[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”600px” height=”” background_color=”#d2dde1″ border_width=”1″ border_color=”#cde7f3″ ]PROFESSIONALISM VS. PARTISANSHIP: WHITHER GHANA?, a speech delivered by Captain Retired Budu Koomson in commomeration of IMANI’s successful rise as second most influential think tank in Africa in 2014. [/dropshadowbox]
The Board Chairman of Imani, President and CEO of Imani, Fellows of Imani and all invited guests and public minded and concerned citizens of Ghana here gathered.
I must say I am highly honored and challenged to deliver this paper on the double occasion of Imani Ghana being adjudge the second most influential “Think Tank” in Africa and on the eve of Ghana’s 58th independence anniversary.
It all started rather innocuously in a discussion amongst us to as to what do we do to celebrate our achievement, one thing led to the other and by the time I could say Jack, I was landed this awesome task of speaking here this evening on independence eve. Thank you Masters Chairman and President.
Ladies and Gentlemen, some years back, I delivered a paper entitled “Professionalism vs. Partisanship: Whither Ghana?” in which I expressed several frustrations in our society and invited further discussions and dialogue. Now, 4 – 5 years down the line, I would want to revisit this theme because the frustrations still persist, if not getting worse.
In that paper, I identified certain types of people involved with our national aspirations and issues and also identified some key players in our daily lives.
First, I identified the:
and asked what do we aspire to as a people?
ADVANCED LEARNERS’S DICTIONARY –
Partisan – strongly supports a particular person or cause often without thinking carefully about the matter, the facts and circumstances!
Military – ordinary people, other than soldiers, who join together to fight enemy soldiers who are occupying their community.
WEBSTER’S BRITANNICA DICTIONARY
- An adherent to a party faction, cause or person.
- An adherent characterized by prejudice unreasoning, blind or fanatical allegiance.
ADVANCED LEARNER’S DICTIONARY –
Professional – people with advanced training or education who do a particular thing to earn money, rather than as hobby.
WEBSTER’S BRITANNICA DICTIONARY –
A calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long intensive preparation including instruction in skills and methods as well as in scientific, historical or scholarly principles underlying such skills, maintaining by force of organization or concerted opinion, high standards of achievement and conduct, and committing its members to a continued study and to a kind of work which has for its prime purpose the rendering of a public service.
ADVANCED LEARNER’S DICTIONARY –
Intellectual – someone who spends a lot of time studying and thinking about complicated issues, and has the ability to understand ideas and information.
WEBSTER’S BRITANNICA DICTIONARY –
Intellectual – A person given to effective thought or reasoning, endowed with the power to know and reason engaged in mental as distinguished from manual labor.
ADVANCED LEARNER’S DICTIONARY –
A scientist, engineer or other expert who have political power as well as technical knowledge.
WEBSTER’S BRITANNICA DICTIONARY –
- A technical expert exercising managerial authority
- Under a democratic arrangement, technocrats are responsible for the efficient running of machines, systems and processes as well as human beings in relation to economic significance only in terms of production values.
An administrative arrangement official who has been intensively trained in profession……
There is no gain saying that, yes, as a people we all yearn for development and prosperity, we wish Ghana could catch up with our compatriots South Korea and Malaysia, who have somehow left us behind. We really wish that we could have well developed institutions that function, and that we could at least go to the railway station and wait for a train that will arrive at the appointed time. But alas, alas, alas!!!
Why are almost all our dreams drifting away through our fingers, all hopes evaporating like the morning mist, leaving us with a hollow feeling of what is wrong with us?
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been around fairly long enough to hazard an answer
- The answer is you and I. Our attitude is killing all our dreams and frustrating all our best efforts.
Who are the actors in our social lives?
- The Politicians -Political Leadership
- Our Technocrats – in the MDAs all around us
- Our Professional – doctors, engineers
- Security Agencies
- The Judiciary
- The Media
- The hollowed Presidency.
Politics and Politicians, the very people who set our development agenda, set our laws and rule over us, have become synonymous with do and die struggle for power, irresponsible antagonism and competition in mediocrity with their politics of comparism instead of improvement. Shortcut to wealth, greed, arrogance, the adjectives go on and on. That is not to say we do not have some good guys in there and they are not doing something important for the country, but the collateral damage is too high.
