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Opinions of Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Columnist: Obenewaa, Nana Amma

Obenewaa's Unending Questions: What Do You Think?

I have committed part of my time, lately, to evaluate responses to articles on Ghanaweb. To my utter disappointment, I am shocked by the level of contempt for issues that permeate the socio-moral fabric of our society. Is it astute to choose quietness over engagement, when the behaviour of commentators violate cultural decency, and treat citizens with little respect? What reasonable person would express happiness over a citizen’s encounter with injustice; an unpleasant situation that could befall anyone? Why should the untimely passage of a politician become a source of excitement to some because the deceased was a member of an opposition party? Have we forgotten the saying that, “agya obofuo etu enim aboa yarefuo,” and that each one of us will, one day, exit this earth, one way or the other, to join the “nananom-nsamanfuo”?
I mourn over the lack of consciousness among Ghanaians, and our needless justification of government policies, and an elitist conduct that put our freedoms and dignity at risk. What has become of us? Were we not, once, the nation that bestrode the African continent, and spoke to the world with pride and immense confidence? Was not Ghana the nation to draw the world’s attention to the killings in the Congo, Rhodesian, South Africa, and Viet Nam, etc? Was not Nkrumah’s Ghana the nation that raised international awareness about Africa’s misery, global exploitation, and called for the total liberation of the African continent? While some would argue that the past is bygone, for how long can we remain, human-flamingoes, and let the outside world to speak on our behalf?
As trusting citizens, we have allowed themselves to be treated as thoughtless children, who need directives from the nation’s wily politicians. For some time, we have placed our hopes on our nation’s infirmed institutions only to be shortchanged. As a nation, we allowed individualism, and contemporary materialism, to overshadow our spirit of communalism, and humanity. For some time, we have tolerated destructive ethics that work against the fundamental values of our nation. Thus, to stretch our hands, and open our arms to those in need. Where is the enthusiasm that once fostered collegiality, and made Ghanaians define themselves by their nationality, and not by ethno-labels?
The descent of our nation, from an epic African country into boondocks can be explained by our nation’s inadequate education. With little resources at hand, we have allowed ourselves to find, and use, indefensible explanations to rationalize our failures. In twenty-first century Ghana, it is no longer a surprise to seeing university graduates, speak, write, and think, like High School students. It is not an unusual to hear some of our nation’s politician express ideas that are not only difficult to understand, but impractical in today’s fast-changing world. When did a country that was once blessed with competent leaders, start producing rulers with weak characters? When did fasting become part of an ideological discourse to addressing the many economic afflictions?
While democracy is one of our nation’s admirable accomplishments, our weak social structures can hardly regulate practices that violate societal moral conventions. In today’s Ghana, our universities have become nests for prostitution where students trade sex for marks, and money. Student-professor relationship has dissipated to a new low. In twenty-first century Ghana, it has become a yearly tradition to seeing students use falsified transcripts to gain admission into our universities; a phenomenon that had adversely affected positive learning in the university environment. How does a corrupt university discipline wayward students, when, in fact, the chief-peddler of university examination papers is the son of the Vice Chancellor? How does a Vice Chancellor, whose son is accused of the theft, and sale of examination papers, call to order university professors who pressure their colleagues to change their children’s grade from “F” to “A” to enable them to pursue a postgraduate degree in the United Kingdom?
In Ghana, official positions have become personal possessions. At certain government offices, not only has preferential treatment affected workplace productivity, it has also led to increased indiscipline, and cold-hearted incompetence. Last year, I called the Office of the President to ask for a fax number. The gentleman who received the call told me to make an appointment, and hanged up. I called again, and this time a lady picked up the phone. I told her that I was going from Canada, and needed the president’s fax number. She told me Kanda wasn’t far from the president office, and that I could come to the Osu Castle to drop my letter. I repeated that I was not calling from (K)anda, but (C)anada. Suddenly, she changed her unfriendly attitude, and politely gave me the fax number. Overly excited, she started asking questions about the Canadian weather, and whether I was coming home this year. Has destiny something against residents of (K)anada to be treated harshly than (C)anadians?
The above story underlines the non-cooperative attitude in the nation’s government’s offices. Not only do millennial Ghanaian workers lack workplace politesse to engage the social public, they rigidly adhere to the dictates of the workplace, and ignore administrative flexibilities; one of the many unresolved elements affecting organizational growth and efficiency at government offices. Despite their unprofessional attitude, these workers retain their position, and receive some of the most envious salaries in modern Africa. It is ironic that, many of Ghana’s incompetent workers will become tomorrow’s leaders, judges, and international diplomats, and one can imagine the aggravations.
With a large number of easily-acquired certificates of competence finding their way into the Ghana’s emerging economy, the nation is slowly becoming an attractive destination for incompetent professionals. While many of us in the West can attest to the scrutiny one has to go through the workplace before securing an office position, the same cannot be said about the new-Ghana. Instead of vetting newly-acquired certificates, and enhanced curriculum vitae, these post-graduate degree holders, from some of the world’s least known institutions of higher learning, are offered positions they don’t have the wherewithal to manage. For what reason would a nation allow a Marine Biologist with a doctorate degree, dress in suit, and sit in an air-conditioned office? Some of the world’s renowned biologists work in dirty jeans, and rubber boots, and spend all the time tracking acqua-life. A culture that defines professional capabilities on credential documentations only will continue to supply incompetent bureaucrats.
As we approach another election, let’s vote for a leader who supports prudent policies, and not one who creates more foreign consulates for party-boys. Let’s vote for a leader who is not afraid to pursue his friends, and bring them to justice, if necessary, and not one who has a specialty in political witch-hunting. . Let’s vote for a president who leads by example, and rules with competent citizens, and not family members, bread retailers, taxi drivers, and electricians.
Let’s vote for a leader who is prepared to leave an ineffaceable legacy for his nation, and not one who is obsessed with writing a memoir while he is still in office. Let’s vote for a leader who makes effort to patch fissures at the seams, and not one who divides his nation as his way of creating artificial need. We need a leader who is prepare to declare his assets, prior to taking, and leaving office, and not one who greedily acquires assets, and tries to impose his choice, as president, to protect his unlawful conduct. Lastly, let’s vote for a president who is prepared to debate issues in public spaces, and answer grueling questions with honesty, and not a leader who prefers to talk at People’s Assembly and take praise-singing questions. Hope all is well. Good day and cheers.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.