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05.06.2017 Feature Article

Chance For Change: Let’s Just Do It!

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There is so much happening in our country right now. Just as the world is witnessing significant physical changes in climate and our generation sails upon the waves of ever-changing technology, Ghana today is experiencing a set of situations that may be indicative of the kind of nation we will be in the near future. The lynching of a soldier by a local community, exploitation of the vulnerable, abysmal productivity and the decline of public morality are but a few of the recent issues that have grabbed our attention. These highlights present an opportunity for a national self-introspection, which could lead us into a major turnaround for our collective good.

These issues present as worrying problems; and sometimes one wonders whether they will ever end. But when we increasingly understand that problems will never end because they are actually opportunities to attain our national aspirations of freedom, justice, development, prosperity and fulfilment; when we more and more appreciate problems as surmountable challenges and opportunities in disguise, we can take advantage of them and utilize the occasion to transform our country. Recent events have brought to the fore three broader issues we need to address: Social Justice, Productivity and Morality

Social Justice
Listening and reading the commentaries following the recent lynching of a soldier, Captain Maxwell Mahama, by residents of a local community earlier last week resurrects the need for us to pay real attention to the issue of social justice on many fronts: economic equity, gender equality or equivalence, legal justice and the whole gamut of exploitation meted to the vulnerable in our society. Why is it that two persons who do the same quantity of work and produce the same quality of results are given different remuneration? Why do some people get more access to the factors of production than others? Of course, we should be careful to avoid a simplistic analysis of these realities. There are many who are economically disadvantaged because of their own negligence, irresponsibility and folly. Yes, the resources of the country belong to all of us but to have personal access to some of it demands diligence.

Those who refuse to be diligent will perish in the land of plenty, now and forever. But what about those who wickedly steal the resource because they misuse the mandate and power we have given them by electing them into positions of trust? That’s where most of the concerns of economic injustice emanate. This is a global challenge: reducing the inequality gap within and among countries is the number 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2015, half of the world’s wealth got into the hands of just 1% of the global population. People like Bill Gates, Amancia Ortega, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, Charles Koch, David Kock, Carlos Slim, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison and Ingvor Kampard, who are the ten richest, indirectly influence the lives of masses. We may not have to advocate for redistribution of global wealth. People have earned what they have; and so must everyone.

But in our country today the perception of corruption is too high to ignore. Just yesterday, Jon Benjamin is reported to have made what perhaps is his last meddle as he exists in August. The U.K. High Commissioner observed thus: “we have seen far too much greed, wanton corruption in too many spheres; in government, in politics, in public administration, in religion, in tradition leadership, in football, in the media, and at too many levels from top to bottom.” Is this not the witness in our own minds? Corruption is a deep inhibiter to economic justice, and we need to step up our game and be innovative to effectively address it. What could add to our efforts, the following: hasten the setting up of the Office of the Independent Prosecutor (OIP) and ensure his independence; train more investigators, provide adequate technical capacity and logistics to the Commission on Human Right and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to enforce administrative justice; and incentivize the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) to be more extensive and regular with their citizenship programmes. In many cases we only have to do well, the things we are already doing. Often our challenge is moving our efforts from mediocre levels to above threshold.

To social injustices meted out to women in this country is too much. From the marital home to the work place, our women are exposed to all manner of maltreatment and abuse. Some have acid poured on them because they refused to accept a proposal. Some are refused employment or promotion because they rejected sexual harassment. Why do we do this? Why do we take advantage of our women because we assume they are not physically strong to counter our use of brute force on them? No man has the right to abuse any woman. It is a taboo to harm the vessel that perpetuates the race. Surely many challenges encumber our journey towards gender equality. But let’s keep the focus on appreciating our natural differences and expand their application for our wellbeing. Women and men are equal but not the same, just as the three persons in the trinity are equal but unique. While women are more disposed to meeting the reproductive needs and men to the economic, our preoccupation should be to enhance the complementarity and optimize the synergies of the couple. Greed, unhealthy competition will not help us. Let’s treat our women fairly by giving them adequate opportunities to access and control resources in the home and market place.

