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Opinions of Sunday, 24 December 2017

Columnist: Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei

Basic principles for a successful political office

By convention, new ministerial and other top government appointees, upon being sworn into office, are taken through orientation at secluded destinations. I have not had the opportunity to attend any of such sessions and therefore cannot be that specific about areas of focus where these officials are taken through.

But in all, the essence is to equip them for the task ahead. These appointees are to represent the President in their respective operational sectors and provide direction in ways that ensure efficiency to actualize the vision of the appointing authority [the President].

Now, once appointed, it is imperative to be conscious of the fact that one will be serving at the pleasure of the president and therefore can be either shifted to a different position or relieved of the position, all together, as and when the president deems fit. A President, whose incorruptible nature is, has, and will never be in doubt, unquestionably, will expect his appointees to reflect same.

A President who is humble and never looks down on people, practically, will never expect the opposite from his appointees. And a President, who is bent on ensuring prudent dissipation of the nation’s resources, equitable distribution of wealth and overall happiness of the people, will not expect anything different form his appointees.

I had the rare opportunity of being appointed a campaign Aide by then candidate Akufo-Addo, and therefore traveled with him on most of his campaign tours across the country in 20016. I was a witness to the great toil the man had to go through to sell his message to Ghanaians. The level of insults he had had to endure from his political opponents, over the years, is of public record and therefore not necessary to rehash here.

With this backdrop, anyone who has been given the opportunity to serve under Nana Addo’s Presidency must see it as a challenge to mirror, first of all, the man’s character, and most importantly, believe in his vision and work tirelessly to ensure the man succeeds. And to do this, there are clearly laid-down principles, by way of Boardroom Dynamics amongst which are Accessibility, Openness and Humility that must guide every step of these appointees.

Accessibility

Often times, when people are opportune to be spotted by the president, out of the millions of members who toiled to bring the party to power, they instantaneously develop this self-conceited aura of pomposity, bury themselves in a solid concrete burble and become totally invincible to fellow party members, not to talk of apolitical members of Ghanaian society.

The reason for this overnight invincibility is that “we are very busy” which, unquestionably, in most cases, is the fact. However, for people who, only a couple of months ago, traversed every nook-and-cranny of the country, shook every hand, said every word and dished out goodies to convinced Ghanaians for votes, would abruptly turn round to claim of being too busy to be accessible to these very people with whom they mingled.

Front desk Executives of these appointees suddenly become accustomed to the mantra of “my boss is in a meeting to everyone who would seek an audience. Phone call/text messages are not responded to, and when bumped into at both official and party functions, the mantra will always be, “please come to see me at the office and let us talk”.

But you go to the office, and the secretaries, who are often civil servants performing their legitimate duties, and therefore have no understanding of ‘pampering’ party followers, will simply recite their characteristic mantra of “my boss is in a meeting”.

Openness

A political appointment is ephemeral and therefore it must always be exercised with caution and openness. We have a well-established civil service structure which transcends governments and presidents. This service is, technically, is the fulcrum around which our governance system revolves and State structures run.it is, therefore, an established fact that technocrats manning these structures are not sidelined and looked-down upon by governments’ appointees since they are the ones very conversant with the system. A cordial relationship with these technocrats is key to smooth operation of every sector of the national economy.

Government appointees only provide oversight role to ensure things are done in perfect consonance with the vision of the appointing authority. It is therefore imperative to always ensure proper co-existence in order to create conducive working-environment.

This must be done with firmness to avoid being taken for granted, tactfulness so you do not step on toes unduly; and meticulousness in order to avoid cooked figures being concealed in procurement contracts for you to append signature, unwittingly.

Also, our technocrats who are in the habit of having flags of political parties under their sleeves and therefore allow same to cloud their professional judgments with expressed-purpose to sabotaging a ruling government, must jettison such retrogressive attitudes.

Humility Some people, immediately their names are mentioned by the president to occupy certain positions, come under the illusion of superiority in archaeology to zoology. Their capacity to listen to reason suddenly deserts them while their once humble disposition meteorically vanishes into thin air.

They tend to cloth themselves in unholy garment of pomposity and blatantly demand to be held in the highest esteem over the President himself. They walk about with peacock arrogance and self-conceited aura of non-existent authority.

But people representing a personality as Nana Addo, who will call you by the name when he spots you in a crowd of a million, should always learn to mirror the man’s impeccable personal attributes of humility, tolerance, kindness and civility. Politics, they say, is a game of numbers and these numbers must never be treated as parachutes that are only called upon when we find ourselves in emergency situations.

Indeed, I have always maintained that YOU MIGHT FAIL TO MEET THE ASPIRATIONS OF GHANAIANS BUT THEY WILL FORGIVE YOU WHEN YOU ACCORD THEM RESPECT. HOWEVER, YOU CAN BUILD CASTLES IN THE AIR FOR GHANAIANS BUT DISRESPECT THEM, AND THEY WILL REJECT YOU WHEN YOU NEED THEM.

Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei

Office of the President

Flagstaff House

Kanda-Accra