I would not hazard any temporal guess on this one because this is a rather delicate matter. But it did, in fact, take place right here in New York City. Yes, it did take place right here in Bronx, New York, at Cocoa House, in the wake of the abrupt and quite disturbing removal of Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo from the ministerial cabinet of then-President John Agyekum-Kufuor. The dismissed appointee was at the time the country’s Youth and Sports Minister, having also creditably acquitted himself prior to holding the latter portfolio as Finance Minister in the same government. Well, legend, or rather the widespread rumor at the time, had it that the sole and apparent crime of Mr. Osafo-Maafo that had prompted my dear good, old Uncle Kofi Diawuo Agyekum-Kufuor to expel the Akyem-Awisa native from his cabinet was that Mr. Osafo-Maafo had dared to assert or claim that he equally deserved to share the credit with his boss and the man who had appointed him to his job of Youth and Sports Minister, for having unprecedentedly succeeded in having the senior Ghana national soccer team, the Black Stars, make its historic debut appearance in the World Cup.
As I vividly recall, when the then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was asked by a member of the Cocoa House’s audience, shortly after the then John Agyekum-Kufuor-appointed or recently “reshuffled” or “shuffled” Minister of Foreign Affairs and ECOWAS Regional Integration had finished doing a brief presidential electioneering-campaign presentation, what Nana Akufo-Addo personally thought about the sudden removal of Mr. Osafo-Maafo from the Kufuor cabinet, Candidate Akufo-Addo’s rather guarded reply was essentially the same as the one that was reportedly given by Food and Agriculture Minister Dr. Owusu-Afriyie Akoto to an interviewer on the Accra-based TV3’s “New Day” current affairs program recently. Dr. Owusu-Afriyie Akoto’s response was predictably self-serving or, rather, self-protective, but it was still the unvarnished truth, at least on the surface of matters because, in principle, it is the President of the Sovereign Democratic Republic of Ghana who has the prerogative or exclusive right to hire and fire cabinet appointees who also has the mandated privilege to reshuffle his cabinet appointees or allow them to attend to their official duties without any need for periodically redesignating them to new cabinet or ministerial portfolios.
So far, according to Nana Akufo-Addo, nearly every one of his cabinet appointees has been performing creditably or well above average, so there is absolutely no need for him to make any radical or major changes to their portfolios or appointments. Now, this is all well and good, except for the fact that a remarkable portion of the general Ghanaian public, at least from the flurry of news reports that have been posted on dozens of major Ghanaian news portals, appears to be very convinced that it is long past time for the President to make some significant changes to his cabinet appointments. For many of these critics, a considerable number of ministerial and executive operatives of the Akufo-Addo Administration have not been performing up to expectations for quite sometime now. To be certain, several names have already been mentioned by the media and other influential operatives of the ruling New Patriotic Party, including Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, the long-serving Presidential Chief-of-Staff of the erstwhile Kufuor Administration. Now, this is rather curious because Mr. Mpiani spent a protracted 8 years at the Kufuor Presidency in the aforementioned post without being reshuffled or shuffled to another post or portfolio.
And yes, the then-President Agyekum-Kufuor reshuffled his cabinet several times during the course of those 8 years. Yet, even as one political pundit had occasion to remark recently, we need to all of us, respect the fact that the governance styles of Presidents Agyekum-Kufuor and Akufo-Addo are not apt to mirror one another. The obvious reason being that both leaders have different kinds and levels of political experiences and sets of skills and talents. Plus, the fact that times were significantly different under the disparate tenures of Messrs. Agyekum-Kufuor and Akufo-Addo. Still, I want to step up on the ladder of political criticism a little further by highlighting the fact that irrespective of the temperaments of these two leaders or their experiences, the initial selection of the cabinet appointees of both Messrs. Agyekum-Kufuor and Akufo-Addo had not been done exclusively by these single individuals; rather, the selection of the members of both the Agyekum-Kufuor cabinet and the Akufo-Addo cabinet had been made as a team effort.
You see, Dear Reader, democratic governments may invariably be headed by specific individual leaders or personalities. However, the process of the selection of the key players or cabinet appointees in any democratic governance process has been well and widely known to be a team effort. Among the Akan, there is a common but very wise saying that the path-maker often does not realize when the path that he or she is making has gotten crooked along the way. It often takes studious onlookers and passersby to give a positive feedback to the path-maker, so as to bring about the desired shape and contours to the path. This may be what some of our leaders direly need in order to operate in a manner that is deemed to be ideal by the overwhelming majority of the general Ghanaian public. This is also fundamentally the reason why periodic opinion polls are conducted in countries with well-functioning democratic political cultures. You see, good governance is indisputably and inescapably about collective decision-making, not individual prerogatives or the capricious preferences of those mandated with public trust.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
August 14, 2022
E-mail: [email protected]