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07.02.2005 Feature Article

Perpetual Vetting Creates Good Governance

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Africa today finds itself at a disadvantage in many areas compared to the West. It also finds itself in a great position not to repeat the mistakes of the West. It is at the juncture of the 'half full glass / half empty glass' paradigm.

We can choose to relate to our African situation in terms of a glass of water for illustrations sake. One can have a glass that is filled with water to exactly half of what it can hold. Some will look at this glass of water and say the glass is half full. Others will look at it and say it is half empty.

These observations suggested above, really reflect on the vision, perception and overall approach of any individual based on how they see the water in the glass. Those who see it empty; of course see the water level dropping. Those who see it half full see the glass of water with the capacity to take on more water, thus subscribing to a more positive approach.

We want leaders who see our glass as half full and are ready to fill it, without feeling distressed about the how, when and where of getting this done.

Poverty is almost always used to describe the African situation and this must change, and it needs to be done soon. Today our great leaders or statesmen are cautioning not only the current leadership of Africa, but also the world at large to look at poverty in the world with seriousness and urgency that it needs. Let the affluent countries and citizens realize that poverty is also their problem and they need to do something about it.

Africa's greatest Statesman, Nelson Mandela, spoke to this growing poverty issue, in his statement that as people of the world “Recognise that the world is hungry for action not words. Act with courage and vision." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4231141.stm

This message should resonate with African leaders also, as they truly hold the key to the vast resources and its management that can enhance poverty reduction in their respective parts of the continent.

In the Ghanaian context, this simple statement also captures the sentiment of our people. The people are hungry for action and not words and want leaders who will act with courage and vision to create improved conditions for the population at large.

It is believed that the President should actually take this quote and have every Minister in the fourth republic of Ghana, review the quote of Mandela, and let it be the quote that guides their actions in discharging their duties, especially as it comes to managing their sectors of the economy.

Leadership all around the world today, is being challenged and especially in developing countries where poverty, disease and the results of poor leadership has created immense hardships, lower standards of living and a pessimistic outlook on life.

People today are simply fed up with rhetoric and the last thing they need is more talk and less action. Excuses for not getting the job done should be the thing of the past. As it has been said, “there are many ways to kill a cat”, and the African leadership, especially the Ghanaian leadership, must start being innovative, in order to bring some reasonable improvement in the living conditions of the people.

Innovation and dynamic leadership is what is needed. Pen pushers or paper shufflers in management capacities, with respect to managing sectors of the economy must go. They offer nothing. The average citizen understands that the country may be poor but also knows that there is waste, fraud, corruption and inequities in income distribution, that are affecting the meager resources available negatively, and this is where checks and balances, thus accountability must be improved.

Journalist and civil organizations must play their roles judiciously and ensure that accountability is truly high on the agenda for the term of this fourth republic. Other political parties need to also get involved and continue to be engaged in shaping up the quality of governance.

Again, in the history of our nation and in many other similar cases across the continent, a lack of engagement by the citizens created opportunity for the abuse of power and office, and it is being opined that this lackluster attitude, of the people has cost the nation dearly.

Today's political environment and the democratic government we have, is as good as we the people make it. Leaders today must not rule, but govern. Thus the quality of governance will be in reaction to how well all the stakeholders play their part. We would wish that the enhancement of the quality of governance would be proactive, with respect to the common sentiment of the masses, but the reality is that it will be reactionary; this is why civil society must continue to be alert.

Citizens will be ruled as opposed to being led if they allow themselves to be. Constant monitoring, dialogue and even civil action are what will shape our political landscape, and create or force the hand for governments to be transparent.

Even in well-advanced democracies, there is always someone who takes advantage of a window of opportunity and does the wrong thing. Our society in the past has created several windows of opportunity to fuel all the poor governance issues we have had in the past.

Now is the time, to discuss, reduce, and effectively clamp down on all such windows of opportunity, with the full knowledge that as citizens, we have the power to decide how we are governed and who governs us or manages our affairs. This is the message that the leaders need to get, together with the citizenry

As a nation, we are not begging for poor leadership or poor quality sector managers. We will choose those whom we know have our best interest at heart. Having said this, they will be continuously scrutinized to ensure that they do not stray from their agenda but stay on course to deliver what they have been 'hired' to do. Thus the call for a perpetual vetting process. One that is ongoing with no end of the process in sight.

This should be the approach that will ensure that governance continues to improve. To this end, 'vetting', as we saw it done by the legislative body recently for the ministers and public office holders, will and must continue through the entire four-year term and beyond. It is up to civil society to pick up where the legislature left off. We, the people pay the price for bad management and poor governance. It is only appropriate again to close this piece with remarks from Mr. Boutros Ghali, former UN chief, in relation to inequities of the Nile basin region, “ …People can put up with so much but they can not put up with injustice”. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4227869.stm .

So for those who are managing our affairs in our fourth republic, please sit up. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Ako Folson
Ako Folson, © 2005

The author has 58 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: AkoFolson

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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