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Anthony Kweku Annan

Anthony Kweku AnnanArticlesGhanaPoliticsSocial Issues

Arms in Private Hands

Arms in private hands

There are periodic reports of discovery of arms and ammunitions being conveyed from one point to undisclosed destinations in this country. Consignments of guns and cartridges, explosives and other lethal weapons are uncovered at the borders, hidden in travelers’ luggage or specially-contrived compartments on vehicles.

It always takes a lot of intuitive diligence, and sometimes tip-offs, to come upon such hiding-places of deadly weapons being smuggled into the country or being transported inland. Sometimes the smugglers manage to escape detection and payment of duties when then they use unapproved routes, to avoid Customs and Preventive officials at the border posts. All the same, some of them are eventually caught at Police and/or Customs road blocks.

We also have locally-manufactured shotguns of various sizes, usually small and handy. These are normally patronized by hunters and farmers. The trade in arms and ammunitions has been a genuine or legal business in the past. Licensed Arms Dealers could import shotguns (usually long, single- or double-barrel models), into the country. Buyers were/are required to acquire Police Permits to possess and use them for specific purposes such as hunting.

Keeping shotguns for self-defence was hardly a remote objective, because self-defence or ‘Security’ had not been a major concern until the recent thirty or so years, when armed robbery has been on the upsurge. Another burning concern has been the presence of Fulani herdsmen who are armed to the teeth with AK47s originally supposed to be used by the Police and special Security operatives. One really wonders how such people manage to come by those weapons.

The arrest of a Ghanaian in the United States of America who, allegedly, had hidden a number of firearms and stuffed canvas boots with thousands of US dollars, in fridges intended for shipment to Ghana, has hit the headlines and social media this week. Initial reports indicated that the suspect was still being quizzed for the needed information on the prospective consignees in Ghana, or any others behind the transaction.

The incident has a lot of significance at a time the Nation is preparing for Elections in less than six months. Again, we had witnessed a situation whereby one of the major Political Parties had attempted to train a group of people to protect some of its leading personnel before, during and after the Elections.

Also, an exercise carried out by the Electoral Commission of Ghana, to register potential voters who had attained 18 years or had not registered before, turned violent in certain areas. People brandishing dangerous gadgets caused mayhem and inflicted wounds on others.

The need for extra vigilance by the Security Agencies cannot be over-stressed. Already, we have pockets of hotspots in some parts of the country. There are frequent clashes between neighbouring ethnic groups and even clans, over deep-seated issues which seem not to be settled satisfactorily. Attempts at peace efforts have had to be re-visited at short intervals.

Surprisingly, groups and individuals, including very influential opinion leaders, are clamouring for violence in their utterances on air and in public pronouncements, trying to justify self-defence. There is a lot of suspicion, distrust or lack of confidence these days among people and in the operations of some Public institutions. This is very unfortunate for our present Democratic dispensation. The up-coming political campaigns and the Elections should take place without any form of intimidation from any quarters.

We should recall the unpleasant consequences of situations in other countries all over the world. Meanwhile, Ghana has been blessed to have survived some near-explosive periods till now. We should cast our eyes and minds back to experiences elsewhere, such as Liberia and nearby La Cȏte d’Ivoire, The Rwanda massacre as well as the massive migration resulting from the pogrom in the Middle East are also glaring. The lessons of the horrific internal political strife are not far to see and we should not be seen to invite catastrophe upon ourselves.

Our Security Forces should gird their loins and live up to the assurances they are giving us in the face of such challenges, not only for the impending Elections, but all the time. After all, Elections are not the ultimate in life. We should be able to live in total guarantee of peace to go about our daily affairs and routines.   Hoarding guns, missiles and other lethal weapons will not solve any problems; they will rather aggravate the security situation in this country.

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Climate Change and Sustainable Development

CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

It will be recalled that in December, 2015, over one hundred and ninety delegates, including Heads of State, met in the French capital, Paris, to deliberate on Climate Change. What has come to be known as CAP21Paris was a Forum on Sustainable Innovation which prepared a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for eventual ratification by member-states.

The Forum sought to ensure that steps to reduce carbon emissions are to be enshrined in laws of participating countries. It was targeted to hold global warning to a level below 2Celsius for industrial countries and between 1o and 1.5C for Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The Forum also sought to ensure that countries agree to a new global deal to tackle Climate Change. There was the need to embed Climate Change legislation into national action and equity differentiation between developed and developing countries.

