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From Flagstaff To Jubilee House And The Case Of Our Over Blotted Seat Of Government

Anyone conversant with the political administration in Africa is aware that the continent is the only place where bloated bureaucracy is a thing of joy to the politicians. The seat of government offers the politicians opportunity to fill various offices in the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) with their cronies and partisan crowd of supporters and sympathizers.

The reason is that, more often than not, the private sector which the government sees as partners in job creation are not able to deliver the promised employment goods; thus the government is forced to use their political skills to create job spaces in the MDAs and even at the seat of government to fill it with their teeming supporters.

Whilst the global south countries have relied on the bloated bureaucracy as piecemeal strategy to meet the surplus population conundrums, in the global north the size of government or bureaucracy is relatively small. This offers the small bureaucratic governments of the global north opportunity to recruit the best of professionals, experts and experienced people from both the public and private sectors of the economy to serve their country. Here meritocracy runs supreme in consideration for jobs; it does not necessary matter which political, social, economic, religious and ethnic affiliations one is grounded in, as long as you qualify for a position it is given to you base on your ability to perform the task diligently.

The meritocratic system in the global north has over the years offered the government opportunity to recruit professional and patriotic permanent staff with unquestionable allegiance to work at the presidential residence and official offices. Thus, in the United States of America, some staffs of the White House in the Washington D.C. were deliberately recruited from their Ivy League universities like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA and others. Some of these workers have worked over 30 to 40 years for various presidents without any suspicion about their political interest. The maturity that characterizes their political culture has made it to be seen as true bulwark of democracy.

The United States` White House and Britain`s No. 10 Downing Street, for example, have websites where workers employed there have their names, job description and their salaries attached to it. With just a click on your computer from anywhere in the world; within a second’s one can easily see the list of all the people employed at the White House and their salaries.

The citizens do not have to wait for the presidency or the government to send its annual budget spending to the Congress or the Senate before they can know about it. Everything is done in a transparent manner to ensure unfettered access to information to the citizenry. Citizens in this country do not need to invoke or beg for Freedom of Information (FOI) bill to be passed before citizens are allowed to access information about their own government and what goes on in the White House. Truth is access to information is a fundamental right in the country and it has helped to make the government accountable to the people.

Africa and the case of Ghana

In Africa, governments have been very secretive about what goes on in their presidential villas and state houses. Hardly, does an average Nigerian comes to know what transpires at the Aso Rock in Abuja, Nigeria every day. Many a time, what the citizens hear are snippets of rumours which flies around. The government house is closely guarded from releasing information about the number of workers employed, their job description and salaries.

For the government, these are vital information with significant national security implications. Consequently, all forms of archaic laws bequeathed to the modern African states by their former colonial establishments are rolled out and modified as defence to justify why it would be wrong to be transparent about disclosing information of the workers working at the presidential residence.

In Ghana, our hybridized presidential-parliamentary democracy has brought about certain aggregates of transparency and public accountability in the country, but it seems we are still not anywhere near in achieving genuine transparent and accountable government.

Up till now, our FOI bill has not been passed since 2000. The Kufuor regime which started the process left it un-passed; the Mills and Mahama regimes which came after also ignored it for reasons best known to them. It is a about a year and half into President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo`s government, and despite all the promises and assurances which the then candidate Nana Akufo-Addo gave to the Civil Society Organizations that he will pass the FOI bill when he wins power, we still have not seen his government passing the law. It is like all our politicians are scared of transparency and accountability which can eradicate institutionalized corruption in our body politics to the large extent.

Over-Bloated Flagstaff House; Mahama`s Era

The emergence of list of 998 staffers working at the Jubilee House is an issue that should not shock anyone, because it follows African governments’ penchant for blotted bureaucracy. They hardly build factories, push money into research and development (R&D) or invest in technology to create jobs or ensure industrialization as an addition to the quadrants for development. They prefer an easy way out, take the reins of government and create job spaces for the partisan crowd of loyal supporters, sympathizers, financiers and family members.

This move has been the hallmark of all the various regimes which have ruled Ghana since 1992. The Castle and Jubilee (formerly Flagstaff) House has been utilized as massive dumping ground for partisan kingpins and presidential loyalists, who sometimes have nothing professional or intellectual in their brains to offer the president nor the country.

Available records suggest that in the 2015 list, which then President Mahama never sent to parliament for approval as mandated by law, the Flagstaff House workers were 897, including 712 public sector employees.

Further evidence shows that in the 2014 list which President Mahama presented dutifully to parliament had 678 employees. This suggests that within a scope of a year, the Flagstaff House employee listed ballooned from 678 to 897. In the 2015 list, there were six ministers of state at the presidency, 61 presidential staffers and 118 other political appointees, including Stan Dogbe, Koku Anyidoho and Gabriella Tetteh (sister of Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, former Minister of Foreign Affairs).

According to the pro-NPP government newspaper, the Daily Guide, more than 10 journalists worked at the Flagstaff House under John Mahama, but their names alongside other appointees were concealed from the public.

