By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has presented Awal Mohammed to Parliament for approval as the new Minister for Tourism, Arts & Culture.
The announcement puts to bed months of speculations within the sector on who becomes the man/woman to lead it, for a possible 4-year duration.
Interestingly, for an industry that is known for intense reactions especially when it comes to the selection of a Minister, there seem to be some calm greeting the news of Mr. Awal’s appointment.
Who is he?
Awal Mohammed is journalist, marketer, entrepreneur and politician.
He joined the Graphic Communications Group Limited first as a reporter before elevating to the role of an editor. He would later run the company as Chief Executive Officer in 2007, a position he held until 2010, when he left to oversee Chase Petroleum as the General Manager.
In 2009, he won the CIMG ‘Marketing Man of the Year’ for his contribution towards marketing in Ghana.
Until his appointment, Mr. Awal was the Minister for Business Development, a new Ministry created by the President in 2017 to formulate policies and facilitate the work of Ghana’s private sector.
He attended Yendi Senior High School in the Northern Region of Ghana before proceeding to the Ghana Institute of Journalism in Accra. He obtained a Masters in International Journalism from the University of Wales, United Kingdom.
Sign of Approval
The appointment of Awal Mohammed has been heralded by an unusual calm, which could be a sign of endorsement from the sector. For an industry that makes its rejection of policies, activities, statements or any critical matter related to the industry loud, this form of silence could mean approval.
Talk of his not being an industry person, an assertion that dominated every discussion on who is appointed Minister – has not reared its head anywhere, especially after his nomination.
There’s some opinionated industry stakeholders who have openly applauded the decision of the President to nominate Mr. Awal for the role.
Expectations are obviously high, a usual feeling that always greets any new personality that heads the sector but there’s also that feeling of hope and optimism from the sector.
A disjointed and divided industry
Mr. Awal Mohammed would be taking over a sector that is structure-less, shapeless and heavily divided. Not even the set-up and operations of the Creative Arts Council has solved the higgledy-piggledy of an industry.
There are many groupings within the sector, with many being less purposeful. The leading groupings are characterized by internal wrangling, agitation and litigation. The Musicians Union of Ghana are in court over an election to select its new leadership and the Actors Guild of Ghana is also lost – with the election of its Executives still pending in court.
One of Mr. Awal first major tasks, when given the nod, with the aid of the Creative Arts Agency, would be to unify players and help put some form of structure on major groupings within the sector, especially when he would need them to excel.
Talk of Deputy Minister
After the nomination of Awal Mohammed, the chatter has shifted to the Deputy Minister and of course, there’s always that frenzy that accompanies such conversation.
Some are touting for more than one Deputy while others are clamoring for the fellow to be selected from the industry.
Just like my thoughts on the selection of the Minister prior to the announcement by the President, getting an industry person would be appropriate but it also doesn’t mean, the sector won’t flourish and progress if the person chosen is a foreigner to the industry.
The most important attributes for whoever would occupy the role as Deputy Minister are competence, understanding and communication skill.
He Needs the Support
Awal Mohammed has the job, barring any rejection from Parliament. He is going to lead the industry and there’s little anybody can do about it. It is imperative that he gets all the necessary support from all quarters of the industry.
For him to succeed, he would need the succour of all stakeholders and groupings within the sector. He would need their cooperation, understanding and encouragement. Most importantly, the sector must show him the utmost respect and recognition in the execution of his functions as a Minister.
His success would directly mean, the success of the sector, which would directly affect the gains of individuals and groupings within the industry.