Opportunity!! That is the key word I find in this last Ghana World Cup soccer that just ended with Brazil winning by 3-0 against Ghana on this day of relaxed infamy of July 27, 2006. However, even American sports commentators on ESPN mentioned several times that Ghana was the better team today! Ghana was playing a far better game, but where was the opportunity to score and prove our worth! That is life sometimes.
Whiles negotiating some business on phone I lost the first half only to find Ghana was behind 2-0. My Gosh! Why did I not watch? Opportunity cost! On the other occasion when Italy scored against Ghana, my eyes were off the game! When I am watching nobody scores against Ghana, except only the last goal in this Brazil. For the first time American sports commentators are indicating clearly that Ghana soccer players are actually delivering a better performance than Brazil! They know where Ghana is on the map now. That loud-talking vulgar-tongued conservative racist American radio commentator Rush Limbaugh [who said some nasty things when Ghana beat USA] can suck on some icicles! Who needs him!
The opportunity Ghana has lost in the world since Nkrumah set this pride in us as children is what makes me energized sometimes to write as I reflect. No! It’s not just football or soccer! It is more than that.
Last week Ghana was rejoicing that we had been granted $500 Million from the American taxpayers to get ourselves out of poverty. They call it the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). Like its brother freebie money called HIPC funds, I feel like crying when I think what Ghana could have been under good leadership and had it not been for the mistakes made by our post-Nkrumah leaders. If we excuse the two short term rules of Dr. Busia and Dr. Limann, the longest reigning leaders have been Jerry Rawlings and now J.A. Kufuor. Many have suggested that the direction is not clear. Some have argued that there is either empty rhetoric on the part of current politicians or deliberate sabotage to help themselves first with public funds. Many have argued that had it not been for the one and only Kwame Nkrumah there would not be much to show in Ghana as any more than villages and huts across Ghana with everybody drinking from riversides. Some have argues that had it not been for the meddling of the American CIA in Ghana’s affairs to support the overthrow of our legitimate government, Ghana would have made much further progress. It is a fact that Ghana’s fortunes fell on the downslide since the 1966 coup.
Today, 49 years after political independence, Ghana cannot produce adequate water and electricity and phone services without relying on others to design our vision for us and to encumber our nation to the tune of billions of dollars for what the Chinese will do for $25 million! However this exploitation has not occurred by the exploiter alone. It has been done and made only possible with the approval and connivance of our own Ministers, leaders and intellectuals who betrayed the nation of Ghana. If only $28 million can build 17.5 kilometers of 4 lane dual carriage Highway in Ghana (Ghanaweb, 2006, June 26), it is legitimate for the youth of Ghana one day to ask how that led us to accumulate a $6.2 billion debt over the last 25 years of which the PNDC officials and Chairman and then President Rawlings was in charge 76% of the time? There is no clear accounting of why Ghana got into an accumulated debt burden of $6.2 billion. Talk of forgiveness still does not erase the question! What happened to the money!?
Last week many ware clapping and it was reported Dr. Nduom and others had finally been given a date for the arrival of the Millennium Challenge Account for a $500 million grant. The team had tried to negotiate an additional $50 million but the purpose of that request was not clear. Others speculated that was the commission for the “big boys” in power.
As we seek answers, an interesting explanation is being sought for the performance of the Black Star team at the World cup. What motivated these boys to play so well? Let’s ask ourselves: Was it the $20,000 promised per game won? If not was it by accident? Was it God’s doing? For love of country only? Come ooon! Help me out here! An American commentator suggested that the small country of Ghana is in debt $500,000 already due to our success in the games. If in Ghana every team put together to accomplish a task for nation put in their best like this, do you guys think Singapore, Malaysia and Korea would be anywhere better than we would be today? Singapore is today at GNI/capita of over $22,000 and we in Ghana are at GNI/Capita of $320 with 78.5% of our people living under $2 per day (World Bank, 2005). At independence both Singapore and Ghana were equally poor nations at GNI/capita of around $400.