During his May Day address, the President struck another cord on the issue of productivity. He reminded us of the sharp contrast in work quality between past and present artisans. Nana Addo has been around for a long time so he knows what he is talking about. Our work force is losing the quality of mind that once made us the icons in the region. Today we are a pale shadow of our glorious past; even in football. But we can recover, and that we will. The politicians rally us with nice slogans like “better Ghana” and “let Ghana work again”. But we must go beyond slogans. With less talk and more action, diligence and consistency, we can actually make Ghana better by making her work again. One area to be consistent with is time management. In the private sector, serious companies have time sheets by which the utility of staff is measured. That’s how their productive is high. The suggestion is that officers and supervises in public agencies, should make robust linkages between agency mandates and activity schedule of officers and apply rigorous standard to motivate performance through regular inspection, monitoring and evaluation. All this must be done with a human but uncompromising approach. This is a basic rule in productivity enhancement. Any corner-cutting yields mediocrity. We have a chance for change.

Another aspect of productivity has to do with competency: the result-yielding management of knowledge, skill and experience. As we know, this has many of its roots in our educational system, and the unstable nature of our education policies is reflective of our inadequacies in this direction. Looks like every new government sees a fundamental flaw in the previous policies, and thus makes a case to overhaul it. Is this because of a perceived polarity in the political and governance ideologies of our two major political parties? Well, political polarity is giving way to the center and we have to quickly get our house in order before we jeopardise the education of our young people and mess our human resource base.

This is probably the biggest of our challenges. Many, if not all, of our problems are caused by the rapid decadence in the moral fiber of society. Good is disdained, and bad is hailed if it yields transient material benefits. Many do not see the essence of doing what is right if “there is nothing in it” for them. The surprising fact is that the last population census put the proportion of Christians in Ghana at 71%. So according to the statistics, we are a very religious nation. And if it is true that religion is the foundation of true morality, then our churches owe us explanations. They have to tell us why there is so much religious activities and talk, without a commensurate impact on our national life. Any of us who claims to be Christian needs to follow God, as a child of God. Is God corrupt? Why don’t we see enough Christians offering ourselves to do the right thing, even if it causes temporal pain? Sacrifice is a key character of genuine Christianity. There should be something that should not be even mentioned once among Christians. How do we have so-called Christian homes breaking down because either spouse defiles the marriage bed? This is an abomination, turned routine.

Consensual pre-marital sex is no more a “taboo”. We have lost the sacredness of conjugal intimacy; and with neither shame nor blush we noisily expect folks to come along with us. To a significant degree, popular Christianity is speedily losing its saltiness and has arguably become good for nothing. Our negligence and irresponsible gullibility has allowed religious charlatans to either define multiple variations of Christian conduct or blur the authenticity of Christian character. This is a major reason why our Christian is lame in many other aspects of national life and economic development. Christians must wake up. Let’s get back to work like our Master did. Jesus Christ is reason from the dead and so must we rise from our stupor. In all endeavours of life we must arise and shine for our light is come! In Governance and Development, Science and Technology, Media and Communication, Religion, Arts and Philosophy, Finance and Business, Relationship and Family, Education and Training, we must acquire and demonstrate cross-cutting excellence. Let’s just do it.

Let’s go for it!
As a country, we have opportunities which may not always be available. As recent events have drawn our attention to some fundamental gaps in our national psyche and disposition, let’s quickly finish picking up the pieces and take work towards actual change. If we focus on what really matters, apply diligence at all levels, and remain consistent in our endeavours, true change will embrace us, sooner than we would expect.

Emmanuel Kwame Mensah
Emmanuel Kwame Mensah, © 2017

The author has 23 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: EmmanuelKwameMensah

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