ANNUAL LEADERSHIP LECTURE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES, ACCRA 2019 DELIVERED BY HIS MAJESTY OTUMFUO OSEI TUTU II, ASANTEHENE, ON NOVEMBER 22, 2019
THEME: LEADERSHIP: STRENGTHENING DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT.
One of the things we cherish most in life is our relationship with our alma-maters; the institutions that helped shape our lives, intellectually, morally among others. That is why it has always been a source of pride to me to return to this campus, even if only to breathe the air that nourished our bodies and spirits and prepared us for the journey of life that has taken us where we are today. We are proud indeed of the tremendous progress made by our Institute and the contribution it is making to the development of the nation’s human capital. These Annual Leadership Lectures must rank among the outstanding contributions to the development of intellectual thoughts on the most critical issues of our times and I thank the Vice-Chancellor and his team for the honour of allowing us to share our thoughts with you and with the nation.
It is humbling to be following in the footsteps of giants like former President John Agyekum Kuffuor and Evans Atta-Mills who have both delivered these lectures. I sincerely hope that we can add a little spec to the illumine tomes of these great men.
Mr. Chairman, it is not in doubt that we live today amidst one of the most challenging times of human history. We all glow in the manner in which science and technology have opened up the universe and propelled the spread of knowledge to levels of near infinity. We marvel at the wonders of the internet, bringing what happens in every citadel and every corner of the world to the home of every village in real time. At the same time, we are traumatised by the rising mayhem inflicted by terrorism and we are numbed by the spectacle of our able bodied men and women exposing themselves to needless death on gruesome journeys in a desperate quest for greener pastures.
The state of affairs in our world today impose on us in Ghana and in Africa an obligation to inject the greatest sense of urgency into the task of addressing the conditions from which our kith and kin are desperately trying to escape. That means urgently improving the state of our economy to lift the bulk of our people from the ravages of grinding poverty, create jobs, create wealth, provide education and health-care and ensure the continual up-liftment of the standard of living of our people.
This calls for regular introspection not only among policy makers but among all concerned citizens. Sadly as a people, we have been very good at hailing our achievements but not at all good at recognizing our failings. So while it is fair to say that we have made some progress in our lives over the past decades, some may find it discomforting to admit that we could have done a lot better. And yet we can do no better than to acknowledge our failings, not failings ascribed to others or any particular groups, but failings inherent in all of us, for which we should bear collective responsibility and to which we should find collective solutions.
On my recent visit to Britain and the United States, I encountered two experiences which struck me as oddly significant. We were watching a programme on Brexit in Britain, with all the rancorous debates in Parliament, massive public demonstrations and conflicting analyses of the failures to face the realities inherent in the act of divorce from the European Union. To a distinguished visitor watching the programme with us however, Britain’s handling of Brexit showed that the perennial cries about the paucity of leadership in Africa were gravely exaggerated. He thought this was the worst example of botched governance ever and it wasn't an African country but the mother of all democracies and the home of Oxbridge and Shakespeare.
In the United States too, a concerned visitor had come to complain to me about my football club, Asante Kotoko, particularly about the turn-over of coaches and players, but he could find no other way of buttressing his point than to liken it disparagingly to the turn-over of officials in the White House in Washington.
Who would have conceived of such thoughts among our people? Until now, our reference point in considering examples of good governance and competent leadership have always been Britain, the United States and the nations of Europe. Not so readily now it seems. Instead, some of our people now dare point at a serious drought in competence which can only hold their noses at the bizarre acts emanating from high society.
I am reminded of a period in the immediate post-war years of the early fifties when the celebrated British satirical magazine PUNCHproduced a biting characterization of the evolution of the American Presidency from Franklin Roosevelt to General Dwight Eisenhower. According to the PUNCH, Roosevelt proved that one could be President for as long as he liked while Truman proved that anybody at all could be President. But finally, Eisenhower proved that you didn't even need a President because Good Old Ike was seen to spend more time on the golf course than he did poring over affairs of state in the White House.
What the satirist was trying to convey was that regardless of whose hand was pulling the political levers, the American state would endure. As indeed it did then and continues to do now.
