Africa News Bulletin

Togo: Ministries of Health and Education – Mijiyawa and Kokoroko, two Profs at the head of two key departments with the same methods for mixed results

When nothing is going well in society, citizens obviously think that their salvation would come from the leaders or from a government of technocrats. Faure Gnassingbé understood this rule well by integrating a large number of academics into the Victoire Tomegah-Dogbé government. Apart from government spokespersons, there are academics at the head of Foreign Affairs, Higher Education, but also Health and Primary and Secondary Education.

The last two, Moustafa Mijiyawa and Dodzi Kokoroko have in common their precocity in that they were both received in the prestigious aggregation competition before 40 years of age. In addition, they are both good talkers. The first, a rheumatologist, is a fine manipulator of the language of Molière with a poetic style combined with a perfect mastery of French history and political science. The second, a legal publicist, has the art of public speaking. He has both the weapon of seduction and persuasion. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that they are great teachers. To say the least, they are loved in medical and law schools. But does the love of the students equal the love of the people? Is a great professor a great politician?

The Larousse dictionary defines a teacher as a person who teaches, who dispenses knowledge relating to a subject, to a discipline in general within the framework of an activity. This is why generally, the members of the teaching staff of the second degree bear this title. We will speak of general education teacher for example. But at the university, it is a title reserved for high-level teaching staff. To bear the title of this university degree, you must be either a lecturer or agrégé before applying. The two Ministers of Health and Primary and Secondary Education have gone through all these stages. They are full professors. After 7 years at the head of the Health Department and nearly 2 years in Education,

Ministry in charge of Health

If Professor Mijiyawa is the successor of his colleague Professor Charles Kondi Agba at the head of the Ministry of Health, he is not his replacement. Indeed, following certain difficulties in the health sector, the Ahommey-Zunu II government had not provided for the post of Minister of Health. A first in Togo. The position was attached to the Prime Minister. As a result, when he was appointed Minister of Health in the Klassou I Government in June 2015, Professor Mijiyawa had to make a change of service with the outgoing Prime Minister.

The joy was palpable everywhere. The healthcare staff were happy to have one of their own supposed to better understand their concerns and resolve them effectively. The Professor’s first speeches were reassuring. He did not hesitate to burst the abscess. Before the deputies gathered in the hemicycle, he declared that the problem of the Togolese health system remains the poor management of the little we have. In public opinion, everyone thought they had found the solution to the evils that plague the Togolese health system, according to the leaders themselves. As a remedy, he proposes a very attractive formula: the contractualisation of hospitals. Interestingly, this was not a privatization of hospitals. It is rather a question of entrusting the management of hospitals to private organizations which have the experience of hospital management. These should be based on the staff of the State to clean up the management. The other part consisted in equipping the hospitals. All this speech was translated into a professorial language to which no one was indifferent.

The regional hospital center of Atakpamé and the prefectural hospital of Blitta should serve as trial balloons. The first spectacular results displayed by the pilot centers have won over many. In the process, Faure Gnassingbé officially launched the contract at the CHU Sylvanus. Seven (07) years after the beautiful speech followed by the implementation of contractualization, what has really changed in our hospitals? We will come back to it. For the time being, let us remember that there is never an audit of this management, which has enriched the organizations in charge of contracting to the detriment of the poor populations.

“ Having quickly understood that the mayonnaise of contractualization does not take, the gentle and kind minister has turned into an authoritarian minister. As in an amphitheater, he now seeks to bring all the agents into line. It is not uncommon to hear senior executives say “Excellence Mr. Minister, we support the contracting project …”, says a doctor.

Speeches that recall the time of the late President Eyadéma. Ministry executives who try to straighten the tottering boat of contractualization and who have not understood that contractualization is an untouchable taboo, are either transferred or fired from the system at best, they are top executives.

“ To pass in force, the amplification of the decision-making acts was withdrawn from the Secretary General of the Ministry and transferred to the Director of Cabinet, in defiance of the texts which govern the administration. The directors or managing directors who are suspected of non-cooperation are replaced by decree even though they are appointed by decree. The reason of the strongest is always the best. The atmosphere has become untenable “says a source. Who maintains that in the minister’s immediate entourage, we can note three types of collaborators: Those who dare to speak out and are either transferred or fired, those who take advantage of this chaotic situation, generally the veterans of the system, brought back for a golden retirement with the reinforcement of their privileges with the prince of health, and finally those who do not want to speak and who leave the box on their own.

