committee will be chaired by the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joe Osei-Wusu, who is the MP of Bekwai.

Some of the notable faces on the committee are Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo, as the Vice-Chairperson; Mr Nitiwul, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, Mr Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful and Mr Joseph Kofi Adda.

Others are the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, who is the Ranking Member; Mr Alhassan Suhuyini, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Mr Edwin Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, Mr Mahama Ayariga, Dr Bernice A. Heloo and Mr Eric Opoku.

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