Compared with 2020, we have 26 more political appointees; an overall jump from 934 to 995 at the Presidency – Ablakwa laments

Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah

After a great deal of struggle, we finally got President Akufo-Addo to comply with the Presidential Office Act, 1993 (Act 463) which requires him to report annually to Parliament on the staffing position at the Office of the President.

The report which was laid in Parliament yesterday — two months after the legal deadline, makes for interesting reading.

Pursuant to our oversight obligations as MPs, we shall scrutinize and debate the report in due course.

In the interim, since the report is now a public document, I make the following preliminary observations:

1) To have the total staff strength increase from 934 in 2020 to 995 in 2021 out of which a massive 337 are political appointees, particularly, under the current economic crisis is awfully insensitive and manifestly wasteful.

Despite creating the impression after his Ministerial appointments that his elephantine size of government is reducing, we are seeing, rather worryingly, an upward trajectory at the Office of the President.

Compared with 2020, we have 26 more political appointees and an overall jump from 934 to 995.

Many of us had expected — at the very least — a freeze in the staffing numbers at the Presidency, bearing in mind claims by senior government officials that the public sector payroll is full.

2) There is an alarming duplication of roles purportedly being performed by multitudes which is not only dishonourable, it cannot be judicious use of taxpayer Cedis when we are facing the harshest economic conditions in a generation.

Using Communications to make the point: Many Ghanaians would be outraged to discover that we have 3 additional Directors of Communications — the same position Mr. Eugene Arhin occupies.

Their names are provided as: Frank Adjei Twum, Awudu Moro Kabore and Ali Adams.

Per President Akufo-Addo’s list, the Ghanaian Presidency has 4 Directors of Communications, 5 Deputy Directors of Communications, 2 Communications Specialists, 3 Communication Officers, 5 Technical Communications Assistants, a Media Aide, an Assistant Media Liaison Officer, a Communications Consultant and a Presidential Advisor on Media who also has a Technical Director to the Presidential Advisor. This swarm doesn’t include the social media warriors and the army at the Information Ministry.

It does appear the Akufo-Addo Presidency was always set up to place premium on expensive rhetoric and not concrete deliverables.

3) Then there is the unethical— Why has the President created the unconventional position of “Church Relations Manager” at the Presidency? This smacks of an unholy mission to mix politics and the pulpit.

Respectfully, is Rev. Ebenezer Saaka Ameyaw telling us this is a full time job? Why should the taxpayer be burdened with this unethical task?

What really are the ToR for this church relations management? I hope the management outcome doesn’t include ensuring that the Church is silenced? Many more questions than answers.

Adding to the confusion is a role occupied by Fr. Nana K. Ellis who is said to be responsible for “Diaspora Church Mobilization.” What does it entail and why do we have to mobilize the Church in the diaspora?

Mobilization for what exactly? How are we measuring his output? How did this become a priority and a full time job? Is this the best use of scarce public funds?

4) Who created the position of Youth Ambassador for Diaspora Affairs? What exactly is the mandate of Jake Obeng-Bediako who carries the rather curious title? What are his KPIs and how does Parliament and the Ghanaian people assess his output? Considering our development challenges, is this a portfolio to even contemplate?

5) Why has the President decided to erode the gains from his decision not to appoint Deputy Regional Ministers in his second term by creating a new category of Personal and Special Assistants for all Regional Ministers who are drawing salaries from the Presidency?

Such putrefying levels of deception completely destroys the already low public confidence in the noble office of President.