The economic sanctum Osafo-Maafo

Thu, 30 Aug 2007 Source: Senaya, Ivy Mawusi

Thank God everything is on course for the mother of all delegates’ conference since Ghana was ushered into constitutional democracy. As this for sure, is going to be a test case for our multi-party democracy, I strongly believe the NPP and Ghana will rise up to the challenge.

Much as some people are sceptical about the number of aspirants, what is important is who amongst the lot constitutes the face of a changing Ghana which will prioritise the mobilisation and utilisation of her resources to speed up the socio-economic growth and human development of our society.

It is on this basis that the recent comments by Prof S.K.B Asante that we need to focus the election of our leadership based on substantive issues like personal initiatives (vision) and contributions, capabilities, conduct, track record of service and commitment along the lines of a bigger stake in sustaining both the micro and macro economic stability and good political governance to balance economic independence with our political independence is highly appropriate.

Ghana’s leadership is challenged on many more and wide-ranging issues than ever before especially on poverty and socio-economic development. As such individual who has a serious grasp of these challenges places him/her self on the best approaches yet to demonstrate his/her ability, worth and authority to create a sound condition for prosperity must be supported for the good of Ghana.

Fitting the various candidates into the ‘S.K.B leadership election model’ one can honestly say, without any slightest of doubt that, Osafo-Maafo is the new face of the post-Kufuor leadership image.

There is no question about the fact that our major problem has been leadership vision and the determination to manage public institutions to provide the framework to support the general socio-economic development. Many at times the problem has not to do with the single leader’s credibility and ability, but the independence and self confidence of those he/she mandates to work on his/her behalf. But without the individual’s independence and greater sense of self determination and confidence matched with the desire to change and transform the responsibilities purely based on conscience, there is no way one can impact his work place let alone a society.

And this is the area Osafo-Maafo stands out. During his parliamentary vetting in 2001 he was asked which of the previous finance ministers’ foot-prints he will like to follow. His answer was quick and precise: “I am a self-made man,” knowing very well what his priorities in life are. He appreciated the work done by his predecesors but he maintained his own style of performing. But can someone make it to such a level on his own without appreciating where he came from, where he is today and where he wants to be? That is not possible.

In fact before he appeared before the parliamentary appointments committee he had undertaken a serious ‘feasibility study’ to know the exact state of the Ghanaian economy such that the information he presented that very day even surprised the NDC MP’s who could not hide their admiration for him.

That is the essence of visionary leadership! The need to commit to the duty of knowing what is and what is not there to form the basis of what you want and can do to achieve your mission. That is the talent Osafo-Maafo exhibited to change the face of the Ghanaian economy during his 4 years as finance minister.

There is no question that some of our leaders are simply lazy to get to the core of issues. So does it surprise us to have certain policy statements and speeches not having any serious impact on the issues purported to address? The fact that we at times have some issues appearing in numerous speeches and even by different ministers without significantly addressing the substantive issues indicates the failure of personality concerned to place him/her self at a position to know the extent of the problem and accept responsibility over the process of working on them. This is not Osafo-Maafo.

This is one problem that Prof Asante is cautioning us to be wary of when he called for a new leadership paradigm that takes upon him/her self to know where we are coming from, where we are now and where we want to go. That is the only way we can identify ‘the how’ of making it.

Any body who has worked with Osafo-Maafo can testify that he is someone who appreciates his responsibilities, accept them and always ready to be responsible for his actions, and this is why he always debars any sycophantic and bootlicking attitude that go on within the corridors of power in the performance of his duties. His biggest character is to effect positive change.

He is the type who can be his ‘own man’ for the good of the larger institution. He is not afraid to speak his mind (not in arrogance) but in a way very convincing to even change the position of those who might have different opinion. He does not bully people with his position and power and is not afraid to be criticised.

It is sad that in our society if a woman is performing creditably and can stand on her feet on ideas she believes in she is tagged as a witch and when a man happens to be same he is seen as a threat. That is why power bully, sycophancy, bigotry and the attitude of let’s do as master say dominate our society. People are afraid to apply common sense and conscience in the performance of their duty simply because their conscience may clash with some people. How do we progress in such a society?

Osafo-Maafo’s down to earth leadership-management approach makes his staff feel at ease to share their opinion on issues and this helps him to tap the best ideas to effect positive changes in his outfit. He is not the bossy type of personality who wants his presence to be felt as the ‘oga kwataa’- a situation which enables staffs to pretend when the boss is around but as soon as he leaves the power to work is dead. Are we surprised to see some ministries virtually ‘unbiz’ but pretentiously ‘biz’ at certain periods? It is all because people work to please and not that they have any responsibilities to meet.

Let us not forget that four ministries that saw significant changes in the NPP’s first 4 years were Finance, Agric, Defence and Local government and we can all testify to the styles of the ministers there during the period.

We need a character like Osafo-Maafo to lead the new crusade towards economic independence and growth where the ethics of work are profoundly based on greater degree of knowledge and understanding of issues, a sense of deep acceptance of responsibilities and the desire to work to change and not to please bosses. This is the only way the NPP can meet the socio-economic needs and aspirations of the larger society; and this is the only way the party can govern that long period some of us have been boasting of.

Having worked in one of the institutions he has worked there, I learnt one basic thing from Osafo-Maafo: his determination to turn public institution from the shadows of the state to that of a commercially viable institution to be competitive, ambitious and profitable. This he did through a ‘shift in thinking approach’ exhibited through organisational flexibility to generate rapidly changing institutional priorities, management-staff competency styles that instil self confidence and encouraging cross-functional initiatives that create understanding of business attitude.

Certainly, this "self-made man" is the man we need for our economic sanctum.

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

Columnist: Senaya, Ivy Mawusi