Opinion: Mustapha Hamid Must Step Up His Game By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

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Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, Ghana’s Minister for Information and Spokesperson for the Presidency

It is tempting to brush off the latest figures released by Jubilee House, indicating that some 998 people have been working as staff members at the Akufo-Addo Presidency over the past year, but there is a psychological aspect here that the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) could strategically tap into to create formidable challenges for Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, should the latter decide, as it seems highly likely, to run for reelection in the leadup to the 2020 electoral season.

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We saw this psychological drama assume center-stage in our national politics in the wake of the naming of the full-panoply of President Akufo-Addo’s cabinet appointees, with the clearly specious argument then facilely advanced that the Akufo-Addo Administration was bound to be inordinately high on spending and abysmally low on output or productivity.

Now, we learn, almost to our horror, that, in fact, 678 of the 998 employees at Jubilee House, or at least 53-percent of the staff at the Presidency, were actually hired by former President John Dramani Mahama. What the foregoing means is that only 320 people presently working at Jubilee House could legitimately be classified as bona fide Akufo-Addo hires. What this further tells us is that barely 47-percent of the employees and/or staff at the Presidency were hired by Nana Akufo-Addo.

But, of course, what I am more interested in is the report that between 500-600 of the Jubilee House’s staff who were hired by former President Mahama were presented with their letters of appointment as late as December 2016. These eleventh-hour hires constitute approximately 80-percent of all public servants at the Presidency, if my elementary arithmetic is anything viable to go by.

I have absolutely no problem with this weird state of affairs, however anomalous it may seem, provided that no evidence of any wrongdoing attended the same. But, of course, there is absolutely something – if not everything – wrong with an outgoing or lame-duck President jampacking the official residence and working space of his successor-in-waiting with employees whose jobs may have been ceded them in an inescapably cynical show of political largesse. In other words, it reeks more of a punitive measure than anything else. We also need Jubilee/Flagstaff House figures from all four years the Mahama Presidency to enable us to make the appropriate and necessary comparative analysis for the record books.

Something must be promptly done to stanch such glaring abuse of power. We are also, quite refreshingly, told by Mr. Mahama Ayariga, the former Mahama Information and Environmental Minister and the National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for Bawku-Central, that, in fact, a dozen or so substantive cabinet appointees are listed as Jubilee House’s employees who ought not to be on the list because traditionally Ministers are not appointed under Act 463, which pertains to civil and public servants.

Now, I have Information Minister Mustapha Abdul-Hamid in the caption of this column because he is the official presidential spokesperson. In other words, it is not the duty of the Defense Minister, Mr. Dominic Nitiwul, to be pinch-hitting or explaining Jubilee House’s staffing matters to the rest of the nation. I am also aware of the fact that Mr. Hamid has at least two ministerial deputies, one of whom I have great admiration for. But what I want to highlight here is the fact that the first visage or facial image that came to mind was that of Prof. Kwame Karikari, emeritus of the University of Ghana’s School of Mass Communications, and retired Founding-Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).

Not long ago, Prof. Karikari bitterly lamented that the communications specialists of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) were a great disappointment to President Akufo-Addo. Back then, as now, I couldn’t agree more with Prof. Karikari. You see, if they want to keep their jobs for any considerable while, as well as have President Akufo-Addo retain his residency at Jubilee House, come January 2021, these NPP Communicators, so-called, would already have hit the airwaves instructively and constructively explaining why Nana Akufo-Addo, in spite of all the NDC propaganda glut, is actually the one Fourth-Republican President to run at once the most progressive and leanest or the lowest-staffed administration.

There is winsome magic in the figure 320, which, in real terms, is the actual size of the Akufo-Addo Presidency. The rest is Mahama Blubber or Boondoggle. If the NPP Communicators cannot seize on this prime grist to drive home the foregoing political reality, they had better make way for a new, savvier and better breed of both party and media wags.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

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