Public service appointments and equal opportunities in Ghana

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Last week, we pored over several prospective job applications for roles in some government institutions, run of course with taxpayers’ money but we decided against submitting the applications.

Many Ghanaians simply do not trust that they shall get a fair chance at being shortlisted even when they are qualified.

Several apologists of political patronage have suggested that those of us who offer robust written critiques of happenings in ghana, have “exposed” some appointees who “feel insulted” and those appointees will therefore block our appointment to any advertised position that requires merit and ability.

But rest assured the narrowing of the gates by tin gods shall not lead to any dignified individual begging them for favours; Hell no!

“Under the [Napoleonic] code all male citizens are equal: primogeniture, hereditary nobility, and class privileges are extinguished……”, as referenced by britannica.com, in explaining the essence of the French Civil Code.

The code, initially enacted March 21, 1804, has been largely adopted voluntarily across Continental Europe and Latin America into respective republican civil codes (civil law).

Under Chapter Six of the Ghanaian constitution, promulgated 1992, this has been adopted under “The Directive Principles of State Policy” (DPSP). The DPSP of India (independence; 1947), was adopted from the Irish Constitution which was gleaned from the French revolution, of some 200 years ago.

The French themselves struggled against vested interests working against an attempt to unify different civil codes until Napoleon Bonaparte came onto the scene.

Later amendments have seen discriminatory sections against women, for example, removed, for “its moral justification was to be found not in ancient custom or monarchical paternalism but in its conformity to the dictates of reason.”

In the words of our mentor, “The Ahenfie Mentality has clouded the thinking of ghana’s political leaders”.

During the tenure of the Second Parliament of the Fourth Republic, Nana Akufo-Addo, the current POTROG, then MP for Abuakwa, had reasonable cause to make a statement in Parliament that recruitment/enlistment into the Ghana Armed Forces were ethnically-biased.

He contended that this was not good for our national security interests.

The Ghana Armed Forces had no credible response, because Akufo-Addo, then a member of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, had access to data which was available to Parliament through summonses to various quarters.

So how come this same erudite lawyer now has at least two dozen members of his family circle as ministers, members of boards of directors and directors in other high profile national positions?

The Public Service Commission, Council of State, National House of Chiefs, Judicial Council, and the Appointments Committee of Parliament, should have been the ideal gatekeepers to prevent such a skewed representation.

Even the indispensable (Enlightenment) paradigm of merit and ability has not been adhered to in a significant number of the appointments.

And it shows in performance across board, where at every turn you encounter; a weak, emasculated, barely able to deliver public service where initiative is non-existent and double speak is the order of the day.

The quality of leadership in many sectors is barely satisfactory – works and housing, the attorney-general’s department, ministry of finance, parliamentary affairs, education.

In many of these instances, hitherto touted supremacy has proved to be thorough fiction or at best all fluff and bluster.

The (Napoleonic) Civil code was based on “sublimated common sense” such that no one should escape its charges; even civil administrators were not excused from punishment if they were not diligent in their duties.

Just look around you in ghana; here with a wink and a nod, a monstrous hegemony has sought to entrench itself administration after administration.

If we are not vigilant, we will soon have oligarchs and plutocrats among us; the true harbingers of doom.

This is a republic, for crying out loud.

The grotesque consequences of nepotism and predatory patronage have been well documented throughout history, but as our mentor will say, “Do our people ever read anything important; do they ever learn the right lessons?”

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah/Augustine Williams-Mensah