Finance Minister’s approval and resultant confusion in NDC
The opposition National Democratic Party (NDC) is suspected to be in turmoil, as the majority of its supporters who voted for the party in the December 7, 2020 elections, are not happy with current developments and also the way some of the leaders, especially those in parliament are misconducting themselves. Also, not happy, are some executives and parliamentarians of the party. The MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzato Ablakwa, is reported to have resigned from the Parliamentary Appointment’s Committee and tended his resignation letter to the Speaker.
The supporters felt betrayed by most of their leaders at the helm of affairs in parliament who they alleged for either some personal or selfish motives are beginning to sell their rights and conscience to the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) caucus in parliament.
Coming from the backdrop of the recent presidential election petition at the Supreme Court of Ghana which saw the party losing the case to the NPP, the members who were already agitated by the verdict, felt they could rely on the leadership of the party with the speaker Hon Alban Sumani Kingsford Bagbin who happened to be a member of the party as their backbone to frustrate the NPP and indeed, the ruling government through strong opposition in parliament. However, that seemed not to be the case as the NDC leadership in parliament was rather playing the ostrich. The supporters have accused the leadership of party of playing into the hands of the NPP parliamentary caucus.
The genesis of the problem emanated from the NDC side of the Appointment’s Committee headed by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, who they alleged to be ‘rubber stamping’ all the presidential nominees for ministerial appointments who appeared before them without taking into consideration their incompetency, inconsistency in their deliveries and also failure to provide documents to support their deliveries when requested by the committee to produce them.
KEN OFORI-ATTA’S APPROVAL
The recent parliamentary approval by consensus of Mr Ken Ofori-Atta as the Minister for Finance, has generated upheavals in the party, added salt to injury and worsened the already volatile and agitated posture of the rank and file of the supporters and the party in general.
His approval followed a unanimous recommendation by the Appointment’s Committee of Parliament of which the NDC caucus was part of it. The committee, we are told, last Monday, March 29, 2021, presented its report to parliament as a whole which was endorsed by a voice vote.
The nominee who returned to Ghana for his vetting following his treatment in the United States of America (USA) for post COVID-19 health complications, faced an unprecedented two-day vetting before the Appointment’s Committee.
RESERVATIONS ABOUT MINISTER’S RESPONSES
It is recalled that during his recent vetting, several MPs from the minority side raised reservations over some of the responses by the minster-designate. The Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, described the minister as having performed unsatisfactorily when he appeared before the committee. He insisted that Mr Ofori-Atta must furnished the committee with details on the recruitment of Mackenzie as revenue collector for the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
REMARKS BY MINORITY LEADER
Hear the minority leader; “Mr Speaker, I beg to second the approval of the President’s nominee (Ken Ofori-Atta) as minister designate for Finance and Mr Speaker in doing so, as you may recall, our side of the appointment’s committee requested for some of the information related to Ken Ofori-Atta as Minister of Finance, we have accordingly recommended that he should be approved by consensus. But, Mr Speaker, it does not mean we are satisfied with his performance as Finance Minister. He probably will go and bear the brunt of his mismanagement of the Ghanaian economy in the last four years, he will bear the brunt of his inability to reconcile his fiscal data. He bears the brunt for not providing enough details of how much the Bank of Ghana financed the government of Ghana in the 2020 period”.
“We will demand more information on this matter, because we are convinced that he is in breach of law, in breach of the Bank of Ghana Act, in breach of their fiscal responsibility Act and in breach of their Public Financial Management Act,” he said.
INTERROGATION OF HARUNA IDDRISU’S REMARKS
Indeed, the matters and issues arising from the Minority Leader’s remarks cannot be allowed to go without proper scrutiny. This is because, if all those breaches in the law are carefully examined by the committee, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta’s appointment could not have been approved by parliament since there were outstanding issues to be clarified by him. Where then lies the justification in his approval when documents the committee requested him to submit were not made available by the minister-designate.
To add salt to injury, the General Secretary of the NDC was heard saying that the decision to approve the nomination of Mr Ken Ofori-Atta as Finance Minister, was the collective decision of the party. That clearly shows that the leadership of the NDC caucus in parliament can be influenced at any time when it comes to decision making in the house. This, the members considered as most unfortunate.
To them, this current parliament is just behaving like the previous ones which compromised on proper scrutiny, check and balances and due regard to incompetency of nominees that appeared before them in the past and did wholesale appointments.
SAMMY GYAMFI’S ANGER
Reference can be made to the last vetting some weeks ago, which prompted the Communication Officer of the NDC, Sammy Gyamfi, together with some party members to register their protests and displeasure on the decision taken by the NDC leadership in Parliament led by Haruna Iddrisu to approve some ministers-designate whose questions had earlier been raised about them by the NDC side of the committee.
These appointees included the current Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Hawa Mavis Koomson and the Agriculture Minister, Dr Owusu Akoto Afriyie.
The alleged betrayal by the NDC leadership in parliament prompted the communication officer to issue a strong statement urging the rank and file of the party not to allow them to succeed in their parochial quest to destroy the party that has done so much for them. “The shame they have brought on the party will forever hang like an albatross around their necks,” says Sammy Gyamfi.
According to him they brazenly defied the leadership of the party and betrayed the collective good for their selfish interest.
APPOLOGY BY HARUNA IDDRISU
But in reaction to that statement from Sammy Gyamfi, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, appealed for forgiveness from the supporters and the grassroots of the NDC over their failure to reject some ministers-designate who appeared before the committee. He said the disappointment by some members of the party was justified and assured that the NDC side of the Appointment Committee would do well not to disappoint the party in the future.
Therefore, what has changed now in view of the assurance given by Hon. Haruna Iddrisu on behalf of other colleagues of his party not to betray the course of the party? Members, especially the grassroots are waiting with bated breath for explanation.
The question that needs an answer is, Is the major opposition party, the NDC, in turmoil?
BY CHARLES NEEQUAYE