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Opinions of Sunday, 2 July 2006

Columnist: Danso, Kwaku A.

What Went Wrong In The NPP .... ?

Dr. Kofi K. Apraku – What Went Wrong In The NPP And Public Service In General?



Folks,

Let's be fair to all. Let’s analyze news media reports with some critical thinking.

This news report of June 28, 2006 titled “I gave NPP it’s Name – Apraku” is not a press release. The title therefore was chosen by the reporter. If you read the report well, there are many issues and the man was speaking to delegates about and hence naturally showing in a competitive marketing setting what he did for his party. It’s like going for a job interview – everybody has to drum up what his accomplishments have been and those with Awiemfoo [African humility] upbringing find it hard to compete in an American-type aggressive setting. Anybody who was educated in America and took professional jobs will understand what this means. Politics at that level is a show-and-tell scenario.

Let's read what the report said:

“Just like how other presidential aspirants of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) are globe trotting the corners of the country to publicize their achievements and contributions to delegates for sympathy, Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku in another show of blowing his own trumpet, is claiming the draftsmanship of the party's Constitution and the name "New Patriotic Party".

"I did the best I could, donated funds to support the activities of the party, single handedly drafted the Constitution of NPP and also proposed New Patriotic Party as the name for the party that was to be borne," he claimed.

Folks, I have no reason to lie but history cannot be hid for too long and those who helped create it deserve their day in the sun. I know Dr. Apraku since the early 1980s when we formed the Ghana Congress of USA & Canada to oppose the illegal coup of Dec.31, 1981 and consequent overthrow of a legitimate government of Dr. Limann. Like it or not, Limann was elected by the people of Ghana and Rawlings coup of 1981 was illegal. For those who may not know, Apraku was an Associate Professor at North Carolina State University in Asheville, NC, USA before resigning to go to Ghana. We had many personal conversations before he left 1991/92 time, and I remember in a conversation in 1992 when Dr. Apraku had returned home and told me on the phone a typical NPP meeting. He was about the youngest person in the group of founders of the Party and at meetings he told me he was the one person who had a writing pad and pen ready to write, and hence was made the de-facto messenger or “small boy” to his seniors Prof. Adu Boahen, J.A. Kufuor and others. Folks, don’t let us forget that building an organization, and writing a constitution demands hours of careful thinking and writing. Many in our society take such things for granted and we have seen many organizations fail due to this lack of adequate contract and written communication of vision and purpose. If he was the only or one of the few computer literate persons at the time when computer usage was even minimal in the USA, then it is only logical to surmise that what the man is saying has some merits of credibility.

Having said that, this does not mean that I support or oppose the NPP, or agree with many of their strategic decisions in the last 13 years. An Akan proverb says if you don’t like a deer, at least give him credit for his athletic or running skills. I know for sure the NPP constitution had some nice words, and the party does not seem to have a high level of experience in project implementation and public relations skills. Vision and Mission statements are one thing, and implementation of vision is another. Where there is a mismatch, credibility is usually lost.

If you examine the constitution of Ghana, Apraku never had any power within the NPP to change anything, and even as a Minister, my research in Ghana in 2004 indicated limited powers of a Minister to effect much changes. Our constitution is flawed and gives to much powers to the President. A funny statement occurred when during one of my many probes one water technician told me that the area where my house is gets more water rationing than where the Minister of Water, Works and Housing [Hackman Owusu Agyeman] lives. I laughed. What a shame! Hon. Hackman cannot even have water pumps purchased to provide water to his community of East Legon, reputed to be among the most affluent of neighborhoods. As I write this note, I have sent an amount of $2,000 towards building an underground water reservoir system in my house in East Legon, an areas where people like you readers may not have any problems paying water bills if it was delivered. Water bills are flat rate at $42 per month even if rationed at once or twice per week! Even in America where labor costs may be 15-20 times more than in Ghana, average water bills is $23 per month.

Folks, what did Apraku do wrong? I have read, just as some of you have, some press reports of Apraku having taken some government office and fax machines from his old office and also having purchased some huge mansion in Kumasi. I did not see a strong defense from his office, and neither have those charges been prosecuted as they would have been had they been true. There was another Okyeame Forumner Dr. Kwabena Donkor [aka Village Boy] who left UK after his PhD to return home and not soon after it was reported he had been involved in some corrupt activities. There was never any prosecution and so far as many may be concerned his reputation was tainted. The question is that if these accusations leveled against public servants are true, why is there no prosecution? Wasn’t there one news reporter who apologized profusely after the 2004 elections of having been coerced by his management to write false stories about President Kufuor?