“ For more than a year , continues our source, secretaries general, directors general or central directors have left the ship willingly or by force. In short, everything is good, everything is permitted with total impunity, as long as the contract wagon does not stop even if the results are slow to appear ”.

Thus the climate of terror established by the apprentice-dictator was exacerbated with the Covid-19. “ The Ministry of Health has been transformed into the Ministry of Covid-19. Any director who does anything other than the activities contributing to the Togolese being vaccinated is accused of making the workshop a prohibited word at the Ministry of Health ”.

One would not have thought that the strong method used on the sly in the health system is made possible by the longevity of the master of the place at the ministry who has survived two reshuffles since June 2015. He embodies with his colleague Dodzi Kokoroko the method strong and soft. They have the confidence of Faure Gnassingbé who entrusts them with multiple tasks. The Minister of Health has retained his post of Director of the School of Medical Auxiliaries of Lomé for 7 years, and that of Primary and Secondary Education, the post of President of the University of Lomé.

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education

Minister Dodzi Kokoroko is one of the young intellectuals who benefited from the confidence of Faure Gnassingbé during his social mandate. Arrived at the presidency of the University of Lomé with a lot of commitment that characterizes him, he was able, not without difficulty, to ensure calm and to advance the university world. Many reforms and projects have been launched in a short time. The success of his reforms and the structural changes he had at the university no doubt prompted Faure Gnassingbé to entrust him with the ministry in charge of primary and secondary education. The new master of the ministry seduced in its beginnings both by its innovative ideas and the reforms initiated. The desire to put the house in order was striking. Students,

But very early on, there is a terrible confusion between the teachers and the students. The strong method applied quietly which made it possible to contain the students does not work with the teaching staff. The Professor’s seductive language that makes students laugh in lecture halls, makes teachers cry in their classrooms. A total misunderstanding has set in. While teachers want to improve their living and working conditions, the minister believes that the government has done enough for them.

Dodzi Kokoroko goes further by urging teachers who want to earn more to change jobs. Does this mean that teachers are condemned to live in poverty? In any case, for the minister, they have more advantages than their colleagues with the same diploma who are in public administration. Faced with any problem, the law professor, always imperturbable, only wants to apply the law, nothing but the law.

“ My hands are shaky but firm ,” he often says. The question is whether steady hands always have the desired results. Here too, as in the Ministry of Health, a climate of mistrust has been established. Zero tolerance for followers of the non-alignment policy. The Professor who does not hesitate to remind his trade union interlocutors who cannot talk to him about the law, curiously violates the elementary principles which govern the functioning of the administration.

“ Like any good dictator, he withdraws the power to sign the amplification of his acts from the secretary general of the ministry in favor of his chief of staff. This is to put employees in line. At the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, senior executives like the Secretary General had to leave, willingly or by force, the ship of firmness in all respects. During this time, those who played the game like the director of human resources or that of financial affairs remained in office for months even after their retirement ,” confides an agent.

Such is the law in Togo taught by teachers, whether lawyers or doctors and with the blessing of the first Togolese.

The strong method which diverted the objectives assigned to the Ministry of Health visibly produces the same effects at the level of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. “ But we just want our leaders to know one thing: For health, people want access to good quality health care at low cost. That the leaders stop showing us every day that the hospitals make millions of recipes a day. The goal of the hospital is not turnover. The hospital is for treatment ”, urges the doctor quoted above.

For education, “ our children, our brothers and sisters want to have a quality education. But this is only possible if the actors are comfortable. Treat them as fathers of families and not as irresponsible. Didn’t Anatole France say that “nine-tenths of education is encouragement?” “, recommends a teacher

We can’t wait for the professorship to be this candle that is consumed to enlighten the lives of the people and for the great teachers who benefit from the confidence of Faure Gnassingbé to follow the wise words of William Arthur Ward: “ A mediocre teacher speaks. A good teacher explains, a great teacher demonstrates. A very great teacher inspires ”.


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