Protocol pressures on our Presidents
I had the privilege to visit Presidents Mahama and Akufo-Addo in their offices. I was shocked by the teeming numbers waiting to see them. I asked myself what they wanted.But I knew the answer. Many Ghanaians want to see the chief to remind him of their presence and ask for specific favours.
President Nkrumah had only three officials in his office. The military government which followed maintained army discipline and protocol. President Acheampong in his early days kept free of the hordes. President Rawlings did not have time for cant. But somehow later the practice became pervasive. One must see the President. As a matter of fact the practice of approaching authority when a problem occurs seems to be part of the Ghanaian norm. Only the other day I received a call from a relative whose son did not like his national service posting. I am afraid so long as we try to influence the administrative and even the legal process to act in our favour, probity and accountability will evade us.
To go back to the pressure on the President, it is intolerable and must be stopped. The many Ministers and political appointees and assistants should do their work. The President should summon them when he wants them to perform particular assignments or discuss matters within their purview or experience, … or assignment.
Most Ghanaians are religious and familiar with the sacred writings which are perhaps more persuasive than the outcome of learned research. They may, therefore, refresh their memory of encounters between Jethro and Moses as related in Chapter 18 of Exodus.
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Jethro on his visit found that “Moses sat to judge the people and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening”. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law was surprised and asked, “What is this that thou doest to the people? Why sittest thou alone and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?” Moses answered that “When they have a matter they come to me and I judge between one and another and I do make them know the statutes of God and his laws”.
Jethro answered that what Moses did was not good. “Thou wilt surely wear away – both thou and the people”. Jethro advised Moses to teach the people ordinances and laws and show them the way to walk and the work they must do. The method should provide the able personalities to teach and to lead. We should follow Jethro’s advice, establish and maintain the laws of the land and individually follow and promote the true will of the people and of God.
We certainly cannot leave all the work to the President. Those appointed to assist should do so and not be saddled with fatuous statements and uninspired speeches.
We should certainly ease the pressure on the President by the hordes of people who want to call on him. The President does not need advice. He has enough expertise in the system to call upon. The problem is that he is compelled to receive so many callers that he has not sufficient time to consult those with the competent knowledge and experience who are paid to be at his beck and call. In short, we should follow the laws, regulations and procedures and leave the President alone to administer his assigned functions.