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Opinions of Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Columnist: Adams, John Kwame

Our Presidents Are Cowards

All the presidents that Ghana has had in the fourth republic are cowards. Of course this goes for the incumbent too. So President Mahama is a coward. It is claimed that Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By that definition, our presidents have been insane. Why am I making such distasteful statements? Well these are true statements that need to be made.

Everyone in this country knows what our major problem is and the presidents know it better than everyone else. Our problem is LACK OF COMPETENT MANAGERS in key positions. By key positions, I mean ministers, DCEs and executives in major state institutions. Of John Mahama's ministers, one would be hard pressed to name a single one who is competent. Of his DCEs, one would not find a single competent one. The same holds for the members of the boards of major institutions. This has always been the case since 1992. John Mahama and his ministers are not an exception. They are just another instance of the rule.

When a politician wins the presidency in this country, how does he set about to appoint his key officials? Does he form a search committee staffed with people who have vast experience in head hunting competent and extremely qualified people for positions? No! He convenes a committee of his favorite party members and charges them with finding him people to govern with. This is usually the first mistake. The search committee members have absolutely no experience in headhunting yet they are asked to headhunt for positions that impact the lives of all Ghanaians in a major way.

What do these inexperienced search committee members do? They simply recommend their own favorite party members to the president who in turn appoints these party members to the positions. These appointments are made without regard to whether the appointee can actually discharge the positions. Of course it is the rare appointee who succeeds in his position. The vast majority, in fact almost all, fail abysmally. It quickly becomes clear to the president that his appointees are in over their heads and they have no clue what they should do in their jobs. It becomes clear to Ghanaians too. We feel the pinch as the nation's economic fortunes decline further.

What is usually the presidents reaction to this sad state of affairs? RESHUFFLING! This is the height of cowardice and insanity. Here is where one sees that we elect cowardly men to office in Ghana. The president has made appointments to key positions based on party affiliation not competence. This is the first instance of cowardice: the inability to tell your party members to go find jobs for which they are better suited. But the worst part is the inability of the president to fire them once they have messed up badly. The president simply reshuffles them hoping for better performance.

Ghanaian presidents should wake up and stop the cowardly reshuffling nonsense. You made a bad appointment in the first place. Don't persist in that bad appointment. Fire the appointee. If someone bombs in agriculture, don't move him to education hoping he will be a success story over there. He won't! He will bomb there too. Stop moving the ministers around. That won't make them better ministers. Fire them and look for more qualified Ghanaians.

I realize there is a clause in the Constitution that requires a certain percentage of ministers to be appointed from Parliament, a bold president will push for that clause to be changed so that he can cast a wide net abroad and at home to recruit very competent Ghanaians to drive the nation building process. There are plenty of Ghanaians who have demonstrated in their private lives with their educational and professional achievements that they would be excellent in ministerial positions. They would not be corrupt neither would they tolerate it in their underlings. Moreover they will approach the job with professionalism. These are the people our presidents should be recruiting onto their teams not party members whether or not they are qualified. Louis Van Gaal has been appointed United coach. He is not recruiting area boys from his home in the Netherlands to come and play for United. No. He has recruited top players like Di Maria and Falcao to come and play for him. Here is a man who wants to be successful.

From John Mahama's actions in his appointments, he is sending the message that he wants to be a failure like all his predecessors before him. Maybe he doesn't want to be a failure. But then I must ask him if he is insane? Because his predecessors did exactly what he is doing and they failed. Insanity is doing the same thing and hoping for a different result.

John Kwame Adams.