The Agreement to curb carbon emissions was signed by 165 countries at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, (22nd April, 2016), including about ¾ of governments of African countries. The World Bank was expected to spend 28% of its investments on projects directed towards limiting planet heating and control or mitigation of the effects on the ecosystem in the form of desertification. The Bank is supposed to be insistent on the search for renewable energy.

It is significant to remark that the United States and China, which are the world’s most polluted countries, readily joined the other signatories to ratify the deal into action. According to a statement before the signing ceremony, the President of the Grantham Research Institute, Lord Nicholas Stern, emphasized that the investments to be made by the World Bank must be in transport, energy, water, buildings and land utilization and management. He warned that, otherwise, we are doomed to a situation where people can neither move nor breathe in our cities and to ecosystems that will collapse.

To that effect, more than USD100 billion yearly will have to be invested in infrastructure globally for the next 20years, if the commitments made in the agreement are to be fulfilled. Meanwhile, in the past decade or so, poor countries have not been able to benefit from a Green Climate Fund (GCF) created to give small, developing countries direct access to finances to protect themselves from risks due to Climate Change, like flooding and desertification. Such vulnerable nations include islands such as Tonga, the Comoros, Grenada, etc., which have been confronted with complicated bureaucratic and accreditation processes.

The documentation on a 52-page application dossier includes the GCF fiduciary and gender policy standards as well as how relevant environmental and social safeguards against corruption and complaints have been handled in the past couple of years, among others. The accreditation process has thereby been described as an ‘excruciatingly painful’ document.  Least Developed Countries in vulnerable situations have had to resort to contracting international financial institutions and NGOs to access the maximum of USD300,000, after complying with the relevant guidelines.

At the next meeting of the Forum, in Marrakesh, Morocco, COP22 is expected to highlight African problems relative to Climate Change as over 250 million people are displaced annually as a result of floods and desertification. For the meantime, the signatory-member-states of the UN are required to redeem their pledges while cumbersome procedures for accessing the Green Climate Fund would have to be reviewed. Countries would have to adopt projects and accelerated action plans for early-warning predictions. At the individual levels, we are obliged to co-operate in the way we consume products of non-replaceable fossil energy.

Lifestyle changes would have to be evident and taken seriously by citizens of Least Developed Countries as our personal contribution towards a sustainable development and the limitation of the effects of Global Warming or Climate Change.

The Government of Ghana should join the other signatories to come out with precise action plans embracing long-term projects to protect water bodies, forests and other elements of our environment. The benchmarks set in the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development may only succeed if the ordinary citizens see themselves as the beneficiaries in the long run.

 

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TOWARDS A RELIABLE AND FRIENDLY POLICE SERVICE

Ghana Police Service

A couple of incidents that occurred recently paint a very unfortunate and disappointing picture of the Ghana Police Service. Two suspected armed robbers who attacked a bullion van in Donkorkrom in the Eastern Region were identified as Policemen. Then, two other Policemen were involved in a six-member car-snatching syndicate in Accra.

It may be recalled that in 2009, there was a proposed ‘Performance Re-engineering Policy’ by which policemen and women were moved to fit into the appropriate positions, on the merit of defensible criteria such as rank, qualification and competence. That was fair enough and the leadership of the Ghana Police Service was commended for the moral courage in taking the right steps, both big and small. The momentum was supposed to be maintained in the implementation of the policy in order to boost the morale of the men and women in the Ghana Police Service.

Meanwhile, all these efforts and initiatives notwithstanding, we woke up one morning to be  hit with the news of a reported racket in a recruitment exercise almost about the same time. Maybe it will be impulsive to suggest that the happenings in the GPS are offshoots of the said racket, whereby certain undesirable characters had managed to enter the Service. We will not be surprised to learn that the suspects were among the batch connected with the botched recruitment exercise.

The Ghana Police Service is the source for ascertaining the background of certain categories of workers. It is therefore very surprising that the very organization that is responsible for issuing ‘Security Clearance’ has shot itself in the foot, by not being all that diligent in its recruitment exercise, lately. Enlisting more hands should not give cause to water down the laid-down procedures and good practices in the selection process. Stiffer screening of new recruits should be one of the things that can be done to avoid enlisting people with dubious backgrounds. It make some time to handle such tasks but it is worthwhile and very relevant and essential for future efficiency and integrity.

