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Opinions of Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Columnist: Ablakwa, Samuel Okudzeto

Of Launchings, Workshops, Talkshops and Chopshops

Some things we do in this country don?t seize to fascinate me.

Any day one picks up the newspapers, tunes into a radio station, or switches on the television, there are numerous public invitations one comes across to attend either a launch, workshop, talkshop or chopshop.

These days, some of them come in more sophisticated forms, be it as dialogues, symposia, fora, brainstorming session, sod cutting, tree planting, etc. etc.

However, the observation I make is that no matter the sophistication, most of these events have a lot in common. These commonalities are basically the much talk, little action, pomp and pageantry and free lunch that characterizes them.

Launchings

I have always wondered why in this country, launchings or sod cutting or tree planting ceremonies should generate the much-ado that we give it, but maybe, I shouldn?t be too surprised because this is a country whose citizens shout in jubilation to the high heavens when the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) turns on the light in the ECG?s erratic power delivery, forgetting that we are billed monthly and that power supply must be reliable, for it is not a favour being done us.

It is this same thinking that has led to the political elite having the nerve to exploit every launch with abominable propaganda in pomp and pageantry to score unnecessary political points.

If we the people had realized that it is our taxes that are in use and not the personal monies of politicians and also that these launchings or sod cuttings, or tree plantings must necessarily be done, for that is why we voted for these politicians, then the politicians would have taken us a bit more seriously and eliminated these unnecessary opulence.

It is only in this country that politicians want us to worship them when they carry out projects with our taxes or with loans that in any case our taxes will pay for in the short or long run.

If we the people come to this realization, politicians will during electioneering campaigns, not bring electricity polls and heaps of sand to psychologically intimidate some of us that these projects will only continue when these politicians are voted for.

Definitely this country will be saved a lot of money, a lot of productive time and a lot of serious politics if the love for this form of launchings, sod cuttings and tree plantings is put away.

Workshops

There are too many things wrong with the many workshops, talkshops and chopshops we have in this country.

First of all, organizers of these workshops, talkshops and chopshops never say it is a free lunch opportunity but instead insist through their advertisements to want to address issues of national concern. This objective is laudable though most often we don?t get a clear picture of this objective due to the love for grandeur themes. But how are concerns of the nation addressed when the outcomes of these workshops barely leave the desks and shelves of the organizers.

Also, there are lots of legitimate questions that arise from what goes into the criteria for selecting resource persons or panelists for such workshops. Most often, the people who are consultants to government on the issues being discussed at these workshops are the same people invited by the organizers of these workshops to offer alternative opinions.

Again, the system of selecting only the popular as resource persons or speakers at these workshops has created a phenomenon where an extreme few are special speakers on all matters from Archeology to Zoology.

What is happening in other jurisdictions is that papers are invited from everybody everywhere over weeks or months before the date for the workshop. The organizers then select the best paper(s) and the authors of these papers to present. This allows for real expertise in the matter being discussed. Emphasis is therefore quality content and not mere star speakers.

But in Ghana, we may not be able to achieve such quality type workshops that improves the livelihood of the people if we stick to the present status quo that is merely just another funfair where the attention is to please the sponsors, make a little profit as organizers, get so-called star speakers to catch the crowd and provide lots to eat so that even if little or nothing is achieved, participants will remember the adage ?there is no free lunch? and so have the moral duty to keep their mouths shut; that is, if they wouldn?t praise the organizers.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (Former President, NUGS)

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