The Musical Chairs Of Ghana’s Political Appointments
by Kwasi Kyei Darkwa (KKD)
Political appointments are like musical chairs; the winner can be anyone in the starting line up that has a view of, dances gracefully yet decisively towards, and elbows his way where necessary for, the chair.
Whatever the rhythm that plays in Ghana and Africa as we go dancing around the circle of seats, the President and his council of good men and women must give away some posts when the song comes to coda.
It pays to dance with zest when the President is watching a la ‘look busy, Jesus is coming’, smile through gritted teeth at those you know or believe to have access to the President’s ear, shower them and theirs with compliments whilst condemning anyone you can choose from their cabal of detractors and opposing political parties. And these days it helps to speak with a total lack of civility on as many radio and television networks describing nearly everything another party does or says as rubbish whilst proclaiming everything your party has done or said as the truth to save the world. Oh the emptiness of the sentences. So many words and so many voices raised over a hapless presenter whose only way to manage his programme is to threaten shutting off his panelists’ microphones. So much on air sparring yet so little said and ultimately so little learned if anything is digested or imparted at all.
What happened to studying well for your profession, training well for your trade, working hard and making a mark as a leader or exceptional performer in your field of endeavour? WHERE ARE THE GREAT AND GOOD GHANAIANS WHO HAVE MADE THE EFFORT TO DISTINGUISH THEMSELVES, USED THEIR WISDOM, CREATIVITY, KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL TO INFLUENCE THEIR INDUSTRY POSITIVELY, AND IN SO DOING EARNED CRITICAL PEER RESPECT IN THEIR AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION? Can all the President’s men and women seek them out as our foreign coaches comb the world for Ghanaian blood to play for the Black Stars, and put them in the starting line up in their respective Musical Chair Competitions or should I say Party Political Beauty Pageants?
If the line-up of players to choose from is, at best, mediocre how do we face the world at summits where competing nations bring out their finest elements supported by sharp teams to confer feed and banter with us whilst angling for our valuable resources and an increase in their Gross Domestic Product to the detriment of ours? In fact how do we face the controllers of our economy; our hard-working farmers, smart market women, suffering exporters and hungry students amidst our own Opanin Kwadwo Kyere, Mr Kofi Amoabeng, Mad. Anna Bossman, Chief Psychiatrist Mr Akwasi Osei, Dr Kwesi Botchwey, Dr Joe Amoako-Tuffour, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, Mr Yaw Osafo Marfo, Mad. Joyce Aryee, Dr Felix Konotey Ahulu, Mr Kwaw Ansah, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Mr Isaac Osei, Dr Nii Moi Thompson, Agya Koo Nimo, Nana Oye Lithur, Opanin Agyekum, Kweku Baako, Peggy Donkor, Kwesi Pratt, Anas Aremeyaro, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, Komla Dumor, Paul Adom Otchere, Abeiku Santana, Kwami Sefa Kayi, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Adakabre, Raymond Archer, J.O.T and Baby Ansaba plus the Imani Ghana Think Tank in a local forum knowing full well that in a conference of 400 the representative of my beloved President may be, just may be, closest in intelligence quotient and understanding of the industry or sector to the weakest 40.
Is it too difficult to ask “Is he or she among the 10 percent of the top Ghanaian performers in that area of work? Says which people in which industry? Is he she capable of delivering what is required to make this organization a success and help grow our brand Ghana? Does he/she fit the person specification as we would demand if Ghana was a gold mine, pineapple or poultry farm, saw mill or 4-star hotel and our family had entrusted us with the singular responsibility of hiring a General Manager, Operations?
Q: Who appoints the visibly weak in a year group to represent their school in a debate upon which their entire institution will be graded.
A: No one. That’s a wild guess, Guv’nor.
But truly, every President since Osagyefo has their one, two or on special occasions as many disciples as Jesus had who were not just not fit for purpose.
Many are truly saddened by the nature of political appointments in this country of ours and the African continent over the years. Is it getting worse?
