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The Price Of Conscientious Stupidity

Tue, 4 Aug 2009 Source: Osimi, Breda

– Denominated in Vodafone units

“The majority never has right on its side. Never, I say! That is one of the social lies that a free, thinking man is bound to rebel against. Who makes up the majority in any given country? Is it the wise men or the fools? I think we must agree that the fools are in a terrible overwhelming majority, all the wide world over. But, damn it, it can surely never be right that the stupid should rule over the clever!” –Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian playwright 1828-1906.

“I make no apologies for going to town today. After all, I have restrained myself for so long that I had to get someone to show me the way into town as I had completely lost my way. Am I stupid? Am I dumb? Are you?

Well, I can speak for myself and my manager and the two musketeers. We are neither stupid nor dumb. I know my people are also not stupid. But increasingly, I am asking myself whether those of us left on this continent somehow sold our consciences to someone who’s bolted from the market. We may have regretted the sale but we have not been able to trace to whom we sold out. Are we dumb?

Why cant the African stand up for what he believes in? Why? Is it because unlike the white man, we can’t blush? Have you calculated how much your ‘ball-lessness’ is costing your dear nation? Why is the African only strong and brave in front of his wife and his concubines? African women get battered for the most stupid of reasons just for perceptions of standing in the man’s way. Yet this same man may have just come from the office meeting where he knew that the subject of discussion was going to lead nowhere. Indeed, he was fully aware that the decisions taken could only lead to increased costs and will be ultimately unworkable. Yet, what did he say when he was asked his opinion? Yes, sir!!! This is the best idea!!! Sometimes I wonder what we will do if God did not bring you into this ministry, office, church, Castle or rock, he would add for emphasis!”

All the above was written more than two years ago in an article about the foolishness of the campaign to make Obasanjo run for a third term.

Once upon a time in my other life, Breda had a chance to tell some colleagues about an impending event. Nah, though I flow with a lot of prophecy, I am no prophet. It was also not a metaphysical event as any discerning mind could foretell it as a natural consequence of an earlier event. Once that event happens, the consequence, though it may tarry, will definitely come to pass. They, like some in the days of Agya Noah, did not believe me until “the rains came down!!!” OK, I admit that all of us in Ogyakrom have a 24 hour memory span. You don’t? OK, let me ask you a question. Do you remember a certain big man called Right Honourable Begyina Sekyi-Hughes and the hullaboutwhat? Aaha!!! We moved on, haven’t we? But I digress. That was just to buttress the point that out here in Ogyakrom, it’s only when the storm is brewing that it seems the whole world is collapsing on you. If you buckle up, and have a few friends in the right places, ready, willing and able to manipulate the ‘shitstem’, ehuru a, ebe dwo!!! So most Ogyakrom files do not date beyond 24 hours. They are deleted after 24 hours. But as Oscar and his people have done for me before, even lost files can be recovered. For a fee!!! So let’s try and recover some lost files here.

Remember some people who appeared on TV, holding placards and singing praises to Yeshua Amashua for the takeover of GT by Vodafone? At the time GT was being taken over, I wrote an article on the issues. A particular paragraph sticks out like a sore thumb and I just have to remind you. It reads “Accra Breweries Ltd. runs some adverts which show what they call distinctively Ghanaian moments. Let me jig your memory a bit about one such moment. Remember the red-shirted workers of Ghana Telecom who went on a wild jubilation that their company had been sold to Vodafone? The same workers who issued a statement supporting the government in sacking TMP and asserting the ability of the Blackman to manage his own affairs? It was the Ghanaian version of a kamikaze dance. Workers jubilating over what amounts to no less than constructive dismissals? As the Learned Judge once told me, “ma gyimi a, enka wope paaa!!!!

