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Opinions of Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Columnist: Addison, Daniel Haluvi

RE: Ethnic Sentimentalism, Cronyism and Plutocracy

REJOINDER: Ethnic Sentimentalism, Cronyism and Plutocracy: Challenges Facing Ghana’s Democracy

May I react to Mr. Seth Owuo Bempong’s article with the above caption which appeared on your website of March 11, 2007.

It is not surprising that Mr. Bempong, who claimed to be a senior civil servant with wealth of experience spanning 37 years, could be making such revelations at the sunset of his career. It takes a brave heart to tackle some of these issues in the manner he has done considering the politics of mistrust, vendetta, praising which has bedeviled the body politic of this country. Whenever home-truths like this are revealed, the spin doctors will not stop at anything to defend what now looks like a budding empire of corruption with an institutional backing from no mean office like that of the presidency. Intimidation and arrogance have become their stock in trade to face-save the regime. I, therefore, wish to extol Mr. Bempong for the gallantry he has displayed by referring to a spade by its name.

I have vivid memories of how the current administration made a political capital of comments by the former vice-president, John Evans Atta Mills, to the effect that graduates from our tertiary institutions could take up teaching appointments in the schools until such a time when they find jobs suiting their academic or professional training. That action-packed advert which used some young graduates to engender disaffection for the Prof. among students in the tertiary institutions is still indelibly printed on my mind. For young graduates trying to escape poor conditions of service in the teaching field, Kufour’s message offered hope; the stakes were particularly high and expectations great. Today, the promise of thousands and thousands of jobs for a teeming graduate population has become a mirage. Even for the teaching positions, you need a note from an ‘employment broker’ (‘who knows you; no more whom you know’).

I graduated from one of the state-owned universities with a first class in Mathematics at age 24. I then proceeded to the UK to read Mathematical Finance for the Msc. I quickly returned to Ghana with hope, vim and vigor dying to contribute my quota to the development processes back at home. The decision to return was even hastened by the lack of recognition and appreciation for the academic and professional achievements of black Africans in the UK who are confined to cleaning the streets and other menial jobs.

However, I returned home to meet a situation I cannot describe for lack of words. As Mr. Bempong has rightly pointed out, nepotism, ethnic considerations and plutocracy has engulfed our society to the extent that people in responsible positions think that those positions can be manipulated as though they were there bona fide properties. In fact, the truth must be told. I remember attending an interview at SSNIT, where the list of short listed candidate, according to an insider, had to go the castle for approval. The final list came back with names suspected to be of particular tribes’ dropped. It is clear that for state institutions in Ghana, they have become a ‘thank you packages’ for recompensing political cronies and their favorites. I have former school mates and friends who work for some of these state institutions and public organizations, but the message is unambiguous: ‘you must be networked’.

My two years experience searching for job after my master’s has not been a pleasant one. Employers had foreknowledge of who they are to pick but will advertise to satisfy legal requirements only to waste prospective jobseekers time, resource and energy. I am reliably informed that even some of the international organizations in Ghana have had clashes with their Ghanaian HRs for what they perceived as underhand dealings in employment processes.

Some employers, under the guise of lack of experience, turn away some prospective applicants only for you to find out later that your own mate whose academic achievements and work experience is no better than yours is in the chair. For me, I think employers should be reoriented on what the word experience means before they engage the word in their frivolous attempts to justify what is unfair. Do we truly understand what probation periods in any employment is meant to achieve? If the individual is unable to justify his/her inclusion, don’t employers have the right to give them the chop? If at 24 I had my first degree with first class and decided to continua to a more professional level with a master’s and industrial attachments at each stage of my studies, can you tell me that I am inexperienced? After all don’t we have the latest innovations, technologies and research findings in the textbooks? Can you tell me that Microsoft word 2003 is the same as Microsoft 2007? So I dispute the assertion that people who acquire higher education without progression from the workplace lack experience. Anyone who has used Microsoft 2007 and is adroit in its application is definitely a better asset to his company than anyone who has not even tried his hands on it or has any knowledge of its existence.

Technological transfer from the developed West was once considered a way of bridging and breaking the underdeveloped-developed syndrome but unfortunately we have many graduates from Ghana who are returning to infuse and inject new ideas into our institutions with archaic modes of doing things for them to be only blocked by inept officials who do not really know what the times are. For many Ghanaian youth who are studying overseas, my humble advice for them is to reconsider their decisions to return home carefully before embarking on such projects or they crash-land. They should ignore the call by the President, J. A. Kufour, on March 6, 2007, for Ghanaian youth to stay at home and those abroad to return to contribute as a shaggy dog story. He does not believe in the things he says.

Thank God some of us have other citizenships and could quickly run somewhere else to avoid the disgrace, but I sympathize with many former school mates and friends who have no choice but to endure the injustice that is being meted out to them. Chatting with friends, it is apparent that the much publicized National Youth Employment programme has become another subterfuge to sign up party boys and praise-singers.

From a very dispassionate point of view, I think Kufour has weakened the chances of his party to win election 2008 and to lead the country due to his inactions in correcting some of these important infractions. The party will certainly leave with him.

Once again, I wish to commend Mr. Bempong for his bravery in highlighting this issue. I hope the international media, honorable Ghanaian citizens both home and abroad, the former president are all taking note of these developments in our country. The day of reckoning is not far-off and people will be call to order soon if needs be.

James, David, Agyare, Evelyn, Billy, Akua, and host of individuals who reviewed this article, I say a big thank you. Do not be perturbed by the current situation at all. There is light at the end of the tunnel and you shall all overcome one day soon.

Daniel Haluvi Addison
Albany, New York

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