Why Ghana is going round in circles
There are more institutions and agencies than the specific problems they are set up to address, and new ones are being added on every now and then without much progress.
People are appointed more often as a reward and favour to them than for the purposes of moving the country forward. As a result, people use their public positions for private gain, leaving the collective problems to fester and the ordinary citizens left to fend for themselves while the very system set to attend to their needs are used to exploit them.
Citizens seeking public services meant to serve them are made to pay extra, and in places where they are not required to pay charges, officials charge them. The money goes into private pockets.
Increasingly people asking for reforms are seen as problematic, because they are threatening people’s sources of making illegal money. The individuals within the system that want things done right are penalized. They are made redundant or compelled to resign. Sometimes they are falsely accused and punished.
There is very little or no motivation to serve the public good. In fact, it is public knowledge that presidents appoint people as a reward. They are appointed to ‘go and eat’. They are not expected to improve the system. If they manage to improve anything, it’s a plus, but not a requirement. Otherwise, most of the CEOs of the state-owned enterprises running into losses perpetually would have been sacked and those found to be criminally liable would have been prosecuted. But none of that is happening. On the other hand, those doing the right thing, like in the case of the Auditor-General, he was was sacked by the president himself and when civil society organisations took the matter to the Supreme Court, the Court decided on the matter long after the official’s unlawful dismissal, making the Supreme Court’s decision ineffective.
Let me share just two examples of public service providers that have been vacillating between good and bad.
It is no secret that despite some improvements in services delivery at some institutions like the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), an investigative report found that employees are still charging unapproved fees and issuing licenses to unqualified drivers. When the report was broadcast, officials at the DVLA denied the acts were going on at the establishment.
There is very little or no motivation to serve the public good. In fact, it is public knowledge that presidents appoint people as a reward. They are appointed to ‘go and eat’. They are not expected to improve the system. If they manage to improve anything, it’s a plus, but not a requirement.
Only a few years ago, the Passport Office that was once a den of illegalities was sanitized, making passport acquisitions smoother. Before then, middlemen controlled the passport acquisition process, charging citizens who by law, are entitled to passports extra money. But after the reform, citizens could sit in the comfort of their homes and offices and apply for passports, go to a passport centre, get their biometric data and photo taken and then they go back home to wait for an SMS message telling them their passports were ready and they return to the centres to pick them up, sometimes within days.
But in recent times, the system has been broken, again. We have returned to the old bad days. When citizens apply for passports, they are made to wait for several months with the excuse that there are no booklets available to print. But those who go through middlemen and pay excessive amounts of money get their passports within days. Indeed, there are posts across social media platforms put up by middlemen advertising that they can procure passports for citizens at a fee.
Not even an unannounced storming of the Passport Office by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to expose the wrong in the place has led to any change or improvement.
Don’t we all know what is wrong with the country? But are we all interested in and willing to change things to improve the quality of lives of every citizen?
Until we put the national interest above all other interests, we would continue to go round in circles, and we would all continue to suffer, including those who benefit from the broken system. Because what goes around, definitely comes around.
By Emmanuel K Dogbevi
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