Perhaps the nation and continent are getting dumber, in which case the political appointments are true reflections of our society and its mediocrity. If public debate on our media landscape, articles in our journals and spelling on the social networking sites are anything to go by the initiated do not need a crystal ball to decipher the very slippery slope we are on.
Perhaps the nation is getting so divided along party political lines that intellect, ability and desire to do right does not count for anything anymore. But then how does being CPP, Independent, NDC, NPP or PNC (in alphabetical order) affect one’s ability to answer the office phone professionally, take the minutes of a meeting correctly, write a departmental manual professionally, communicate clearly, concisely and politely at work and in public debate, check a passenger in courteously or make eye contact with those in the queue when there is a delay and say ‘Sorry for keeping you waiting, we value your business and will serve you shortly’?
In choosing anyone over the hundreds of persons who would love to work smart and hard to genuinely bring vision, values, methods and procedures to the ministries, departments and agencies, or the multitudes who would perhaps love a chance to promenade through like many before them so they too can lay a 2 to 4-year claim to the attractive perquisites offered political appointees, secure a reliable car and claim/build a small nest for their eggs, I truly wonder what questions each dearly beloved President and his team asks?
My 14 year old daughter says the answers lie in the wide choice of thinkers, hustlers, amplifiers of the thoughts of others, managers, messengers and even itinerant “damagers”.
So where is the method in the madness? And how does it yield such a range of results?
One season an industry enthusiast or recognized sharp brain, another season an obnoxious worker or miserably failed student, start of term a visionary, mid term a walking obituary, one year a woman, another year a man, sometimes a dedicated public servant, other times a nouveau-riche entrepreneur with non-descript sources of funding. Hmmmmm. Asem b3ba dabi.
Government’s publicity machinery may generate sufficient noise about us to catapult us into the public domain and provide us with the visibility which has come to be confused with eligibility for a high position, the general public may lap up the hype of political spin that promotes us, the appointment committees may smile at the sweet proclamation of glory and great things we have done that our own mothers and idol-worshipping sisters cant recall, a few eager-beaver constituents may chisel away with newly bought tools to damage the character of competitors on our behalf to ensure a little gutter or pavement contract from us when we are on seat as Raji my Nigerian brother says, but we are who we are and the beautiful truth is that we and our God know this.
In this kind of control environment, to borrow the lingo of my auditor, all I can say to political appointees, ministers, CEOs, DGs, Special Assistants, glorified Bed Warmers, Garden tenders, lunch delivery people etc is please remember to make the extra conscious effort to be courteous to the people we serve.
What you may lack in knowledge and skill you may be able to make up for in courtesy and compassion.
The collective memory of our presidents from Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah through Dr K Abrefa Busia, Dr Hilla Limann, Mr Jerry John Rawlings, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor to Professor John Evans Atta Mills has thankfully proven to be no worse than the average Ghanaian graduate on his first real job seeking to pursue post-graduate studies, and no better than the mother who has just delivered her first son after 8 or more years of waiting and now seeking to build a cottage. One is thankful to the assertive interviewer who hired him but should one accept his word as gospel truth when he says the best MBA in Africa is at Tema’s Oninku Primary? Should mother hire her midwife or health assistant as building contractor because she constantly reminds her of her childlessness till she came to deliver her bundle of joy?
Certain dedicated help must not be forgotten. Lenders of cash, disposers of trash, settlers of cheques for rented cars, payers of bills at discreet bars, publishers and printers of newspapers and posters, foot soldiers, distributors and filers of same, loud mouths and publicity boosters, and defenders of our name.
Does it matter that some of the ‘illustrious contributors’ waiting for their political appointments from above cannot run a space-to-space enterprise beneath a nim tree and that they are unwilling if not unable to get a crash course that would hammer a seemingness of knowledge, skill or desire into their craniums?
But therein lies the ‘beauty’ and essence of political appointments in Africa. Echoes of ‘He was in the trenches with us” “He is a nice man” “She offered me a place to stay” “Her parents have been helpful to this party” “Ah but he is also a Ghanaian, so why not” remain on the minds of people who just dont get why they queue to vote for otherwise respectable persons who maintain the continuity of this idiocy.
