The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) is deeply dismayed by reports that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has nominated an additional 54 people to serve as ministers or deputies to the various ministries. When confirmed by Parliament, as they are more than likely to, that would bring the total number of ministers and deputy ministers appointed so far in the Akufo-Addo-led NPP government to an unprecedented 110.
CDD-Ghana considers this move and the obscene number of ministers a wrong one for several reasons:
First, it would represent the largest ministerial team assembled by any president/head of state of Ghana since independence. In addition, it also sets a negative record for a country infamous for its oversized ministerial teams. The United States, a larger and more economically and financially complex country has approximately 46 ministers. Similarly, India, a country of some 1.3 billion has 75 ministers. It is being argued that the large ministerial team will bring more focus, supervision, and efficiency to President Akufo-Addo’s ambitious governance and socio-economic plans. In the Center’s view, this argument is weak, as there is no proven relationship between a large government and a well-governed, prosperous society. In addition, there is no correlation or causation between the large retinue of political heads and political/socio-economic transformation. What is clear and certain is that, a smaller government is a cost saving measure that signals a high level of discipline and focus of a government that wants to protect the public purse.
Second, the appointments betray inadequate sensitivity to the weak fiscal condition of the country today, as it flies in the face of the President’s promise to protect the public purse. It is difficult to see how appointing such a large number of ministers, who will all be on ministerial salaries and benefits, can possibly amount to the promise of protecting the public purse. Indeed, a reduction in the cost of running government, including appointing the minimum number of ministers required by the Constitution, particularly those drawn from Parliament, was one of the list of 10 actions CDD-Ghana urged the Akufo-Addo-led NPP government to undertake in its first year.
Third, it further undermines Ghana’s already weak state bureaucracy. Placing a team of politician ministers on top of the existing hierarchy of the ministries will lead to unnecessary duplication of senior personnel and eventually undermine the authority of the professional senior civil and public servants (particularly, chief directors and directors) in the same ministries; it will also encourage the politicisation of the bureaucracy.
In addition, the appointment of that many ministers does not in any way help to address the structural weakness of Parliament vis a vis the Executive, which the President alluded to, in his State of the Nation Address.
By appointing so many of his ministers and deputy ministers from Parliament, currently standing at 64 MPs, the President is further weakening the legislative body and at the same time undercutting his own promise to strengthen the institution to enable it serve as an effective check on the Executive.
Above all, CDD-Ghana is deeply concerned about the negative signals sent out by these appointments. We note with consternation that nearly the entire presidential and ruling party campaign team as well as a large number of NPP MPs have been appointed to ministerial and other state bureaucratic positions. This suggests a continuation of the anti-developmental practice of “party in government” system (conflation of the ruling party and the government), whereby political appointments are treated as ‘jobs-for-the boys’ or some form of material reward for individuals who played key roles in the election campaign of the president and his party, and an opportunity for them to rake in “rents.”
To be sure, the president’s appointment of as many as 50 ministers and 60 deputies may have been made in strict conformity with the provisions of the 1992 Constitution and long-standing practices in Ghana’s 4th Republic. However, in the exercise of his legitimate discretionary authority, President Akufo-Addo would have been better served by heeding to the admonition in 1st Corinthians, 10:23: “I have the right to do anything, but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything, but not everything is constructive.”
In this instance, the Center wishes President Nana Akufo-Addo had taken a lesson from the examples of Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and John Magafuli of Tanzania who significantly downsized the size of their governments to signify “change” upon assumption of office – instead of lowering the bar of unwisely ministerial size and government in Ghana’s 4th Republic.
Accordingly, the Center implores the President to reduce the number of deputy ministerial nominees sent to Parliament for vetting and approval; and additionally calls on the President to publish the salaries and emoluments of all appointed public office holders so Ghanaians can begin to appreciate the true cost of governing the country. Lastly, CDD-Ghana fervently prays that the NPP government does not attach an army of technical advisers to the already bloated personnel at the ministries, departments, and agencies of the state. In the medium term, the Center would like to see a law passed that puts a ceiling on the maximum number of ministers and deputies the President can appoint at a time, and or make it mandatory for the President to explicitly provide the rationale for appointing more than one deputy minister per ministry.
The Center urges the Akufo-Addo-led NPP administration to be sensitive to the voice of the people and take steps to reduce the growing burden on the public purse.