Vicky Wireko writes: When bowing out becomes more honourable

Politicians New Ol File photo

Mon, 2 Sep 2019 Source: Vicky Wireko

Monitoring from afar the media space in nation Ghana over the last couple of weeks, I have been pondering over some high profile resignations from public service and Governing Boards.

The resignations have made the headlines for varied reasons. Unusual moves? Yes, because high profile resignations are not the norm in our situation. They do not normally happen as a matter of course. Surprised? Personally no, because I have come face to face with such tough decisions before and I did allow good reason to decide my next move - resignation.

Matter of principle

I have believed as a matter of principle that it is always more honourable to say no, bow out and move on hungry or with one’s belly full than stay on in a position that conflicts with one’s principles and ideals. Staying mute in such instances is contributing to a canker that could swell up and wipe out any hard-worn integrity or respect. Most important perhaps is the fact that staying on could be a dis-service, condoning an ill that should otherwise come to the fore for redress.

Many a time when resignations in public offices are announced, people would read varied meanings into them with interpretations ranging from the betrayal of the cause to disloyalty or cowardness. Even family and friends may sometimes have issues as to why one should resign from a juicy package or a place of honour and cast insinuations with countless reasons why one should have stayed on.

In principle, I have always maintained that the wisest thing, for any public or private official who comes to that crossroad in their lives, is to listen to one’s self and decide based on one’s conscience.

Much as one may want to stay loyal to the course, where one’s views on some issues are consistently seen as inconsequential no matter the slippery slope the organisation is heading to, there must be a conscience prick.

Sold conscience

We have seen occasions where leaderships stayed on, sold their consciences and ended up destroying not only their company’s brand but their own brands built up over the years. Many useful lessons and case studies abound in our world where leaders in high profile positions have had to quit their dream jobs and positions to save the faces of their institutions, their families, themselves and most importantly, their country.

We have heard, in the last few years in places like America, some parts of Asia, Canada, Ireland and the UK where Prime Ministers, Deputy Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, entire Cabinet, Secretaries of State, Judges, Spokespersons of Presidents, Congressmen, Mayors, Governors, Board members, well-paid CEOs and many more, have all resigned their jobs for good moral or ethical reasons.

?Recently, in the midst of the heat of the controversial Brexit, whether Britain should leave the European Union and be an island to itself or stay with the community of nations, the second female Prime Minister the United Kingdom has ever had, had to resign her job under mountains of pressure for an initial deal she never supervised. Fixed at a crossroad, and with the country at heart, Theresa May had to resign her job as Prime Minister. For me, her decision was most honourable, though regrettable for those supporters in her government and the House of Lords. She would always remain as the second female Prime Minister Britain ever had. She would always be counted as a former UK Tory Prime Minister. Nothing would change from her acquired status and the party has not denounced her.

On two occasions in my professional life, I came to some crossroads. In my pensive moments, I had asked myself questions as to what my integrity would benefit from if I remained or called it quits. I asked questions with my family and closest friends in mind. I questioned whether my personal brand would be enhanced or diminished if I stayed or not. But above all, I questioned whether I could serve my country better by staying or leaving. Most invariably, answers dropped in and got convinced on the decisions I reached at – to resign my positions.

One may decide to stay in times of crossroads but staying on and shutting up may critically injure the course because one serves to speak out and contribute to shape things for the better of the institution one is appointed to serve. We should begin to develop a culture of resignation, or boldly saying nowhere necessary and let managements and appointing authorities be aware of issues that need to be tackled for progress.

Resignations should never be seen as weak signs. They are healthy developments in the life of an organisation. They must be applauded not questioned or maligned. Every resignation has a positive side and many learnings for the future.

Columnist: Vicky Wireko