Am I going to miss Madam Catherine Afeku as Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture? For her oratory skills and her ability to sweet-talk her way out of every inquisition, maybe, but for her general stewardship in the over 700days in office – absolutely not!
It is no secret how critical I was of the Former Minister as I penned series of articles in this column of her somewhat slapdash handling of the Ministry, so, this is not the time to exhibit any form of two-facedness and sympathize with her. In fact, I was even surprised she evaded the August 2018 reshuffling by the President – at a time when disparagement of her supervision of the sector was deafening.
For the sake of consistency and brusqueness, I have no tears for Madam Afeku!
She’s Gone, Life Continues
Some industry stakeholders and commentators have been acting all sulky over Madam Afeku’s removal, making it seem as though, all is lost for the sector. Give me a break!
If you have such a good grasp of Ghanaian politics and governance, the phenomenon of reshuffling of Ministers or Government appointees should not astound anybody. For lack of performance or strategic purposes, Presidents over the years have changed the setup of their Ministerial or Cabinet structure. It is not the first and will definitely not be the last.
Over all those plethora of reshuffling sessions by past Presidents and even with President Nana Addo in August 2018, the world did not come to a stand-still. We survived and will surely make it through this one.
The earlier we accept this and move on as we have done over the years, the better for the sector.
Starting All Over?
It is galling to hear some stakeholders and fanatics of Madam Afeku talk about how the Sector, with its plans and procedures, is going to start all over again with her removal. Hogwash!
First of all, the idea of starting all over is a no brainer as every personality that is appointed to a new Office gets to start from somewhere. All the Ministers that were reassigned in August 2018 to new Ministries got to start all over and 7 months later, they are doing just fine. When NDC and President John Mahama lost power, Catherine Afeku started all over when she took the position in February 2017, replacing Hon. Elizabeth Ofosu Adjare.
In her case, Madam Afeku and the current Government even did extra by altering the nomenclature of the Ministry and with all those shenanigans, we survived!
Secondly, the talk of starting all over is nonsense; considering the fact that, the Ministry is not a personality with the title as Minister. The bureau has an organogram, it has Mission and Vision, plus procedures that involve a workforce that still works, regardless of who is appointed as Minister.
Madam Afeku’s Legacy
The Minister’s legacy was an admixture of some positives and a deluge of negatives, some of which may have informed the President’s decision to oust her from the Office.
It is an indisputable fact that Madam Afeku’s fixation, of all the 3 departments under her oversight, was on Tourism, so, it makes sense that most of her appreciable achievements were chalked under that fold. The grant of $40 million for the sector, the elevation of international appeal for Ghana as a tourist hub in Africa and the positioning of the Ghana Tourism Authority were some high points.
The achievements under Arts were quite disappointing and in the 3rd year of President Nana Addo’s government, the only feats to gloat over are the setting up of Creative Arts Council, which is still confused over what its core objectives are – plus the renovation of some Centers of National Culture across the region.
The confidence and arrogance in her inability to defend many of her government’s failed promises to the Arts industry, her fall out with many influential stakeholders and groupings within the arts department may have caused her exit. There’s also talk that her decision to expend taxpayers’ money on a venture like AFRIMA and her supposed deep-seated links with Nana Appiah Mensah may have caused the President to let her go help Senior Minister, Osafo Marfo.
Welcome, Madam Barbara Oteng-Gyasi!
Like many, I do not know Hon. Oteng-Gyasi and my research on her shows she has no experience or expertise in the sector, but it matters less. We didn’t know much about Madam Afeku too, and before her expedition at the Ministry, she, like many before her, had little or no proficiency in the sector – but their administrative and managerial skills saw them through.
Hon. Oteng-Gyasi will be accorded the same reception we gave the others before her – nothing will change. She must be made aware that, in a sector where the multitude are in the public domain, where we are always talking, she should understand and know that her every move and decision would be subjected to such scrutiny. We wish her well!
By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo