At the commencement of the Appointments Committee public hearing on Thursday, Minister Designate for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, was the first to make an appearance.
The issue of the military becoming more interested in providing security for individuals and private mining companies took centre stage at the vetting of the nominee. Even though he admitted that he sometimes gets worried seeing the military rendering such services, he noted that when he took office four years ago, about 22 contracts had already been signed with the military to provide security to some private companies. He said before his four year mandate ended, he had given specific instructions that apart from two mining companies, no military personnel should provide security for any mining company.
The military’s invasion of the Chamber on the 7th January 2021 during the election of the Speaker of the 8th Parliament also featured among the questions that were asked of the nominee. The Committee demanded to know whether he played any specific role in that.
But, in his response, the nominee maintained that the Armed Forces are professionals and would not take instructions from civilians. He said the CDS has ordered investigations into the matter, and that the military will punish any officer who goes contrary to the laws and the incident in the chamber won’t be an exception.
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Quizzed on the assertion that certain people get recruited into the Armed Forces depending on who is in power, the minister designate said there is nothing like protocol list in the military, emphasising that recruitment into the military is purely on qualification and involving about six steps including writing of exams, which makes protocol allocations difficult. The minister designate also told the Committee that there are plans to have military base in all 16 regions of the country.
On his achievements, the nominee said accommodation had been a major challenge but with the $100m housing project fund that was approved by Parliament for the military, some officers’ lodging conditions have been improved considerably. He also answered questions on using the military to monitor the 2020 elections, the retirement extension and package for the military, using technology to complement the work of the military and galamsey menace.
The Minister Designate for Defence, Hon. Dominic Nitiwul would be holding that position for the second time if approved by Parliament.
When she took her turn before the Committee, the Minister Designate for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey revealed that of the 58 Ghanaian Embassies and 9 Consulates across the world, most of the Ambassadors and staff are working and staying in rented buildings, a situation that is having cost impact on the Ministry.
She said she inherited $50m meant for office building and accommodation for diplomats but it has not been enough to solve the problem.
She assured the Committee that if her nomination is approved, she would find the means to raise money to purchase properties abroad for use by the embassies instead of renting, adding that the Ghanaian embassies in New York, Paris and other countries need to be renovated to befit Ghana’s image.
Questioned about the agreement between Ghana and the United States of America on Terminal 1 of the Ghana Airport that has been given to a private company, MacDan for 15 years, the nominee said she had not come across a copy of that agreement.
When approved by Parliament she would continue her portfolio as Minister for Foreign Affairs until the President otherwise decides.