Again, in the spirit of ‘visibility’ and friendliness, all Policemen and women were to wear name tags and numbers, boldly on their chests. The idea was a means of redeeming the image of Service, and especially to curb corruption. For instance, Police personnel on Traffic duties collects a Driver’s licence or other documents, without identifying him/herself enough for the owner to follow up on his case with ease, or to retrieve the documents.

The wearing of name tags and other forms of identification is practised almost everywhere else in most countries now. At the moment, it appears that it is an option to wear the tags whereas a directive in a Security organization leaves no room for variance or doing as one pleases. Other Security Service personnel in Ghana continue to proudly wear their self-identification badges side-by-side their medals, if any. The Police must therefore be seen to fall in line once again. The benefits definitely outweigh the costs of anonymity.

The Police are supposed to be ‘friends’ and protectors of their fellow citizens and inhabitants of this nation. A friend is someone whom you can approach for help in times of diificulty. A friend is usually identified by the name and or pet-name. a ‘friendly’ Police portrays a human face behind an official uniform and works openly. On the contrary, ‘nameless’ Police personnel are prone to bring dishonour to an organization whose motto is “Service with integrity”.

A friendly Police will not take undue advantage of the weak and vulnerable and be trigger-happy. He/she is protective or somebody in whom people can confide. He/she should not pull the gun at the least opportunity, under the least provocation, because he/she knows the professional obligation is to protect the weak. However, when under threat of life, self-defence may be acceptable.

In these circustances, the Police Service should intensify its efforts at changing the attitudes of wayward personnel who carry their weapons at odd times and in to wrong places. There should be regular training programmes to refresh their skills, so that they can apply the various arms at their disposal to the defence of normally unarmed citizens. Control of weapons leaving the armoury, barracks and depots should be more rigid. The incidents of stray bullets killing or maiming innocent people will thereby be reduced, if not completely eliminated.

The public can co-operate better when they come upon delinquent Policemen and women. The name or number can be quoted to support other concrete evidence by people complaining about, or witnessing in cases of professional misconduct by the Police. This will also facilitate the work of the Police/Public Intelligence and Relations Department, rather than relying on identification parades that sometimes end up in a wild-goose-chase.

The ugly habit of people charging on Police Stations to ask for the release of suspects, vandalizing offices, equipment and vehicles will have stop. The average law-abiding Ghanaian should be prepared to assist members of the Ghana Police Service in fighting crime, corruption promoting law and order and delivering quality, disciplined service in protecting lives and property. The Inspector-General of Police may be reminded, in humility, that small things cost very little, or even nothing, but enhance the beauty of the anticipated bigger achievements, in this case, of restoring the Ghana Police Service to its honourable pedestal.

The bigger issues centre around stalled promotions, accommodation and non-financial related perquisites which shall, hopefully, be tackled in a systematic fashion, with the Strategic Directive Policy as a guide. Members of a satisfied and highly motivated Police corps will give of their best through diligent and honest work buttressed by sacrifice.

The Ghana Police Service administration should stay focused to the vision and high, challenging responsibilities entrusted to them. The ripple effect will trickle down to the remotest station in the country, and the people’s confidence will boost the needed mutual co-operation between the men and women of the Ghana Police Service and the citizenry.

ANTHONY KWEKU ANNAN

[SOCIAL COMMENTATOR]

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CHRISTMAS: A SEASON OF GOODWILL

Christmas

In the middle of the Harmattan winds blowing from the North to the South, and the accompanying haze, there comes a joyful season, between late December and the commencement of a New Year in January, Elsewhere on the globe, this is the “bleak mid-Winter” when snow lies on snow all over the place.

Christmas is typically a Christian celebration. In the same breath, it is a very important universal landmark for both Believers and non-Believers on the birth of the Holy Infant, Jesus Christ, after whom the day is named.

In the Christian tradition, the first four weeks of the Harmattan period nearly coincides with Advent which heralds the Christmas-tide. This is a period of patient anticipation of the fulfillment of the promise of Christ’s coming. It is a period for preparing our hearts for the great Gift of God’s only begotten Son.

Waiting for something pleasant to happen, or expecting the arrival of someone on an appointed date or time, can be a tedious experience marked by excitement and suspense. The anticipated event may or may not happen after all. Fortunately, the Nativity was a real occurrence 2012 years ago.

Since the First Nowell, a joyful mood characterizes the Season of Goodwill. This is in conformity to a normal situation for people put aside their affairs and take time to mark important events, by special ceremonies and general merry-making. Children are usually at the centre of the ceremonies.

