National Awards for the Boys ...

Fri, 27 Jun 2008 Source: Ablakwa, Samuel Okudzeto

...and for the Guinness Book of Records

Some 244 Ghanaians and foreigners have been nominated for Ghana’s highest state awards but not without controversy, mockery and growing perception of a discredited award.

Be that as it may, this year’s National Awards would itself be awarded as it is expected to make it into the Guinness Book of Records.

The award has many firsts:

It’s the first time a Ghanaian President is awarding himself in a newly created special “Eagle” category It’s the first time almost all current and former Ministers of a ruling regime are awarding themselves.

It’s the first time almost everybody at the seat of government including the Chief of Staff, Secretary to the Cabinet and Secretary to the President is a recipient. Indeed, it appears nobody was left out so the Government official at the Castle who had to inform Ghanaians about the final list of nominees thus the Press Secretary to the President was himself on the awards list. It’s the first time any Ghanaian Government has mastered the courage to openly award all of its high ranking spin doctors and praise singers.

It’s the tallest award list ever in Ghana that we are not sure if the whole day (July 3rd) would be enough for the citations and the ceremony. It is pretty obvious that the NPP Government was well aware after hatching this comical award plan for itself and its praise singers some of whom masquerade as journalists that it will generate a lot of controversy and embarrass it. It was therefore not surprising that the NPP decided to minimize or eliminate this by including former President Rawlings, former Vice President Mills, Minority Leader Bagbin, former National Security Capo Kojo Tsikata (who I remember the NPP used to call a murderer when they were in opposition) and some few other opposition members on the rather discredited awards list. It is therefore clear that the first list which included former Vice President Mills which the government put out was simply a bait to get the good old professor to accept, and once the NPP secured that acceptance, they felt they had gotten the confidence to continue the plot.

For now, the laughable plot is crumbling as highly respected citizens of our nation like former President Rawlings, Captain Kojo Tsikata, Hon. Alban Bagbin and Hon. Doe Adjaho have refused the discredited awards. More are expected to follow in the coming days. It was also refreshing to hear the respected diplomat and educationist K.B. Asante though being on the list exhibit honesty and statesmanship to admit on Joy FM that it appears the whole award has been devalued.

Sometimes the level of mediocrity our leaders exhibit is sickening – to say that once a person attains the Presidency of this country, that person deserves an award regardless of that president’s legacy makes me frightened. It is even worse when for merely becoming Ministers of State, the NPP regime thinks that warrants national honours without an evaluation of the work of these Ministers especially as most of the indicators show we are not doing well as a country: maternal mortality has gone up, under five mortality has gone up, Guinea worm which was eradicated is back, unemployment is on a constant increase, crime has engulfed us, the latest US State Department report on Ghana basically describes Ghana as a Cocaine Coast and says there’s no political will to tackle the drug menace. If in the face of all these indicators, the Presidency is happy with the output of its Ministers and is honouring them en-bloc then obviously something is wrong in this country. It is important at this juncture to advocate for an independent and transparent institution that carries out these nominations so that those finally approved for high national awards would themselves feel proud and all of us would be inspired to attain excellence. These awards demand credibility and a respected independent institution can guarantee us that. This would also ensure that all Ghanaians striving for excellence in academia, on the farms, in the schools, in the hospitals and all other spheres of human endeavour would stand a chance of being awarded instead of the present phenomenon where a cabal of politicians and their praise singers evaluate themselves and consider themselves the most deserving.

It really hurts me that the few who have exceptionally excelled and found their names on this list of 244 would be smeared by this controversy because of the acts of self-seeking and reckless politicians who have carried out this desecration.

It is my considered opinion that it’s not too late to stop the bastardization of our once revered and inspiring national awards as echoed by Political Scientist (and my former lecturer) Mr. S.K. Ahiawordor by President Kufuor waiting for his successor to award him if he so deserves and pruning down the awards list to maintain high standards, but would the NPP listen to reason, would they listen to the good people of Ghana and would they save Ghana this huge embarrassment as we risk entering the record books as the country whose President and Ministers award themselves? We wait for July 3rd, 2008.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is the author of the book, A State of Coma; he has several other publications to his name. He was NUGS President and is currently a leading member of the CJA. He welcomes your comments via samoblak@hotmail.com

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Ablakwa, Samuel Okudzeto