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24.02.2009 Politics

Last Batch Of Ministerial Nominees Vetted

By ISD (Gilbert Ankrah, Richie Osie)

The 26 member Appointments Committee of Parliament yesterday vetted the last batch of President J E A Mills' 35 ministerial nominees for the various ministries.

They were Mr Mark Wayongo, Upper East Regional Minister designate, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Agriculture Minister-designate, Mr Albert Abongo, Minister designate for Works and Housing and Hon Alhassan Azong, PNC MP nominated to be a Minister of State at the Presidency.

Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, during his turn also said agriculture is an avenue for job creation for the youth both in and out of school and therefore the youth on the streets should be assisted to form groups or companies to prepare, weed, plough and plant crops on behalf of farmers for a fee under a Land Development Co-operative programme.

He touched on the need to link farm production to markets to help farmers sell their produce by establishing processing plants adding that it will be appropriate to consider giving out credit facilities to them as groups under leaders who will then help in the re-payment of the loans.

The minister designate also noted that getting the youth interested in agriculture should begin with the revival of running school farms in the secondary schools and the universities with modern equipment.

He said agriculture, as a subject, should also feature prominently in the curriculum and possibly be considered as a compulsory subject just like Mathematics or English to whip up interest in the Youth in Agriculture programme.

On the issue of making the annual celebration of Farmers' Day more meaningful Mr Kwesi Ahwoi pointed out that, the celebration should be characterised by the construction of a facility such as an irrigation dam in farm area to serve the community for the event to have greater impact.

He added that award-winning farmers should also be identified and used as facilitators to nurture the youth who will understudy them to get more young people interested in agriculture.

Mr Albert Abongo, Minister-designate for Water Resources, Works and Housing, who also took his turn, said if given the nod, he will review the operations of Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL), operators of the urban water systems, to determine whether to abrogate or continue with their contract.

The Minister-designate admitted that he is aware that AVRL is brought in to manage and improve water delivery and revenue generation of the urban water sector, adding, based on the concerns raised about the performance of the company in the public domain, he will do a technical and financial assessment of their performance to determine whether to continue with or abrogate their contract.

Mr Abongo, who is also the NDC MP for Bongo, assured the committee that if given the nod he will streamline the affordable housing distribution process to ensure some sanity and fairness prevail.

In a response to a question about how to tackle tribal conflict in the region to restore life, property and peace, Mr Mark Wayongo, who was the first to appear before the committee acknowledged the Bawku conflict and said when given the nod he will work with the already established agencies responsible for the restoration of peace, law and order in the region as well as provide jobs for the youth in the area.

On the issue of migration of the youth from the North to the South, he intimated that when given the nod he will see how best to help farmers maximise production by resolving the issue of fertilizers, capital, irrigation among others in the effort to attract the youth into farming.

Mr Azong Alhasan, nominee for the Presidency, who also took his turn before the Appointments Committee, answered questions relating to his curriculum vitae and spent just some few minutes before the Committee.

So far 23 of the 35 nominees have been approved and sworn-in. The remaining 12 are expected to be approved by parliament and sworn-in by the President.

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