In Europe of the new millennium, examples of what constitute good governance have been in extremely short supply. From Italy to Britain and many countries between, the text books have been ripped apart as governance melts into more farce than substance. While Italy soldiers on with a change of government literally by the turning of the tap, Brexit has demonstrated as nothing could better illustrate that Africa has no monopoly of poor judgment.
And yet, for all the glaringly tragic failings, the fundamental strengths of these countries remain undiminished. Britain remains what Britain has always been, a strong and vibrant economic power and a major influence on the global scene. Europe remains as always a Continent of strong nations unbowed by the social confusion of our time.
By contrast, it has to be said that no African state could survive the shenanigans of Brexit, or the inherent instability of Italian governments, or even the prolonged protests of the Yellow vests in France.
The sterling question, the million-dollar question is how these nations can cope with the stress of incompetence, with bloody wars, with terror of all hews, without a crack on the foundations of the state, while the most sinecure tensions can send the entire edifice of an African state crashing like a pack of cards?. It is the reason for these contrasting fortunes which makes the topic for this year’s Annual Leadership Lectures so pertinent for the nation and I daresay, for Africa.
The topic Leadership: Strengthening Democratic Institutions for National Developmentspeaks to the very core of the contrasting fortunes to which we have alluded.
It will be highly presumptuous of anyone to suggest he can pin-point exactly where the line is crossed between the developed and the yet struggling states of Africa. Many great thinkers who have averted their minds to the issue will point out a highly complex web of factors which cannot be over-simplified.
However, I think we can all safely agree that of the many attributes on which the stability of developed nations depend, one fact is incontestible: they all stand upon the pillars of robust, resilient, institutions of state—institutions with varying degrees of autonomy that, over time, have become the shock-absorbers of social dysfunction, able to keep the ship of state sailing through the stormiest seas.
All the body of knowledge of comparative history and the evolution of political ideas should tell us that in none of the nations of Europe or North America were the institutional structures of the state built overnight.
Among the large body of intellectual texts on comparative history and political science, the work of the respected American political theorist Prof. Francis Fukuyama, may be the most relevant to our subject. In his The Origin of Political Order, Prof. Fukuyama defines “three characteristics of institutions that constitute a political order: the state, rule of law and mechanisms of accountability” and traces the emergence of societies as political entities from the dawn of mankind to the French and American Revolutions. But it is in his companion volume, Political Order and Political Decay that we see the extraordinary journey mankind has undergone in the development of the institutions which constitute the modern state and the contrast between the developed nations and the fledgling states in Africa.
He draws a distinction between nation building and state-building which he refers to as “the creation of tangible institutions—armies, police, bureaucracies, ministries, and the like” and he goes on “it is accomplished by hiring staff, training officials, giving them offices, providing them with budgets, and passing laws and directives.” Nation-building by contrast, is the creation of a sense of national identity to which individuals will be loyal, an identity that will suppress their loyalty to tribes, villages, regions or ethnic groups.”
While the distinction is understandable, what is also clear is that the nation, so called, can only really exist on the base of the built-state that is to say on the institutions that constitute the state.
But as Prof. Fukuyama asserts, it took the French Revolution to produce Europe’s first modern law code, the so-called Code Napoleon in 1804, followed by the establishment of the first administrative mechanism for the implementation of the code. This was to be the model bureaucracy that was to fundamentally change the ways in which the affairs of states are managed. Side by side with these innovations was the creation of a new educational system providing for the establishment of a special institution of higher learning for the specific training of civil servants, the Ecole Normaile Superiore, the forerunners of the Ecole National Administrative (ENA) which to this day remains France’s and one of the world’s most outstanding administrative and diplomatic training institutions.
The Code Napoleon migrated to much of Europe and to lands as distant as Japan, Argentina, and Egypt. Most importantly, the triumph of Napoleon Bonaparte over the supposedly technically superior Prussian army in the Battle of Jena in 1806 persuaded the Germans also to undertake fresh reforms of the state. The Stein-Hardebern reforms of 1807 incorporated some of the French reforms including the adoption of the French principle of carriere ouvert aux talents (carrier open to talent).
The United States stands at the spearhead of liberal democracy and the standard bearer of good governance, and the prime driver of the world economy. But as Fukuyama makes clear, the United States invented what he calls clientelism, the institutionalized form of political patronage and incipient corruption by which “ambitious but non-elite politicians” became wealthy and increased their standing in society. It was not until 1883 that Congress passed the milestone Pendleton Act which created an autonomous public service, removed powers of appointment from party bosses and, among others, barred public servants from handing back part of their salaries to political parties which appointed them. Even the Pendleton Act did not completely end the era of the political bosses and the control of political patronage. We have to wait until well into the 20th century for the new dawn of governance in the United States.
