of 1.8 million – Does it make sense?
By: Kwaku A. Danso
There is a feeling among some of the people in leadership and executive administrative positions in Ghana that the smaller an organization or unit of people, the easier it is to manage. Wrong! This is a great fallacy indeed.
There is no rationale and no proof that this is true. Human organizations are getting larger, and it takes knowledge to manage, not size. America has demonstrated that with good management, fifty states that can be nations on their own can come together under the right formulas. If we don’t know, all we have to do is learn! Not subdivide our people more! It is not a shame for Ministers and even the President to have a practical course in organizational management. Seminars can be organized at the executive level and some of us ma offer these for free.
President Kufuor created Ministries from every single problem identification he could think of, having over 88 Ministries at one time, including Ministries for Children, for Women, for our 4-plane Air Force, for Chieftaincy, and a Ministry for the Presidency. Even though President Mills has reduced the number of Ministries, the fact that our Presidents can simply think of creating Ministries without thinking of the consequent budget for the staff and buildings and equipment is a clear indication of a very weak competency in the art of simple management and budgeting. This is no insult at all to point this out. It is no wonder that Ghana has been running at a Budget deficit of over $1 Billion to $2 Billion every year for over a decade and nobody seems to have a clue what to do! One sees so much redundancy and non-performance as one goes around Ghana. Let us get people to work! There is so much to do!
The GNA news report of Oct.28, 2009 that the Northern Region, with about 1.8 million population, is being considered for sub-division sends chills through my management brains! If this region cannot provide water for their largest city and for years Tamale was without water, what makes anybody think that if the region is divided into two or three or more, they have a better chance of socio-economic survival? For God’s sake, when is the black man going to learn the formula for working together!? Affluent areas are divided such that each person has their own water reservoirs, power generators, and more, when in fact by paying a fraction of that we could build city councils that can manage for us to have common facilities like water, police, fire, schools, public parks and a library.
The city of New York is over 12 million and have totally proficient system of management - of city administration, schools, police, fire, security, sanitation, health care services, underground sewage, train services, air services, metro bus services, and a tax collection system that is hard to escape! The state of California is larger than the size of Ghana and a population of about 35 million, with cities whose budgets are larger than that of Ghana. It has businesses, industries, communication and transportation systems of highways, airports, train and bus services, schools, hospitals and clinics, manufacturing companies, large commercial farms, police and fire services and people, managed from the local town and city levels, to the district and then the State and Federal. It has a tax system that is carefully and methodically designed to detect when one moves his location or business from one town to another without having to re-register to vote. When stocks fall or real estate market falls, obviously revenues fall short, but they quickly adapt new strategies.
Such systems of managing society, people and resources, are designed by human beings using basic and core intelligence and simple Arithmetic (with the help of Computers these days) and no need for a knowledge of nuclear or electronic Science. The management of a town or city is elementary, if we may borrow some words of the great detective Sherlock Holmes.
Education and Experience –
Certain things are easy to do if one has done it once or twice, but for the novice they seem mysterious. It is sad that educated Ghanaians, many of them without any working experience after their terminal or professional degrees overseas, have made the art of management so difficult a task it hurts to see our people wander in such darkness after 50 years of independence. It hurts to see Ghanaians as Ministers and in leadership, as well as others who can afford it, riding in the most expensive vehicles and yet cannot design and build simple modern roads to travel on in a timely manner to work! It hurts to see Ghanaians in leadership positions cannot design a simple budget based on the population of people and businesses in a town or district, and have everybody contribute to build a water system and sewage system, cover the stinky gutters that breeds mosquitoes, create a police and fire services, schools and clinics after 50 years of independence! It hurts to see our people in leadership rather find ways to exclude people who had lived and gained valuable experience overseas whiles at the same time we cannot even find ways to use the simple Computers to design a budget, to list names of members of a Church, town, school, or sick people who comes to a local hospital – things that are easy to do by elementary school kids today in America.
