You should be reading the second installment of the radio stations review I started last week. However, kindly forgive me as I want to touch on a subject that has been raging since we had an election and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was declared president. We’ll find another time to complete the review.
When it was obvious Nana Addo would be president there were those who were happy not just because after struggling for years the veteran politician had finally fulfilled his ambition of becoming the president of this great nation, more than that some knew their fortunes will be brighter with him at government house.
There were those who would lobby for positions away from the limelight of ministerial hubbub, but rather get cool appointments to ambassadorial, boards and other such positions and to save themselves from the scrutiny that comes with the “showy” terrain.
The attention and the scrutiny it engenders notwithstanding, the need to lobby to become minister or deputy minister would always be paramount and the one true headache of any president. Who should he nominate to parliament to satisfy the two needs of properly prosecuting his mandate and promise and still satisfying his party members? It is a delicate balance for any president.
There are lobbyists in every political system who are there to ensure that appointments to key positions are well and truly made to favour the interests they represent and some would go at any length to ensure that they get their person in the right position.
We cannot live under the illusion that some of the people who got nominated by the president and who soon will be vetted by parliament did not lobby for the position either by themselves or by people and organisations whose interests would be met with such appointments.
If there was any good thing the last government of the NDC did for the creative arts industry it was the fact that it was added to and named part of the ministry of tourism and culture. Things could have been done better to appropriate the opportunities available to make the sector better than it was when it was unnamed under the ministry of information.
Thus it compelled the in-coming administration of the NPP to keep the name and obviously the mandate, even if slightly changed from Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts to Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
The next task was the need to know who would be those appointed as minister and deputy to respectively take over from Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare and Dzifa Gomashie. As a matter of fact, for many in the creative arts sector or the Ghanaian economy there did not seem to be any agitations at all about who would or should become the substantive minister as it was about who should and would become the deputy minister.
The early lists that made the rounds has Catherine Abelema Afeku, MP as the one most likely to be nominated to head the ministry and just last week the president, in announcing his last batch of ministers, confirmed that. There was no question about that and her CV shows an able and qualified person for the job.
The real battleground has been who to be appointed as her deputy. Rumours abound that the role was left for someone in the creative arts industry and the person who was first approached to take it up was Mark Okraku-Mantey who declined it. Then it became open and someone else had to be chosen.
It wasn’t long before an artwork with Socrates Safo’s image on it making the rounds on social media asking that he should be made the deputy minister for the ministry. At the time the president had not named a substantive minister and when he did the campaign has gone into overdrive.
The campaign picking up momentum among several people in the creative arts industry could well be because there are rumours of other people interested in the job. For example, Mark Okraku-Mantey has publicly declared his support for Kojo Antwi, formerly of Joy FM and EIB, and there are strong indications of him getting the slot.
Socrates Safo himself has confirmed in different interviews that he would like to take the job if the president offers it to him. Although he has not acquiesced to suggestions that this whole campaign to get him the job was started by himself.
My challenge is why that particular position has become not only contentious but also forcibly so demanding of the president to make it happen. It is as though the president has to appoint Safo or live to regret it.
There are so many ministries each of which caters for different matters relating to state and each sector has interest groups, however none has been so vociferous and acrimonious about who they want to be appointed as either minister or deputy minister as the people in creative arts have been.
Let’s face it, tourism is the bigger brother in this arrangement in the sense that it contributes far more to the economy than most areas, but people in tourism have not agitated or have not been heard agitating anywhere as close to what the people in creative arts have been doing over the last month.
It is to be pointed out that there is no shame in lobbying for a position. There is no shame asking the president to appoint someone you believe in to be deputy minister of a particular ministry. However, it also must be pointed out that why we probably have not heard much for areas like agriculture, finance, and others is because there is some class in lobbying. You do not go out all gung-ho in the manner that the people in creative arts have done.
The president will surely nominate someone to work with Madam Afeku, should she get through parliament. Whoever that person is, whether Socrates Safo, Kojo Antwi or anyone else we shall know very soon. However, before that is done, it is my arrogant opinion that this has been a classless campaign to railroad the president to choose a particular candidate or hell will break loose.