A little over two months ago, Nii Afotey-Agbo, the MP for Kpone-Katamanso was criticising information minister, Zita Okaikoi, for failing to live up to her responsibilities. He made history. He was the most senior member of the ruling party to publicly criticise the information minister, whose ability to deliver began being seriously questioned after she granted her first radio interview. So far she’s done very little to shame her critics but the president doesn’t seem to be in any mood to fire her.
But as if that was not enough, the president appears to have deliberately decided to go out of his way to prove to Ghanaians that the only top ranking NDC member to publicly condemn Mrs. Okaikoi is no better than she is. The president has handed Afotetey-Agbo a job as a minister of state at the presidency – a position which makes him some sort of ‘utility player’ who should be able to serve in any ministry. In actual fact, however, it means that Mr. Afotey-Agbo will be hanging around the office of the president doing practically nothing.
Mr. Afotey-Agbo appeared before the committee with a poorly-prepared CV and at least two members of the panel urged him to go and get some lessons on how to write a CV.
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Afotey-Agbo, gave his fellow MPs a lot to laugh about with his funny answers to the questions he was asked. Asked about his view on land guards, he said 80% of them are armed robbers.
To a question about where he felt he could be most useful in the government, considering that he’s supposed to be a utility player, he simply answered: “I think in this case I can do very well in conflict areas”. The committee members burst out in laughter. The nomination hearing ended immediately.
There were a few remarkable things about Afotey-Agbo, though. First, was his principled stance that he still stands by his suggestion that the information minister is incompetent. Secondly, he seems to be a man of grit and determination. That’s what has obviously made it possible for him to rise to the office of MP, even with his limited educational background. That’s worthy of admiration.
The fact still remains, however, that he doesn’t even know how to put together a CV and he doesn’t seem to have any clue as to what he’s supposed to be doing in government. Compare him with health minister-designate, Benjamin Kumbuor, who gave a stellar account of himself before the appointments committee, and you’ll see that Afotey-Agbo is not quite up to scratch. At some point, I felt he makes Zita Okaikoi sound like Albert Einstein. At least Zita knows her qualifications. Afotey-Agbo doesn’t except to say that he “did some short courses at GIJ”.
Clearly, Afotey-Agbo is another ‘Team B’ player. Only the president knows why he has put him up for a ministerial job. But I can hazard a few guesses.
First, the president wants Afotey-Agbo to shut the hell up. He talks too much. He is nicknamed ‘The Lion’ and obviously he likes to roar a lot. Giving him a ministerial job – which will keep him near the president – should force him to keep his opinions about the incompetence of his fellow government officials to himself. Next time, he’ll think twice before opening his mouth to criticise the likes of Zita Okaikoi.
Secondly, I think, the president wants Afotey Agbo to prove his worth and show us that he’s better than Zita Okaikoi. He might not do any better than she’s done so far. We wait to see. But I think both should not even be on the substitutes’ bench.