Former Deputy Minister of Transport, Mrs Joyce Bawa Mogtari has said she is more than qualified to have been a substantial minister in the erstwhile administration of Mr John Mahama, to whom she has familial ties.
In the lawyer’s view, her appointment by President John Mahama at the time cannot be described as nepotism contrary to what the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has been saying.
“My father was a very distinguished member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), a party he served for many years. I was a member of the party myself. I had actually taken up responsibilities in my own constituency at the branch level where my uncle actually, was one of the oldest members of the party”, she said on Class FM Thursday.
According to her, “I actually never thought about it [family-and-friends issue] until it came up for public discussion”. “And I’ve asked people: Am I not well-qualified, am I not competent, am I not deserving of the office?”
“I would be remiss”, she said, “and any other person would be under a certain deceptive view if they thought for any reason that the only reason why President Mahama thought it wise at the time to appoint me to the position of Deputy Transport Minister was just because I was his relative”.
“It would be very unfortunate”, she noted, adding: “But when you come to speaking about the current government, I think there’s a good reason why the English language has the word nepotism”.
She said unlike her appointment by Mr Mahama, “There’s a point where it’s way beyond reasonable, where it defies logic”.
“So”, she explained, “If, for example, a President comes into office and there are various party members, members of parliament, all categories of them and it just happens that maybe two or three happen to be his relative or maybe close friends or classmates who are well-deserving, I’m sure you and I will probably overlook it, but when you have an opposition party that took advantage of a young person who had hitherto been a member of the political party whose relative happens to have become a president – note that under Prof Mills, I was actually serving as a board member of the National Lotteries Authority – and, so, it was not as if I hadn’t served in any capacity in terms of my politics”.
Further contrasting the two situations, she said: “Now, we have a government in power that has well over 60 individuals – husbands and wives, brothers and ... – look, the President and the Finance Minister are first cousins from the same family. That I think is taking it too far”.
“If you have even 20 persons that we can name as being largely very close to a leader at any given time, I think that is one too many and I think in every class of conflict, there is a certain level of something that is reasonable and something that is not. In law, for example, we have: ‘To a large extent’, or ‘to a reasonable extent’ or ‘what is acceptable’ or ‘what is accepting’.
“Note that if President Mahama wanted to appoint only his family members, he’d probably have a lot more than 50; in his own family there’s about 19 of them. I can bet you they are all qualified for any position”, she asserted.
“In any case”, she stressed, “I believe and I still do that I was well-qualified even to be a full minister. I suspect, sometimes – I may be wrong – that possibly, because I was a relative to him [Mr Mahama] and he worried about this sort of impression that had been created, it is probably the reason why [he made me a deputy]”.
She said: “President Mahama knows I’ll survive anywhere. … I’m smart, I’m hardworking, I know what I’m about. I believe that he doesn’t think that if Joyce were not my Deputy Minister, she won’t survive anywhere else and I’m sure people who have encountered me look beyond that quota about family-and-friends but when you have a government that is practising nepotism, that is totally different from where, accidentally, my niece or my relative happens to be a member of the party … so, naturally, there would be a certain extent that you would have [relatives].
“I’m not President Mahama’s daughter, I’m not his immediate son … and I’m already a member of the party anyway, so, naturally, of course, if I became a member of parliament today and we need women in Parliament, we need great examples of females who are able to set great examples for young females like yourself [host] and President Mahama felt, OK: let me make Joyce an ambassador for women, will that be wrong because I’m his relative? But if he took 20 of us from his family and gave us all these portfolios, then certainly there’s a problem”, she added.