One enviable thing about the American democracy is that the law is always supreme. Have you heard the news that the US federal appeals court has rejected Trump administration’s request to reinstate a travel ban blocked by a federal judge on Friday, February 3, 2017?
Yes, it is true! Trump’s second bid for a travel ban on some Moslem countries has been turned down. The late Sunday, February 5, 2017 night ruling means that President Trump’s executive order on travel ban will remain suspended until the full hearing of the case. It also means that Moslems from the seven countries that were banned from traveling to the USA— Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen—can now travel to the USA.
But in this our small country called Ghana it is not always the case that the law is supreme. Partisan politics have often taken precedence over the law. But then you will agree with me that there comes a time that the interest of the nation must supersede all partisan considerations. And I look forward to such a day that, especially both the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party members of Parliament (MPs), will rise above party considerations and put Ghana first. It is sad the way NDC and NPP steer affairs of this country when they are given four years to govern. Certainly any government by these two parties means that they will have majority in Parliament. That means that whichever party finds itself in minority can say all that they want to say but the majority will have their way.
Diary of Ananse is pretty sure many of us are aware of the ongoing vetting of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s minister-nominees by Parliament’s Appointments Committee. Yes, a lot of us should know because the process is being broadcast live on the GTV Governance channel. Indeed, some of the minister-designates have been passed and sworn in by the president. And these ministers like we use to say have hit the ground running. Watching proceedings on TV, it’s obvious that some of the minister-designates who are themselves MPs were passed with ease. One is not surprised at all to hear all manner of praises showered on some of the MP-minister-designates. An example was when the MP for Okere, Dan Kwaku Botwe, and Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh appeared before the committee. For once it was clear that the Appointments Committee had okayed taken a decision on these two personalities, and that the vetting was merely a formality.
All these are good for our growing democracy. But then one wonders why not me-minister-designate for Gender and Social Protection, Otiko Afisa Djaba? Her approval or otherwise is still pending. That has arisen because the minority members on the committee have raised some concerns. Interestingly, in the wake of this development the NPP members on the committee who also hold the majority in Parliament have vowed to vote to approve Otiko Afisa Djaba today.
The question that many are asking is: what is delaying the approval or otherwise of the gender minister-designate? Perhaps her posture and demeanor when she appeared before the committee could be a factor…who knows! When Madam Djaba appeared before the Appointments Committee on Monday, 30 January, 2017 and was quizzed by the minority members on the committee as to why she used some distasteful words on former President John Dramani Mahama in the run-up to the December 7, 2016 poll, she made it clear that she was only crticising the former president who happens to be her brother. In fact when she was pressed by two/three NDC members on the committee on whether she will apologise to the former president she stood her guns and said she did not see anything wrong with what she said at the time and that she cannot apologise.
That aside however, the minority members may have a point, especially where they are arguing that they cannot approve Otiko’s nomination, because she did not do the one-year mandatory national service. This was an admission Otiko herself openly made.
“I did not do national service because I was not in Ghana,” when the question was put to her by Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu. The question then is what are the consequences? And what does the law say in such a situation?
According to the Ghana National Service Scheme Act 426 section 7 a person who has not commenced and completed his or her period of national service shall not;
(a) obtain employment outside the Scheme; or
(b) be employed by any other person outside the Scheme; or
(c) be engaged in any employment outside the Scheme, whether self-employed or otherwise, without the prior permission, in writing, of the Board.
(2) It shall be the duty of every employer to ascertain from every employee, upon his appointment, whether or not he is liable to national service and if he is, the employer shall notify the fact to the Board forthwith.
So it is clear that Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba has fallen foul of the law. Thus, if the law is explicit on this then one wonders why the majority will still want to go ahead and use their numbers to approve her? What message will our MPs, particularly those on the majority side, be sending out to Ghanaians? That the national service law applies to only a category of Ghanaians but not politicians.
Until they can tell us something tangible, Diary of Ananse urges President Akufo-Addo to consider withdrawing the nomination of his gender minister-nominee. That move will see a remarkable standard set by the Akufo-Addo administration and in our governance system. But the president must bluntly be told that the consequence of allowing his majority MPs to approve Otiko will not come now but on the day that Ghana goes to the polls.
Mr. President, remember that Ghanaians started taking notes of your government right from the very day you were sworn into office. That explains why some Ghanaians were able to inform you that part of your wonder inaugural address on January 7, 2017 was plagiarised.
For now we await your decision on Otiko’s nomination which is still hanging.
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