Ghana: President Mahama’s appointments and the fate of “Babies with Sharp Teeth”

By IndepthAfrica
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Jan 19th, 2013
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By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

President Mahama has made more appointments. Significantly absent from the list are those variously qualified as “babies with sharp teeth” and “evil dwarfs” (apologies to JJ Rawlings).

These elements are best known for fighting the wordy warfare with political opponents of the NDC/government (especially those in the NPP) that characterized the term of office under the late Mills and caretaker President Mahama.

To their credit, their toe-to-toe, tooth-for-a-tooth-and-nail-for-a-nail relationship with those political opponents helped the government in its propaganda stunts even though it harmed its public image in several other areas. They are still on the quivive, whetting their appetite to do battle if challenged.

But they have so far not been given any Ministerial appointment, which is provoking disquiet in the NDC circles.

Some concerns have been expressed about the calibre of appointees so far assigned to the various Ministries by President Mahama, creating the impression that President Mahama is either not consulting widely to choose his team members or that he is injecting some new blood into the system premised on an “an-inclusive” government. Some concerns have also been expressed that he seems to have sidelined those youthful appointees.

Out of the appointments so far made, the once-ubiquitous functionaries, especially Samuel Okudjeto-Ablakwa (who definitely is a “baby with sharp teeth”) are missing.

Others who were either Ministers or Deputy Ministers (including Haruna Iddrissu, Nii Afotey-Agbo, Fiifi Kwetey) have so far not been given any Ministerial appointment.

Some at the seat of government such as Dr. Tony Aidoo, Koku Anyidoho, John Jinapor, Alex Segbefia, Nii Lante Vanderpuije, among others, haven’t been given any portfolio for us to know where they stand. We know that Ni Lante Vanderpuije has been upgraded to the status of an MP for Odododiodio.

Their not being appointed to any position so far may be regarded as a backhanded slap by the President. But I think otherwise, clearly informed by the President’s intention to make his government more “inclusive” and less belligerent.

Ideally, the President should be aiming at toning down on acerbic politics, which will have no room for crude behaviour. Of course, those “babies with sharp teeth and the evil dwarfs” played their role in the fire-for-fire politics that the NPP got them into before Election 2012.

Granted that President Mahama is in office for a full four-year term on his own merit, having won the elections, he may be seeking to change the dynamics for the better; hence, the need to move the “babies with sharp teeth” and the “evil dwarfs” to the back burner (at least for the time being as he seeks to make the difference). I will cut him the slack to ensure that his government truly reflects the decorum and geniality that characterizes his own personality as an affable and respectful person.

Indeed, the President must be seeking to make his government a true replica of his own nature, which is not a bad idea. The fact is that confrontational politics won’t help the NDC rebuild its public image—and the fat is that it has to repair that public image for it to be ahead of the curve.

Implementing the NDC’s agenda of “Social Democracy” suggests that the party and its government must not do things to alienate anybody. It must seek to smooth its rough edges to be able to attract the goodwill of those who have turned away from it all this while because of the so-called “revolutionary fervour” and “buga-buga” that some are quick to adduce as reasons for their not liking the NDC.

I am confident that when proper steps are taken to give the government the free-hand to manage affairs, it can perform well to have a ripple effect on the NDC’s own political fortunes in future elections.

Those “babies with teeth” don’t necessarily have to hold Ministerial portfolios to be able to bite the “against” people. All President Mahama is doing is to give his administration a “facelift,” probably, to prove that his approach to governance will be more refined than what characterized the previous one. Indeed, the “babies with sharp teeth” created a lot of credibility problems that shouldn’t be repeated as they return to the limelight.

They can be given other assignments to keep them away for as long as decorum will be expected to guide government business. No need for anybody to feel embittered because the NDC needs to shed its negative public image and grow/mature to the point as to become appealing to even its opponents. That will be a good way to position itself for the future in Ghanaian politics.

The bottom-line is that those “babies with sharp teeth” and “evil “dwarfs” don’t necessarily have to hold Ministerial portfolios to be able to bite the “against” people—that is, if any biting is need at all. What I see President Mahama doing is that he wants to give his administration a “facelift,” probably to prove to bitter opponents and critics of the caretaker administration which he led into Election 2012 and won that his approach to governance will be more refined.

Indeed, the “babies with sharp teeth” and “evil “dwarfs” created a lot of credibility problems in their overzealousness to pay back opponents seeking to undercut the administration. Probably, President Mahama intends to change the situation to avoid those dark days of politics being revisited all too soon. He may not want a repetition of the tit-for-tat politics that deepened the NDC woes.

He knows—and must be wary of—the extent to which efforts and resources were expended in doing the damage control whose benefits endeared him to the hearts of the electorate. It was a tough battle to fight and win on that score. Does he want a re-enactment so soon? Not really.

The “babies with sharp teeth” and “evil “dwarfs” can be given other assignments to keep them away from the limelight for as long as decorum is expected to guide government business. There is no need for anybody to feel embittered because the NDC needs to shed the negative public image and mature to the point as to become appealing to even its opponents. That will be a good way to position itself for a brighter future in Ghanaian politics.

As we wait for more appointments, we hope the President will remain focused on his responsibilities and not allow himself to be distracted by anything, even including the NPP’s lawsuit. The fact is that he already has the goodwill of the people and must take prompt steps for his administration to begin enunciating and implementing policies that will help achieve objectives of the “Better Ghana Phase Two” agenda.

We expect the NDC functionaries to remain calm and not begin agitations or making all kinds of self-serving demands. Those regarded as “babies with sharp teeth” and “evil dwarfs” have their role to play in other departments of national life.

I shall return…

 

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