As far as their means may allow, people may go to certain excesses in expressing their joy. Parties and family-gatherings are usually organized. Exchange of gifts and other symbolic actions including special greetings take place. However, as people observe such significant events, they sometimes tend to take for granted the real meaning of their joyous exuberance.

During the Season of Goodwill, as elsewhere, the Ghanaian winds down for a while. Often there is a lot to eat and drink. We make fun, sing and dance in relaxed ambiance with family members and friends. While we do so this Christmas season, let us continue to portray our cherished ideals by remembering the least-endowed in our communities. Let us share with them the serenity of the birth of Prince of Peace, who gave us the gift of His life and brought light to those who lived in darkness.

It is also common for people to make Resolutions around this time. The need for a fresh start is a natural human value to turn a new leave. The search for a new surge of energy, a rejuvenation or renewal is always at the back of our minds. Reconciliation with oneself and self-acceptance make life more meaningful in the final count, and lifts the individual to a higher, deeper level.

Hence, an objective stock-taking, introspection or self-examination should be undertaken before putting down the broad outlines of any Resolutions. Remember what Socrates, a Greek philosopher, said: “…The unexamined life is not worth living…” This has stood the test of time as far back as over 400 years before Christ was born. In a world where we are encompassed by daily doubts, challenges and anxieties, the Christmas period could be a new start for self-determination.

We celebrate in diverse ways at Christmas but we should not lose sight of the real essence of the occasion, That is, Love came down as a baby. “…The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (Jn 1:14). We therefore thank God for all the good things and even sad ones which came our way in the past 365 days. We equally ask for Divine guidance and mercies in the forthcoming years, in the fulfillment of His plans in  our lives. Throughout the feasting and merry-making, we should for a sincere prayer for a peaceful, prosperous future in our national affairs. Most importantly, Christian charity and moderation must permeate the Season of Goodwill.

Finally, to make this Christmas really meaningful, we are enjoined by a popular hymn to “…gladden all who meet (us) ; …fill their hearts with hope and courage…spread the peace and joy of Christ around… and make God known and loved…”

PEACE ON EARTH AND TO MEN (AND WOMEN) OF GOODWILL

AFRENHYIA PA!!

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HARNESS SOLAR ENERGY, NOT COAL!!

HARNESS SOLAR ENERGY NOT COAL

This article has been prompted by a number of significant events within the past few weeks, following the announcement on the use of coal to generate electricity, in the heat of our Energy Crisis. Shortly after that news was broken, there were nearly-simultaneous feature programmes on two different radio/television networks, Radio France Internationale (RFI) and local Peace FM. While the former treated the generation of electricity from Solar Energy in the Sénégambia region of Casamance, the latter hosted a company that has installed solar-panels, in place of conventional windows, in an office in Tema.

When it was announced by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, that Ghana was going to turn to the use of coal in generating electric power, some people were very dismayed and skeptical. The immediate reaction was that we were retrogressing in our handling of the power crisis confronting the Nation. The official explanation, assurances and justification for the proposal or decision stressed the fact that coal has a lot of good properties or attributes in the production of energy. Yet, that proposal seemed to be a contravention of a recently-ratified Agreement adopted by member-states of the United Nations, in late April this year, to reduce Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emission into the atmosphere, world-wide.

To fall on coal as a critical factor in electricity production in this country was like taking us back to the Industrial Revolution era of about 250 years ago. It is an undisputed fact that coal was an important catalyst that powered the steam engines which promoted the great strides in Industrial growth in Europe and, later, the United States of America. That was a period characterized by inventions that turned the tedious operations on the farms and manufacturing establishments into less-unpleasant chores.

In our pervading energy crisis, we have had to try almost all the types of energy sources and migrated from diesel-powered engines to hydro-electricity, generated by the Volta River Authority (VRA) from the Akosombo Dam, for over forty years so far. Thermal and other plants have been built from State resources and individual initiatives (e.g. Asogli), at certain vantage locations to boost production and distribution of electricity. Gas and power barges have also been on hand, leaving atomic energy, wind and tidal waves on the waiting-list to be exploited, yet to-date, we are still in the doldrums. Meanwhile, the abundant heat energy from the Tropical sun we enjoy, nearly all the year round, has been virtually left untapped and, thereby, wasted in this respect.

