Ghana is a country whose image among the comity of nations has soared or dipped at various times. Worldwide, we are recognized as the first country to have gained independence, as well as having supported the independence struggles of sister African states. These boosted our image, and it was therefore not surprising that many Africans in the Diaspora would want to trace their roots here.
Whereas those of us who did not contribute directly to the building of this positive image of Ghana may take it for granted, the few active participants in those struggles may have bled several times from the heart, when they saw acts or omissions on our part that tarnished the image of this country.
We have known in this country that there are persons whose specialty has been to facilitate the expedited acquisition of passports and visas. We have deplored the activities of these persons because it is believed they have been exploiting deliberately instituted bureaucratic bottlenecks in the system, to enrich themselves, to the detriment of others who should otherwise not be tasked to pay much.
It is common knowledge that in the past, when we were sending our sports teams on international assignments, some highly placed officials managed to include in the teams non-sports persons who were 'dropped' along the journey like cargo-in-transit.
In recent times too, some ministers of state and members of parliament have been implicated in fraudulent misrepresentations to various embassies for the purposes of acquiring visas.
Whilst some of these misrepresentations were detected by some of the embassies and a few of them became public knowledge, only God knows how many of them went through undetected.
What we are not certain of is whether these highly placed officials engaged in these passports and visa deals out of a feeling of benevolence or for financial considerations.
For whatever reasons our highly placed officials have engaged in these acts, it is about time we sat up and let them appreciate the harm they are doing the image of our dear nation. The poor Ghanaian hassling it out there, is the one who bears the brunt of this as happens oftentimes when we hear of our people being molested on foreign lands.
We are also aware of the kinds of humiliation many of our people go through when they try to acquire visas to visit other countries. These unholy practices of otherwise high standing officials always weaken our arguments on the need for our people to be treated with the utmost respect.
Perhaps it is the belief that there is nothing that our MPs and ministers cannot do that compels people to put pressure on them for assistance. But then, the question to ask is, 'Why would these honourable men and women not tell their constituents and friends about their limitations?'
We believe that the name and image of this country is more important than anything else. How well persons in leadership positions conducted themselves has a far-reaching effect on how the ordinary people are treated by foreigners.
We need to preserve whatever level of our good image is left and strive to build on it. Our highly placed officials can contribute a lot in achieving this.