Folks, I have no reason to defend any of these people and I don’t know whether Dr. Apraku or Dr. Donkor or President Kufuor were guilty of charges against them. As a student of organizational management I ask questions. Let us realize that a reputation is not one to purchase at the store. If public officials are accused, it is the responsibility of our society to investigate and prosecute. Our culture is weak in discipline and prosecution. J.A. Kufuor’s government has been weak, especially at the AG office. In a PhD dissertation study that this writer conducted, it was found that discipline was only 0.8% of the list of leadership perceptions and expected characteristics found. This was a shocking conclusion indeed, and may tend to explain why we as part of nations of similar cultural groups lag behind and failed the test that was passed by our Asian compatriots who emerged from colonialism around the same time.

Folks, I am making these analyses from a purely academic standpoint, and using mere critical thinking to ask questions. If we want our democracy to be maintained as we fought for, the institutions such as Justice and Media Commission, CHRAJ, must quickly investigate allegations of false charges and not ruin people by mere accusations. The people who work in the offices of the AG and Media Commission are paid by the taxpayer and we deserve some quick answers on such accusations against public officials in the media. On the other hand, if these public officials are guilty, then let us implement quick justice and get them out of office. Period! Let’s get the crooks out! As of now the report of C10 trillion missing in the last administration has not been investigated. I always wonder how our President can sleep every night knowing that his 2 main visions of (1) Zero-Tolerance for corruption and (2) Golden Age of Business are simply left in the hands of God to implement! Management principles of vision implementation are simply and completely ignored!

Folks, Ghana needs some of you professionals overseas with experience to return home and go into public service to represent your people, and share your competencies. Some of the rural areas have no credible spokesperson. One friend was telling me how his district MP from the Brong Ahafo areas who happens to have very little education has not uttered a word since he was elected. Justice in resolving issues of public image or public crimes should be made our number one priority for a young democracy. Failing that some people will feel unwilling to enter an area considered too dirty, i.e. politics. That to me is what social justice is all about. Quick justice provides a more efficient platform for the growth of young democracies. Public service, as the name suggest, is to serve the public. However, in our government, officials make customers feel like it is a favor, and in many cases people are forced to pay bribes to get service. This is wrong and must stop!

Weak discipline also induces many family members to steal directly from their overseas brothers and uncles and even sons. Nobody ever punishes crime in Ghana, it seems! It is a culture that sets us back and has global business repercussions. If we allow these “fama-Nyame” and give-it-to-God principles to remain from family settings to society at large, we as a society will always remain in chaos and the youth will never learn. As of now there is no proven opportunity Dr. Apraku has had to show his accomplishments, positive or not, except for social image issues. This does not mean support or against, but it appears Dr. Kofi Apraku’s assets and competencies and even contributions to his party are being ignored and disbelieved because accusations against him have hurt his credibility. The NPP has some credibility issues and need to prove that elephants can dance to the tunes of globalization, customer focus and technological changes of our time, as pointed out by Professors Todd Jick and Maury Peiperl (2003) of the London Business School. So far it appears the elephant is finding it hard to adjust to changes of time.

One may ask: What went wrong with the NPP or what went wrong with Public Service? Why do our elected and appointed officials forget about the people whose tax money pay them? There should be communication lines open for complaints to Ministers and MPs and public officials. This is the fist element of democracy. Ghana is losing huge amounts of money due to individual efforts to survive where better organizational efforts could provide commons services. As we write, disgruntled individuals are forming a new political party to be announced July 1, 2006 in Accra. We need to learn and to serve our nation! We can all work together if we communicate among ourselves and our Ministers and officials learn from their people.

If Kofi Apraku is reading this, it is recommended that he either let some of his supporters monitor these accusations and do damage control, just as Prof. Mike Ocquaye’s accusations and charges were quickly diffused by an article from Chronicle the next day. That changed Prof. Ocquaye’s image form the pits to positive in one day. Ghanaweb has become a powerful communication medium just as Chronicle, and is more accessible to millions daily and in archives. However those at home including Dr. Apraku have been left behind the Internet age, according to my research results, with less that 5% of those in management and executive positions using the Internet and even fax machines. If he counts overseas Ghanaians as part of his audience, there is room for improvement in this area of technology. If Dr. Kofi Apraku is behind after only 12 years for the US, then God save the rest of them considered indigenous potential leaders who still question the meaning and value of modern computers (smile).

Cheers,

Kwaku A. Danso,
MS, M. Eng., PhD (Bus & Technology).
Business & Management /Technology Consultant
Fremont, CA. & East Legon/Accra, Ghana.


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