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Opinions of Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Reforming the AG's Department is Long Overdue!!

The Attorney General's Department falls under the executive in our current constitutional arrangement. This means that, the president is directly or indirectly responsible for its effectiveness. The nation's law enforcement arm must fire on all cylinders to help fight corruption and promote development. So, Mr President, revamping the AG department is one more anti-corruption move that you can make without physically arresting anyone! Go for it sir!!

I am sure we can all agree that given the eruption of judgment debt bombs, a myriad of failed court cases, coupled with glaring corruption at the AG's department, there is need for sweeping action, aimed at transforming the AG department. The signs are on the wall and it will be irresponsible if we don't demand that the AG department is repositioned and refocused. Indeed, this is why I am still recovering from the president's “boom” assertion that there is not much he can do besides his slow roll and our patience, on the issue of corruption. Below, I will identify actions that the president must take to steer the AG department in the right direction. Before I do that, let me articulate why it is critical and indeed useful to get it right with the AG department.

The AG department has the core mission of prosecuting crimes against the state and defending the nation in court. Notice that I deliberately use the word nation and not the ruling political party. This is about mother Ghana and not any particular party. A country that fails to enforce its laws and defend itself in court, is a country that is not going anywhere. It makes no sense to ask investors to come in when we come across as a lawless country. It is for this reason that I insist, that, our leaders should fix the country instead of begging foreign investors to come into a marsh pit of lawlessness. If we fix Ghana locally, we will have no need to beg anyone to come. We will be attractive enough for would be suitors in the realm of investment. I am reminded of the Akan proverb that goes thus: Awine pa nkasa!! So therefore, one can argue that there are economic, political, social and legal reasons, among others, why we should have a vibrant and results driven AG-unit.

Below is a construct that the president can use to assess and reposition the AG Department.

Style of Leadership: The Attorney General Department need bold and effective visionary leadership if it is to play its role in our developmental trudge. The current leadership is tainted, compromised and blatantly incompetent. The president ought to pull out his broom and sweep the place clean. Get a good trial lawyer with leadership ability to head the unit. Restate the mission and vision of the unit and get to work. Fresh leadership in all units within AG unit. All new leaders must be given performance contracts and goals.

Strategy: A vision is nothing but a vaunted dream. What brings a vision to life is the strategy that leads to the implementation of the vision. The AG department must develop a vision that includes fighting corruption and defending our national interest. We need clear strategic goals, objectives, initiatives, programs and plans that brings to life, the law enforcement and defense role. We need an AG department that is bold and fearless in going after both government and non-government officials. The era of timidity and pro party or sitting government must be over. Ghana's business should be the key consideration.

Structure: Perhaps it will be prudent to review the existing structure and make sure that it has not contributed to the rot. Should the AG report to the parliament instead of the president? Is the AG Department structured to have regional presence and autonomy? Is it too hierarchical? Do we need a flat or matrix organization? How does structure affect decision making? Does the structure support the mission and vision of the department?

Staffing: With structure comes staffing! Does the AG department have the right staffing level? What is the head count? Are the regions and the local district properly staffed to carry out the mission, vision, goals, objectives and initiatives of the unit? How do we attract, develop and retain talent at the AG's office? Are we paying top Cedis for the talent that we need in the AG Department?

Skills: What is the skill level of the staff at the AG's office? What is the recruitment strategy of the AG's office? Are we attracting the most competent people into AG Department? What is our strategy to manage talent at the AG's office? How are we developing the skill level of the talent that we bring into the AG Department? What is our retention strategy? What is our succession strategy? What skill level will it take to carry out the mission and vision level of the department? Are the staff competent? What is our training and development strategy? Are we rewarding continuous education and training?

Systems: What are the technological systems needed to run an effective AG department (MIS, ERP etc)? What computer systems does the AG's office use? Do we have the appropriate systems? What software packages does it spot? What system will the AG Department need to work well? Does the department have the appropriate technology? Are the leaders computer savvy? What is the total reward system? What other systems does the unit need?

Shared Values: What are the shared values that glue the AG department together? Are values like excellence, integrity, hard work, and fairness in play at the AG Department? Is everyone aware of the values? Has it be communicated? Are the leaders exhibiting behaviors that support and exemplify the values or is it all talk? What are the core values of the unit?

My brothers and sisters, the president can lead the effort to examine the current AG department through the 7S construct that I have provided. Not only can we assess the current organization through this lens, we can set up the envisioned AG Department by using this same construct. Of course all the above will not amount to a hill of beans if the president and parliament does not provide the necessary resources and support.

I want to end this article by asking thus: Should the AG department be independent of the executive? Should the AG department report to an oversight committee in parliament? I will like to know your view on how we can make the AG department independent and primed to do the nation's business instead of being a tool for the sitting government. We need a vibrant AG-Unit in our fight against corruption. Mr President, here is one more project that you can embark on to fight the rampant corruption that you lord over. Over to you! Please lead, follow or surely get out of the way—Ted Turner!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman ( Affectionately dubbed the double edge sword and recently mobbed as Santrofi Anomaa) Contact:

I don't give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think its hell---Harry Truman