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Opinions of Monday, 6 August 2018

Columnist: writersghana.com

Expectations; looking for a fig tree in the Bantustans

One day, the Lord and Master Jesus was leaving Bethany and saw a fig tree in the distance, the Bible tells us.

He hoped to find some figs on the tree to pluck and eat but found none.

‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again,’ Jesus said in Mark 11:12-20.

The Bible states that it wasn’t the season for figs.

Theologians are still divided over the reaction of Jesus.

Recently, the UK Information Commissioner’s inquiry into the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that Facebook had known that data belonging to its subscribers, had been taken by Cambridge Analytica and other data miners unlawfully.

The data was then used by Russia and other actors to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

Data miners try to get information about our online content so that they can know our reading interests.

The process that data into useful information which can guide their clients about what we are likely to be interested in.

The online marketing industry then uses that information to send related material into our email, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter or whatever account.

When we see such material, we’re more likely to click on it.

I’m sure you get the idea.

Our communications scholars should realize this is the new dimension of the agenda-setting theory of the media.

It’s all about expectations.

On account of these revelations, Facebook says about three million subscribers across Europe left the service and has warned that those users who left won’t come back.

On 26 July 2018, Facebook lost about $119 billion dollars of its value.

The social media company has to address issues such as technology addiction, fake news and misinformation.

Facebook is warning investors that “profit margins would plummet for several years due to the cost of improving privacy safeguards and slowing usage in the biggest advertising markets,’ reports Munsif Vengattil for Reuters.com on 25 July 2018.

Now that’s investor relations!

Confirmed expectations based on facts, evidence and reason!

Okay, now back to the land of make-believe…

What are your expectations about the banking scandal in Ghana?

In fact, a better question is, ‘should you have any expectations’?

After every Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Bank of Ghana governor announces a decision on the policy rate, based on expected inflation.

Sometimes the governor uses the term, ‘Outlook.’

Did the Cedi escape the arrest of Vice President Bawumia and the jail of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) because finance industry players expected the collapse of the five banks?

We enjoyed that joke in the wake of the recent depreciation of the Cedi.

But, not many of us wondered why the Vice President who had arrested the Ghanaian currency, locked it up and given the keys to the IGP in April 2017, did not follow due process by arraigning the Cedi before a court of competent jurisdiction!

May one assume that it is our expectation that in Ghana due process, also called integrity, means nothing?

Is it not also implied that once the Vice President has arrested you, no one dares question his authority, even if he locked you up unlawfully for over a year?

That he mustn’t give reasons for his actions because everyone assumes he’s an expert on how to manage the Ghanaian economy?

Should we pity the poor Cedi for reticence or should we scold it for rebellion?

Public relations students are taught to define ‘publics’ as opposed to the public.

Publics are different from stakeholders but both groups are important.

Every organization with a public relations practitioner ought to have segmented its publics and should have a regular communication with them.

Every organization affected in this banking scandal has to engage its publics.

This affects all of us.

Three examples will suffice to demonstrate that we are all affected by expectations.

Perhaps you are a human resource manager or payroll officer who has arranged salary payments for thousands of workers through one or several of the affected banks.

Your employees want to know right now whether the pending July salary and subsequent salaries will go through those same banks you’ve chosen for them.

What should your employees expect?

Or perhaps you manage a hospital which has received thousands of dollars through one of these affected banks from a client coming from outside Ghana for medical treatment.

What should your client expect?

Or your small business tried to get collaborators from China or the United Arab Emirates.

You then forwarded to them a financial statement prepared by a reputable accountant with a license or by a reputable accounting firm.

Now these foreigners are getting strange impressions about how our accounting and auditing firms behave in this Trumpian enclave.