The Akosombo Dam had provided the Nation with hydro-electric (or ‘white’) power, with excess for export beyond our borders, since 1974. The problem of unstable electric power has been attributed to a number of factors. The reduction in the water volume in the Volta, which feeds the Akosombo Dam, was first experienced in the 1980s. The universal Climate Change characterized by continued long droughts caused some of the tributaries of the Volta to dry up. Reports also indicated that in the catchment area of the Volta, two dams had been sited upstream, by neighbouring Burkina Faso.

The need for major maintenance was also signaled about twenty years ago, and a number of measures taken by VRA included closing down some of the turbines which generate the electricity. As a result, for about a decade and a half, we have had to experience aggravating situations of power shortage. Measures marshalled by the utility provider, such as ‘load-shedding’, power-saving devices like low-energy bulbs, techniques and schedules included the infamous ‘Dum-sor’ or a series of frustrating power outages at odd times. All such efforts have yielded no positive, satisfactory results.

Individuals who could afford electricity –generating plants have turned our residential areas into extension of noisy industrial areas, especially at night, when there are power outages. The gaseous emissions pollute the air, and some neighbours have reported respiratory problems resulting from inhaling such polluted air. Fires have broken out from overheated generators and related accidents have also maimed people when fueling their generators. The high cost of fueling the sets may not be a big deal for affluent ones who can afford them, but the toll remains alarming to the average worker.

The technical justification in favour of coal has received criticism on the basis of the environmental implications. Whatever the attributes of coal in output of electric energy, the inconveniences are quite unbearable. Seriously, the officials who are clamouring for the use of coal should be careful not to go for obsolete equipment in the course of implementation. Let us turn around and see the abandoned Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) power houses with their diesel engines, deafeningly filling the atmosphere with their thick smoke.

This brings to mind some common experiences when the Ghana Railway Corporation (GRC) operated a large fleet of steam locomotive engines in the 1950-60s. The coal engines of the early years were very cumbersome to operate. The imported industrial coal had to be conveyed from the ships that had brought the consignments to locations or ‘depots’ at the harbour and later to various locations in designated railway stations along the network. Loaders manually filled the buckets or compartments on the locomotives, while ‘Boiler-makers’ stood by to ignite the coal in the furnaces on the trains. They had to produce certain levels of steam before the heavy engines could move. Then, ‘Firemen’ kept stoking the fire, by shoveling heaps of coal into the furnace, throughout the journeys. The heat in the engine rooms was very unbearable for the Enginemen some of whom developed hearing impairment and other physical disorders from the noisy, very hot work environment.

Passengers and passers-by were not spared either. They had their fair share of the discomfort from tiny particles from the thick smoke that fell in their eyes and/or on their dresses. At the end of a journey, the engine–heads were parked for some time for the hot ashes to cool down before being dislodged from the boiler.  Progressively, the coal bunkers were later converted into diesel tanks on the bulky engines. Those were systematically changed into diesel engine-heads and, ultimately ‘electric’ ones were also introduced.

Ghana is advantaged to be located in the Tropics where there is constant sunshine almost every day of the year, even during rainy seasons. My long-time friend, Harry Falconer, writing in the Daily Graphic a few years back, was of the opinion that, “…our development of solar energy (should be) only a matter of course. But is it?” One cannot agree with him the more that,”…in order to benefit from our natural environment, for our survival and comfort, we have to be resourceful…otherwise.., in the midst of our abundant human and natural resources, we shall continue to grow poorer and poorer before we finally perish…”

Well, if any consideration is being given to an alternative source to hydro-electricity, in this 21st century of high technological and electro-technical advancement, why not pursue the Solar Energy Project which is located in the Ministry of Mines and Energy? It can be observed that street lights have been replaced with Solar panels (Photo Voltaic Cells) and accessories. These can be seen in parts of the national capital and main roads leading to some Districts, perhaps as a pilot scheme.

Unfortunately, it is saddening to find that some irresponsible people have vandalized the installations on busy roads like N! Highway and the Tema Motorway!! This kind of negative, sabotaging acts are criminal. Until such selfish behaviours stop, we shall gradually sink into retrogression and eventual stagnation, in our efforts to become a ‘Developed’ country.

As compared to other sources of energy, sunshine in our part of the globe is reliable, sustainable, free, and, above all, environment-friendly. Thus, development of solar energy can reduce our dependence on oil and provide a cheap source of energy. In the long run. The only initial capital input goes into the installation of the panels and associated accessories. Maintenance involves charging of the batteries and flushing the filters on the panels with clean water.