The hurt is so many! It hurts indeed to see us make fools of ourselves to think that if we have 10,000 homes in East Legon or Abetifi or Aburi, average worth of say $200,000, or even $50,000, somebody has to come from a central government to give us money to name our streets, number our houses and provide identification for individuals and businesses so we can manage our towns! What kind of people are we? What is the use of our education that make us so blind to how the world is moving forwards and we are left behind so much? Why can’t we push our managers to deliver results! Why can’t we fire the non-performing managers and directors!
In August 2004 I was in my hometown of Abetifi when the Chiefs had a durbar for Omanpanin Kufuor. The President arrived in style, with about 15 Toyota Landcruiser, Pajeros and other expensive vehicles; and there was a show of force and ostentation. The paramount Chief, in his talk, pleaded with the President about the lack of water in Nkawkaw, Kwahu’s largest city. The President in his response suggested that the Chiefs see the Regional Minister. As the durbar ended I asked myself if the President and his Ministers ever meet like we used to do when we were working in America, or UK or Canada, periodically such as weekly, monthly, quarterly! Does the President of Ghana, who appoints Regional Ministers and District and Metropolitan and District Chief executives, have periodic meetings with his subordinates, and does he know the problems? Does he discuss solutions and how to manage them? Three quarters of our people in Ghana to about ninety percent of our people do not have access to potable water in Ghana in the cities and rural areas, and yet loans and grants for water in 2005 and 2006 alone was $603 million. Water is still being rationed in Ghana! What type of disgrace is this!
One wonders if anybody is managing these resources to provide needed water, electricity and other needs of the people? It’s been 10 months since Professor Mills took over affairs in Ghana as President, the only man who has ever ascended the post from the VP position, and should have solutions coming daily from experience. The sad thing is that there has been no mention of water, or of roads, or of the stinky open gutters breeding mosquitoes, of the electricity that is being rationed and whose interruptions and voltage spikes are destroying appliances; there has been no mention of the poor communication system that has become a great fraud in Ghana where customers on GT/Vodafone are promised 256k Broadband speed and delivered 15k speed for Ghc65 per month, an amount that is more than the average monthly salary of a Ghanaian! Everybody is using cell phones but how do you do business in the modern world without land lines and high speed Internet?
It has become quite clear that Ghana is not being managed by anybody. Period! The President seems to do his own thing and the Ministers do theirs! At best they would deliver speeches at functions and no solutions offered for societal problems! Roads are filled with potholes in even the capital city, and those that should take 6 months are taking over 6 years to build, if ever completed. Ministers and City Chief executives seem to have no clue and no concern! In this case does subdividing the nation into small pieces help? Is that the solution? Did it ever occur to anybody up there that delegation and training is part of management? And that the more people reporting directly to you, the more difficult and time consuming it takes to manage?
This writer moved back home after 41 years in America and the only reason, as I mention on our GLU forum, is a Karmic responsibility to return and offer any help I can to manage and push our society in non-partisan manner. We have to move forward! Ghanaians are simply too smart and too talented, as I have found out, to be left behind in the dust of civilization! All what we need to do is learn to manage and our leaders learn to lead! Period!
Let us get it clear! The job of Leadership and management do not get easier simply because you subdivided the nation further among people who may not even have adequate assets and competencies or tax base to compete and build their own infrastructures from their tax base. In Real Estate law developed in Britain since 1098 under William the conqueror, a ten mile square can be considered a town-hood. Why can’t the small towns in areas such as Nkwatia, Abetifi, Pepease that are only 3 miles apart be consolidated into one town? Similar things can be done in the North to find a large tax base with common facilities such as police, fire services, schools and transportation systems. That is how you build a city and a nation! That is how democratic governance was started in ancient Athens in 587BC! And that is how it is done in places like America today – for people to elect their own city council and empower them to collect taxes and design a budget and manage affairs for the people! If an area is large, you have more people to be in the District or city council. You don’t further divide them! You need people and businesses as a tax base, not the bare land! 1.8 Million population is not much for a tax base for a Region to further subdivide it! This is the only way that has been tested now to work under a democracy. Let’s stop the trial and error, appointment of more Ministers and subdividing our nation further when we don’t even have the funds, and with the hope that it will be easier to manage. Wrong! No! Please!
Dr. Kwaku A. Danso (email: email@example.com) East Legon, Accra, Ghana