We all know these players are professionals playing for their teams in mostly Europe, and those who are not will be captured almost immediately for other teams. So why is our best leaving for other shores? If we paid our players based on their level of performance or productivity [let’s consider this as a business for now], would they be leaving for the European teams? I used to write a Column for the Toronto Ghanaian News titled “Life is a Business Period!” The ideas was to share with our people the simple laws of nature that human beings perform based on motivations, and if as a society we try to examine life that way, we could succeed. From our leadership in Ghana, my recent research showed that concern for the people of Ghana is the number one element of leadership perception and expectation. About 73% of the people surveyed express high expectations of leadership performance in delivery of water, electricity, telephone and garbage services. However, 70%-90% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the services. If our leaders sincerely cared about our people, would our Doctors and Engineers and top professionals leave their shores? If politicians can write checks to themselves to purchase $75,000 Toyota Landcruiser vehicles, $3,000 for the chrome bumpers for their cars, while they watch 15 or more petroleum engineers resign en masse for dissatisfaction with pay, and hire foreigners to replace them at 4 times the salary, then there are serious questions we need to ask our leaders and our people why we allow these things to happen to us! Is the leadership of Ghana awake? Do they have any consideration for the people they represent? Or they are mere opportunists taking advantage of a weak societal culture to strengthen personal financial family fortunes?
The academic literature on leadership seem to indicate that for any nation to succeed they must have some leaders who are characterized as transformational leaders, a term coined by J.V. Downton in 1973. Academicians on leadership, such as James MacGregor Burns (1978), Conger (1999), Hunt and Conger (1999), as well as Bass & Avolio (1993, 1994) and Bass & Steidlmeier (1999) have described these leaders as almost inseparable from their followers in terms of meeting their needs, and also of having high ethical and moral standards. These leaders inspire and motivate their followers, they provide intellectual stimulation, and influence them to higher ideals and achievement. The most important of them is the personal consideration for the welfare of the people. In my upcoming book titled “Leadership Concepts and the Role of Government in Africa -
The case of Ghana”, I take permission to cite a section of a chapter on Leadership and performance strategies.
Human Resource Strategies
There are recent research publications that suggest that an effective human resource management (HRM) strategy can bring not only satisfied and more productive employees, but also affect financial performance (Becker & Gerhart, 1996; Delaney & Huselid, 1996; Huselid, 1995; Rynes, Brown & Colbert, 2002). In Ghana, national leaders seem not to have understood this concept, and there seems to be very little emphasis on the merits and benefits of HRM as part of effective strategic planning. Many medical doctors, nurses, and engineers in critical positions leave the country after the nation has invested large amounts of scarce resource training them (GhanaHomePage, 2005, October 30). This is a major loss to Ghana as an estimated 10,000 or more well-educated professionals live outside in the West. The simple reason is for their own survival as decent well paid professionals in other countries (Banful, 2004; Jeffrey, 2005; CBCFHealthcare, 2003). Good caring and considerate (transformational) leadership would have solved this problem earlier. The government’s inability to solve this resource problem may suggest lack of competence on value assessment or changing old payroll system, or simply lack of effective leadership decision making and national prioritization. The old civil service pay structure set up in the 1960 needs upgrading to be globally competitive (Danso, 2006).
I perhaps should have included football players. Ghanaian leaders owe the country the personal and individualized consideration to not only take care of football players of the World Cup, but those left behind as young and budding soccer players, intellectuals, professionals and contributors to the nation. Leadership needs a well designed Budget that takes into consideration all possible sources of revenue, and strategies to collect the money and distribute evenly across all districts whiles empowering these towns and districts to be self-dependent except in national defense. The constitution stipulates decentralization, with the only defect being the election that is not by the people themselves but appointed by a President for all 230 districts [a horrendous job indeed in a democracy]. If people elect their DCEs and MCEs and learn to have a budget to include highly qualified city managers, city planners and city engineers as done in the Western nations, there is no reason but to believe that with the right pay incentives and management, people will be motivated and Ghana can produce world-cup-qualifying athletes as well as professionals to help manage our nation.
Life is an opportunity. We have the same God-given land and perhaps more blessed than others whiles others have more of something we may not have. We need to try! We can do it!
It’s all leadership! Effective leadership!
Long Live Ghana!
Fremont, California, USA and East Legon/Accra, Ghana
[Kwaku A. Danso is an Engineering and Management Consultant in Silicon Valley California and CEO of a real estate and mortgage finance company. He recently used Ghana to conduct a comprehensive study on Leadership effectiveness in Africa using Ghana as an example, for an executive PhD program in the US. He may be contacted at email@example.com].
Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.