Coincidentally, Radio France Internationle (RFI) on 18th May, 2016, did a documentary on a small community near the Casamance Dam in Senegal, which has suffered similar fate of our Akosombo Dam. A private initiative within the past ten years, to generate electricity from solar energy, has become a unique opportunity for the villages along the river to rely on solar power for domestic purposes and street-lighting, without relying on the national grid.

The solar units were assembled by a private company which operates and supervises the maintenance. The residents subscribe to the facility through pre-paid meters at affordable rates. They are satisfied about the reliability, utility cost, easy use and maintenance.

The project had attracted the support of a benevolent individual who has set up a Foundation to replicate the experience in other communities through tailor-made solar energy systems. Jobs have thereby been created for the local artisans and youth in the beneficiary communities, notably the installation of poles and maintenance.

Strangely enough, panelists on one of our local radio stations, Peace FM, also discussed Solar Energy in its early morning show the next day (19th May). It appears the signs are more than enough to draw our attention to the free, clean and sustainable energy from the sun, which we have taken for granted for far too long. It is about time we integrated solar energy panels in our architectural designs, just as we now make provision for water reservoirs and power plants or generators. Houses should be designed to incorporate solar panels as windows and doors.

Flat glass window and door fixtures have become very fashionable in buildings lately, in the face of inconsistent power supply. People are paying exorbitant tariffs for electricity, on account of such flamboyant lifestyles involving the need to fix air conditioners in certain parts of the house. The way forward is to revolutionize our architectural designing, instead of slipping back into discontinued procedures and practices of three centuries ago. The panels can also be integrated in the roofing, or placed on top of existing roofs. The units may be dedicated to gadgets in specific sections of the house, to cater for such equipment as televisions, radios and/or general lighting, depending on the size of the building.

According to the RFI report, researchers in France in the past ten years have indicated that PVC systems, including the nickel batteries, are water-proof, heat-resistant and virtually maintenance-free. Use of low-energy LED bulbs adds to the economic advantages of solar energy usage. The only setback in the use of the solar panels or Photo Voltaic Cells is common dust. But the answer lies in flushing the water-proof filters with ordinary water, and they continue to perform effectively.

In conclusion, it is pertinent to remind ourselves of our commitments to attain certain goals and objectives under the United Nations Millennium Challenge Goals (MCGs), e.g. “affordable and sustainable sources of energy”, and the follow-up to ‘COP21Paris’ Agreement on reduction in Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emission into the atmosphere.

Coal is not a renewable nor sustainable source of energy. If we promote its use in its raw state, we would be working at cross-purposes with the objectives aimed at safeguarding the Ecosystem or protecting the Ozone layer which prevents ultra-violet rays from reaching the surface of the earth. Climate Change is real and we should not be seen as contributing to it, in any way, either directly or indirectly. We need to comply with the pledges we readily agree to uphold in union with the community of Nations.

Ghana stands to gain from harvesting the abundant sunshine to produce electricity at affordable costs for consumers. The efforts at promoting Solar Energy for electricity should be vigorously pursued. The other critical concern is that we should be very cautious not to procure abandoned technology and obsolete machinery for the purpose. The expenditure for coal-operated machines should be made in favour of competitive, comparably better and current technology.

The seeming foot-dragging in tapping free, environment-friendly Solar Energy from Nature should go hand-in-hand with progressive policies, laws and action-oriented programmes in the interest of the broad section of the population.

Negative attitudes towards State property and assignments frustrate our march forward. Let us aspire after, and help to build an orderly, peaceful and beautiful environment for ourselves now and leave a plausible heritage for the future generations.

HARNESS SOLAR ENERGY, NOT COAL!!

 

 ANTHONY KWEKU ANNAN

[SOCIAL COMMENTATOR]

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LEADERSHIP FOR FRUITFUL SERVICE

LEADERSHIP FOR FRUITFUL SERVICE

[Delivered at Young Christian Students (YCS) Congress in Kumasi, 1979/Updated in December, 2017]

There is a very popular paraphrase of a statement, with Biblical sources, that “…He who must lead should be prepared to serve…” Another critical idea emanates from the theme, i.e. the fact that, leaders should render services that are relevant to the needs of those they lead.

