The topic I have chosen today has been on my mind ever since I heard of the number of people working under the presidency and its ancillary institutions.
For a second, I thought it was a joke, then I came to my senses after a close friend of mine in the media fraternity gave me the list.
Over the years, governments have come under fire for the massive number of presidential staffers employed under every tenure.
Most recent is the outrageous 998 presidential staffers under the Akuffo-Addo government, which has allegedly been increased to 1,697 if the wildly speculated ghost names are included.
I understand that in accordance to section 11 of the presidential office Act, 1993 (Act 465), every government is supposed to present an annual report to Parliament on the presidential office staff.
But unfortunately for the country Ghana, this becomes an issue for most governments as they expect to be dragged and critically downsized by their opponents before bringing forth this report.
So now, what is increasing more than the price of gasoline? Apparently, the number of presidential staffers in the country is the answer.
Let’s just take a look at this analysis;
As far back as 2005, former President John Agyekum Kufour’s January –December, 2014 under listed staffing positions totaled a number of 692 staff, which at the time was backlashed for failing to include the minister of states at the presidency, the various sector spokesperson under NPP and the staffer at the office of accountability which was established and operated under the presidency.
The number however reduced in 2008 to a total of 613 under the Kufour led administration.
Upon a change in government under (late John Evans Atta Mills’ tenure), the number increased to 661 in 2012 and pushed further to 678 in 2014.
It is such a shame that years later, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, chief of staff under the Kufour administration was quick to criticize the then Mahama led government staff strength of 678 as unreasonably large and unnecessary drain on the public purse. In a popular statement he addressed the issue as “job for the boys.”
This however did not prevent the shoot in 2015 to 692 staffers.
It therefore doesn’t come as a surprise that the list by the Akufo-Addo’s government which includes 27 presidential staffers, nine ministers of state, 256 other junior appointees and 706 employees of the public and civil service totaling 998 was quickly absorbed by the masses.
How do we call this, hypocrisy or greed? after criticizing the Mahama administration, they had the audacity to employ such a gargantuan number who will be paid by the poor tax payers.
Head porters locally called ‘Kayayes’, sachet water sellers, coconut sellers just to mention a few are taxed so that the politician with protruding stomach can be paid at the end of every month.
These appointees are not paid mean salaries, talk of the allowances, clothing allowances, fuel allowances, traveling allowances etc.
They get all these mouth-watering incentives on a silver platter yet majority of them perform abysmally.
They drive in their convoys and their nice vehicles driving on top speed splash water on passer-bys, depending on the colour of the water.
The poor passer-bys can only scream ‘ohhhh’ with a look on his/her dress and a second look at the running vehicle.
He or she is likely to be empathized if there are other passer-bys around.
Now the issue on board and the mind-boggling question is, is this practice by the two strong political parties NDC and the NPP whenever they are in power an act of culture or greed?.
It is a matter of grief that governments and opposition parties have chosen to go down the path of politics of equalization by trying to outdo each other during their term in office rather than constructively criticizing and finding ways to better the nation.
For critics like veteran journalist Kwaku Baako, both NPP and NDC are hypocritical and inconsistent with the issue of presidential staff.
It is sad that this issue of great national concern is toiled around like ‘child’s play’ between two political parties who do the same things they strongly speak against.
“Desire to scope cheap political points in the process of igniting members of the public against government, Ransford Gyampo, director at Centre for European studies (CES) also showed his concern with these words in one of his interviews.
This being said, will the current government change this culture or will they continue to play this game of greed.
I think Ghanaians should stop these politicians from playing games with their votes and emotions.
Author: JOANGELLEN EDINAM ARCHIBALD