Square pegs in round holes

BY: Doreen Hammond
Features Editor
Features Editor

A story is told of one of the many Ghanaians who had to sojourn in Nigeria in those days when things were rough in Ghana.

He had no skills but joined the band wagon out of frustration in order to make a living. What might have pushed his resolve to leave were the kind of items other Ghanaians living there returned with occasionally.

The items included big packets of Omo washing detergent, bathing soap, tins of milk, toothpaste and ghetto blasters (radio and tape recorders).

For the younger ones, it is important to recall that these items, then euphemistically referred to as essential commodities, were not available on the local market.

When that Ghanaian finally arrived, things were not as easy as he had thought; the search for a job with good salary dragged for weeks. Out of desperation, he decided to take whatever job came his way.

He heard of a “big” man who needed a driver and the next morning he was at his gate.

His only experience with driving was when he used to wash his uncle’s car and would move it slightly forward or back. Here, he was on the multiple lanes in Lagos trying to survive as a chauffeur.

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Of course it took a few minutes for his boss to realise what he had bargained for.

His posture behind the wheels, the manner in which he changed the gears and the profuse sweating from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet gave his position away.

Thankfully, the “big” man retained his services but converted him to a cleaner.

Situate the above to our daily lives and one will be right to state that there are too many square pegs in round holes in Ghana! These range from political appointees, soldiers, police, doctors, pastors and almost every sphere of our lives.

The result is the low productivity that has been our lot.

As soon as elections are won, there is a scramble for appointments by party loyalists irrespective of qualifications/training.

They even scramble for the management of public toilets .

What is annoying is that over time, such non-performers become smooth talkers justifying why nothing can be done rather than fulfilling their mandates.

They are not able to deliver because they do not have what it takes.

The little hints from the Emile Short Commission’s Report into the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election violence showed a lot of such cases.

The proceedings showed glaringly people who had been put in sensitive positions without an inkling of what the job demands from them; leading to the kind of chaos we saw.

Enter some public institutions and ask one of such square pegs in a round hole for a service for which the institution has been established and you would see the kind of merry –go-round he/she would take you on as if that was the first time such a service was being offered there.

Such employees pretend to be working when they do not have any idea as to what they are actually doing but get paid at the end of the month.

If you employed someone who is not a trained teacher into the classroom, the likelihood is that that square peg may spend the whole day caning the children because she/he does not know how to use child psychology to get the children to use their energy for positive things.

We cannot count the number of our compatriots who have been sent to their early graves at the hands of untrained doctors. The case of those who have died in the hands of unqualified drivers is too staggering to state here.

It is obvious that if you gave your cloth to a carpenter to make a dress out of, the results would be catastrophic.

In our bid to stimulate growth in our society, it is critical that people are deployed at areas where their potentials can be fully harnessed.

Governments must surely reward those whose sweat and resources keep them in power. But putting square pegs in round holes is surely not the way to go.
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