I believe that many other Ghanaians asked themselves the same questions. What’s wrong with those GT workers? Don’t they know that once the event occurs, there is a natural consequence that will happen as surely as night follows day? The event is called downsizing a.k.a. retrenchment a.k.a. compulsory redundancy a.k.a. ‘sack-sack’. Last week Vodafone decided that the workers were not disposing themselves off at the pace it anticipated and announced a compulsory redundancy to affect at least 950 workers across board. Enter the same workers and their union leaders: “We no go sit down”!!! So typically Ghanaian!!!

Fact: The workers at Vodafone Ghana are wasting their time fighting the redundancy. Fact: The redundancy will take place. Fact: Many workers will lose their jobs. Fact: The compulsory redundancy is perfectly legit. Fact: Neither the government nor the NPP nor the Labour Commission can stop the process, unless for a perfectly sound legal cause which is not on the horizon. Fact: Redundancies or downsizing is a natural consequence of a takeover or acquisition. Ask my manager. Fact: Pre-takeover corporate communication is fundamentally different from post-takeover communication. E.g., ‘there will be no loss of jobs’ is pre-takeover. ‘We need to downsize to remain competitive’ is post-takeover talk. So, Vodafone workers who are within the Vodafone drop zone, if your Union executives ever promised that you will not haemorrhage jobs, start castrating some of them.

Here is some free Breda advice for all the drop zone candidates and others in Vodafone. Its time for your Union to spend its energies on negotiating a very good terminal package for all affected staff. Make sure you are adequately rewarded for the service you have rendered to Ghana Post and Telecommunications to Ghana Telecoms to Vodafone Ghana. Also try and see whether you can get Vodafone to fund some skills training in addition to your terminal benefits. Start letting the Union members be aware that what’s happening is inevitable. Yu must position them to appreciate that some jobs will definitely be lost. What the staff of GT did in openly demonstrating to welcome the takeover and calling on government not to intervene to halt it may have gotten some of them front page coverage in Daily Graphic. But it’s what Breda calls “conscientious stupidity, denominated in Vodafone units”. It comes with a price tag. It’s the kind of behaviour where an individual is fully aware that his actions will come back to haunt him or his community but he goes ahead anyway, regardless. The wholly unique historical act of workers demonstrating in support of the takeover of their own company suggests that all within that entity were ready for whatever adventure the new team was bringing including compulsory redundancies. So I laugh out loud when I hear the same people say that Vodafone never told them there will be compulsory redundancies. If even the mother of all ‘father Christmas employers’, the Government of Ama Ghana, was looking for profits in that entity, what did they think the abrofo’ were there for? A visit to the Cape Coast Castle? If Vodafone have to fire 1500 people to achieve their objective of making profits in Ghana, believe me they will walk the route. Vodafone aint no father Christmas o. They are here for the money and they will do what’s absolutely necessary to achieve their business objectives. This may include downsizing and sadly not even Uncle Fiifi can save you. And if you thought it was only Vodafone, think again. We all have a 30% stake in there and we share their vision. Only you will not get Haruna the Honourable to ever say any such thing.

Let me end with a message to my people: Conscientious stupidity will only come back to haunt you. Remember all the musicians who trooped to the Nearly Man’s house to pay homage during the race to the Castle 08. At the time, it made absolute sense because everyone who has sung a note was heading that way and refusing to go there meant immediate extinction of your voice. Oh, the perils my musicians face. Witness Jewel Ackah’s wahala during the years of the Elephant? Everyone who was anyone in the Ghanaian music industry crammed unto the Nearly Man’s train. It took the ‘suicidal’ actions of a few ‘mad’ men like Lucky Mensah to stick their necks for Uncle Fiifi. “Look, who’s dancing now”?

Breda won’t shed too many tears for Vodafone staff. If only you had bothered to ask the old Major, he would have surely told you that though it may tarry, a redundancy, in all its shapes and forms, would surely happen. As A. B. Crentsil (where is he?) said in one of his masterpieces, “me di wo be ko fie” which in Ohemaa language translates somehow like “I will take you home”. Believe it or yes, “ya ye mo sete waaaaa!!!!”

Breda Osimi 020809

Columnist: Osimi, Breda