Whilst a few good leaders would feel too ashamed to go past truly deserving sons and daughters of their nation who have proven by practice, sacrifice, publications and restraint, even self-denial, that they would serve their nation better than most in particular public posts, many did not and will not bat an eyelid at the slightest opportunity to reward an ex-girlfriend, failing school-mate, former creditor or landlord.
Woe betides you if you worked hard to come top of your class and believed you could make a change for the better so attended interviews and earned a post in an organization where the whims and caprices of the leader of any political party that wins by any fraction of a percentage of the vote may be gratified with his naming of loyal assistants, cronies, relatives and personal servants.
You may be a Rolls Royce, Bentley, Porsche or Ferrari but you are going nowhere when that fateful political appointment comes through, for you will be stuck in a queue behind a tro-tro with two clearly visible deflating tyres and an exhaust pouring smoke like its dooms day, that is in dire need of an entire engine change and loaded to the hilt with expectant passengers on a one-way street to nowhere.
Class mates, teachers, work colleagues and family please help your appointee friends and our nation.
Encourage them, cajole them, ADVISE THEM TO SEEK TO SERVE WHERE THEY CAN HELP MAKE THINGS BETTER WITH WHAT RELEVANT EXPERTISE THEY HAVE. HELP THEM STAY AWAY FROM WHERE THEIR ENTROPY, INACTION, LACK OF RELEVANT KNOWLEDGE EVEN IGNORANCE CAN HURT THE DEVELOPMENT OF MOTHER GHANA. One of these days If we are not careful, the head of a power generating company will extinguish great sparks of electricity with a bucket of water. ONE BAD LEADER/CEO CAN CAUSE THE LOSS OF 200 JOBS AND TAKE FOOD OFF THE TABLE FOR 1000 PEOPLE AFTER HE/SHE HAS PROVIDED SECURITY FOR HIS/HER FAMILY IN EARNEST.
FORTUNATELY THERE IS FORMAL AND INFORMAL EDUCATION THOUGH FLAWED AND SOMETIMES CONFUSING. THANKFULLY THERE IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH THOUGH CRIMINALLY REPETITIVE AND NOISY. FOR THESE, I GUESS WE CAN BE THANKFUL AND SAY GHANA IS NOT AND HOPEFULLY WILL NEVER BE THE PRESERVE OF ANY ONE POLITICAL PARTY. Ghana is the only home of many who love whichever party won whichever last election as well as many who cant stand the sight nor sound of certain elements in government or opposition no matter which party won. Moving forward, we pray that the best elements amongst Ghanaians in the various fields of endeavour be chosen to lead our ministries, departments and agencies else we shall travel the road of mediocrity with glee. Ignorance may be bliss but this path will lead us to failure and loss of national dignity.
DEDICATED PARTY MEMBER, FRUSTRATED NON-ALIGNED CITIZEN, BLIND PARTY FOLLOWER OR CONFIDENT VOTER ON RELEVANT ISSUES, WE ALL WORK HARD AND PRAY FOR GHANA TO SUCCEED. Those who pray for their nation to fail in the interim to enable them prove to the ignorant when they are in power that their political leaning is better may well remember that the good surgeon does all within his power to save lives of all citizens good and bad in fair or foul weather. We GHANAIANS do not have THE LUXURY of a choice of good or bad GHANA. Especially now that we have learnt by virtue of history that each political party has some truly good brains and some shallow ones, some well-intentioned citizens and some shameless opportunists.
OUR CHILDREN CRY FOR GOOD, DEDICATED AND PROVIDENT FATHERS AND MOTHERS.
OUR NATION WAILS FOR GOOD, THOUGHTFUL, KNOWLEDGEABLE AND SELFLESS LEADERS. Is this too much to ask?
They say the fish rots from the head so the world can see clearly what state we are in from those we choose to lead us. We do not want our motherland to be a laughing stock.
“Everyone laughs at the antics of the market buffoon but no one wants their parent or child to be the market buffoon”
Kwasi Kyei Darkwah, MA (KKD The Finest) is Communications Director, Broadcaster, Trainer
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