The Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministry, headed by Mrs. Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, is currently a divided and dysfunctional institution. The staff have accused the incumbent minister of bullying, arrogance, nepotism and plain acts of impunity.
To cap the gross impunity, she is alleged to be boasting that ‘no one can sack me’ as long as “her government” is in power.
President Akufo-Addo last week suspended Upper West Region Minister, Alhaji Sulemana Alhassan, for allegedly protecting a group of New Patriotic Party (NPP) thugs who besieged the Upper West Regional office of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) on Wednesday evening.
Deputy Chief of Staff, Abu Jinapor, warned that the suspension of the Regional Minister is to send clear signal to all appointees that nobody is above the law and to let the appointees know they serve at the behest of the president and the people of Ghana,
But workers at the Fisheries Ministry believe the sector minister will treat the threat from the Flagstaff House with contempt and is not bothered by the warning because she carries herself as someone perceived to have built strong supporting pillars that make her unassailable, arrogant and gives her a false sense of security to act with impunity.
“Afoley has divided the ministry against the government through her own arrogance and insensitivity”, one concerned staff who pleaded for the protection of her identity told the Daily Democrat.
The workers believe the Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister is living testimony to the quotation, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” which is perpetually on the lips of every student of government and/or politics.
She verbally attacks staff with unprintable language, humiliates and intimidates them with her political affiliation, boasting of her links with the powers at the seat of government.
Information available to the Daily Democrat suggests workers across the country will petition the president about her insults, which she often hurls out in the open.
Her one year tenure at the ministry has created a culture of silence, indiscriminate removal of experienced long-serving civil servants and unilaterally replaced with family and friends. This, the staff say, is affecting workers morale.
The first casualty following the appointment of Mrs. Quaye as Fisheries Minister was the Chief Director, Madam Mahama. She was replaced unceremoniously when the minister handpicked a new director who is tenth on the pecking order on the ranks of directors of the ministry instead of requesting a replacement from the Office of Civil Service.
The Minister caused another mess when she once again appointed one Michael Arthur-Dadzie as the Director for Fisheries when there are directors to fill that position.
Barely a week ago (in the early hours of last week Monday), the Director of Finance and Administration at the Ministry, Cecilia Ezuah, tasted the bitter side of Mrs. Quaye when the minister allegedly attacked her at her office in a bid to forcibly eject her.
It took the intervention of the deputy minister, Kingsley Ato Cudjoe, who moved in to calm down the minister.
A classic demonstration of nepotism that the minister demonstrated, according to the concerned workers, is the arbitrary change of heads of departments at the ministry and the appointment of her brother to oversee the distribution of premix fuel in the country.
Following the revelations that diversions had taken place, coupled with the fact that the Minister had appointed her brother, Joseph Botchwey, as the Acting Administrator of the National Premix Secretariat at that material moment, came as a shock to many.
Anti-corruption campaigner, Vitus Azeem, sympathised with the staff and believes the Minister should have resigned over the appointment of her brother, arguing that the act of the minister was inappropriate and must prompt her to relinquish her position, especially in the wake of the recent premix fuel diversion scandal that hit the country.
With this move by the Minister raising questions relating to conflict of interest, Mr. Azeem suggested that Mrs. Afoley Quaye must step down from her position.
“You come in as a minister and you say there is a new era and you handpick your own brother to be in charge of an area that ends up with these allegations, how do you raise your head in the public? Shouldn’t you say I am bowing out because of this mess I have caused to myself, to the family and to the government that I am serving,” he questioned in an interview on Citi FM in the wake of the premix scandal?