Contrary to the apparent jubilation by sections of the Ghanaian media over the reassignment of former Minister of Youth and Sports, Mahama Ayariga to the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, which they considered a demotion, The aL-hAJJ can confirm that the Bawku Central legislator has rather been elevated.
Unlike his previous post, Mahama Ayariga’s present portfolio as Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation makes him one of the 19 ministers with cabinet status as stated in article 76 (1) of the 1992 constitution.
Sections of the Ghanaian media were thrown into a jubilant mood when President John Dramani Mahama over the weekend replaced the adroit and tough-talking former Sports Minister with a Minister of State at the Presidency, Dr. Mustapha Ahmed.
Mr Ayariga, a Harvard-trained lawyer and Co-founder of an NGO, Legal Resource Center, recently stirred controversy when he bluntly told some morning show hosts they ask “useless questions” in demand for details about expenses incurred at the 2015 AFCON tournament in Equatorial Guinea.
The no-nonsense Minister said he has better things to do than answer “useless questions” from journalists who “have no understanding of public administration” and yet ask for the budget of the Black Stars to be made public. Many journalists, especially those who felt slighted by his comment, took him to the cleaners with some of them calling on the President to sack him.
However, unknown to most of those who started jubilating; believing Mr Ayariga’s reassignment by President Mahama to the Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation ministry was a demotion and therefore a punishment, The aL-hAJJ can confirm that with the present composition of cabinet; the Bawku Central MP has rather been elevated.
Ministries with cabinet status under the Mahama-led administration include the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Roads and Highways, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Power.
Others are the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ministry of Petroleum, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General.
The rest are Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
Meanwhile, sources at the presidency told this paper that President Mahama has been impressed with Mr Ayariga’s performance so far and therefore “thought he needed to give him a much bigger role in the realization of his Better Ghana Agenda inherited from the late Prof Mills.”
“Those who think Ayariga has been demoted may be saying so out of naivety or are simply ignorant about the structures of our governance system. If you are moved from a Ministry without a cabinet status to a Ministry with cabinet status, do you call that demotion? If they know what it means by being a Minister with cabinet status, they won’t be saying the kind of things being reported in the media,” a source close to the President who does not want to be named told The aL-hAJJ.
The source also called on Ayariga’s adversaries to compare the annual budget allocations of the two ministries and they will realize the Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation ministry’s budget is far higher than that of the Youth and Sports, which demonstrates the importance of MESTI in our national development.
In the 2015 budget presented by Finance Minister Seth Terkper, and approved by parliament, an amount of Ghc243,399,833.00 was allocated the Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation ministry while the Youth and Sport Ministry got approval for Ghc36,186,217.00 for the implementation of their programs and activities.
A source close to Mr. Ayariga told this paper that those who are celebrating the former sports minister’s reassignment should wait and see what he is going to do at his new ministry, “then they will understand why the president wants him there.”
“The world is today driven by science, technology and innovation and so, Ghana’s transformational agenda will depend highly on activities at the MESTI and that is one of the reasons why in order to realize the president’s dream, he reassigned Hon Ayariga there”, he added.
Meanwhile, information reaching The aL-hAJJ indicates that some senior players of the national team, the Black Stars, including captain Asamoah Gyan and Dede Ayew are mourning the exit of the Bawku MP from the sports ministry.
The Black Stars players, just as many other objective sports analysts are unhappy with the president’s decision to move Mr Ayariga from the Youth and Sports ministry at a time the minister was bringing sanity to the ministry, especially, the nation’s passion, soccer.
The former minister’s short tenure at the sports ministry, coming just after the Brazil world cup debacle which broke the nation’s heart, began yielding results when the senior national team put up a splendid performance at the just ended 2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea. The team missed the cup at the finals to Ivory Coast on penalties.