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The Vetting Process Is Always An Ugly Partisan Combat


Every four years, a ritual, appropriately named VETTING takes place in parliament and captures the attention of the nation. Newly appointed ministers are paraded before an august body of lawmakers who then probe, question and query the appointees about their prior activities.

It is often a lively atmosphere, punctuated occasionally by the exaggerated laughter typical of well-fed politicians. Despite the outward display of civility, the exchanges can sometimes get testy; tempers flare up and people lose their cool. Lets just say partisanship takes center stage.

This year’s vetting process has not been without its fair share of drama and petulance, much of it brought about by the predictable haggling between the  two major political parties, the NPP and the NDC. Even in the post election era, these two can’t just let go of the animosity that defines their relationship.

It is not surprising that NDC members of the vetting committee have been particularly aggressive in their questioning. Now out of power and seemingly incapable of exerting much influence, they are determined at all cost to get their pound of flesh, determined to derail the ministerial ambitions of some of the appointees. The NDC may have lost the elections, but it has not lost its sense of purpose.

The NDC members of the Vetting Committee asked probing questions, and when they did not get answers they deemed appropriate and satisfactory, they did not let up; they persisted only to be abruptly stopped midway by the Chairman of the Vetting Committee.

I particularly loved the testy exchange between the former deputy minister for education, Mr. Ablakwa and the newly appointed Senior Minister, Mr. Sarfo Marfo.  The pugnacious Ablakwa went after the veteran NPP politician. It was a young lion circling an old elephant, anticipating an easy victory and a juicy dinner thereafter.  Neither would cede any ground.

Asked about a controversy he started a few years ago with his remarks that the south should run the country on account of it being the primary source of its natural resources, Mr. Marfo stood firm, vehemently denying he ever said such a thing. “I was taken out of context,” he insisted.

He then chided Mr. Ablakwa with this memorable line: “You were too young at that time to know what was going on,” he told the startled Mr. Abakwa, to the laughter of those gathered.

Other exchanges were just as lively. One that stood out was Mr. Suhuyini’s — member of parliament for Tamale North — fiery back and forth with the appointee for the ministry of Energy, Mr. Boakye Agyarko? It was quite instructive.

It should be acknowledged that despite the partisan squabblings, overall, the vetting process, to date, has not generated into a circus and hysterical oppositionalism as many had feared. Yes, Sarfo Marfo was rude, evasive and stubbornly refused to repudiate past controversial statements, but the same cannot be said of the the rest of the NPP appointees who were generally more civil and polite.

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