Deputy Minister-Designate Stresses Competency-Based Political Appointments

Dr Jonny Osei Kofi, a Deputy Minister-designate, on Thursday said appointment to national positions of responsibility must be based on competence, and not on political or party affiliation, to prevent patronage. “We should look at expertise and not party,” he said. Answering questions before the Vetting Committee of Parliament in Accra, Dr Osei Kofi, who is heading for the Ministry of Water Resuorces, Works and Housing as a Deputy Minister, said if he gets the nod, he will make a strong case for discipline in all aspects of national assigments. “I have never compromised on discipline,” he said. With strong religious antecedents as a member of the Roman Catholic faith, the Deputy Minister-designate, recounted how hard work, discipline and proper time management, had helped him achieve much more as a student, national service person, a lecturer, scientist and a politician. He said: “I have a rewarding experience as government appointee at the Kumasi Metropolitan Authority (KMA). I had a feel of how city management works. It helps to understand why there are problems with sanitation, housing and others. It broadens your mind.” The nominee, who until recenlty, was Head of Wood Science and Technology at the Institute of Renewable Natural Resources of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science And Technology, made a strong case for the cultivation and use of bamboo, as alternative to the use of timber in the construction industry, to save the nation’s depleting forests. Exhibiting samples of designs made from bamboo, the nominee said: “bamboo is one of the fastest-growing wood plants in Ghana. Bamboo can thrive everywhere, and can be used in regenerating our forests. We can use bamboo for beams, for T and G, for the floor and partitioning,” He spoke of the job creation potentials of bamboo. Dr Osei Kofi stressed the need to involve more local content in the construction of buildings, and make them disability-friendly. To him, the constructing hostels to house head porters (Kayayei) is in the right direction, if it will be a temporary measure, but advocated for conditions from where they are coming from, as a long-term measure to stem the tide of their migration to the cities. Asked if he was advertising himself by stating that he was a divorcee with a child on his resume, Dr Osei Kofi said he was just stating a fact, adding that he viewed his new appointment as a continuation of his teaching experience. On the charging of advanced rent for more than three months for residential property and six months for commercial property, the nominee dwelt on the new housing policy which is in the offing, and said the law must be made to work, to prevent property owners from getting people into their houses, and treat them anyhow. Another nominee, Dr Victor Asare Bampoe, Deputy Minister-Designate for Health, who until his nomination was working for the Global Fund, said he sees his appointment as a call to serve God and his country. He said as an international civil servant, he had not been involved in partisan politics, and not a card-bearing member of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC). A public health medic, he said the nation lacked doctors for Internal Medicine, and underlined that it was necessary to pay more attention to preventive medicine. “If we get the preventive part of our health right, we may not need more specialists,” he said. He praised the Minister of Health-designate, Dr Kwaku Agyemang–Mensah, as someone who believes in team work. “I want to state that I will be working under a Minister, who is well–versed in decentralized structures,” Dr Bampoe said. Dr Bampoe identified the fundamental problems of Ghana’s health care system as poor geographical and financial access, problem with quality and infrastructure. Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, Majority Leader, in an intervention, advised all ministerial appointees to the Health Ministry, to read the handing-over notes of a former Health Minister, the late Major (rtd) Courage Quashigah, which noted the need for Ministers to be wary of being told who are good or bad people, before they even settle down in their new assignments.