Prof Emmanuel Gyimah Boadi
THE GHANA Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has described the recent nomination of additional 54 people to serve as ministers or deputies under Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s administration as quite preposterous.
In a statement issued in Accra on Thursday, the CDD said, “When confirmed by parliament, that would bring the total number of ministers and deputy ministers appointed so far in the Akufo-Addo-led NPP government to an unprecedented 110.”
It said it considered this move and the obscene number of ministers a wrong one for several reasons: it would first represent the largest ministerial team assembled by any president/head of state of Ghana since independence and set a negative record for a country infamous for its oversized ministerial teams.
The president on Wednesday submitted additional 54 names as ministers of state and deputy ministers, bringing the number of appointees so far to 110, which appears to be the largest in Ghana’s political history.
CDD-Ghana said the United States, a larger and more economically and financially complex country, has approximately 46 ministers, adding that India, a country of some 1.3 billion people, has 75 ministers.
The Centre said though it was being argued that the large ministerial team would bring more focus, supervision and efficiency to President Akufo-Addo’s ambitious governance and socio-economic plans, it finds this argument weak, as there was no proven relationship between a large government and a well-governed, prosperous society.
“In addition, there is no correlation or causation between the large retinue of political heads and political/socio-economic transformation. What is clear and certain is that, a smaller government is a cost-saving measure that signals a high level of discipline and focus of a government that wants to protect the public purse,” the think-tank noted.
It continued that the appointments betrayed inadequate sensitivity to the weak fiscal condition of the country currently, as it flew in the face of the president’s promise to protect the public purse.
“It is difficult to see how appointing such a large number of ministers, who will all be on ministerial salaries and benefits, can possibly amount to the promise of protecting the public purse. Indeed, a reduction in the cost of running government, including appointing the minimum number of ministers required by the Constitution, particularly those drawn from parliament, was one of the list of 10 actions CDD-Ghana urged the Akufo-Addo-led NPP government to undertake in its first year,” it recounted.
Additionally, it said such a development undermines Ghana’s already weak state bureaucracy. “Placing a team of politician ministers on top of the existing hierarchy of the ministries will lead to unnecessary duplication of senior personnel and eventually undermine the authority of the professional senior civil and public servants (particularly, chief directors and directors) in the same ministries; it will also encourage the politicisation of the bureaucracy,” according to CDD-Ghana.
Furthermore, it noted that the appointment of many ministers does not in any way help to address the structural weakness of parliament vis-a-vis the executive, which the president alluded to in his State of the Nation Address.
“By appointing so many of his ministers and deputy ministers from parliament, currently standing at 64 MPs, the president is further weakening the legislative body and at the same time undercutting his own promise to strengthen the institution to enable it serve as an effective check on the executive,” it pointed out.
Job For The Boys
According to CDD-Ghana, it’s deeply concerned above all, about the negative signals sent out by such appointments.
“We note with consternation that nearly the entire presidential and ruling party campaign team as well as a large number of NPP MPs have been appointed to ministerial and other state bureaucratic positions. This suggests a continuation of the anti-developmental practice of ‘party in government’ system (conflation of the ruling party and the government), whereby political appointments are treated as ‘jobs-for-the boys’ or some form of material reward for individuals who played key roles in the election campaign of the president and his party, and an opportunity for them to rake in rents,” CDD-Ghana expressed.
It said appointing as many as 50 ministers and 60 deputies may have been made in strict conformity with the provisions of the 1992 Constitution, however, that is not constructive.
Imploring the president to reduce the number of nominees, CDD-Ghana asked him to publish the salaries and emoluments of all appointed public office holders so that Ghanaians could begin to appreciate the true cost of governing the country.
By Samuel Boadi