LEADERSHIP is a rather slippery terminology that has attracted several definitions. For our purpose, however, we shall consider it as the ability to influence others to achieve group objectives, at the same time as satisfying their individual self-set goals. Leadership is therefore a social phenomenon that emerges and develops in inter-personal relationships. For leadership to facilitate provision of service to one’s neighbour, it should be open, democratic or shared. Rendition of services has always been a natural sequence to awareness or consciousness of a situation whereby one finds him/herself vis-à-vis another person or group in obviously disadvantaged positions. Leadership, of necessity then, is a product of observation, analysis and understanding of the problem.

Three types of Leadership styles have been identified, namely,

  1. Democratic: Open, democratic or shared Leadership promotes service to the community, because it enables the members to develop their full potentials, with the least inhibitions and hindrance. It is said to be ‘democratic’ because there is the possibility for all members to participate in the decision-making process, right from the formulation or planning to the implementation of policies and projects. Authority is diffused, and not concentrated in only one person (as in “authoritarian” or “dictatorial” leadership). Rather, effective leadership is shared between all the sections of the group. Thus, there is a capacity to direct one’s behaviour toward organizational goals.
  2. Autocratic: Such leadership style does not consider the ideas and efforts of other members of the group. This is characterized by arbitrary decisions and ‘one-man shows’ and arrogant, inconsiderate attitudes. Autocratic leaders lord it on their followers.
  • Laissez faire: Just as the meaning of the term, leaders hardly exert their influence. They follow every suggestion without adequate and critical assessment of situations.

Individuals demonstrate one dominant style, but sometimes, circumstances may demand that a leader must put his/her foot down and take decisions, or let things take their own course, in the interest of the group. A good, balanced leadership will be inclined to be flexible and on top of situations. Such leaders see themselves as ‘the first among equals’ (primus inter pares). They are not superior over the other members.

YOUTH LEADERSSHIP FOR SERVICE must have its roots in a process of awareness-creation, what Fr. Paolo Freire, a renowned Brazilian Catholic Priest, has termed Conscientization.  Such a leadership role involves working through small groups, both in and out of school. The central concern is the process of discovery of self and others, in a way which enables people to proceed to action to implement their insights, or to improve upon the status quo. The concept may be simplified as “a synthesis of professionalism and goodwill and a sharing of knowledge rather than its imposition.”

To attain a desirable level of awareness and understanding of the problems of one’s milieu (beit a household, an institutional campus, a workplace, or an association), one needs to be involved in the operations of the group. Put differently, young people cannot be mobilized on empty foundations; there must be motivation, as well as some form of organization and opportunities for analysing problems, to facilitate finding appropriate solutions to them. Such essential structures and logistic arrangements include, for instance:

  1. Leadership Development: This is an important avenue for providing non-formal or informal educational opportunities. Various Youth Associations have sprouted in almost every nook and corner of the country, following the establishment of the National Youth Council (NYC), by NRCD 241, in 1974. The members should. The leadership need to take advantage of the existing facilities and structures of the now National Youth Authority (NYA) for Leadership Development. These include a number of Youth Leadership Training Institutes in some regions, and with plans to establish one in each administrative region in the country.

Youth groups should be able to identify members who exhibit traits of Leadership, for them to nurture and promote the development of such potentials. The youth, in turn, should respond positively to opportunities to channel their energies into creative and viable ventures. These include organizing and participating in in voluntary communal work programmes or projects, teaching in Vacation classes for local JHS and SHS pupils and students.

Relying on available Role Models in their communities as Adult Volunteers, Youth groups can also involve District Secretariats of the NYA should encourage and facilitate the organization of periodic Leadership Training Seminars and Workshops in their jurisdictions. They should be knowledgeable and abreast with the relevant subjects and issues that will enable youth leaders to run their Associations and projects effectively. Other Resource Person can be found from the staff of institutions located in the nearby Decentralized Departments of the Metropolitan/Municipal/District Assemblies.

In order for leadership to succeed in stimulating the support of the membership, the following attributes or qualities, or a combination thereof, are very essential:

  1. Dynamism/organizational abilities;
  2. Approachable/affable (ability to get along with almost everybody in the group);
  • Empathetic/fellow-feeling/gregarious/Caring;
  1. Confident/stable self-esteem;
  2. Well-informed and open-minded;
  3. Hardworking/industrious;
  • Readiness to sacrifice (time, other resources)/Selfless;
  • Innovative (able to generate new ideas and insights into problems on hand);
  1. Good communicator (ability to express ideas in ways that can convince the followers or others;
  2. Pragmatic/proactive (able to stretch his/her imagination);
  3. Fair and firm in judgement and decision-making;
  • Tolerant/Respect for the opinions of others;
  • Responsible and of proven integrity/trustworthiness.

