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Opinions Sun, 30 Apr 2017

Ibrahim Mahama and SSNIT: A case of groupthink

''The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has dragged Engineers and Planners and the company’s CEO and Directors to court for failing to pay social security contributions of its staff as required by law” (Source: ghanaweb.com, April 29, 2017).

In his 1966 satirical novel entitled “A Man of The People” Chinua Achebe quizzed rhetorically who will spit out a juicy morsel that good fortune place in his mouth! Mr. Ibrahim Mahamah’s brother was a president and so what?

Hypocrisy remains the scaffolding in Ghanaian society. Who on earth hates good things? Who would not take advantage of his or her family member’s fortune?

The ongoing tussles between Mr. Ibrahim Mahama and state institutions are clear manifestations of groupthink or crabology syndrome.

The concept of groupthink was the creation of American social psychologist, Irving Janis, in 1972. Groupthink happens when members of a group make faulty decisions resulting in a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgement (Janis, 1972). It is not uncommon to see individuals affected by groupthink to jettison alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize the other individuals (Janis, 1972). A group is particularly vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinion, and when there are no clear rules for decision making (Janis, 1972).

Groupthink is similar to crabology concept. I heard the concept of crabology for the first from Bishop Dag-Heward Mills before reading that there is a social concept known as crab bucket. A crab bucket refers to a situation in which a single crab is put into a lidless bucket and escapes with relative ease. However, contrary is the case when many crabs share a bucket, none can get out. If one crab elevates itself above all, the others will grab this crab and drag it back down to share the mutual fate of the rest of the group.

A crab bucket or crabology syndrome implies a social situation wherein an individual is trying to succeed in life while the remaining members of his/her community out of jealousy attempt to drag him/her down.

More often than not individuals very close to the person try relentlessly to bring the person down. Is that not Kwasi? Your close associates will bring you down so that they can happily say: “We are in the same boat ooh, charley!” Perhaps this partly explains why Jesus reminded us that a prophet is not without honor except in his own hometown and in his own home (Matthew 13:57).

Youth unemployment is very rife in Ghana now. State institutions must be investor friendly in order to beguile more people into job creation for the teaming unemployed youth. If Mr. Ibrahim had not paid SSNIT contributions of his employees from February 2015 to July 2015, June 2016 to August 2016, and in October 2016, amounting to GHS668,754.75, as being alleged by pension scheme managers, he must be given some grace periods to pay rather than legal scuffle.

SSNIT has no locus standi to drag people to court for defaulting social security contributions.

I am personally aware of some pensioners who died before their pension pays were processed. Most of us resigned from our jobs before travelling abroad, what happened to our social security funds?

SSNIT must stop harassing Mr. Ibrahim and other entrepreneurs. They even take the contributions to enrich themselves while pensioners languished in poverty.

The salary of the director-general of SSNIT is 76, 606 Ghana Cedis equivalent to $18153.00 Per month (Source: peacefmonline.com, March 30, 2017). As at 2008, for example, the minimum monthly pay for pensioners was 100 Ghana Cedis. We always blame politicians and leave the real crooks.

Ghana is a country where expatriate companies are given tax holidays for about three years only for such companies to change their names after three years and re-register for another years of tax holiday.

They are supported by their Ghanaian accomplices to evade tax, albeit huge capital flights. Inasmuch as state institutions must impress on business owners to fulfil their national obligations or comply with the laws, they must be careful not to shutdown local businesses. SSNIT must rather schedule payment arrangement with business owners. Ghana government at times owes local contractors up to about three years. Ibrahim was a successful businessman before his brother became the president of the Republic of Ghana.

The habit of polling our own down must stop. This goes to all political parties. How can we beg Chinese to stop flouting the laws of Ghana by polluting our water bodies and drag our own to court? Ghana, an interesting country where the sick goes to the hospital with “trotro” while the dead goes to necropolis with an ambulance for you! Please, Ghana youth need jobs, do not kill entrepreneurial spirit in Ghana! SSNIT should give us a break! God Bless Our Homeland Ghana, And Make Us Cherish Fearless Honesty!

Reference

Janis, Irving L. (1972). Victims of Groupthink. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Columnist: Nana Yaw Osei
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