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Ministers create “kingdoms”and become “untouchable” if not reshuffled – Mahama

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Apart from using reshuffles to extract the optimum efforts from ministerial appointees, it is also used to ensure none of them gets too rooted at one place or becomes too powerful to control, former President John Mahama has said.

Speaking to students of the Academic City University College on the topic “Thinking Critical Decisions in Decisive Moments as a Leader,” Mr. Mahama said: “After a while, take a look at the performance of your ministers and based on their performance you must decide to drop some people and you can also decide to shift some people to other places”.

“They may be probably good but maybe they may not be finding their feet in the ministry you sent them and so after observing them for a year or two you see that this person will do better here because of certain qualities they have”, he explained.

He added: “Sometimes, you take decisions to move people because you don’t want them to create kingdoms in the Ministries in which they are. When the staff of the ministry or the agency know that this person is untouchable then it does not bring out the best in them and it becomes like a fiefdom and that is what is happening today.”

Mr Mahama’s comments come a few days after similar comments were made by former President John Kufuor.

In October this year, President Nana Akufo-Addo parried calls for the dismissal of Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta and the reshuffling of some of his appointees.

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According to Mr Akufo-Addo, his cousin has been an excellent handler of the Ghanaian economy and, thus, sees no reason to sack him as being clamoured for by his critics.

Speaking to OTEC FM in the Ashanti Region on the first day of his four-day official working tour of that part of Ghana, Mr Akufo-Addo parried criticisms that his cousin is to blame for Ghana’s return to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help since he mismanaged the economy.

The president said he takes full responsibility for Ghana’s return to the IMF since he took the decision as the head of state.

He argued that the same Ofori-Atta was able to manage an IMF-programmed economy that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) inherited in 2017 to become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world with an average annual growth rate of 7%.

The president, thus, wondered, how he could cut ties with Mr Ofori-Atta as finance minister.

The president said he has a lot of difficulty understanding the clamour for Mr Ofori-Atta’s exit, since, he noted, even the IMF confirmed that the causes of the current economic situation in Ghana are global in nature rather than a result of internal mismanagement.

“It is very easy for people to say we went back to the IMF due to mismanagement of the economy. I do not accept that criticism because the reasons why we got into the situation we find ourselves has very little to do with us. In fact, the IMF confirmed this.”

An attempt by the minority of parliament to remove Mr Ofori-Atta through a censure motion also failed.

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This followed a walk-out staged by the majority caucus on Thursday, 8 December 2022 during a debate on the report of by an ad hoc committee that probed the seven allegations against him.

The walk-out left only 136 MPs on the floor, thus, the minority caucus failed to garner the at least two-thirds majority of votes (183) needed to have succeeded in removing Mr Ofori-Atta from office for mismanaging the economy among others.

Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Mensah led the walk-out.

He said his caucus could not support a baseless and politically motivated motion of the minority caucus birthed out of bad faith and aimed at embarrassing the president’s cousin.

“You want us to follow you on this misadventure. Mr Speaker, like Pontius Pilate did, we will wash our hands of this”, he said on the floor of parliament just before his side walked out of the chamber.

Mr Ofori-Atta, in his defence, said: “If I say I am innocent they will not believe me and if I ask for the truth and proof, they will not be able to provide that”.

“I have committed no crime,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.

When he appeared before an ad hoc committee that investigated the allegations against him some three weeks ago, Mr Ofori-Atta apologised to the people of Ghana for the economic hardships they are going through.

He said he has always meant well for the people of Ghana ever since he became finance minister.

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