Gender activist Affi Agbenyo has highlighted what she sees as neglect of the Gender Ministry by the Akufo-Addo government since the substantive Minister, Sarah Adwoa Safo, left her post eight months ago.
According to her, “the only time the Minister’s absence bothered the Presidency was when the Minister was needed as a Parliamentarian to cast her vote for the E-Levy bill to be passed.”
A move, the activist says, is unfair, particularly when the marginalised and the vulnerable are suffering.
Speaking on JoyNews’ Newsfile, Madam Agbenyo said the Ministry needs a leader to initiate innovative interventions to cushion the vulnerable and prospective beneficiaries.
“More than ever, the Ministry of Gender is leaderless with a caretaker minister who is undoubtedly overwhelmed with her responsibilities.
“In such difficult times, which we all agree, the most vulnerable of us, the most marginalised, require innovative government interventions to survive, but there is no Ministry taking care of us,” she said on Saturday.
On October 6, 2021, President Akufo-Addo extended the leave of absence from office for the Gender Minister.
The Dome-Kwabenya MP’s leave, which she sought for personal reasons, was supposed to have ended on August 31, 2021.
However, the former Procurement Minister could not resume and requested an extension. It did not, however, state when she will resume.
“In her absence, and until further notice, President Akufo-Addo has directed the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Abena Dapaah, to act as caretaker Minister,” the Presidency said.
Earlier this year, the lawmaker came under fire for neglecting her Parliamentary duties amid speculations that she has vowed not to return until given a leadership role in the House.
Miss Adwoa Safo was last seen in Parliament in December 2021 when she appeared in the House to dismiss claims by the Minority Caucus that she was impersonated.
She has since not returned to the Chamber. Her action has infuriated her colleagues, who have accused her of blackmailing government with a list of demands, including the Deputy Majority Leader post.
This has infuriated some colleague MPs and members of the NPP who are calling for her removal.
Meanwhile, the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has indicated that the Majority Caucus does not factor Dome-Kwabenya MP, Sarah Adwoa Safo into its deliberations.
According to the Bekwai MP, all avenues to get the absentee MP to return to the House have proved futile.
As a result, the Majority in Parliament has resolved to conduct parliamentary business, going forward, without recourse to the Dome-Kwabenya MP.
Speaking on Kumasi-based Pure FM, Mr Osei-Owusu said, “in our strategy, we have taken it as going to rescue a kidnapped person, you presume she is dead, but if you go and she is alive, then it is God’s grace, and it adds to your gains, so that is our approach.
“So, as it stands now, we don’t count her as part of us,” he stated.
The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) leadership has admitted that the Dome-Kwabenya MP’s absence affects the party and government business.
John Boadu, the party’s General Secretary, told Joy FM that with Ghana’s hung Parliament, the Gender Minister’s absence is adversely affecting government’s business in Parliament.
He also mentioned that the party is currently considering measures, including triggering the constitutional provision to remove her as MP and declare her seat vacant.
To date, the legislator has not been seen in Parliament; neither has she visited the Ministry which she leads.
Meanwhile, in April, her Aide, Nana Dubin Kwapong, revealed that she will return to the House when Parliament resumed from recess.
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