How else can you explain the action of buying Lexus 4*4 vehicles to monitor rural electrification projects and then have the impunity to try to justify having taken home with him the Lexus and a VW Pheaton car to boot?
What type of cars do American Senators use anyway? A minister of State finds it appropriate to use State funds to buy a Toyota Hilux 4*4pickup for his driver to commute from his home to work to pick the big man up when old lifts in the hospitals are broken down and desperate pregnant women can’t be operated upon because there is no money to buy sutures to patch them up?
I ask myself, is that the most prudent way to spend our money?
A wise man once said, honesty is a very expensive gift. Don’t expect it from cheap people.
By our definition please allow me to use this term rather liberally to mean all the civil servants and those working in the MDAs all around us. Highly qualified technical experts with managerial authority and political power to manage our day to day activities. They are responsible for all implementation!! These are the people we should cherish most but when they fault or disappoint us, it’s especially painful.
The Attorney General’s Department, responsible for drafting the best contracts, protecting our national purse and interest amongst other things, has looked on as the judgment debts pile up. They even filed a “nolle prosequi” (or whatever they call it). It took another technocrat, who out of utter frustration and disgust at his own people decided to become a citizen vigilante to “take up one of the numerous cases to prosecute to get judgment on behalf of the State.
In this case I want to add my small but heartfelt thank you to Lawyer Martin ABK Amidu. May God bless his soul.
What recently baffled me most was the realization that apparently some very senior appointees in Ghana either have not read the full extent of their job descriptions and for that matter understood their job and mandates or are criminally and deliberately refusing to work to the best of their ability for whatever reason.
Partisan considerations! Year in, year out, the Auditor General presented its rather depressing report to parliament listing every possible mismanagement, abuse and outright misappropriations of State funds. Even with the promptings of our development parties to exercise its powers to surcharge the culprits, action was mysteriously muted.
Again it took the interventions of a civil society group, Occupy Ghana, to threaten to take them to court to force them to exercise their full powers and mandate under the constitution to surcharge, recover and punish culprits before they sat up.
Funnily enough, in their unwillingness to surcharge individuals and recover monies, the Auditor General turns round to complain that his own department is so short of money that his staff are compelled at times to use their own salaries and personal resources to finance the auditing activities with the expectations that government will reimburse them later but predictable government has not!!
Oh how holy and pitiful!!
Ghost names on our payrolls have been portrayed as an intractable problem that cannot be fixed. But it can be fixed; the Accountant General’s Department just does not have the will or interest to fix it because they themselves may be complicit. The story is told recently that for some time now, nurses in Korle Bu have not been paid from Accountant General’s so Korle Bu was instructed to pay out of internally generated funds. Mysteriously, the list of names dropped by about 40 – 50 %.
What does that tell you? Why are culprits not being caught and publicly punished? Why are some heads not rolling?
Now, on whose doorstep may we lay our present dumso curse? Our technocrats seem to know all the answers. That our demand is increasing by 12% p/a, we know this translates into 250 megawatts. We know that our installed capacity is 2800 megawatts with a peak demand of 2000 megawatts. So why the crisis?
It’s not about installed capacity, we just can’t fuel them. We have wonderful plans on paper to fix the problem. Fix the Kpone “Thermal Plant – it was supposed to have been finished in 2011 – it has delayed. Expand Tico Thermal Project in Takoradi. Atoabo. It delayed for three years and yes Nigerian disappointed us. But now the project is completed but we can’t use the gas. Why, because we did not plan ahead to have interconnection between the Atoabo pipe line and the West African Gas Pipe line.
And so we have so much gas stranded in Takoradi but we can’t fire the Asogli and Tema plants. We will purchase and bring in two barges from Turkey. Funding the purchase is already proving a challenge. We are told the barges may arrive in the next two months.
Funnily enough the grounds where the barges will be put are not being prepared. Can’t we think concurrently? There isn’t enough power in the productive areas and sectors of Ghana so businesses are folding up and workers will be laid off. But there is abundant power in less productive areas of the county. Why? Maybe, the fault may not lay solely with our cherished technocrats after all.
