Jul 31, 2012 at 10:05am
President Mills: An Example to All
COMMENTARY ON SUPERVISION IN GOVERNANCE: AN EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW [UNANNOUNCED VISITS TO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES]
Last Tuesday 24th July, the Nation was plunged into abysmal sorrow by the untimely departure into eternity of the late President Mills. Since then, there has been appreciable outpouring of sympathy and show of love. In the thick of the National mourning, various aspects of the late Professor Mills are revealed from each of the testimonies. Some common traits can be identified in about all of them, viz., his humility, sportsmanship, high intelligence, selfless service and high level of commitment to national issues. Surprisingly, here was the very leader hitherto castigated for being slow and insensitive to plight of the vulnerable in Society. Suddenly, he had become a hero being hailed, as usual, post-humously, by some of astute critics who had heckled, vilified and literally buffeted him. Yet, he was unruffled and laboured on, with a big heart.
One significant step taken by the late President in April 2010 was a series of visits to certain Government institutions, without prior notification, protocol and the usual fanfare, pomp and pageantry that go with those events. The visits attracted some amount of public discussion, as expected. The late Ex-President Mills took time off his heavy schedule to go to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital where, reportedly, shortage of medical supplies had had fatal consequences and resulted in the death of two inmates. The Father of the Nation demonstrated that he was available for everyone and that the vulnerable in our society were accordingly not being neglected to their fate. As an expert in taxation, he visited the headquarters of the Ghana Revenue Authority and the affiliated Customs Division, the Domestic Revenue Division and the Value Added Tax (VAT) Secretariat. He was in a terrain he knew and understood. He was well aware that these bodies play a unique role in ensuring that the there is regular and constant flow of resources into the national coffers. They sustain the inevitable disbursements for the running of the State apparatus. The Customs Division, in particular, plays a singular role as a Security Agency at our borders, ensuring that smuggling of goods into and out of the country is curbed. They also make sure that exporters and importers pay appropriate duties to the Sate. He included Tema, a prominent fishing centre, on his itinerary, because it faced various challenges ranging from the supply of fuel, the operations of foreign fishing vessels using inappropriate gear, thereby jeopardizing local initiatives. The Tema Port is equally symbolic as one of the strategic gateways into the country for both income-generation and migrant inflow.
During the rounds, the late President had the opportunity to interact with the schedule officers and appreciate their contribution to national development. His presence at the Psychiatric Hospital, for example, brought some relief to both the patients and the health workers who braze the hazards posed by that challenging environment. He was an encourager who appreciated the little contributions here and there which accumulate into big achievements in the sum total.
Public opinion then was divided on the appropriateness of unannounced visits as a tool for Governance. Some opponents believed it was not necessary for the president himself to go round, since a number of top officials are at post in all institutions. The top Executives submit periodic reports on their activities and, for that matter, there is virtually nothing to see in those short, flying visits. The other school of thought insisted that even though a President cannot be everywhere all the time, there is the need for on-the-spot verification of issues on which regular reports are given to that office. Delegation, it is said, does not mean total dereliction of responsibility. Supervision is essential in all aspects of endeavours and, in Governance; it is a very critical function, if not a motivational tool. The Executive should not distance himself from the workforce, since the ultimate responsibility rests on his shoulders. Nothing prevents the Chief Justice, for instance, from visiting the lower Courts to see how things go on there, in the maintenance of laid-down procedures and standards. The Presidency is a position where the skills and universal principles of management, namely direction, control, co-ordination, supervision, etc., are brought into very sharp focus. Top officials in positions of responsibility, especially Ministers, Metropolitan/Municipal/District Chief Executives and indeed all Public Sector Workers must have seen the late President’s visits as a wake-up call or reminder to de-mystify their titles and go off their seats from time to time. As they move outside the confines of their air-conditioned offices, from one section, District/Region, Department to the other, they will appreciate the different dimensions, hazardous conditions of work, inadequacy of logistics and funds that are the bane of most decentralized departments. Even while constrained by health challenges, the late President straddled to deliver on his promises, by visiting the on-going Suhum/Kumasi road which had become impassable a couple of weeks ago.
He served us to his last breath and died in harness. The list is endless and the task, overwhelming. When the dust settles a little, it is strongly recommended that President John Dramani Mahama shall gird his loins and move on, to whip up enthusiasm, ensure quality service, integrity and efficiency in the Public Service Agencies, which are the backbone to his Administration. Occasional unannounced visits to these institutions should be an example to follow.
”THE LABOURER’S TASK IS DONE...” MAY HIS EXCELLENCY LATE PROF. JOHN EVANS FIIFI ATTA MILLS, REST FROM HIS EARTHLY TOILS.