Monday, May 31, 2010

Profile: Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa — Youngest Minister

Story: Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah

He is currently the youngest person to be appointed a minister of state in the history of Ghana. At 28, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is a Deputy Minister of Information in the current National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

Sam, as he is affectionately called, is one of the outspoken members of the NDC, even though outwardly he seems to be the cool and reserved type.

A look at his curriculum vitae (CV) showed that he had occupied various leadership positions in his schooldays. For instance, he was once the Class Captain at the Association International School, President of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), President of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) Club, Vice-President of the Scripture Union (SU) and Editor-In-Chief of the magazine of the SRC of the University of Ghana. 

When the Junior Graphic caught up with him in his office at the Ministry of Information for a chat, one thing that was obvious was the fact that the young minister is a well organised person. 

On his table were neatly arranged files and various types of books. Among them were the 1992 Constitution, the President’s State of the Nation Address Book and his laptop. His phone kept ringing, maybe to tell how busy the young minister is. 

Spotting a black suit, with his well-trimmed hair, Mr Ablakwa disclosed that his day began as early as 6 a.m. as he  prepared to answer questions from various radio presenters and people who needed clarification on certain government policies.

“Sometimes I leave the office for home after 9 p.m. That is, when I don’t have any event to honour or appear on a television or radio programme,” he said.

Asked how he felt as a young minister, he jokingly said, “I can’t wait to move from the 20s to the 30s so that people will stop seeing me as a young person. All the same, I’m still the Sam people know. In fact, my position has not changed my being at all.”

 According to him, he still hung out with his friends, shared a drink and discussed various social issues with them just as he used to do before he became a minister.

He was quick to add that though he occupied a big position now, for him the road to the top had not been that smooth. 

“I am not a Dada ba at all, as people assume. My mum was a businesswoman who had a food joint on the campus of the Institute of Professional Studies (IPS) and the Dzorwulu Cluster of Schools. My siblings and I had to help serve the food to customers after school and during vacation,” he said. 

Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa described himself as someone from a simple family, saying that there were times when things were so hard for his parents that he defaulted in the payment of school fees and had to be sent home.

Born on August 11, 1980, Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, who could be described as an Accra “boy”, said he was born and bred at Dansoman, a suburb of Accra. 

He started his early education at the Association International School in Accra from 1987 to 1996. He proceeded to the Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School (PRESEC), Legon from 1997 to 1999 for his secondary education.

Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, who had fond memories of PRESEC, said he enjoyed his days there. 

“I used to be a day student but I decided to be in the boarding house to enable me have that Presbyterian training that makes one independent and responsible,” he explained.

“I am naturally not an ‘anti-so’ person so I participated in all extra-curricular activities. I never participated in competitive sports but loved to play football and was a member of the debating club, the NCCE and SU,” he added.

In 1999, he was adjudged  the Best Debater in the Greater Accra Region. Between 2002 and 2006, he was at the University of Ghana where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree. 

Despite his tight schedule, Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa is pursuing a Law programme with the University of London.

Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, who has travelled extensively, said he loves politics because he is the type who always wants to fight for the rights of people.

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