As a news editor, I keenly listen to speeches and addresses of newsmakers with the hope of reading in between the lines to convey the correct message to the eagerly awaiting public of news consumers. In fact, when the reading of the speeches are shown on television, my eye also does a good extra job by panning side-to-side to see if I could capture any details most people ordinarily would not see.
Well, it turned out that I was hit by the many descriptions the president gave to some ministers he mentioned in his State of the Nation address to Parliament last Thursday. The president used special attributes for at least 20 ministers he cited in his address. Quick to say that he did not mention some at all, even when he was clearly talking about their sector.
I watched the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram Constituency, Sam George, on TV3 on Saturday morning and he joked that the ministers who were not mentioned may not be performing well. He particularly mentioned Minister of Trade and Industry Alan Kyerematen and Minister of Youth and Sports Isaac Kwame Asiamah as probably not performing well because their names did not find a way into the president’s address. Anyway, that’s just by the way because SAm George added that he thinks by the epithets, the president has already given shout-outs to the ministers he loved and if your name was not mentioned, you should be scratching your head by now in the face of an impending reshuffle.
Before he began his address, however, immediately after saying the vocatives, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said he had an “excellent team of ministers”. So, perhaps that covers all of his ministerial appointees.
He began with his deputy, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia. After touting the positive results the economy is showing based on the ideas churned out by the Economic Management Team, the president described Dr Bawumia, the team leader, as “strong” and “brilliant”. He even described his leadership as “stellar”.
A member of the Team, Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta was the first minister to receive praise from the president. The president said despite the weak nature of the economy his government inherited, much gains have been made within one year. He attributed it to the work of Mr Ofori-Atta, describing his as “a national asset”.
Next was the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, whom he commended for dealing with labour issues to the extent that the whole 2017 passed without a single strike within the public sector. He said that can only be “thanks to the diligence of the hardworking” minister, who is also MP for Sunyani West.
Senior Minister also had a mention in the president’s 2nd State of the Nation address on Thursday. President Akufo-Addo described his former colleague as “the respected” Yaw Osafo Maafo.
One Ministry doing deep underground work is that of Regional Reorganisation and Development and Dan Botwe’s efforts seemed not have gone unnoticed by the president. He described him as an “experienced” minister under whose “skillful directions” the exercise of getting new regions is being undertaken.
The Nalerigu Gambaga MP, Hajia Alima Mahama, is also following up on one of the campaign promises of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in introducing the election of Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs). President Akufo-Addo described her as “resourceful”.
Another lady in the ministerial set-up going about her work with focus is Cecilia Abena Dapaah, the Minister for Aviation. President Akufo-Addo said “the dynamic” lady has brought “fresh enthusiasm” to the aviation sector.
And there comes a rather perfect description for the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, perhaps while the NPP was in opposition. For the president to describe her as “intrepid” could portend she is taking brave decisions in the communications sector. We await to see the outcome.
The fishing sector is said to have been one of the many sectors where a solid foundation was laid in 2017 and the president gave a thumbs-up to Elizabeth Afoley Quaye for being “forceful” with her efforts.
A four-letter word described the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Akuffo, whose sector will probably be the cynosure of all eyes in 2018, essentially because of the Office of the Special Prosecutor. The president described Ms Akuffo as “able”.
A ministry the president will say he is more than knowledgeable about its running is the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Though he said little about its exploits in 2017, he described the minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, as “eloquent” especially in her role to maintain Ghana’s favourable image in the comity of nations.
With his recent award at the African Union (AU) level as a gender advocate leader, President Akufo-Addo had good words for his Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisa Djaba. He appropriately described her as a “polyglot” and that has been seen on many occasions especially when she was canvassing for votes to be NPP’s Women’s Organiser. She has roots in almost every part of Ghana – north, south east and west.
The education sector enjoyed its flagship programme of the Free Senior High School Policy despite many challenges the policy was plagued with. Things have been calm in the second term of the academic year and probably that made the president describe Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh as “charismatic”.
Kwaku Agyemang Manu, a former MP for Dormaa Central, also received the four-letter word description – able. But for the recent wrangling between his ministry and authorities at the University of Ghana, I would say he is one of the hardworking ministers of this government. He probably deserves more than an “able”.
And here comes the minister who was described as having done a yeoman’s job – Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto. It is interesting how he has been on collision course with many farmers – over the invasion of the Fall armyworms – and the president will describe him as a “champion of Ghanaian farmers”. Only the president knows and best may the Planting for Food and Jobs programme be.
One of the silent hardworkers is the globally-acclaimed heart surgeon, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, and he was described by the president as such especially in his latent role in the fight against illegal small-scale mining.
The fight was seen mostly fought on the grounds by Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John-Peter Amewu, who had the longest-word description in the president’s address. Mr Akufo-Addo called him “indefatigable”.
The fight was backed by a joint police-cum-military deployment. No wonder, President Akufo-Addo described his Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, as “energetic”. The description also covers his job in settling many nerves within the Ghana Armed Forces.
And the Minister of Interior’s efforts also caught the eyes of the president. “The formidable Minister for the Interior, Hon. Ambrose Dery, MP for Nandom, needs our effective co-operation to carry out his all-important functions,” said the president.
Probably, next in meaning to “indefatigable” is “tireless”. And that is the description the Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko, got. The president mentioned his effort in relegating dumso to the background “and long may it stay so”.
Indeed, all the efforts of the ministers would noy have been well-captured but for the Minister of Information, Sheikh Mustapha Hamid. The president described him as “articulate” and went ahead to borrow a saying from him to employ in his address.
The descriptions also went beyond Ghana as Mr Akufo-Addo had some good words for the President of La Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara. He simply described him as “renowned”.
Aside the last personality, all the ministers mentioned above might sit down to think through the descriptions given them. For those who had nothing, like my personal favourite, Tourism Minister Catherine Afeku, though her sector was well talked about by the president, questions will be asked whether they did any eye-catching work.
The writer is an editor at 3news.com
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