While the experiences of the nations of Europe and North America have helped them solidify the institutions of state on which they are secured today, the same cannot be said of the states of Africa which until the post-World War II years had been under colonial subjugation. Indeed it is interesting that Fukuyama classifies the African states as being in the phase of clientelism which dominated the American political system even beyond Pendleton.
Understanding the historical context in which today’s China, Europe and North America have grown presents us with two emotions: On the one hand, it offers comfort that in the fullness of time, it should be within our capacity to overcome the challenges of our present circumstance and build for ourselves too the institutions on which we can secure our future. On the other hand, we also face the reality that we do not have the luxury of time given the revolution of rising expectations of our people.
We gained the status of nationhood in 1957 with a Constitution that in many respects provided for the basic structures for a stable state. We had all three basic structures of statehood: an elected executive, an elected legislature and an independent judiciary proudly modelled on the finest traditions of our departing colonial power. Behind them a civil service, an army and a police service all designed to operate with appropriate degrees of autonomy, all of them reflecting our attachment to the Westminster model of governance.
In the euphoria of independence, we failed to appreciate the potential fault-lines in our independence constitution and while the political forces of the time maintained its grip for a time, neither the constitution nor the state survived for one decade. It was overthrown in 1966. For two and a half decades thereafter, Ghana went through a series of military juntas and an aborted civilian rule before finally recommitting to a return to democratic governance.
In 1992, we gave ourselves a new Constitution, the essential conditions of which were to banish any notion of a one-party state and install a multi-party democracy based upon the rule of law and fundamental human rights. The constitution was the product of our shared experiences and founded on all the values of human rights, individual freedoms and the rule of law. Crucially, it was not lacking in the architecture of institutions needed to ensure the stability and good governance of the state.
We have a President, chosen by universal suffrage, as the Executive Head of State and who appoints a Cabinet to assist him in the administration of the state.
We have an elected Parliament with the authority to provide appropriate oversight over the actions of the executive and to make laws by which the state will be governed.
We have a Judicial Service whose independence is guaranteed by the constitution and who, in turn, is expected to provide an indestructible pillar for the protection of the constitution and the rule of law.
From the collapse of the First Republic, the nation determined that the protection of human rights and individual liberties had to be the cornerstone of any constitutional arrangements. While recognizing the courts as the ultimate guarantors of individual liberties, it was thought that other agencies were needed that would more readily be accessible to the people whenever their rights are threatened. The idea of an Ombudsman was mooted and out of that evolved the creation of a Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice.
Having opted for a democratic multi-party state, we created an institution to provide an even playing field for all political actors and guarantee free and fair elections for all. That was the Electoral Commission.
Our constitution provides for the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression and to give effect to this, it created a National Media Commission to insulate the media from political control and ensure the media can exercise its function of holding authority to account without hindrance.
We have always been proud of our armed forces. The nature of their incursions into politics at some point will always be a matter of controversy, but no doubt we have all learnt our lessons and we see our armed forces today as exemplifying the professionalism any nation can be proud of. Our Police service too acquits itself with distinction on international assignments.
The Ghana Civil Service gave the world Busumuru Kofi Annan, one of the finest international public servants in history. Before him, men and women like A.L. Adu, Robert Gardner, M.F. Dei-Annan, Kenneth Dadzie, Chapman, E.M. Debra, Caseley Mate, Kwame Kwateng, Richard Akwei, Nathan Quao, Gloria Nikoi, Chinerey-Hesse had adorned the service and made it one to behold.
With all these institutions fully protected under the constitution, how could we possibly falter? And yet we cannot deny that we have faltered and are now faced with a serious problem over the very institutions we have created for our protection and the facilitation of the development of our nation. The reason is that unfortunately, the twists and turns of our political history continue to cast their shadow over our institutions and the overhang of our conflicted past has robbed some of them of their sense of security and left them too fragile for their tasks.
