The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who sneaked to Europe on Monday, yesterday, carried out one of the most meaningless reshuffles in the country’s history, leaving many government insiders, party supporters and others shocked and angry.
After moving the Minister of State at the Presidency and Member of Parliament (MP) for Tano North, Freda Prempeh, to the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to replace Cecilia Abena Dapaah, he swapped the deputy ministers of the Ministry of Roads and Highways and Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
Many also see the reshuffle as a calculated political strategy to buy time, diverting attention from the scandal.
Ms. Dapaah, according to The Herald’s insiders, was literally kicked out after the said resignation letter was signed in her name to force her out from the portfolio over the weekend, following the stolen money scandal.
The ex-Sanitation Minister, who met with the President yesterday, was said to have been handed a letter personally by the President, according to The Herald’s sources, told the President ahead of her purported resignation that the huge sums in both local and foreign currencies were for her, and that she can defend herself. This was their first meeting after the scandal.
The replacement and the reshuffle, was announced in a statement signed by the Director of Communications at the Office of the President, Eugene Arhin yesterday, Tuesday, July 25, 2023.
“The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has appointed the Minister of State at the Presidency and Member of Parliament for Tano North, Hon. Freda Prempeh, as the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources.
She takes over from Hon. Cecilia Abena Dapaah, whose letter of resignation, dated Saturday, 22nd July 2023, was accepted by the President on Saturday, 22. July 2023.”
The same statement, the President also made some changes in his government by reshuffling the deputy ministers of two ministries.
The reshuffling which takes effect immediately now sees the Deputy Minister for Roads, Mavis Nkansah Boadu, as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Thomas Mbomba, as Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways.
The appointment according to Mr Arhin was done in consultation with the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Roads and Highways.
The two house helps, 18-year-old Patience Botwe and 30-year-old Sarah Agyei, allegedly stole the monies and personal effects of Abena Dapaah and her husband between the months of July and October 2022.
Two house helps of the minister and three others are currently facing charges before an Accra Circuit Court for allegedly stealing an amount of $1 million, €300,000, and millions of Ghanaian cedis at the former minister’s residence at Abelenkpe, Accra, in October 2022.
The scandal involving Cecilia Abena Dapaah, which has stirred public anger leading to her resignation as the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, has sparked intense discussions at the Jubilee House, the seat of the government.
Talks are now rife about an impending “significant cabinet reshuffle to salvage the administration’s sinking image.”
Sources close to President Nana Akuffo Addo, in various private discussions, emphasize that the swift resignation of the once-respected Minister, following the alleged theft of millions in cash and other assets from her private residence at Abelemkpe-Accra, presents a golden opportunity for the Ghanaian leader to overhaul his team and instill accountability in his appointees.
A prominent insider disclosed to The Herald, “worries abound among those close to the President and within NPP party leadership”.
“Many of the President’s appointees have grown complacent, showing little regard for consequences. This is not the mark of a functional government. It is highly probable that the President will seize this moment to signal that even minor misconduct will no longer be tolerated. The era of misbehavior must come to an end.”
The dwindling public confidence in the Nana Addo government, following the COVID Audit Report scandal, has only been exacerbated by the Cecilia Abena Dapaah case, further eroding any remaining trust in a struggling administration, revealed by a government source to The Herald on Sunday.
Compounding the tumultuous situation, as the nation heads into what promises to be a gripping 2024 election, various polls indicate a resurgent National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by veteran John Dramani Mahama, who lost the presidency in 2016 after a turbulent first term plagued by various corruption scandals.
Nana Addo’s New Patriotic Party (NPP) is currently grappling with internal divisions exacerbated by an economic crisis blamed on what critics call reckless governance that forced a controversial debt exchange program and an IMF bailout. Moreover, the party is facing an ongoing competition to elect a new flag bearer since Nana Addo is constitutionally barred from seeking reelection after two straight terms as President.
The predicament is further exacerbated by the neglect of government business in Parliament, as numerous NPP MPs have abandoned their duties to campaign for their respective flag bearer hopefuls, while NDC MPs boycott parliamentary proceedings to protest the ongoing prosecution of three of their colleagues on various charges. This situation has led the first Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei Owusu, to remark last week that the current Parliament is the worst in the country’s history.
Another source Jubilee House warned, “this situation increases the likelihood of the NDC coming into power in December 2024. To avert this potential loss, a major reshuffle that restores trust in the government’s ability to govern effectively is deemed essential. It is crucial to instill a sense of accountability among the administration’s members to remind them that there is still a President in charge.”
However, some have expressed concerns that the upcoming race to elect a new flag bearer for the NPP may delay any cabinet reshuffle until after the party selects its new leader.
“A major reshuffle is undoubtedly necessary. The challenge lies in executing it carefully to avoid unsettling appointees or their supporters in a manner that might impact the outcome of the ongoing flag bearer election campaign,” remarked another source.
After years of unblemished public service records, Cecelia Abena Dapaah, a former Member of Parliament for Bantama in the Ashanti Region, succumbed to relentless public pressure and resigned from her government Minister position on Saturday.
The public was shocked and outraged by news reports detailing alleged thefts that occurred in her private residence, where she lives with her spouse.
The property in Abelemkpe was reportedly targeted by two housekeepers, who are now on trial, allegedly stealing significant amounts of cash and valuables.
Official charge sheets state that at least three other individuals allegedly benefited from the spoils of these thefts, amounting to over a million dollars, three hundred thousand Euros, millions of Ghanaian cedis, and an array of valuable jewellery between July and October of 2022.
“In light of these developments, the President must take decisive action through a comprehensive reshuffle to demonstrate that he remains in control of his government and is committed to restoring discipline and accountability within its ranks,” asserted an NPP source at the party’s head office.
The source added, “There is simply no other way to address the current turmoil and regain the trust of the Ghanaian people. Urgent action is crucial for our chances of success in 2024.”