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17.02.2009 Politics

Three Minister-Nominees vetted


The Appointments Committee of Parliament on Tuesday commenced vetting of Minister-Nominees at about 1600 hours and vetted only three Nominees, instead of the usual five or six per day.

The three vetted were: Mr Stephen Amanor Kwao for Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare; Mr Alex Asum-Ahensah for Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs and Mrs Kalutie Dubie Alhassan as Minister at the Presidency.

Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, Chairman of the Committee urged members to be brief with the questions since “time was far spent”.

As a result, the Nominees largely got off with very straight forward questions to which they supplied rather brief answers, which were accepted by the Committee Members.

The Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu expressed concern about the way each of the Nominees vetted preceded their answers with: “when I am given the nod”, and said that statement suggested that the Nominees were expecting a rubberstamp approval of their nomination.

Mr Mensah-Bonsu insisted that, the Nominees used “if” instead of “when” since their appointment was not a foregone conclusion.

In answer to a question on the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) Mr Kwao told the Committee that the programme was a good one and “when” given the nod he would ensure its sustainability and growth.

He was asked questions about the National Democratic Congress Manifesto's promise to provide jobs and good living conditions for every Ghanaian. The questioners indicated that that promise was unrealistic because no political party could provide jobs for every Ghanaian even in a hundred years.

But Mr Kwao insisted that the promise was realistic in the sense that it was the vision of the NDC and was achievable in the long term.

Mr Asum-Ahensah said he would take steps to elevate some of the Divisional Councils in the chieftaincy sector to paramount status to enable them to play a more meaningful role at the regional level.

On the question of chiefs' involvement in active politics, he said it was in the interest of the chiefs not to align themselves with any particular political party since they represented people of different political inclinations.

“It is, however, not in my purview as a minister to take the chiefs to task for getting involved in partisan politics, it is up to their people to take them on for violating that constitutional provision,” he said.

Mr Asum-Ahensah told the Committee that “when” given the nod he would ensure that the lineage system was properly codified to prevent any conflicts over who was next-in-line to be chief and who was not.

He also observed that the installation of development chiefs had been abused by the persons so installed, as some of them, usually foreigners, took undue advantage of that status for self aggrandisement.

He, therefore, told the Committee that he would monitor that activity to ensure that the anomalies therein were corrected.

On the question of the need for the return of State acquired lands in Accra back to Ga chiefs to be replicated in all the other regions, he said when given the nod he would look into it and ensure that all chiefs in Ghana were treated equally in that regard.

Mr Asum-Ahensah also told the Committee that during his stewardship inhuman cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), trokosi, and widowhood rites would be become things of the past.

Mrs Alhassan was virtually let off the hook with just three questions about how she intended to represent the interest of her people as Minister of State at the Presidency, how she intended to get the Presidency to address the needs of rural communities and when she finished school.

She said for now she had no particular portfolio so she would wait till President John Evans Atta Mills to give her a portfolio and that would determine what she would do.