It was one thing adopting a constitution with all the lofty principles enshrined in the 1992 constitution but quite a different matter clearing the deck of all the garbage from the past. The troubling fact is that we did not succeed, despite some grand efforts, in clearing the decks and the garbage of the past has continued to infest the new constitutional order to this day.
Politics is not an unworthy pursuit in any society. It enables us seek the best way to organise our lives, consort with others of like minds to explore the best means of managing resources to obtain an outcome which improves the lives of all the people. Political parties have become the critical instruments in this process.
But politics can also be unhealthy and, in the wrong circumstances, almost destructive. This is particularly relevant with political parties and their mode of operations, and, critically, their impact upon governments. In the modern state, Political parties are indispensable. They provide the platform for the ideas around which citizens coalesce and through which they can pursue their shared goals for national development. But political parties also have a history we tend to but should not ignore.
It is instructive to note that the Constitution of the United States did not provide for political parties and the first President George Washington was so deeply opposed to their emergence that he famously used his valedictory address to caution the new nation against the divisiveness of parties. And once the parties took hold, they brought with them the system of political patronage and clientelism to which we have referred earlier. Indeed, Fukuyama’s description of the clientelistic state must have deep resonance to many Ghanaians: “in a clientelistic system, politicians provide individualised benefits only to political supporters in exchange for their votes. These benefits can include jobs in the public sector, cash payments, political favours, or even public goods like schools, and clinics that are selectively given only to political supporters.”
It took more than a century before the United States was able to clean the system and put an end to both political patronage and the scourge of clientelism. And the United States has been all the stronger for it.
There is a lot of force in the view often expressed that perhaps we are being too hard on ourselves if we expect to accomplish in 60 years what powers like the United States took centuries to achieve. But I am not sure there can be any argument for persisting with what one sees to be wrong when there is a better alternative on offer.
As already noted, the independent state of Ghana began with a constitution designed to create a Westminster model of democracy. It is said that we strayed from the chosen path and ended in 1960 with a One Party state which collapsed landing us with two decades of military intervention.
We thought having liberated ourselves from the monolithic ideology of a one-party state, the worst of politics was over for good. But if we are honest, we should ask ourselves whether the worst is truly over. Yes, we have the luxury of joining the party of our choice and the supreme right to choose which party manages our affairs. But what difference does the change bring if the new system also makes party loyalty the source of all rewards? Any serious analysis of the clientelistic system will reveal that it imports all the conditions we find unacceptable in a one party state except that they come in a refined package labeled multi-party democracy.
The only reason this remains is that we have accorded politics a hallowed status in our society and made it virtually the sole source of rewards in our lives. Politics is not only a worthy pursuit, it is the only worthy pursuit. It is not only a leading profession, it is the only profession. All the great professions and institutions of the world have been subjugated to the power of politics to such an extent that their most eminent minds are obliged either to kowtow to political authority or to leap onto the political bandwagon. Thus, our most eminent doctors are tempted to exchange their stethoscopes for the megaphones while patients are dying from the inadequacy of medical attention. This only happens when politics becomes the source of all rewards and all rewards come with the unmistakable attachment of party loyalty.
It is the case now of One Party State out. One Party rule In.
In such a state, the scope for independent thinking, the space for objective advice and for any form of collegiate exploration of ideas is severely diminished.
The new constitutional order came into being upon the foundations of a highly politicized public service whose autonomy had been compromised by a process of recruitment influenced by political considerations. Sadly, no party since 1992 has had the incentive or shown the desire to reverse the situation. On the contrary, each party has felt obliged to sustain it because it provides the only means they can reward supporters on whose votes they depend every four years.
It is no surprise that every President since the promulgation of the 1992 constitution has faced accusations of nepotism, cronyism, and various forms of abuse. While the accusations may be well-founded, in my view, they miss the knob of the problem which is the real point—the real point being the system we have entrenched which makes political patronage the sole source of reward. Our Presidents themselves have become victims of the system, entrapped in a prison from which they are obliged to dole out largesse to their army of supporters on pain of losing their loyalty. I have no doubt that any President will prefer to be liberated from this entanglement so they can devote all attention to the pursuit of the good of all.