The Media, the “Fifth Estate of the Realm”
- To Investigate
- To Inform
- To Educate
- To Entertain
Yes, like any other aspect of our nation, there is a lot amiss there with their almighty “soli” problem and all. There are still the very openly partisan practitioners out there, but that is not altogether a bad thing as they give views from their angles and hopefully there are enough stations around to give us a rounded view. But I guess they will do well to heed the advice of Mr. Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh, who said“We live in a country where everybody seems to understand journalism better than journalists. But when they need favors they turn to the same journalists whose integrity they spurn without a wink.” Unfortunately there are some journalists who think they are subservient to all other professionals. That is how, for instance, public officials treat journalists with scorn and yet get them to sing their praises and defend them. But I must confess I personally feel there’s been a marked improvement with some individuals being outstandingly professional as well as some stations. We can only encourage them to continue to improve because its aims are honorable and so therefore it remains an honourable profession.
Even our professionals who by sheer force of organization and concerted opinion, backed by high standards of achievement and conduct are by and large self-regulating, are falling prey to either attitude, partisanship or something else.
There is the recent case at the Korle Bu Poly Clinic last year where a case of negligent and shabby treatment of a 24 year old pregnant lady led to her untimely death. What amazed me was that in the face of overwhelming evidence, the Medical and Dental Council Managers were emphatic that the petitioners must be able to name the specific officers, who they wanted sanctions taken against before investigations will be instituted.
Again, the reports of missing babies at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) kept on circulating; the supervising authorities could not stop it until all hell broke loose in their faces last year.
In Accra here, there is this bubbling allegation of a dental technician masquerading as a dentist which has been brought to the attention of the Dentist Council. The authorities that be are watching on until….?
It breaks my heart to tell you that in the latest corruption survey, our esteemed and learned judges and magistrates appeared in the top 10 list. If salt should lose its saltiness, what use is it then? Ladies and gentlemen this is a most unfortunate situation. I can only imagine Solomon’s disappointment when he observed, “And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment – wickedness was there, in the place of justice – wickedness was there.”
The Security Agencies
A drive on our roads in Ghana will give you a rough idea as to our behavior and character. I maintain that the police force has never been better equipped and with such numbers. Strangely enough it looks like they are on strike only they are not saying so. Should they decide they want to work just half as better, I dare say Ghana will be a far better place. They’ve got more vehicles but when you are in trouble they either don’t show up or are very late. You see them in front of your house at the wrong times only to greet you. It looks like traffic regulations do not apply to them. Red number plates are not allowed to run on the streets at night in Kumasi. They run with impunity at night in Accra. They brazenly ask you for “alms” at peak times in the evenings, causing shameless traffic tail backs, seldom searching cars, but vanish by 10 pm. Although they are being paid, they literally demand or expect a second or third salary in the uniform. Should they decide to rigorously check all traffic breaches, speedily investigate and dispatch cases, Ghana will heave a huge sigh of relief. The Police don’t seem to care about their image or reputation. Whenever you take the Corruption Survey, they always seem to have the position of pride (or should I say shame) reserved for them.
With the prospect of Boko Haram on the West African horizon, a few eyebrows were raised at the recent appointment of Mr. Baba Kamara as the National Security Advisor. A three year crash course in security studies does not make a security expert. What must have informed this appointment? Professionalism or Partisanship?
The Nigerian Security Services have had to suffer some humiliating setbacks recently at the hands of Boko Haram. We hope our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in uniform have taken a cue from that and are undertaking relevant training.
In times past I have shied away from commenting openly on religion but times change and I’ll have my say. It looks like some misguided selfish criminals are hijacking religion in Ghana.
In Christendom, recently a prominent priest, General Overseer of his church, stated, “Partisan politics is causing Christian leaders in Ghana to belittle each other.” Another bishop charges, “the things that you must always lookout for when you see all these prophets prophesying all kinds of doom… ask yourself does the prophet have honor, credibility, character, integrity, where did he come from, who trained him…..They say all kinds of things and people believe them because they are ignorant.” The Christian faith seems to be the most advertised industry now. Check the billboards; well-groomed mannequins and models, proclaiming their powers. And where is the cross? Churches now are laying emphasis in promoting their leaders growth (of church) and prosperity ministry (so people are always looking for their breakthrough) to the detriment of GRACE and MERCY.
