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Opinions of Friday, 23 January 2009

Columnist: Albion, Kojo

Change for action



What a wonderful time to be alive! Change has come in our life time. In America an African American is going to be the President. In Ghana, after eight years of Mr. John Agyekum Kuffour, we have a new President, Prof John Atta Mills. Change has really come, but for what? Action! Change in attitude!

Someone said that “in Africa, the farther we go, the closer we get to where we began.” I still wonder why in Africa we have everything and yet we lack everything. Why is Africa so rich and yet so cash poor? In our Motherland, everything that can go wrongly has. With the air of change blowing, I pray that the wind will blow on the continent of Africa also. We can not afford to stay still and look on as the world advances beyond our imagination.

Excuses died in America on November 4, 2008 when Mr. Barrack Obama, and African American born to an absent Kenyan father and a white woman from Kansas, was elected as President of the United States of America. If someone from Obama’s background can become the President of the United States, what other excuses are there? No more excuses! My people, NO MORE EXCUSES!

Well, I write this piece to bring to our attention something that is going on in Ghana (Africa) and it is killing our progress in no uncertain terms. Since I am not a voter and I owe no allegiance to any political Party, reader, please read this piece critically and not with your heart only or from a Partisan perspective and miss the message for change and action.

It was only three weeks ago that I sent a parcel from the United States to someone in Ghana. Thank God, the parcel got there and the recipient was sent a note on Monday to report to the Delivery Station at the Post Office to pick up the parcel. The recipient went to the Post Office right away to take delivery of the parcel that Monday. Guess what? The Customs Officer in charge was not there, he has “gone on a trek,” the recipient was told. What does that mean? The recipient could not receive the parcel until the Customs Officer came back on Thursday evening.

Item, this past summer, I was advocating for a community to receive electrical service. Yes, a New Community in a “Metropolitan area” had no light after four years of requesting service. For six weeks, I got “Go, come aaa” until I returned to the US. After faxing requests, calling and asking others to intervene, I am glad to report that after four years, that community has lights now. What a feat!!!

Have you ever tried to transact business in Ghana? Have you ever sent an e-mail to an institution in Ghana? Have you tried calling a business in Ghana? What about asking for a document from an administrator in Ghana? Have you ever been to Ghana on a limited time to take delivery of a shipping container at Takoradi or Tema Habor? I rest my case!

With the wind of change blowing for action and a change in attitude, I would like to challenge all administrators and anybody who is “somebody” to take a closer look at how we treat the public seeking service.

First of all, we all need to accept the notion that- “When we benefit more than the people we serve, we are NOT serving.” That the office we occupy is bigger than us who serve. The position given to us is a public trust and we serve at the public’s interest. It is an honor that we ought not to betray by being apathetic, me-first, what’s in it for me or if I produce or I do not, I will be paid. Worse of all, to have a mindset that- “Aban wotwiw no, wonnsua no,” meaning ‘in serving the Government, you drag things instead of carrying them.’ (mine). Are you serving with the best of your abilities or you are just occupying a seat just to be paid regardless of how much you produce?

Have you tried to contact an administrator on a Monday or a Friday in Ghana? Many people have tried and they are told on most occasions that the Civil servant is in a meeting or he/she will back on Tuesday. Is there no one at the Office who can help you in Mr/Ms. Administrator’s absence? This not possible in most cases because we do not delegate others to act in our absences. I know someone who had to wait for a little over a month until Mr. Administrator came back from “leave”(vacation).

“Pay to play” is another thing that is impeding our progress. Mr./Ms. Administrator will not serve as expected of him/her until you “give” before you receive his/her service. The general population has come to accept this as a way of doing business in Ghana. I need not go too much into this but I will ask for minimization of this “pay to play” because this affects production, wastes time and stands in the way of our progress.

It is all about service with a smile, country first and changing attitudes that have for so long kept Ghana (Africa) from being respected. We have everything and we yet we beg for everything. Something is seriously wrong and so if we will go to work tomorrow with a determination that we want to do our part to move Ghana (Africa) forward, we will meet in the middle and celebrate our victory. If a change is to come, it starts with you and me. Show up at work on time and with a broad smile. Serve as if the progress of the Motherland rests on your shoulders. Others will learn from you and soon Ghana (Africa) will be counted at the table of successful countries (continents).

I rest my case. Kojo Albion <