Opinion: Otiko Afisa Djaba Is Still My Shero! By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

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Otiko Afisa Djaba, Ghana’s fomer Gender Minister

I have followed her active political career since about the time that she was privately eyeing the Gonja-West’s parliamentary seat that used to be occupied by former President John Dramani Mahama. I was also once quite close to her estranged half-sister, Georgette Djaba. And then she fiercely battled for and won a congressional election as the National Women’s Organizer of the then-opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). I have never met her personally, though, but I think I know her quite well enough to admonish her on this most significant issue bordering on her remarkable and respectable place in both the country’s political culture as well as that of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo-inspired neoliberal and free-market and incurably democratically oriented New Patriotic Party. And yes, I also studiously followed her and wrote extensively about the epic battle for turf that she fiercely fought with Mr. Daniel Bugri Naabu, the former Northern Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, who lost his post through an equally fiercely contested election not very long ago.

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But, of course, the battle that I relished the most, if also because it was that which sharply brought out the uncompromisingly principled personality that she is, was that which she vigorously fought against the Mahama toadies and lickspittles of the main opposition National Democratic Congress’ Members of Parliament on the Parliamentary Appointments Committee (PAC). As was to be expected, Ms. Otiko Afisa Djaba put these nation-wrecking political freeloaders and impudent parasites in their place. Her adversaries on the PAC, largely the Tamale street urchins and their Anlo-Ewe Mafioso thugs, wanted to force this first-cousin of the former President, who knows the latter like the back of her own two hands, to apologize for rightly describing the former Rawlings’ Communication Minister as a congenitally and irredeemably wicked man who had absolutely no progressive or visionary strategy and agenda for the rapid and healthy development of the country.

Now, I don’t know what performance evaluation report card it was that Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, the Minister for Policy Monitoring and Evaluation at the Presidency, submitted to his boss on Ms. Djaba that prompted Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to decide to transfer Ms. Djaba to Italy as an Ambassador, upon which basis we have just learned that not only has the firebrand diplomatic appointee roundly declined such appointment, Ms. Djaba has also decided to call it quits altogether. Indeed, I was a bit flabbergasted to learn about what clearly appeared to be the demotion of Ms. Djaba, even though since last year, it has been widely rumored that in the event of any cabinet reshuffle, Ms. Djaba, together with several others, would be literally one of the ministerial shoes to be dropped by Nana Akufo-Addo.

The reason seemed to be more about her fiery temperament than the fact of whether, indeed, Ms. Djaba was a good fit for her portfolio or not. But what bothers me here, more than anything else, is the apparent vindication of those of her rabid and inveterate detractors who have seriously and very publicly questioned the public relations and/or diplomatic skills of the former Minister for Women, Children and Gender Protection. If she did not like her new diplomatic portfolio or appointment – absolutely no pun, whatsoever, is intended here – Ms. Djaba is no perfect stranger to the Presidency. Put in simple English, Ms. Djaba could have promptly asked to speak to the President of the Republic and frankly expressed to him exactly how she felt about her new posting or portfolio; and then, hopefully, a more mutually acceptable alternative could have been worked out for her. Hurriedly taking her displeasure to the media and announcing her rejection of her new portfolio merely fed into her stereotypical tagging as one who seriously lacked the requisite social and diplomatic skills to perform as a key cabinet operative.

I know Ms. Djaba acquitted herself creditably as Minister for Women, Children and Gender Protection because she has all the awards and commendation plaques and laurels to prove it. I would therefore not attempt in this brief personal editorial to second-guess either Ms. Djaba herself or the President. Bowing out of the political arena altogether to take good care of one’s children is perfectly divine, but the part dealing with taking good care of an ex-husband can only be read between the lines, as it were. It is decidedly a sign-language speak. She also says that she was already taking care of her former beau even while she served around the clock as a cabinet appointee; and so, we perfectly have a reasonable sense to believe that there is a subtext to this pretext that Ms. Djaba is not letting on to us. Whatever the real issue(s) may be, I fervidly hope that something more mutually acceptable could be promptly worked out.

Make no mistake, fellow countrymen and women and passionate partisans: Ms. Djaba is a priceless political gem that the NPP’s movers-and-shakers would be committing an egregious blunder to let go in this rather untoward manner. At 56 years old, Ms. Djaba is still pretty much a woman in her prime. There are still far greater things to come out of her. Nana Akufo-Addo is a prime example.

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

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