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General News
8 Ministers To Resign? 3/23/2007
On current goings, at least 8 Cabinet Ministers are on their way out of Government. The eight are Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Water Resources, Works and Housing; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and NEPAD; Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Defence; Mike Oquaye, Communications; Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, Tourism and Diasporan Relations; Alan Kyerematen, Trade, Industry and PSI; Felix Owusu-Adjapong, Majority Leader, Parliamentary Affairs and Acting Road Transport Minister; and Papa Owusu Ankomah, Education, Science and Sports.

This is because all eight are actively working to become the ruling party''s next flagbearer, who will be elected before the end of this year. An amendment to the NPP constitution, passed in 2003, states "Any Minister, National Officer, and District Chief Executive who files to contest to become a Presidential Candidate of the Party shall resign his/her position.” Ofosu Asamoah, Kade MP, speaking to The Statesman on the conditional resignation of Minister-aspirants sees it as fraught with potential disaster.

Another founding member, I A Omane, is pleading that the Ministers, with their years of experience and overseeing vote-winning pet projects at their various portfolios, must be allowed to finish off in 2008. Nana Obiri Boahen, Brong Ahafo NPP Regional Chairman, has called for another amendment of the new provision, describing it as counter-productive to the party"s own programme of ensuring that they return to the electorate in December 2008 with a very good track record of delivery.

He says the situation calls for a review since the framers appeared not to have envisaged a situation where such a sizeable number of the best materials in government would be required to all quit within a period of two months. The Brong Ahafo NPP Chairman, has therefore, called on the party leadership against taking a neutral position on the matter and sticking to the status quo, for fear of being blamed for tempering with the party’s constitution.

He argues that as far as the NPP is concerned there is no aspirant and therefore an amendment cannot be seen to favour any individual.The party constitution says the national delegates’ congress to choose the next leader should happen three months after the notice inviting nomination applications is given and the election itself should be held not later than 11 months before the national general elections.

Also, aspirants have two months to file, which could see a Cabinet losing eight of its members in the months leading to the 2008 home run. “What then happens to government machinery,” Nana Obiri Boahen asks.According to Nana Boahen, a lawyer, there is an urgent need to revisit the constitution to avoid any crisis. “We need to find a way out before the NPP opens itself to public ridicule and contempt,” he stressed.He supports a suggestion that the National Executive Committee and the Council of Elders of the party should hold an emergency meeting to deliberate on the proposed constitutional amendment.

This should be done soon in the best and supreme interest of the party, he says. The suggestion for the party leadership to convene a joint meeting “to deliberate on the conditional clause, which requires Minister-Aspirants to resign their positions,” is coming from Ambassador I A Omane, a founding member of the NPP. “One may not be far from wrong to suggest that the framers of our party’s constitution did not envisage that a situation will arise where a chunk of Cabinet Ministers fall prey to this provision,” argues the one-time ambassador to Cuba.

Writing from his base in Asokore, Koforidua, he lists all the eight names above, stressing that they all “hold very important and key portfolios in Kufuor’s government. All the Ministers mentioned above have been in the Government for a very long time and accumulated mountains of rich experience but also have been stalwarts of the party.” He tells the NPP, “Let us not forget that together they have contributed enormously to the success and accomplishments of the present Government.”

The Cabinet Ministers, he points out, “have contributed a lot: and these last two years of NPP Government’s administration will have a lot to offer to cement a lasting imprint on the minds of the electorate. They should be around to help with the last lap. Their individual and collective contributions will count a lot.” He says he is not suggesting that there are no capable people who can replace them, “but it will just be prudent, knowing that most of these Ministers have brain-child programmes that are being implemented.”

In a related constitutional issue, Nana Obiri Boahen decries the arrangement in the NPP where MPs, DCEs, constituency and regional executives are not automatic voters at the congress to elect a flagbearer. He has called for a constitutional review of the selection criteria of delegates. He attributed the current concern for the party’s constitution amendment to the fact that there is no succession plan by the party.
He proposes that the NPP set standards and limits for aspirants. On the resignation, the Kade MP, was of the view that it should be optional but suggests that an aspirant who wishes to stay on should be made to campaign on weekends.

The Statesman
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