The flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, made a claim last night about his party’s appointment of the first female foreign minister of Ghana.
He said this in his speech at the outdooring of Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, the Vice-Presidential Candidate of the opposition NDC, on July 27.
Mr. Mahama was touting the opposition party’s performance in putting women at the forefront of leadership in the country.
The MFWA fact-checking team has examined his claim. Below is the claim, verdict and explanation to the verdict.
Claim: “It was the NDC that presented Ghana’s first female Speaker of Parliament, the first female Foreign Minister…”
Verdict: Completely False (on the claim of the first female foreign minister)
Explanation: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (now Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration since 2009) was established in 1957. It is the principal organ of state responsible administratively and executively for the initiation, formulation, co-ordination and management of Ghana’s Foreign Policy.
The foreign affairs ministry since its existence has had most of its ministers being males. While Mr. Mahama may be referring to the appointment of Ms. Hanna Tetteh, minister of foreign affairs from 2013 to 2017 under the NDC government, as the first female minister, Ms. Tetteh the second to lead the ministry.
In 1979, after the overthrow of the General Kutu Acheampong, General Fred Akuffo, the new Head of State and Chairman of the Supreme Military Council, appointed new officers and commissioners (ministers) to replace the appointees of the Acheampong government.
General Akuffo appointed Mrs. Gloria Amon Nikoi as the Commissioner (Minister) of the Foreign Affairs. She replaced the former Commissioner, Col. R.J.A. Felli. Mrs. Amon Nikoi had formerly served as the Deputy Chief of Mission to the United Nations and later worked as a senior official in Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In Prof. Beatrix Allah-Mensah’s 2004 paper on “the role women in constitution making in Ghana” (cited in Nkansah (2009), pg. 35), she notes that Mrs. Gloria Amon Nikoi’s appointment was the first appointment of a woman into a key position in government.
Further, when the Jerry John Rawlings’ Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) overthrew the Akuffo government in 1979, Mrs. Gloria Amon Nikoi was asked to remain as the Commissioner of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. This, Prof. Allah Mensah explains, was due to her commendable performance.
“Indeed, it was after the overthrow of the Acheampong Regime in 1979 by another
military regime that the first appointment of a woman into a key political position came.
The woman appointed was Mrs Amon Nikoi as Commissioner of Foreign Affairs. She
performed her duties so creditably that when that military regime was overthrown also in
the same year by another military regime lead by Jerry Rawlings she was asked to remain
in government. Allah-Mensah (2004:16).”
Therefore, Mr. John Dramani Mahama’s claim that the NDC appointed the first female foreign minister is inaccurate.