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NO! Ghana Does Not Have A ‘123-Man Cabinet’

Photo Credit: Sahara Reporters 4 mins read

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On September 25, 2019, a twitter user claimed that President Nana Akufo-Addo has a ‘123-man cabinet, deputy ministers included’. The tweet also made allegations with respect to the “family ties” that exist between the President and some members of his government.

As the time this fact-check was written, the tweet was liked and retweeted more than a 1000 times. Similar and slightly more comprehensive versions have also been shared on Facebook and on Instagram. Blogs and online portals were not left out.

We decided to fact check the whole list of claims across multiple platforms…

Verification Of Claims

CLAIM 1: “In Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo has a 123-man cabinet, deputy ministers included.”

FALSE: Ghana does not have a 123-man Cabinet as claimed. It rather has 123 ministers which includes ministers of state and their deputies and regional ministers and their deputies.

Ghana’s 1992 Constitution (Chapter 8, Article 76) requires a newly sworn in President to appoint a Cabinet to assist him/her determine government policies. It further stipulates the composition of the Cabinet – the President, the Vice President and ‘not less than 10 and not more than 19 Ministers of State.”

In line with this, the President in 2017 appointed a 19-member cabinet who are all substantive ministers of his government. None of them is a deputy minister.

So where did the claim that the President has a 123-man cabinet originate from?

It is quite likely the user confused the current government size with the Cabinet size.

If that is the case, then he is right. Ghana does have 123 ministers some (19) of whom are members of the Cabinets. The 123 includes ministers for the various ministries and their deputies, and regional ministers and their deputies.

The current 123 number is an increase from the 110 ministers (10 Regional Ministers and 10 Deputies, 40 ministers for the various ministries and 50 deputies) appointed by the President in 2017. Thirteen (13) more ministers were added in 2019 to cater for the six newly created regions, bringing the number to the current 123.

CLAIM 2: “At least half are either related to him by blood or marriage… ”

FALSE: Even if we are to assume the user was referring to the government at large (and not just the President’s cabinet), there is still no evidence to support it.

This is reminiscent of a similar allegations in time past. More often than not, many have accused the President of nepotism and cronyism; they throw around the phrase, ‘family and friends’ government’. For instance, a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Abraham Amaliba, alleged that the President has 65 relatives occupying various positions in the country. This happened July 17 on Tv3’s New Day. However, he could not prove this and had to withdraw his allegations on the show.

Many other such claims have been made; however, they either held no grounds or were denied. Claims that the Chief Justice and Sophia Akufo and Attorney General Gloria Akuffo are family members of the President have also been denied; by his relative- Gabby Otchere Darko.

Nonetheless, it has been admitted that some ministers and appointees are related to the President; like the Minister for Finance- Ken Ofori Atta. Also, Works and Housing Minister- Samuel Atta Akyea is his cousin.

So back to the claim that at least half the President’s appointees are related to him by blood or marriage. 

We have already established that Ghana has a 19-member Cabinet and not 123 as claimed by the Twitter user. Out of the 19, only two have the surname the Twitter user asked us to look out for; that is, Gloria Akuffo- the Attorney General and Minister for Justice and Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister. Therefore, only two, and not half of the Cabinet ministers, may be related to the President if we are to verify this claim using the yardstick the user mentioned – the possession of a particular surname.

Alternatively, say the user meant the government size; is it true that half are related to him either by blood or marriage?

Again, using the same yardstick given us by the user, less than 10 may be related to the President. They include Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance; Samuel Atta Akyea, Minister for Works and Housing; Gloria Akuffo, Attorney General and Minister for Justice; and Kwasi Amoako Atta, Minister for Roads and Highways.

Granted, bearing of the names ‘Akufo’, ‘Addo’, ‘Ofori’ and ‘Atta’, may signal a relationship; it is still not enough evidence to back this claim. As a Twitter user pointed out, some tribes or ethnic groups in Ghana have similar names. This does not mean they are related!

CLAIM 3: “His daughter is on the Creative Arts Council board.”

TRUE: The President’s daughter is on the Creative Council Board

In 2017, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture appointed the President’s daughter– Gyankroma Akufo-Addo as Director of the Creative Arts Council.

CLAIM 4: “Ghana’s ambassador to the UAE is the father of the VP’s wife. His own son is number 2 man at a federal parastatal.”

TRUE: The father of the Second lady, Samira Bawumia, is Ghana’s ambassador to the United Arabs Emirate.

Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan is the father of the second lady, Mrs Samira Bawumia. He was appointed Ghana’s ambassador to the United Arabs Emirate (UAE) in 2017. His son, Abu Ramadan, is the Deputy Director General at the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).

CLAIM 5: “The speaker of parliament is the father of the ambassador to India.”

TRUE: The speaker of Parliament is the father of Ghana’s ambassador to India

H.E. Mr. Michael Aaron N. N. Oquaye Esq (Jnr) is Ghana’s Ambassador to India with concurrent responsibility to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. He is a corporate lawyer at Exusia Law Consult who has worked in Ghana and the United Kingdom. H.E. Mr. Michael Aaron N. N. Oquaye Esq (Jnr) is the son of the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Mike Aaron Oquaye.

Caroline Anipah is the Programme Officer of DUBAWA, Ghana. She holds an MPhil in Communication Studies and an undergraduate degree in English and Political Science from the University of Ghana. She is a trained journalist and has engaged in various research activities with notable institutions including Ghana Statistical Service, German Development Institute (GIZ) and the USAID Evaluate for Health over the years. She has also worked with the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) on a regional (West Africa-wide) comprehensive research on the state of the media. She brings to the project and team, her experience in both media and research.

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