President John Mahama has dropped Brig. Joseph Nunoo-Mensah as the National Security Advisor, replacing him with the immediate past Minister of the Interior, William Aboah, who is also a retired police officer.
The change was among a string of changes and appointments announced over the weekend, including the removal of Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni as Chief Executive of Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
Brig Nunoo-Mensah, who came under fire recently when he told striking public sector workers to leave the country if they could not stand the heat in the kitchen, has been moved to the a less fanciful position of head of Human Security at the National Security Secretariat; an apparent demotion in the current administration. Observers regard the move as a subtle way of sending Brig Nunoo-Mensah home.
By the directive, he would now report to Lt. Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey (rtd), the National Security Coordinator. The murky arrangement prompts questions regarding seniority and integrity of chain of command.
Lt Col Gbevlo-Lartey is junior in rank to Brig Nunoo-Mensah in the military and under the previous arrangement, the National Security Advisor was higher in order of command, but now the reverse is the case.
William Aboah, a retired Commissioner of Police who also headed the Ghana Immigration Service, is the new National Security Advisor to the President.
The President?s decision comes on the heels of bad press the removed National Security Advisor attracted when he unleashed scathing and sarcastic remarks on striking civil servants at a time when they were being cajoled to pick their tools and go back to work.
The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) was the loudest among groupings which expressed opprobrium at the outbursts of the National Security Advisor, demanding that the President relieved him of his post.
He made the utterances in the presence of President Mahama during the commissioning of a number of classroom blocks he claimed to have personally funded at the O?Reilly Senior High School at Okpoi Gonno in Accra.
For those who thought President Mahama agreed with his then National Security Advisor when the latter said teachers and civil servants who could not cope with conditions in the country should pack and leave, they might have to review their stance.
?If you don?t want the job, Ghana is not a police state; take your passports and get out of this country and don?t destroy the country for us. If you can?t sacrifice like what some of us have done, then get out. If the kitchen is too hot for you, get out,? he told then striking Civil Service and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG) members, adding that their salaries should be frozen after describing them as NPP sympathisers.
?Every Tom, Dick and Harry gets up and is calling for a strike. If you don?t want the job, get out of this country,? he added.
Palpably embarrassed by the crude remarks of his National Security Advisor, President Mahama, when he took his turn to speak, controlled the damage wreaked by the old Brigadier. He told his audience that the National Security Advisor only sought to ask his compatriots to join in building the nation. Unfortunately, it was not enough to calm the nerves of agitated Ghanaians, with many calling for the head of the old Brigadier.
The Minister of Information, Mahama Ayariga, further muddied the waters when he said he was unable to tell whether Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah was still the National Security Advisor to the President or not when questioned by the media.
The dodgy response prompted speculations that the Brigadier was a redundant old man just warming his seat at the National Security Secretariat and passing acerbic remarks on radio.
President Mahama?s subtlety in managing the removal of the old Brigadier has attracted derision among those who understand the workings of the National Security Secretariat.
As to whether Brig Nunoo-Mensah would accept his new office which ostensibly is a demotion, could be the subject of another story for the media.
The Human Security Department is one of several departments under the National Security, hosting many retired and serving military officers. It deals with the drilling of boreholes and sometimes supplying water to places suffering acute water shortages and attending to the welfare of party foot soldiers when they agitate.
It is located in the premises of the former State Construction Corporation (SCC) under the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) close to the Abelenkpe traffic light.
In a related development, the Presidency has announced the movement of the controversial Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, Dr. Stephen Opuni, to the Cocoa Board as the head.
He takes over from Anthony Fofie whose contract ends this year.
A pharmacist, Huudu Mogtari, has been named as the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the FDA.
Dr. Opuni?s movement to Cocobod is coming on the heels of heated controversy between the FDA and a local pharmaceutical company, Tobinco on one hand, and the Ministry of Health and the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana on the other.
Staff and management of Tobinco Pharmaceutical Company last Thursday held prayer sessions across the country asking God to intervene in the impasse with FDA, particularly Dr Opuni, its head.
Two days after the prayer sessions, Dr Opuni, who has been variously accused of stifling the growth of the drug industry, was removed albeit to a higher level, setting tongues wagging about the President?s sense of judgment.
By A.R. Gomda