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12.02.2009 Feature Article

Former NDC Ministers Unhappy About Mills' Appointment

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Despondent, dejected and unhappy. That is how Dr. Ekow Spio Garbrah described the feelings of some of his colleagues who were not made ministers under president Mills.

When the final official list of nominated ministers was out, some must have been over the moon in jubilation for being on the threshold of becoming “powerful men and women.” The feeling must be exceptional. Whilst many have seized such opportunities to do well for their countries, others would use the office to abuse their fellow countrymen and women, like Asamoah Boateng, and perhaps dip hands into national coffers.

Those who were not called to serve the nation might also be saying “I thought I had a good chance of becoming a cabinet minister, damn. Nobody else did have a better chance than me especially after all the work that I put in.” If your name was Spio Garbrah, Benjamin Kumbour or Tony Aidoo, it must have hit you hardest. When it comes to appointing people for jobs, especially one as appealing as a cabinet minister, the stakes are unusually high but there's always going to be a loser and a winner.

It is official. There's a great deal of unhappiness in the NDC, especially amongst some of the ministers who served under party founder and Ghana's political bête noire, Jerry Rawlings. People who were expected to be in the current government as ministers by virtue of their qualification, expertise and loyalty to the party may feel sidelined or maybe humiliated even though they may not publicly admit it.

Some of these men and women have worked tirelessly to bring back the NDC to office. They've contributed time, money and everything else they've got. In the words of Dr. Spio-Garbrah, a former minister under Jerry Rawlings and one of the politically old but agile members of the party, “not everybody had to fly into Ghana 7 times as I did last year, not everybody raised the kind of money that I raised for the party, not everybody printed t-shirts and posters and did a whole lot of things to make the NDC win.”

I had surmised things were going to be very difficult when it came to appointments in the NDC. I however didn't see someone like Tony Aidoo being left out.

But the President had to grapple with the constitutional requirement of nominating not more than 19 cabinet ministers, with at least 10 of them coming from parliament and consider regional balance in order not to marginalize any section of the country. He also had to satisfy the yearning desires of the people who wanted a new face of NDC, plus cede some positions to the factions within the party. It happens all the time and everywhere. Presidents and Prime Ministers ceded positions to blocs in their party to keep everybody happy at least. The largely anti NDC media would have eaten the government up if many of those who served under Jerry Rawlings found their way back into office.

President Mills' decision on the choice of a cabinet must have been excruciating. It is not a pretty thing to leave out friends for appointment when you are the president. But that is why we put him there.To make tough and unpleasant decisions that would in the long term benefit the nation.

I am not sure the good law professor would in any way sideline some of his colleagues and friends just for the fun of it. There's a huge political price to pay if you do such a thing deliberately and the stakes are so high Mills would dare not do it, unless his name was one Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the US who was not re-elected after a first term.

I was completed disappointed when I didn't see Tony Aidoo's name. The kind of disappointment you feel when your favorite team lets you down. You can't say much. The name Tony Aidoo, nearly like Jerry Rawlings, evokes mixed reactions. Some love him whilst others loathe him. He has endeared himself to so many people including yours truly by virtue of the logic in his arguments. He is a notorious Kufour basher. But he's also seen within his party as a hardliner. Dr. Tony Aidoo served as deputy defence minister under Chairman Rawlings, fought harder, defended the party at a time when many people were even shy to show themselves up as NDC members. Like many of his colleagues including businessman Eddy Anan, Tony Aidoo paid a price for his association with the NDC. The Ghana Law School had the brazenness to refuse him admission into the school. It was sad how the academia got itself into doing the "bidding of the politicians". Some people were unjustifiably refused admission into our institutions of higher learning obviously because of their political affiliation. Tony was one of those persecuted by the politicians and the academia under John Kufour.

Even though I have a couple of friends in the new cabinet and a family member, I was not as excited about my family and friends in government as I was about Tony Aidoo's exclusion. It was like when Abedi Ayew Pele missed out in the nation's cup final match between Ghana and the Ivory Coast in Senegal. Most Ghanaians were happy to be playing in the final but unhappy Abedi was out. I don't even want to imagine what let down people like Spio and Tony feel. When people work well and harder, they naturally expect to be rewarded in any way that would commensurate with their efforts. I do share the concerns of someone like Spio.

So many men and women in Ghana have truly exhibited a great sense of patriotism by making greater sacrifices. But as a politician, Spio must understand that, it is not always that your efforts are rewarded. There's a season for everyone in politics. Gordon Brown was the heir apparent in the UK labour party when John Smith died, but Brown had to wait till Tony Blair was out of the way.

Politics is for those who are resilient. Spio may be hurt by Mills' snob, but that may be a blessing in disguise. Spio in his most recent interview claims he is not Alan Kyeremanteng, yet when he was asked if he was going to stay in the party if he didn't get a post, he answered, “I hope I'll still be an NDC member.” That sounds like you are in it for the posts.

It was President John F. Kennedy, who in his inaugural speech in January 1961 said, “Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” The quote has been paraphrased over and again to encourage nationals to make greater sacrifices towards nation building.

I hope in this year of world economic crisis, people like Spio would look at the larger interest of the party and nation and continue to volunteer his service to our country. I believe the president has very genuine reasons for leaving out some of the old but agile members of the party.

Our countrymen and women, including the politicians should be asking what they can do to help instead of what they going to get from helping.


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Ras Mubarak
Ras Mubarak , © 2009

The author has 84 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: RasMubarak

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