The minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) members on Parliament’s Appointments Committee have voted against the approval of Minister-designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisah Djaba.
The minority’s decision was due to purported ‘ill’ comments that the NPP National Women’s Organizer made about former President John Dramani Mahama during her vetting a couple of days ago.
Madam Otiko Djaba came under a barrage of questions from the minority members for her alleged endorsement of a statement purportedly made by Kennedy Agyapong to the effect that the current Electoral Commission (EC) Chairperson, Charlotte Osei, exchanged sex for her appointment made by former President John Mahama.
But the nominee said she never supported any such statement by Kennedy Agyapong, NPP Member of Parliament for Assin Central.
According to her, what she said was that if such a statement was coming from Mr Agyapong, then the matter ought to be investigated for the truth or otherwise to be established and for the EC boss’ name to be cleared.
The Minster-designate for Gender was also impressed upon by minority members on the committee, led by their leader, Haruna Iddrisu, to withdraw certain comments attributed to her on a campaign trail which sought to impugn the integrity of former President Mahama.
She was accused of saying on various political platforms before the elections last year that then President Mahama is a wicked leader, a liar, a disgrace to the people of the north and also has the devil’s heart; but the nominee said she was not going to withdraw those comments. Otiko Djaba said she owes no apology to Mr. Mahama.
The minority members, who were not happy with her stand, recommended for her rejection at the committee level, but Otiko scaled through by a majority decision.
However, they are bent on blocking the approval of the Minster-designate when the MPs debate the report of the vetting committee. They have decided to vote against her when she is sent to the floor of parliament for voting to approve her nomination, possibly today.
Ms Otiko Afisa Djaba will have to rely on the majority NPP for her approval before President Nana Akufo-Addo swears her in.
Meanwhile, the Minister-designate for Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei and Minister-designate for Regional Re-organization, Dan Botwe, have been unanimously approved at the committee level.
These are excerpts of what transpired between Otiko Djaba and the Committee on Monday.
Suhuyini (NDC MP): Over the past years, it is known to everyone that you have been very active in partisan politics, actively campaigning for Nana Addo who is now the President of the Republic. During this period, your public pronouncements have been described by many Ghanaians as harsh. For instance, you labelled the former President as having the heart of the devil. You also described the former President as violent and an embarrassment to the Northern Region. You also described the President as being extremely wicked and violent…Do you accept that your statement was unfortunate and unpalatable? Will you now apologise to the former President and to Ghana for such unsavory comments?
Otiko: The President is my brother and I spoke from my convictions. I made the statements that I made as a wake-up call for him. We are building the nation. He was running for re-election and I felt that the people who should tell him as it is were not telling him as it was. They decided that because he was my brother, they did not want me to speak and when I talked about him being an embarrassment, I spoke in relation to SADA. SADA is very dear to my heart. My mother is a Northerner, the incidence of poverty is highest in the three Northern Regions and for a President who comes from the Northern Region, who promised to alleviate poverty, what happened to the Guinea fowls? It was an embarrassment to me and to the North. The Chiefs of the North actually made that statement and so I don’t owe him or you any apology. We are developing and building a nation.
Haruna Iddrisu :You were free to comment on SADA but those words you used on political platforms were unsavory. Do you regret this?
Otiko: My comment on the internet was in relation to SADA…When I talked about his wickedness, the people of Ghana were asking for dumsor to be solved; people were losing jobs and so forth.
Haruna Iddrisu: We take a strong objection to those words you used to describe former President Mahama. Will you dissociate yourself from those words?
Otiko: Are you saying we cannot criticize in this country?
Haruna Iddrisu: Does your right to speak include your right to insult?
Otiko Djaba: It was not an insult. It was a criticism and I am allowed as a citizen of Ghana to criticize the President and these are descriptive words. It is not an insult.
Haruna Iddrisu: So you want to stand by those descriptive words that he is evil and wicked?
Otiko Djaba : I did not insult the President, I criticized him.
By Cephas Larbi