07.01.2024 Feature Article

Nepotism: The Unfortunate Culture of Acceptance in Today’s Ghana

Nepotism: The Unfortunate Culture of Acceptance in Todays Ghana
07.01.2024 LISTEN

The practice among people with power, influence and authority to engineer and machinate favours towards relatives, or friends to the detriment of the lager populace in a particular country or jurisdiction is nepotism. Over the years, Ghanaians have lamented on the perceived existence of this act in the country, but the situation keeps manifesting.

The practice has in the past seven years become so rampant and glaring in the country to the extent that Ghanaians are beginning to accept nepotism as a norm without qualms or fuss. There is a popular saying that “If an abomination stays too long, it becomes part of the people’s culture”. Nepotism has become part of the Ghanaians’ unwanted culture to the extent that it is displayed on daily basis especially when dispensing political patronage in our present Ghana under the current President Nana Akufo Addo’s regime. The unfortunate truth is that, Ghanaian societies have been compelled to accept it unchallenged.

Morally and religiously speaking, corruption is a problem. But let us look at it from the angle of economics and we begin to understand that it is not just the corruption itself but the type of corruption. Part of the problem we have is incompetence, and that is why Ghanaians cannot afford to look on whiles this dangerous form of corruption perpetuates, we must speak up and pay attention to merit. Ashok Saraf famously stated that “Nepotism can never bring you success, but talent can”.

Unfortunately, in today’s Ghana, nepotism has been elevated to a near state policy by President Akufo Addo’s administration; he has been heavily criticized by majority of Ghanaians for his lopsided appointments that include his brothers, cousins, children and friends, but the president has been intransigent and unperturbed in the face of all these genuine criticisms. Without sounding personal, the appointment of Nana Yaw Osarfo Marfo’s children into public offices immediately after the NPP came to power was appalling and reprehensible. As a country, we have never experienced this level of nepotism that pervades through almost every member of the government including the Vice President’s family and in-laws. These are facts devoid of any malicious intent. Facts are sacred and immutable. After all, we all remember the president’s sardonic infamous “I will not run family and friends government”.

In defense of this dangerous act, we have been told that, those family and friends who have been appointed into these juicy positions are qualified and deserved to be there. The question is how come they were not there until their relatives were elected.

Nepotism affects economic development by hindering human capital development. Perhaps, the reason why nepotism is perpetrated more in the public sector than in the private sector is that private sector organisations have profitable goals that need effective employees who have the competence to achieve the final goal, which is maximising the shareholders’ wealth. But the reality is different in the public sector because often there are no measurable goals, especially in developing countries, where the citizens are compelled to accept public service outcomes regardless of quality.

There is another African adage that states that “One whose father is in heaven would not be destined for hell. This has also been used by the proponents of the current regime to defend the unfortunate act of nepotism and cronyism under President Akufo Addo’s administration. Heaven is applied to metaphorically to refer to a privileged position or juicy public office, while hell refers to destituteness, hopelessness, unemployment, suffering and lack of privileges as faced by millions of Ghanaians both the young and the aged.

Actualizing this axiom in our political space means that when one is occupying a position of influence and privilege in government, their kith and kin are not expected to suffer any material or economic deprivation.

One thing that has to be said about President Akufo Addo is his loyalty and commitment. He one of the most loyal and committed person people I have ever seen. However, his loyalty and committed are only directed towards his friends, family and close associates, rather than to the national development. This has informed his inability to reshuffle his appointees. His loyalty and commitment to his associates also informs his constant defense and exoneration of his appointees who are accused of corruption related activities.

The root of corruption is when we begin to de-emphasise merit, competence and performance, and so long as we don’t bring the best in this country to do the job and hold them to account, Ghana will not see development. The fear is that, as a country our silence has over the years gradually led to the culture of acceptance to the worst form of corruption which is nepotism under this administration. Under the President Akufo Addo’s administration, we have witnessed the escalation of people getting into positions by virtue of personal loyalty, friendship and who they know, rather than what they can actually deliver by virtue of their competence for that office.

The Ghanaian citizens cannot be completely absorbed of the blames. We are of the view that the occupant of such office is expected to appropriate the position of his office to dispense favour and patronage to his relations with a view to improving their material condition. It is because of this belief, that appointments into public offices are usually greeted with cheer and celebration by associates of the appointee. Such excitement does not stem from the fact that the appointee has been given an opportunity to serve the country, rather it stems from the fact that the appointee is going to use the discretionary powers of his office to improve the standard of living of his associates.

Thus, the success of a public officer is measured, not in terms of fulfilling the core mandate, which their office requires, but on how they used the appurtenances of their positions to improve the living conditions of their relations and cronies. They are expected to do this to the total exclusion of other Ghanaians since by the position they occupies, it is the ‘turn’ of their people to benefit from the perks of public appointment. It leads to weak diplomatic representation poor administration of state all of which are detrimental to national growth and development. It is a known fact that nepotism as a taxonomy of corruption is a threat to national inclusion and consequently affects all aspects of our democratic institutions, human rights and fundamental freedoms of the citizenry.

Nepotism encourages laziness in a society, because, if the youth develops a mindset that suggest that, whether they works hard or not, there is a job waiting for them somewhere by the virtue of their relatives occupying positions of power, influence and authority, there is the propensity of them convincing themselves that, what then is the need to work hard? But, for a young man who knows that he has no firm anchor or support from anybody or community; who knows that his destiny is in his own hands, who knows that, if he doesn’t deny himself some pleasure even when his peers are enjoying, his hope of a better tomorrow becomes a pipe dream if he doesn’t move from his comfort zone to shape his tomorrow. But, the unfortunate thing is that when he works harder to get his due, nepotism will only deny him that except, he displays a stubborn resilience by going extra mile to satisfy the law of extra miles before it sparks divine intervention to his favor.

The current seemingly level of acceptance for nepotism has some intriguing dimensional consequences post this regime. The question is, would Ghanaians suddenly regain their voices and moral zeal to speak up against nepotism post this regime, or we would accept it as a norm in the next administration? It is therefore essential to express our disgust and displeasure on the nepotistic tendencies we are witnessing, rather than remain silent, because as a society seeking to develop, we cannot afford to be accustomed to nepotism and its consequences. It is therefore not too late for all and sundry to, speak against this form of corruption and make it known that we find this act unacceptable and reprehensible, because turning a blind eye to this canker is extremely dangerous, to the extent that it inhibits and undermines economic development by deepening poverty in our beloved Ghana and beyond.

Long Live Ghana,
Author: Awudu Razak Jehoney
Email: [email protected].