This is not an aspiration we should wish from our leaders. It is an imperative our nation must now seek. The nation can no longer ignore the correlation between the existence of strong state institutions with an impersonal system of rewards and the outcome of good governance and strong economies. To quote Fukuyama again: “Modern bureaucracies are built on a foundation of merit, technical competence and impersonality. When they are staffed by a politician’s political supporters or cronies, they almost invariably perform much more poorly.”
It is my considered view that to be sure about strengthening our democratic institutions, we need to escape from this overhang of the past and liberate ourselves from the tyranny of compulsive politics and the subversion of the neutrality of public services.
A drastic change of attitude to politics should be the first order of business. Politics should be the path to service and not the gravy train to personal wealth. Men and women should enter politics, not because it will make them wealthy, but because it will make them worthy to serve their fellow men. We have enough evidence of such dedicated politicians in our history and even in the politics of today. The tragedy is that they are outnumbered and outshone by those whose actions cast politics in such bad light.
As a nation, we need to recognise that the men who create wealth are the entrepreneurs, the farmers, the builders. It is the creators and innovators, the writers and craftsmen through whose research and knowledge national wealth is created. The task of politics is to create an environment in which the talent of the creators flourish, to serve them so the nation may be enriched by them and not for them to serve the politicians.
Because political parties will continue to be crucial to the political process, I think the nation should be engaged on how these parties are organised and managed, particularly how they impact upon the machinery of government. The more we can constrain the party machine from intrusion into the areas of governance, the less intrusive parties become in the reward process, the greater the chance of enhancing sound government.
In considering the strengthening of our democratic institutions, I have to begin with the three basic institutions of governance—the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.
There have been two rather distinct forms of government operating under the democratic umbrella—the Westminster system with an executive drawn from an elected parliament headed by a Prime Minister and the American system with a President elected by universal suffrage. The latter is based upon a strict separation of power between the executive and the legislature with the latter providing strong oversight over the actions of the executive.
Under the 1992 constitution, Ghana opted for a hybrid in which an elected President is obliged to choose the majority of his cabinet from Members of Parliament. We have operated this system for nearly two decades and I think we are due an evaluation, to find out whether it is delivering what is best for the nation or whether a rethink of the system may be in order. There must be many who have had doubts whether the system has not put some constraints on Parliament’s exercise of their legislative functions and who wonder whether a clearer separation would not allow for the two branches of government to function more effectively. Would it not be preferable for the President to have the freedom to choose his cabinet from the wider community without the present constraint of choosing the majority from Parliament and for the legislature too to apply itself to the legitimate oversight of the executive functions and making laws for the state without the constraint of being part of the executive. Would this not give us a stronger Parliament able to hold the executive to account?
We all have reason to be proud of our Judiciary. We are proud of its heritage and the phenomenal wisdom and knowledge that flow from the benches. But we are also conscious of the challenges and the occasional glitches which dampen many spirits. What we cannot ignore once again is the environment in which they operate. A Judiciary constrained by resources cannot exercise its duties without fear or favour. It should be in the interest of the nation therefore for us to give further thought to how we can wean the judiciary off the normal budgetary clutches and make more meaningful the notion of judicial autonomy. I do not see why the Judiciary cannot be allowed to retain the bulk of the revenue accrued by the courts.
Having dealt with the three major branches of government, you will allow me to digress a little from the constitutionally mandated institutions and turn attention to some non-state institutions that are of equal importance among the building blocks on which national development depends. And I begin of course with our traditional rulers.
I have never made secret of my view that our traditional authorities were, regrettably short-changed by the 1992 constitution in the allocation and management of the nation’s resources and in the process of governance. We are rightly represented on the Council of State and given token representation on institutions like the Lands Commission. In the matter of governance however we only have perfunctory roles, even in local government where chiefs constitute the front line of leadership.
It is a matter of concern that the grave issues of national development, relating to the allocation of resources and the determination of our national priorities are all determined without the engagement of our traditional leaders at any level. Given our history, our culture and tradition, the weight of accumulated wisdom embedded in our institution, it beggars the imagination that Nananom, Niime, Togbe and Naa, are all left as bystanders while the real issues of state are decided.
I recognise that our Presidents have in general tried to find their own ways of interacting with us and these interactions have sometimes impacted upon decision-making. But these acts of courtesy on their part are no substitute for a defect so glaring and so unwise.
It is the symptom of the defect which is playing out in the unhealthy rows surrounding the impending referendum which is part of the Government’s attempt at the reform of local government under the 1992Constitution.
