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18.04.2011 Feature Article

TIME TO HOLD BOARD MEMBERS OF PUBLIC CORPORATIONS ACCOUNTABLE

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Our failure to hold board members of public corporations accountable for their stewardship whenever there is a change in government should not be allowed to continue. Why should this category of appointees freely walk away when they did in fact collaborate with erring chief executives.

Since the National Liberation Council (NLC) under Colonel E.K. Kotoka toppled President Kwame Nkrumah's Convention Peoples Party (CPP) in 1966 and dissolved boards of state institutions and replaced them with their cronies, this bad precedent has persisted. It does not matter the credentials of those who sit on these boards, you become a casualty to make way for sympathizers of the new administration.

Under the 1992 Constitution former presidents John Jerry Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor should have set better examples by dismissing non-performing board members and retaining honest and hard working people. President Atta Mills with all his promises to do things differently is maintaining the status quo. As for the beneficiaries of what has become “a gold mine”, they pop champagne to celebrate it. Many of them perform creditably well but others are only there in name.

Some members attend meetings to show their presence without necessarily offering any input when important and serious issues are discussed. What are you expecting them to contribute when they do not understand the operations of the public corporations on whose boards they sit?

For such people meeting days are rainy days of course. The expectations are very high and any accountant or officer who delays in paying out sitting allowances stand the risk of being in the bad books of the smartly dressed board members. There have been instances where officers in these corporations were tagged anti-government and reported to sector ministers.

Why should sitting allowances of board members sometimes be higher or at par with the monthly salaries of workers in public corporations? As if this is not enough some board members will pull every string to get their relatives and friends appointed to jobs in public corporations without relevant qualification and experience. Human resource managers who are responsible for vetting applications face continuous harassment from ministers, chief executives and board members if they decide to stick to laid down criteria . Why not? Political party campaign platforms are replete with promises upon promises. Flag bearers give assurances to supporters as they mount platforms during campaign time.

Until something dramatic occurs in our governance the unhealthy practice of infecting the system with “protocol list” will ever be entrenched. Can anybody boldly deny the involvement of NDC 1, 2, NPP 1, 2 and NDC 3 in this discriminatory tendency on the job market? Not even recruitments into the security services are spared such disgraceful acts. Don't we have any sense of shame? Even when the whole country is told that an embargo has been placed on employment people belonging to the political party in power are secretly hired.

A time has surely come for board members to be called upon to account for their action or inaction when a new government takes over from the previous regime. Too many irregularities go on in the boardrooms of our public corporations. For us to make progress, we must begin to critically examine the conduct of board members. State institutions like the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) etc. should be tasked to investigate those appointed to serve on of public corporations

People should not be hired because of links to political leadership of the day. We should be moving towards a situation where members of society are ready to discharge their duties with honesty and sincerity.

Frank Mackay Anim-Appiah
Frank Mackay Anim-Appiah, © 2011

The author has 12 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: FrankMackayAnimAppiah

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