By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Thursday, August 14, 2014
In human affairs, especially those that deal with development, no one needs under-rate the value of professional development. Much can be achieved if those in charge of affairs upgrade their skills and apply the requisite knowledge and acumen to tackling problems. In addition to that is the element of commitment and devotion to one’s calling. Do we in Ghana value these ideals/skills?
One of the major problems hindering our efforts at tackling the challenges of development is the leadership crisis often cited by any Ghanaian complaining that the country’s abundant human and material resources are not being used to solve problems. The Mahama-led government is particularly being criticized because of its inability to solve problems. Now, we are being told something new with which to assess issues:
“The President of Legal Advocacy Foundation, Dr. Maurice Ampaw, has stated categorically that about 72% of President John Dramani Mahama’s deputy ministers are still schooling in various tertiary institutions across the country.
“I have done my checks and I can say for a fact that most of the deputy ministers—precisely about 72% of the current administration—are still in school,” the legal expert said. The outspoken lawyer could not fathom why tax payer’s monies should be spent on the education of government appointees.
He mentioned the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and the University of Ghana, Legon, as some of the institutions where many of these deputy ministers are having their tertiary programmes. Dr. Ampaw made these observations on “Ghana, Great and Strong”, a flagship programme on Ghana’s premier internet-based radio-www.Hejorleonlineradio.com, in Accra.”
Why are these government appointees “still in school” and why should their being in school raise eyebrows at all? As an educator, I appreciate efforts by people to improve their self-worth by any means possible. Education does it all, as is often said. I won’t raise any objection to efforts by those aspire to upgrade themselves and will support them in every way possible.
What we see happening in the case of these government functionaries may be “novel” in the sense that it hasn’t happened before that those recruited into government will choose to attend classes while at the same time performing duties assigned them. Divided attention? They may have problems, but I trust that they know how to use time judiciously so they can remain relevant.
Then comes the question of morality as far as their designation as government functionaries being supported by the tax payer and their pursuit of goals verging on self-improvement through education are concerned. A conflict of interest? Is what they are pursuing aimed at achieving their personal ambitions of acquiring better education so they can qualify for jobs outside government, assuming that they have their eyes set on opportunities beyond the politics that they are doing now, which means that they consider their role in government as merely temporary? Or is it because they are uncertain of being where they are in government and must, therefore, prepare for the rainy day? Or are they simply not sure where to be?
Of course, in life, there is room for self-actualization, meaning that these government functionaries have every right to look far afield for whatever will help them achieve their goals in life for as long as that desire doesn’t conflict with what they are in office for. Is there any complaint against any of them in terms of commitment to government business? So, why should their being in school nettle anybody?
It must be acknowledged that a lot of them are still young and can be considered as political neophytes. They cannot be said to have settled definitively on partisan politics as their lifelong occupation/vocation. And knowing very well the vicissitudes of Ghanaian politics, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that those holding positions of trust today may not be there tomorrow. Anything can happen, which is why some may choose to make hay while the sun shines. If they have chosen further education as the means to prepare for a better tomorrow, why begrudge them?
A fundamental question arises, though: Is their education aimed at helping them acquire skills to enhance their administrative acumen and improve governance? If so, why bother? We know that GIMPA does a lot to enhance the professional development of its students (mostly public officials). After all, its main objective is to produce management-level personnel for Ghana. And if these government functionaries enter there for that matter, why should anybody go to town on them?
Of course, the fact that they are government functionaries suggests that they are being supported by the tax payer to a large extent in much of what they do. But has it been established that the cost of their education at GIMPA and the University of Ghana is being borne by the tax payer (in terms of fees, logistics, etc.)? This is where the rub lies. If the government is sponsoring them, it is certain that public funds are involved; but is there any limitation on who and where government sponsorship of Ghanaian students should be directed at?
Another question is: What happens when these government functionaries are removed from office? Does it mean that the sponsorship or their improved education will go to waste? Not at all because one can serve one’s country in diverse capacities, not necessarily as a government functionary.
Why should anybody, then, be raising this issue to suggest that there is something fishy going on? I think that Dr. Ampaw’s interest lies in projecting these government functionaries as “inexperienced” rather than as people exploiting the situation to gain personal advantage—which introduces the political element. By telling us that these government functionaries are in school, Dr. Ampah aims at discrediting them as novices; or, at best, as people who are not serious about government business. Otherwise, why won’t they devote all their time, attention, and commitment to government business?
From a wider angle, then, the implication is that the government itself is not serious (if it can allow 72% of its functionaries to attend school instead of devoting themselves to their calling as such). But is government business being negatively affected as such? Or is Dr. Ampah just raising dust for nothing?
I shall return…
• E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Join me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/mjkbokor to continue the conversation