Local government in the modern era is only traditional governance in Western attire. How is it possible then that the central government representing the modern state, and Nananom, representing the traditional state, could find no space for engagement for the consideration of a major reform of local government and to agree a common position before such crucial reforms were rolled out?
If there had been such engagement, I cannot think of how anyone could have ignored the logic of the case for according our chiefs a rightful representation in the new structure. And by the same token, I cannot think of how any chief would have seen any incompatibility in the removal of the entrenched clauses in the constitution to permit the election of metro and district chief executives or mayors and also allow political parties to sponsor candidates for local elections. Because this is a matter of such momentous importance, I hope all concerned will step back and take the heat out so we can see the light in the discourse.
It may be worth recalling that the 1992 constitution was forged at a time of considerable scepticism about political parties. There was a substantial body of opinion, albeit in the minority, who would have preferred todo without them and the adoption of a system which allowed it at the top of the pyramid but excluded it from the grassroots, was a necessary compromise to re-start the engine of democracy.
But it is possible today to argue that an unintended consequence of the constitutional arrangement is the One Party rule I have discussed earlier. By giving the President the power not only to appoint the chief executives or Mayors but also a whopping 30% of the membership of councils, this ensures that regardless of the political orientation of any district, the ruling party at the centre rules everywhere and everything. Another unintended consequence that I see is the elimination of any possible space for political compromise.
A fundamental principle of democracy is that the minority have their say but the major have their way. But it is also true that democracy perishes political actors learn to compromise. The examples of all democratic states testify a system which allows different political parties to control local and central government institutions create conditions in which they to learn to work with each other, and to do this through compromise on policies. It is the way to constrain excessive power and restrain extremism in opposition, and allows a measure of power-sharing.
Our chiefs have a unique capacity to strengthen the support mechanism for national development, but more than that, there is an astonishing range of talent on which the state can draw to strengthen most of the state institutions. By allowing them adequate representation, we shall accord them the right role to hold the balance between the contesting political parties and help restrain them from any excesses.
We should look next at the world of Academia. Could there be any other area of our society, indeed any society, with the best concentration of intellect, of knowledge, wisdom, than in academia? Their primary task is to prepare the human resources the nation needs for development, the professionals—doctors, engineers, lawyers, economists, even the politicians who are set out as the master class. But important though it is, teaching cannot be the sole business of a University. They have a wider task, to apply their knowledge in research, to find new cures for disease, new solutions for our environmental challenges, more prudent ways of managing resources, creating and managing business. With all this capacity, it can only be to the ruin of the nation that we would have no space for the Universities among the building blocks of national development.
It is a fact that one human brain today can be worth more than all the gold in the ground. Throughout the world, the Universities are on the front line of research that is producing phenomenal results in medicine, in space exploration, in new media technology. Apart from contributing to improvements in the human condition, their contribution to the national economies is monumental.
It will be odd for anyone to suggest that our Universities do not have the capacity to engage fully with the state to foster beneficial research and explore concrete solutions to some of our challenges. It is my hope therefore that sufficient grounds will be found to draw the Universities into the development process, to upgrade research facilities for and challenge them for ground-breaking results, and to assign them specific development tasks.
Next, we turn to our Professional Institutions. We are fortunate to have a large body of institutions bringing together and having oversight over all our trained professionals—the doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, architects, pharmacists, journalists, teachers.
In these institutions, we have the combined force of the human material responsible for practically every aspect of our lives.
It is the case that the raison de-ére of each of these institutes is to protect the professional standards of their members but each one has a duty to relate to the state and to play a useful part in ensuring the good governance of the nation. It cannot be out of place therefore to suggest a conscious effort to evolve a formula for consulting with and extracting the input of these institutions on national development.
I am aware of course that the membership of these professional bodies cut across political lines and there will therefore be sections of the membership whose involvement in such engagement may be problematic. But I would assume that each professional body has an obligation and is well-disposed to offer the best of impartial professional advice especially in its relations with governments. It must therefore be right to create an environment for regular engagement so the state can draw more closely from the input of our best professionals in the formulation of policies.
It cannot be right that the voice of these professionals are heard only when there is a dispute, such as the constant affrays with the Medical Association and occasional issues with university dons. We should hope that more positive voices may be heard from the sharing of ideas helpful to the national development agenda.
