The ‘Ameri’ Deal Rears Its Treacherous Head Again!
Every Cabinet is a coalition of persons holding different views; individuals of different character and upbringing; and, of course, social background and stature, a well.
It is, therefore, unrealistic to expect a Cabinet to be absolutely consistent in all the actions it takes, or to agree always on the line to be taken on specific issues.
The important criterion for judging a Cabinet, then, is not whether it is always united, but whether its members are endowed with the quality of being disciplined enough to accept a decision they had kicked against in Cabinet, but on which they had not managed to carry their colleagues with them.
Being disciplined means to accept the collective view without rancour. If the collective view happens to run counter to the conscience of a member of the Cabinet, the honourable and dignified thing to do is to offer his or her resignation to the head of the Cabinet – in our case, the President – and in other cases (such as in Britain) to the Prime Minister. That’s what recently happened in the case of Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary. He disagreed irreconcilably with the 'Brexit' policy of Prime Minister.
If on losing an argument, a member of the Cabinet stays within the government but goes out clandestinely to attempt to defeat the collective view – through an underground media campaign or by lobbying centres of power within the ruling party, then he has rebelled and he or she must be kicked out. Pour encourager les autres, as the French say: i.e. to discourage others from being indisciplined!
No-one who is not a member of our current Cabinet can tell us exactly what happened with the new ‘Ameri’ energy-provision agreement before it was rushed to Parliament for adoption. But it was extremely unusual that such a controversial agreement should have been placed before Parliament at very very short notice – just as it was about to rise. The impression given to MPs was apparently that the agreement was coming from the president, with the result that discussion of it was curtailed.
To thus blind-side the president, as has now emerged, was a misjudgement. The point is that it is extremely naïve to suppose that an agreement over which an NDC minister was dragged over sharp rocks by one’s own party can now be rebottled, relabelled and placed in the cellar, without everyone wishing to sniff at the contents and toss it around the tongue in ‘wine-tasting’ fashion.
Not to anticipate, in our current political climate (in which a very corrupt government has been replaced by a government that keeps laying very loud charges of corruption against its predecessor) that the least sleight of hand regarding ANY agreement, least of all a nuclear-powered one like ‘Ameri’, would produce a megaton explosion if the whiff of corruption got near to it, was extremely amateurish.
Praise must, therefore, go to those sharp-eyed members of the NPP machine – especially the New Statesman newspaper – who blew the whistle over the unsavoury goings-on with regard to the new ‘Ameri’ deal. Now that the vice president and his economic team have also put in their oar, the presidency ought to thoroughly re-examine the processes by which this embarrassment to the government was procured, so that such attempt can ever be made in future. For those who have thrown stones at others must not live in glass houses, (so to speak!)
Two other issues on which there are signs that the government might be fighting against itself, are the Free Senior High School scheme and – galamsey. On the SHS issue, it appears that the Finance Minister is concerned that applying the non-payment of fees to ALL students, whether their families can afford to pay for them or not, will cut a hole into his budgetary “pocket”.
But the minister must take cognisance of the fact that the system of “means testing” – whereby the incomes of applicants for state benefits there, although the “welfare state” has been in existence for a long time, right-wing politicians are always nibbling at it. Now, if in the UK (where record-keeping is pervasive) disputes constantly arise over whether certain people are entitled to benefits or not, how much more our country, where even physical residential addresses are only now beginning to be systematised?
Besides, opposition to state assistance to the indigent in society usually comes from the affluent in society (most of whose wealth is inherited!) I therefore counsel the minister to be extremely pussyfooted on this issue, lest he arouses emotions with which he has no need to contend.
On the question of galamsey, I see that Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, who heads the Inter-Ministerial Committee appointed by the president to oversee the ban on illegal mining and try to mitigate the effects of the ban on the employment opportunities of the youths forced into galamsey by the lack of jobs in the rural areas, is being viciously maligned by an individual to whom he graciously granted audience, and who claims to have the answer to all issues regarding galamsey.
Prof Frimpong Boateng is actively charged with all anti-galamsey issues and has roped in the Tarkwa School of Mines (for instance) to provide technical services of the sort the individual is peddling.
The president did not appoint a man like Frimpong-Boateng for him to be dictated to by a graduate student who thinks he has political connections. I pray the Inter-Ministerial Committee not to allow itself to be influenced by “carpet-baggers” on such issues. For their task is a monumental one: namely, to save Ghana’s water-bodies and farmland for the generations that will succeed our own. Personality conflicts and petty jealousies must not be allowed anywhere near the fulfilment of this sacred duty owed to the nation by all Ghanaians who have their mental faculties intact.
By CAMERON DUODU