Traditionally, the civil service’s title of Chief Director (CD) used to be called Principal Secretary (PS). Maybe this re-designation of the PS as the CD is one of the many designs of the Ahwoi Brothers, but I don’t readily have on hand the real history behind the original title of the PS, but I have always known that appointees to the latter position or post, apparently presently re-designated as the CD, traditionally rose through the ranks, as it were, and were named as such by the key operatives of the Public/Civil Services Commission (PSC) or some such institutional establishment. They were traditionally not appointed by any particular regime or political party in power, as Mr. Samuel Atta-Akyea, the current Minister for Works and Housing, would have the rest of the nation believe. But, of course, the way that politicking has been done in the country in the past has seismically changed over the course of at least the last quarter-century (See “Atta-Akyea Reveals How His Chief Director Paid $ 5 Million at [on?] His Blind Side” Adomonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 5/17/19).
What I am clearly trying to get at here is that there clearly appears to be a classic case of the dereliction of duty here which cannot be lightly wished away, as the New Patriotic Party’s Member of Parliament for Akyem-Abuakwa-South clearly appears to be doing here. I, too, saw the video clip of his interview on the $ 5 Million backdoor payment to the owners of the Saglemi Housing Construction Company on whatsapp and could hardly believe both my ears and eyes. But I was, nevertheless, quite happy to be hearing the quite articulate voice of my old schoolmate from SALEM, that is, the Presbyterian Middle Boys’ Boarding School at Akuapem-Akropong, a little over forty years ago. Physically, my good old friend and paternal cousin hasn’t changed very much. I am just a couple of years older than the Works and Housing Minister is, but he may actually be my uncle, if he also happens to be the maternal grandson of Nana Atta Sam, my father’s maternal uncle. I will reserve the quiddities of this kinship yarn for another column at another time.
For now, let us get to the brass-tacks, to the serious business of nation-building. And it is simply that Mr. Atta-Akyea has been in the sticky business of partisan politics for quite sometime now and ought to have known far better than to so facilely put himself in such a horrid mess. I am also quite sure that he may also be dead-on-target to assert that Mr. Zimblin Yakubu may very well have been appointed Chief Director of the Ministry of Works and Housing by an erstwhile regime of the presently main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), with the sole purpose or intent of sabotaging the key operatives of the then-incoming Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party. But such appointment might have been equally more of a mere formality than either sheer spite or pure mischief on the part of the key operatives of the previous regime, who had clearly not expected to lose their tenacious grips on power, in spite of the abjectly poor performance of their megalomaniacal Pontiff, to wit, then-President John Dramani Mahama.
So, to be frank with my dear kinsman and schoolmate, Mr. Atta-Akyea needs a far better and cogent pretext or excuse than simply claiming that his former Chief Director was a Mahama or an NDC appointee full of ill-will; so, somehow, this fully answers the critical question of how it took the Works and Housing Minister so relatively long to discover, to his horror, that huge sums of money had been paid out of the accounts of his ministry on his blind side or deviously behind his back by Mr. Zimblin Yakubu, his NDC-appointed former Chief Director. The Works and Housing Minister ought to have been fully aware from the get-go that the civil service is chock-full of appointees and staff members of both major political parties in the country, namely, the ruling Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
This Atta-Akyea faux-pas also underscores the imperative need for Parliament and the Presidency, as well as the Judiciary, to seriously reconsider the present bad and clearly wasteful practice of having elected parliamentary representatives double as executive appointees or operatives. It is financially wasteful because these joint or double appointees literally become “Jacks of all trades and masters of zilch,” even while being handsomely paid salary-allowances and other executive perks for absolutely no work done or, at best, for work marginally done. Such dual appointments also effectively hobble the traditionally, generally healthy principle of the neatly defined Separation of Powers among the members of the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary or the three main branches of Government. In a four-year tenure, there is absolutely no time to sit duck or back and hope that such mischief, as has been allegedly committed by Mr. Zimblin Yakubu, would be expeditiously resolved anytime soon. That is a veritable recipe for a lightning push-back onto the gray margins of opposition politics.
That such practice, as is presently being blindly and doggedly, albeit grossly ineffectively, pursued in Ghana also prevails in the political culture of some advanced democracies is well beside the point or clearly irrelevant within the context of Ghanaian political culture. For, this system clearly appears not to be working efficiently in Ghana; and, indeed, that may not have always been the practice even in those advanced democracies where it is presently practiced until the concerned political cultures and systems had well settled in, as it were, and gradually acquired the practical hang of the same. Atta-Akyea may very well do himself, and the rest of us and the man who appointed him to his cabinet portfolio great good by promptly and humbly asking for a transfer. It ought to be clear to him by now that he is not equal to the task generously afforded him, in spite of the fact of any sleepless nights that President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo might be putting his ministerial appointees through, as the Works and Housing Minister had occasion to publicly adumbrate upon recently.
The jig is simply up. Indeed, if he had really wanted to be on top of the affairs of the Works and Housing Ministry, the very first step that he ought to have taken shortly after he was named to the cardinal portfolio of Works and Housing Minister, ought to have been for him to have promptly called for the thorough independent auditing of the financial status of his new office. The same ought to have gone for all his ministerial colleagues. To be certain, the independent auditing of the accounts and contractual activities of every single one of the ministries ought to have constituted the very first Order-of-Business (O-O-B) of the very first Akufo-Addo cabinet meeting. It is, however, not too late to retroactively pick up the broken pieces, as it were.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
May 19, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
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