I hope further that these engagements will broaden the scope for the choice of personnel to enhance the expertise of the constitutionally mandated democratic institutions to which I now return. We have already given vent to the need for a new environment in which greater weight is given to qualified actors in the development process. Obviously, politicians will continue to formulate policies, based upon the manifesto on which they were elected into office. The public servant however will be required to faithfully study and understand the manifesto of the elected government in order to fully comprehend policies derived from them. More importantly, it would be the duty of the public servant to advice on the implementation of such policies, including the appropriate oversight of the implementation process.
There may well be some Public Servants who may feel diminished in stature. It is a challenge to the leadership of the service to endeavour to uplift morale and to inspire a fresh outlook towards their performance.
You cannot think of any truer expression by any President than President Bill Clinton’s famous pronouncement: it’s the economy, stupid. Whatever policies a nation may develop, whatever tractions we make in foreign affairs, in science and technology, it all boils down to the one thing: the economy and the bottom line. And so it with us. We have been courageous in providing free senior high school or secondary education for all. Few countries can claim such valiant effort. But when the chips are down it is the economy our people are going to judge us by. It is what happens in the market, what jobs we create, what infrastructure we provide that will play on their minds. And it is all about the economy. So there cannot be any more important institutions than those holding the levers of the economy—the Bank of Ghana and the commercial banks, the Revenue Authority and allied revenue generation institutions, the private sector enterprises, and institutions like the Association of Ghana Industries, the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Mines, among others.
The Bank of Ghana has shown impressive leadership in the recent reforms of the banking sector but useful as they are, we know that the effects of such reforms take time to work through. In the meantime, business has to contend with the consequential slowdown at a time of rising public expectations. Interest rates are thankfully coming down but not at such pace and in such depth as to stimulate the rise of industry and business.
In the face of such challenges, it may be wise to work towards some stimulus package and hold out the hand of consultation with the broad leadership of business and industry.
Finally, let us reflect on the key institutions responsible for our peace and security, orderly governance and the rule of law. I speak of the Electoral Commission, our defense establishment and law enforcement agencies.
Peace and order are the preconditions for national development. The survival of this state as a democracy depends upon our ability to conduct free and fair elections. Indeed, it is our ability to conduct such elections peacefully and in the process ensure a smooth transfer of power that has given our Fourth Republic the universal accolade of the international community. Responsibility for this credit belongs to the Electoral Commission. And yet somehow, the Commission has never had a free rein. That its operations have always been shrouded in controversy in my view reflects the sheer intensity of the political contests over which the Commission is called upon to preside.
For the first time, the Commission has suffered the abrupt termination of its membership as a consequence of some perceived wrong-doing. A new Commission has been constituted but not all the political parties have as yet embraced them.
I can only hope that a prolonged conflict may be avoided. We may find a lot to disagree with in our hearts but reality obliges us to appreciate that continued mistrust can only be harmful to the future of this crucial institution.
I cannot comprehend that persons appointed to this august body would come with the intent of compromising the integrity of the Commission and working in favour of one party. We can never get away from the fact that there will always be one appointing authority at any point in time. However, an appointee is under no obligation to do any favours to the appointing authority and it is our conviction that the new chair and members of the commission will endeavour to carry out their duties with impartially and without fear or favour.
We will urge all concerned to smoke the peace pipe so the commission can reset the button and begin preparations for the conduct of our next elections with total commitment to fairness and justice.
The security of the state has been under stress lately, raising a serious challenge to our law enforcement agencies. Raising public confidence in the police and other security agencies requires greater professional endeavour. It is a widely held view that the police has suffered in the past from the diminution of resources for critical police duties such as crime detection in favour of matters relating to politics. Rebalancing the focus to improve core police duties remains the ultimate challenge now.
It is my hope that the leadership of the police and other security agencies will rise to the task and give us a service that will inspire confidence and beef up the support mechanism for national development.
This nation has never been shy in demanding leadership from our politicians and rightly so. But we need to appreciate that political leadership alone cannot deliver our common needs. We also need the right leadership for all the democratic institutions, both state and non-state, because it is only by their collective effort that the success of our nation can be guaranteed. And because we do not have the luxury of time, we had better buckle down now and put all shoulders to the wheels.