For instance, a certain Mawusi who worked at the Office of the Chief of Staff was allocated a bungalow at Roman Ridge, and benefitted from the cars sold to ex-officials of the previous Mahama administration, but her name was not captured on the list of official workers of the Flagstaff House. This confirms the general assertion that our Ghanaian leaders use politics to create job opportunities for their cronies, girlfriends and party folks to the detriment of the rest of the citizenry.

Over-blotted Jubilee House; Akufo-Addo`s Era

As for this NPP government, they are known for repeating every wrong thing perpetuated by the past and incompetent Mahama administration. It is like they have been cursed to behave and act like the NDC whilst in power.

What should shock many Ghanaians, including die-hard NPP intellectuals and technocrats is the sudden appetite of this current regime for bloated bureaucracies. Right from the appointments of ministers, Nana Addo`s government appointed over hundred ministers with some lame-duck excuse that the problems of the country is quite huge and as a result he need to appoint ministers to handle specific sectors to spur growth.

The Committee for the organization of Ghana@60 was so huge. These moves opened the eyes of many Ghanaians that the president was giving jobs to people as quid pro quo for supporting his election to the office of presidency. So far, these appointees have not proved to be extraordinary at all. In fact, we have had ministers who have shown poor logic and have resigned or forced to be resigned for their involvements in corruption.

And one of their major sell point and overplayed card is blowing out the mistakes of the Mahama government before they proceed to commit their own egregious blunders.

Thus in perpetuating the agenda of over-blotting the employees working at the seat of government, President Akufo-Addo in his letter to the Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike A. Oquaye, pursuant to Section 11 of the Presidential Office Act, justified that he was bequeathed with 706 public and civil servants and that he had only employed 292 personnel to help in running his administration – bringing the total to 998.Hahahaha!

This is quite funny! If you have been bequeathed something and it is too big that it can affect the system, why should you employ more and turn round to accuse your predecessor? Why don’t you fire incompetent ones and use appropriate meritorious strategy to hire competent professionals and experts to help run the administration?

In fact, the list that was sent to parliament, just like Mahama`s 2015 list was also not complete. There are many people who work at the Jubilee House whose names were not captured in the list. Indeed, if their names had been captured the list would have skyrocketed to over 1600 people. It was in the view of this fact that is why I concur with Mr Franklin Cudjoe of the IMANI-Ghana that the list is incomplete.

The other shameful aspect is the calibre of so-called experts whose names formed the basis of the list and their job descriptions. Some of roles assigned to the personnel are duplicitous, whilst others clearly show that they have been designated with certain job descriptions to enable them to legally qualify to take salaries at the end of the month.

Careful interrogation of the list also show recurring Akyem Abuakwa royal names (Ofori Attas), which suggest that the presidency has become a royal den for the president`s family members to be employed to the maximum. Yet, the this government`s propaganda machinery was quick to point out the name of Gabriella Tetteh who worked at the Flagstaff House under Mahama as Hannah Tetteh`s sister. Just imagine!

You criticise an act yet you are even worse than your predecessor. It is therefore not shocking, when the NDC and other opposition elements took the Akufo Addo`s government to cleaners for over-blotting the seat of government with their cronies, families and friends.

The new crop of people who added to the bloated list are the so-called appointees whom Franklin Cudjoe referred to as the “noisy Facebookers.”  Some of these people with suspicious backgrounds and adoption of new names to suggest complete their newly craved novelle bourgeoisie life have suddenly become monarchs of every knowledge. They have associated with some civil society and scholarly class of people with NPP sympathies to launch attacks and defend NPP on Facebook. Their jobs have become difficult in the face of some diehard NPP people quitting their duties in defending the government.

Whilst some of these NPP supporters had been offered jobs by their parties to certain sensitive government enclaves and as a result they have stopped engaging in overt partisan politics, others have also quit for not getting jobs. Thus, the “noisy Facebookers” placed at the presidency have become busy. They do not talk about their job description but they are in there, and they will fight tooth and nails with anyone who criticizes the government.

For them, ruling the country is to win people over on the Facebook. They were also visible part of the over blotting at the Jubilee House.

NPP/Government Defence

In swift move to repel the opposition criticisms by adoption of the hackneyed propagandist stratagem of equalization argument, Dr. Mustapha Hamid, the Minister of Information contended that unlike the past John Mahama`s government which engaged in shameful wastage of money from our national kitty, President Akufo-Addo is committed to protecting the public purse. He argued that despite the fact that the number of appointees serving in the current regime is on the high side when compared to that of his predecessor’s, it is also an evidential fact that the Akufo-Addo administration is operating with a budget much less than that of former President John Mahama.

Hear him: “Our list, for example, is a little above the President Mahama’s list but if you look at the budget for office machinery under President Mahama, it is way above our budget. For 2017 they had about GH¢3 billion but we came in 2017 with about GH¢1.5 billion.”

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