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Opinions Mon, 24 Aug 2009

Why two wrongs do not make a right

A political science lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr. Kwesi Jonah, is reportedly advocating for some restrictions on the appointment powers of the President. He argues that the powers conferred on the President to appoint public officials on their assumption of office disrupt continuity of development projects. Dr. Jonah says there is always a risk of people having blind loyalty to the leader instead of the nation and therefore end up becoming “boot lickers” and “stooges” of the president. He went on to accuse both the present government and its predecessor for appointing inefficient officials into government by virtue of their loyalty to the party.

Addressing constituency members at the second Town Hall meeting in Kumasi recently, Mr. Isaac Osei, MP for Subin, condemned the partisanship in employment and the reported massive dismissal of cocoa spraying gangs, and suggested the expansion in various programmes - particularly the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) to ensure increase in recruitment of more personnel.

Democracy and Freedom Alliance, a Kumasi-based political pressure group, has expressed concern about what it describes as the worsening political division in the country. The group said it was totally unacceptable that only supporters of the ruling National Democratic Congress have seemingly become the sole beneficiaries of state protection, largesse and jobs. This, the group maintained, was certainly not the best way to go if Ghana was to attain the much touted middle income status that we so much wish for ourselves and for our children.

In Ghana, competence plays a second fiddle to party loyalty in the appointment of public officials. This trend was displayed during the tenure of the NPP government and the present NDC government is strictly adhering to this unfortunate norm. As a nation with a common destiny, we will be doing ourselves no good should we ignore competence and rather embrace party loyalty.

In opposition, the NDC party complained bitterly about the manner in which the then NPP government treated some government officials. If it was wrong then, why should it be justified now? One was expecting a party which campaigned on change to deviate from this norm but what do we see today? We hear on daily basis of people been fired by the government and its officials from their positions without their employers apportioning any reason. Axing people on the basis of incompetence is very much welcome but dismissing people solely on suspicion of their political lineage is unfortunate.

The NDC party promised Ghanaians a better Ghana, but current happenings in the country does not point to that direction. Quite a number of competent people who were employed by the previous NPP administration are not allowed to serve their country because there is the perception that they could be NPP sympathizers. My question to President Mills is this: How best are you going to tap and nurture the best brains Ghana has to offer, in your bid to move Ghana forward, when your only qualification criterion is party loyalty? Upon assumption of office, President Atta Mills assured Ghanaians that he will be a father of all, however, what we are witnessing today is a clear indication that the statement the President made was far from the truth.

Atta Mills was quick to tell Ghanaians he was a father of all, but looks on unconcerned when the appointments of the newly recruited Foreign Service Officers where unduly terminated. The President’s silence on the mayhem of take-over continues to amaze many Ghanaians who are questioning the sincerity of the ‘Father of All’ mantra.We did not hear a word from the father of all when 840 military recruits where asked to go home and never to return. The father of all was dead silent when 160 National Security personnel who were reportedly employed between 2001 and 2008, were sacked without any reference to employee misconduct. Since coming into office, supporters of the ruling NDC have forcibly taken over public facilities and threatened workers in certain government agencies and department.

The NDC has taken the concept of the winner takes it all to a completely different level. After the elections, not a day passed without the media reporting about incessant seizer of public toilets all over the country by members of the ruling party. The Ghanaian media report on daily basis news of NDC tugs raiding one office after the other. Institutions such as the National Health Insurance Scheme, the National Youth Employment Programme, NADMO, some public lorry parks and toilets have all seen one take-over or another. What a pathetic situation! Does it have to come to this, Mr. President?

The Ghana-based multi-national sanitation company, Zoomlion Ghana Limited, is currently under serious attack by elements within the NDC. These elements have clandestinely been pushing for government to engineer the collapse of the company. Whilst some NDC leaders rally against the company, the Northern regional branch of the NDC have reportedly started replacing staff employed under the Zoomlion contract with government under the NYEP contract. If the NDC is hell-bent on collapsing a company like Zoomlion just because some people within the party believe the company is owned by the NPP, then God save Ghana.

Ghana is a country with a bright future and hope. In order to achieve this promising future, we should, as a nation, strive to create better avenues and conditions for the realisation of such promising future for ourselves and for the future generation. Competence, in my humble opinion, should be the essential ingredient in our quest for building a better Ghana and not party affiliation. The country demands competent leadership that galvanises human and material resources of the country for accelerated development. Perhaps, President Mills should be reminded that he was not elected to provide jobs for only NDC members and sympathisers, but he has the onerous responsibility of providing jobs for Ghanaians, irrespective of their party affiliations.

Desmond Frimpong, NPP Norway

Columnist: Frimpong, Desmond