In Islam, radical and violent sects like ISIS , Boko Haram are usurping mainstream Islam. Some clerics are daring to talk back, like the Mufli of Cairo, but mainstream tolerant Islam is under immense siege.
Mosques and churches are full on Fridays and Sundays (and even more) but our religiosity is not being matched with our spirituality!! Who are the people stealing, misusing, misappropriating and abusing public funds and confidence? Don’t they come from these same churches and mosques?
On a lighter note, but it shows how depraved religion has become, the billboard of a church reads, “Fire Power and Thunder International Evangelistic Ministry”
- Anointing power N1,500.00
- Deliverance N1,000.00 per demon
Strong Demon N1,500.00 per demon
- Miraculous: Receipt Husband N10,000.00
Receipt Wife N5,000.00
Children (boy/girl) N10,000.00
UK Visa £5,000.00
US Visa $10,000.00
*Dozen price dey o
Don’t we have something similar in some churches? “Those with $3,000.00 come forward for your prayers?” When is it ever going to reach the turn of the poor old lady or man with GH¢5.00 or GH¢1.00 to give to God? By that time the pastor will be tired and the prayers will be finished. God help us!!
Finally the Hallowed office of the President:
Almost the unthinkable has happened in Ghana. Almost Sacrilegious! In the latest IEA Corruption Survey, the hallowed office of the Presidency, for the first time appeared on the list and shot right to the top, only to be beaten to second place by the veteran winner, the police service. How could this happen? If salt itself can lose its saltiness, what use is it then? Is it a rude shock to all well-meaning Ghanaians, not just those in the ruling party? Is it just because the presidency was cited by the Auditor General for the first time for financial indiscipline, having overspent its budget by as much as twice and can’t show any tangible cause? Withthe Chief of Staff sent packing? You see, this is what happens when we the public watch on as president after president is not being able to enforce strict declaration of assets before and after assignments. Ministers and public officials are asked to go home with their booty and loot and no visible action is seen taken against them; when allegations are made we the hapless public are asked to provide the hard evidence knowing fully well we don’t have the capacity or the resources? There has been a gradual corrosion of the aura of the presidency. I will dare to proffer an advice. Mr. President, don’t accept this. Perception is not fact, but a very stubborn cousin of fact. But don’t also kill the messenger. The messenger just reported the perception or feeling out there. Rather, just as you promised us that you will not just manage the energy crises but you’ll fix it, accept the challenge. Promise us the Ghanaians that you will fix this image or perception problem for the sakes of all of us. Call off those who have taken the arrogant high ground of rubbishing other’s intellectual work. And may the good Lord give you the strength to do this.
It’s a rather gloomy picture, isn’t it? But am I concluding on a low or sad note? No, never, my faith has taught me that, “in all things, we can still be more than conquerors.” As for giving up on our aspirations and throwing up our hands in despair is out of the question. If that is so, how do we gird our loins and march on?
One – we should accept that as a people we should urgently change our character, behaviors and attitudes. We need to get back to basics and ask ourselves, do we have the right set of values that will help us realize our national aspirations? It’s not going to be easy, and no one said so, but if others have been able to do so, we too can.
Two– let us all pledge to ourselves individually to develop our personal discipline. We don’t always have to have someone watching over our shoulders to do what is right. And even if, should you find yourself in a position of authority or leadership over some people, we should not shirk our responsibility of motivating and developing our teams and disciplining members without fear or favor should they fall out of line.
Three – especially in the situation we find ourselves in at the moment, both socially and economically, I would plead with whatever powers that be that we put aside partisanship a bit, reach out to all and sundry, and appoint the best brains we have available in all disciplines to manage Ghana to push our national agenda.
Four – Do we have a medium to long term party neutral national strategic plan? 10 to 25 years? Where no matter which political party you hail from, the targets remain the same? Just like our constitution? Just looks at what has happened to our educational policy recently? ‘O’ levels, JSS, SSS, 3 years, 4 years etc.
Five – For want of time I’ll end by suggesting that as a people we resolve to do all we can to reduce the political polarization and tensions in our dear country. I leave you with Romans 12: 18. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Captain Budu-Koomson (Rtd),is currently a board member at IMANI Center for Policy and Education, and CEO of Nexus, a Consulting firm.