Although many Ghanaians and Africans in general are mourning the death of BBC's most prominent presenter Komla Dumor, a broadcaster of exceptional quality and Ghana's gift to the world as described by President Mahama on his twitter, several other people are equally horrified at the behavior of the District Chief Executive (D.C.E.) of Ahafo Ano South in the Ashanti Region, Hon. Gabriel Barima who was appointed by President J. D. Mahama.
Hon. Gabriel Barima could simply not pass the acid test when he publicly foamed at the mouth and brusquely left a public function just because a staff of Mankraso Government Hospital had chuckled and said "Tweaaa". I could not believe that this man threw the microphone down and left in a fit of pique, only for him to return later to make known his imposing financial status. Unfortunately, he could not tell the people where he got the money he claims he has from and nobody knows if he even pays his taxes regularly.
In Colossians 3:13-14, the bible teaches all humanity to be tolerant with one another and forgive each other whenever we have a complaint against someone else. We are to forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven us. And to all these qualities we are to add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Soviet and Russian novelist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature in 1970 makes a claim that intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. According to him, an ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.
It will be interesting to see how a preaching pastor would give up the pulpit in church just because somebody has made an obnoxious remark. Or a doctor abandons a woman in labour at the theater simply because she yelled. These scenarios can be extended to everybody in a leadership position. The lesson here is that leaders must learn to ignore petty issues.
Undoubtedly, the attention-grabbing aspect of the DCE's account is that he spent a lot of time attempting to identify the voice that said "tweaaa" although “tweaaa" was no direct reference to him. The question I am asking is must a leader waste his invaluable time responding to paltry gossips when there is work to be done? I do not want to believe that this is a case of a winner wishing to punish those who opposed him, or losers seeking revenge on those who defeated them.
Significantly, the DCE cut the ground from under his feet when he made these withering remarks, "If you are a staff at the hospital and so what? I will never come to your hospital again." "I won't come to your hospital for you to display gross disrespect towards me. I have money, what do you think we look for money for? I can go to any hospital that I want.” Ironically, he also said "Even mortuary, you don't have here.” But who is he expecting to build a mortuary for the Hospital?
Without a doubt, the DCE sees himself as being head and shoulders above the people he is supposed to be serving and now, to a certain extent, perceives them as abbreviated piece of nothing. It is incongruous for anybody to accept how a DCE who regard himself as high and mighty can lead any group of people. For the purposes of those who do not know, this DCE was a distinguished cadre during the PNDC days and he was appointed as DCE because of his robustness and undaunted loyalty to the NDC. Many people in the area consider him as a "no-nonsense" man who cannot be easily pushed around.
Whiles the behavior of the DCE is condemnable, many people are concerned about the levels of indiscipline, intolerance and unpleasant insolence which seem to have gained grounds in Ghana. Indeed, if there is too much indiscipline in the country our leaders are always expected to be incomparable in behaviour. For the DCE to have closed his eyes to the chiefs, and other important dignitaries who were at the programme only to respond to a simple comment "tweaaa" was ill-timed. I am convinced that this man can better be described as a “fur coat and no knickers” that need proper leadership training.
History reminds us that there are quite a number of instances where leaders were pulled to pieces by other people. We vividly recall how Ms Samia Nkrumah verbally abused Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom on Joy FM. It is on record that someone on a Kumasi-based radio station likened the late President Mills to a Chimpanzee. Appiah Stadium called Komla Dumor a “fool” when he was the Joy FM Super morning show presenter. It needs to be emphasized that in the face of these insults, provocation, ridicule and vilification; these great leaders remained focused and never replied their adversaries.
It is puzzling to me how many people confuse courtesy with respect. Courtesy is the social lubricant that helps us get along with people, even those we do not like or respect. Respect is something we earn through our attitudes and actions. The other aspect is who defines you? Do you decide on your own standards of behavior or they are defined by the society? Just because someone else is rude and discourteous does not mean that your standards must be lowered. In fact, many situations can be remedied by dispensing courtesy in the face of rudeness. I do not mean to imply that we must submit ourselves to abuse, but there are assertive and courteous ways to handle bad-mannered people without lowering our own standards of civility. The better we are at doing this, usually, the more respect we garner from others.
Indiscipline will triumph if our leaders keep on thinking that they are above the law and can always get away with anything. Thankfully, we can breathe a sigh of relief because the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in a statement signed by the Minister, Mr. Akwasi Oppong-Fosu has initiated an investigation into the behavior of Mr. Gabriel Barima. The Ministry has assured Ghanaians that it would complete its investigations by the end of January 2014.
Although this investigation is a step in the right direction, many people are asking if this DCE who appears long in the tooth would have behaved the way he did if he was elected by the people.
Over the years, appointed DCEs have been functioning at the behest of the President and have not enthusiastically delivered on the social and economic issues confronting the people at the local level. There is ample evidence to the fact that our local areas remain underdeveloped mainly because the leaders, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives are all selected by the President, based on political patronage. The desire of Ghanaians is to elect their own DCE's and MCE's to ensure that their Chief and Municipal Executives are directly accountable to them and not the appointing authority at the Flagstaff House.
Considering how this DCE and several other DCEs have misconducted themselves over the years, we must all support the Progressive People's Party (PPP) to ensure that every Ghanaian with a desire to change their local community is allowed to nominate themselves for the office of chief executive if they so desire. This constitutional change is critical to the progress of our nation. This will lead to real transparency, accountability, wider participation and proper decentralization at all levels.
At least from what most of us saw on TV and have seen on social media, Mr. Gabriel Barima showed intolerance at the slightest provocation. It will be unacceptable to believe that he is controlling the district with the seven commandment of Animalism which says "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".
I will urge leaders like Mr. Gabriel Barima to seize the opportunity they have to project integrity, hope, maturity and patriotism. I hope all other leaders will exercise restraint, so that Ghana can dare to dream of a cleaner and less polarised political environment.
Who said "Tweaaa"? Are you my co-equal?
Paa Kow Ackon