NEWS COMMENTARY ON ASSESSMENT OF PROF. JANE NAANA OPOKU AGYEMANG’S CANDIDATURE AS VICE-PRESIDENT AS SHE IS OUTDOORED AS THE RUNNING-MATE OF NDC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, FORMER PRESIDENT JOHN MAHAMA (JM)
The choice of Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang by the flagbearer of the NDC, John Dramani Mahama, as his running mate for the December Elections generated much excitement and awe throughout the country. Many political pundits hailed it as a strategic and promising move while some gender activists celebrated it as opening up of the political space for increased women participation and influence. Others, especially functionaries of the ruling NPP, however, raised a number of questions about the former Minister’s ability to perform judging from her days at the Education Ministry. One of the concerns was that, although a distinguished scholar of international repute chairing the Economic Management Team would be a challenge to her. This is because she is not an Economist. The Economic Management Team, is a body set up by the state to steer the affairs of the economy to greater heights. Since its inception it has been the Vice President who chairs it. With the exception of one, all governments under the fourth republic have followed this arrangement. However with the academic credentials of Prof. Opoku-Agyemang there is no doubt that she can perform her duties diligently as a Vice President if NDC is given the nod in the December elections.
It must be noted that since Economic Management Teams became a norm after the tenure of President Rawlings, not all Vice-Presidents have Chaired the team. Under President J. A. Kufour, it was then Senior Minister, J.H. Mensah and the late Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, who was the Chairman. All Vice-Presidents after the late Aliu Mahama, however, have chaired the Economic Team. So, it is not a notion cast in stone or constitutionally-mandated that the Chairman must be the sitting Vice-President. Again not all Vice-Presidents – who chaired the team were Economists. Former President Mahama, as Vice-President under the late Prof. J.E.A. Mills, was chairman of the team, but he is not an Economist. Yet, it is worthy of note that it is during that period that the economy of Ghana grew by 15 percent, the fastest in the world at that time. Indeed, historically, it is not always economists who have given the world the most transformative economic theories or models. Adam Smith, celebrated as the “Father of Economics”, did not start life as an economist: He trained as a philosopher at leading British universities before beginning his professional career as professor of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow in 1751. It was with the subsequent publication of his two notable works, namely, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” and the seminal “The Wealth of Nations”, that his notable ideas of classical economics, absolute advantage and division of labour, among others, laid the foundations for classical free market economic theory as practiced today. This indicates that any intellectual who can think critically – as Philosophy or post-graduate studies and is also a successful and proven administrator of national institutions – as Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang achieved as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast and also Minister of Education – possesses the fundamental skills needed to superintend over the mobilization and judicious utilization of resources to solve national problems.
Looking at her performance yesterday at her inauguration, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang left little doubt about her ability to help radically transform the flavour of the socioeconomic efforts and fortunes needed in the national political mix by a first woman Vice-President of Ghana. Women – from our mothers at home, to industrious market traders and queens over the years, as well as professionals, public servants and corporate leaders – are widely acknowledged as generally more conscientious and better managers of resources. So, as Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang was formally outdoored as the running mate of the flagbearer of the NDC for the December elections, the astute academic and public officer who has been described by her potential future boss as “God-fearing, a conscientious public servant and a role model”, may just turn out to be the woman for the job.
BY: RAYMOND TUVI – AUTHOR AND MEDIA CONSULTANT