Back in February, Ghanaians were excited with the prospect of Peter Obi winning the Nigerian elections. This stemmed from the fact that he offered a break from the Establishment and the business-as-usual way of conducting government business. Peter Obi’s mantra was to cut the cost of government to free up resources to run government programmes.
This was all relayed to us via social media by mostly young Nigerian content creators. Fast forward to July, 2023, and the NPP presidential slot race is hotting up, and bursting on the scene with Obi-like thoughts is Kwabena Agyepong, an engineer of great repute and a sports journalist par excellence. Unfortunately, Ghanaians have not caught on with the same excitement with which we followed Peter Obi.
The mainstream media are, as usual, caught up in following politicians with empty rhetoric’s when what we need is to get the fundamentals in place as eloquently espoused by Kwabena Agyepong: lean government, discipline, and compliance.
Kwabena Agyepong has consistently argued the case for lean government. He has proposed a 54-member ministerial team made up of 19 cabinet ministers and 19 deputies, and 16 regional ministers. He has also proposed a ceiling on the number of Supreme Court judges to 9 and removing the retirement age of the SC judges so that we do two things: benefit from their experience for long periods; and two, save money because these judges retire on their salaries.
Additionally, Kwabena has waded into the vexed issue of creating many new assemblies with their attendant running costs and the indirect cost of creating more district directorates of public sector agencies like the police, GES, CEPS, GRA,etc.
What this unbridled expansion does is tie up funds that could be used to build local schools and clinics into paying salaries and services for these new assemblies. In the UK for example, Birmingham City Council has teamed with Coventry City Council to share services because they recognize the cost of running stand-alone councils is too prohibitive.
Indeed, Kwabena has suggested going to Parliament to roll back the expansion of new assemblies. What really stood out for me was Kwabena’s idea to make a substantial income from Government lands in prime locations instead of the current practice of politically exposed persons buying government lands for a pittance and on-selling for more than ten times the cost.
A lean and efficient government not only saves costs but also sends a signal to all other heads of institutions. Your Vice-Chancellor may not buy a second V8 but rather invest to make your halls of residence fit for human habitation and not like a pigsty because the Flagstaff House signalling shows it.
Kwabena has also made discipline and compliance key cornerstones of his agenda. If anybody thought that the indignity our people suffer is due to bad economic policies then that person must be reading the wrong script. Galamsey, illegal logging of rosewood, bad roads, lawlessness on our roads, and the numerous acts of impunity are symptoms of a failed leadership that does not demand accountability from his reports. Kwabena proposes a leadership that demands accountability from the many heads of institutions that are happy to enjoy all the trappings of their roles but produce zero results.
How does he envisage doing this? Kwabena insists that heads of institutions should be promoted from within, a clear departure from the President appointing politicians to head many public institutions, a practice worsened by Akuffo Addo through the appointment of many deputy CEOs to head departments. Kwabena argues that promoting within serves as an incentive for people to strive to leadership roles by delivering.
As Kwabena asserts, when he worked a the Highway Authority, his ambition was to work to eventually head the institution. That’s how to promote meritocracy. MERITOCRACY in public institutions was one of the guiding principles of Lew Kuan Yew. Don’t be fooled by Obama’s saying, “We don’t need strong men; we need strong institutions’ Rather, we need great people to build and sustain great institutions.
In fact, the current Singapore Prime Minister argues that the role of Government is to find good people to run government institutions because bad people destroy good institutions. Politicians have short-term goals so making them head public institutions destroys these institutions. Great institutions need stable leadership to embed the right culture. Appointing people to run an institution for an average of three years does not grow institutions.
We need a clear break from this practice so that institutions can benefit from the longevity of CEOs and the benefits it brings. Promoting within based on meritocracy forces the hand of the new President not to replace CEOs because they do not see them as party-people.
I am Joshua Caleb Quansah, and I am passionate about how we reconfigure Ghana. You, the NPP delegate, have a clear choice: a leader who makes the system work so that business people can efficiently invest to create wealth for us all or a business-as-usual leader who will give a few party appointments to swell the public purse and deny millions of better services, and consequently no jobs.
Your Peter Obi is HERE and NOW!