Mr. President’s Formula

President John Mahama has executed one of the most critical functions of his office—the appointment of assistants or ministers. These ladies and gentlemen are expected to support him as Chief Executive Officer of the country in the actualization of his programmes. We are aware of how such nominations are fraught with myriad challenges as hordes of party supporters raise their voices, as it were, to be heard and therefore be considered for nomination. No matter how a president manages the challenges of who to choose to assist him, such an assignment, discretionary as it stands, is susceptible to dissent and sometimes open revolt as in the Tamale and Nzema youth episode. The ability of a president to manoeuvre through such challenges is by itself a critical test of his competence. We therefore expect President Mahama to be able to balance between the interest of the nation and the parochial interest of individual party members who would insist by all means in being considered for government appointments. President Mahama, in the face of such palpable challenges, has gone overboard by appointing six ministers of state who initially were without clear cut roles at the Presidency. Abusing the presidential discretion of choosing his assistants has a long standing history of presidents much to the detriment of the interest of the country. The subtlety by which President Mahama has managed the challenges of satisfying the yearnings of party members whose agitations he cannot afford to ignore has interestingly attracted the attention of the media since the statement from the Presidency. Following the grumblings which greeted the appointments of the ministers of state without clear cut roles, they have been quickly assigned roles which are anything but clear cut and vivid. We are amazed that the President would appoint a minister of state to be responsible for Scholarships when a minister of Education exists. There is also a minister of state in charge of development authorities as in one responsible for financial institutions and so on. Listening to the analysis of one of the respectable policy think-tanks, we are unable to ignore the fact that the appointments would be counterproductive and therefore call for rethink. The likelihood of a turf war between the substantive ministers and the so-called ministers of state cannot be ruled out. This is a critical reality which the President ignores at a cost. There are others who would be in charge of coordinating projects which fall under specific ministries. The appointment of deputy ministers will be announced soon; another action which will aggravate the overloaded list of government appointees. If the President is worried about the rising cost of government business, he must take another look at such appointments. The formula he has adopted is not the best way out of the pressure from the hordes of party members.