Communication:    For leadership to be effective and generate involvement, there should be a two-way communication channel. Through the ‘Bottom up’ approach, the leader must respect the opinion of every member of the group, irrespective of any considerations. The leadership should promote a climate of initiative and creativity and inclusiveness in the organization or group.

In practical terms, the young intellectuals of this country have a special part to play in helping the ordinary people to regain their personality, and faith in their own abilities, through self-discovery. The youth can do this better if they are convinced that they have been able to discover themselves, with the help of their education. The curriculum should not be confined only to classroom or theoretical knowledge. The young people of Ghana must continue to be given every facility to integrate themselves profoundly in the life of the people, since an effective way of learning is by doing.

In the past, our educational institutions ran a kind of academic ‘obstacle race’ at the end of which their qualifications, in the form of degrees and titles, conferred definite prestige. Their products constituted a class or an élite group. Today, our institutions should become workshops where students increase their potentialities and sharpen their patriotic duty. Young people should arm themselves to play leading roles in fighting social injustice in Ghana in the near future.

SERVICE:     The National Service Scheme is a typical example of out-of-school institutions through which our youth are enabled to render relevant and vital direct service to the Nation. The Scheme should be sustained to spearhead the attempts in bridging the gap of rural poverty and urban affluence. By the involvement of students from our higher institutions, life shall be gradually made more bearable for the rural folk.

This concern for the plight of the ordinary man exemplifies a fruitful service that the leadership of the educated youth can help to bring about. Students should act as the spokesmen/women of their peoples by vocalizing their afflictions and sufferings. The silent majority of rural people should not be quite simply sacrificed by and for the minority made up of urbanized youth. Among the expected positive output should include an exposure of the young people to the world of work.

Again, LEADERSHIP FOR FRUITFUL SERVICE implies a ‘commitment.’ The young intellectual or student commits him/herself to a pattern of ethical behaviour, a way of life which leads out of moral choices. Such commitment is directed towards Humanity and is pre-supposed in the things the individual does, and in the manner in which they are done.

The implications for young opinion leaders are that the kind of Community Improvement Projects (CIPs) they decide to undertake, for example, should satisfy the immediate or real felt-needs of the people. Top priority must be given to programmes and projects which will contribute to combat unemployment, promote socio-political emancipation or empowerment and, most importantly, enhance spiritual upliftment of the community concerned. Those in leadership positions should thereby deem themselves as challenged, and face the situation with honesty, devotion, zeal, courage and selflessness.

It has always been believed that given the necessary guidance, encouragement and example, the youth of this Nation can realize any such objectives through which the overall National goals and aspirations can be achieved. This calls for relevant Policies, Legislation and programmes which are derived from the overall National Principles and objectives.  Herein lies the rationale and justification for the existence of a Ministry of Youth Affairs. The youth can be guided by such legal and official framework to take advantage of any opportunities that have been offered them. Such progressive instruments will prepare the young people for their future tasks in Society.

Institutions of higher learning are hereby called upon to perform a third and equally important role, that of Extension, in addition to their traditional functions of Instruction and Research. These institutions are required to ‘come down’, to reach out to share, or to associate themselves the more with the people of the communities of which they are a part. It is a major function of such institutions to widen the options available in the solution of community problems and in the improvement of the quality of life of the people in their locations.

Our rural folks need enlightened and pragmatic leadership, encouragement, a change in attitude, with organization and effort to meet their own needs, and with the help of others in meeting some specific needs. The ideal situation in the development of a community is that development should start from within, devoid of any interference from outside. Unfortunately, this does not normally happen, unless there is some intervention from outside, as Technical Assistance or moral back-up.

Our youth, in their Associations and other groupings should, therefore, catalyse and encourage the initiation of Self-Help Programmes/Projects (SHPs) of community development in which the people are active participants. They should strengthen the people’s capability to solve their problems and to manage their own programmes and projects. This calls for planning and clear communication of job descriptions or unambiguous assignments. (Numbers 4:19   “…assign to each man his work and what he is to carry…”

The model for all time is the “Suffering Servant’ in Mt. 23:11-12 “…he who is greatest among you shall be your servant” The kind of Leadership Jesus approves for adoption by leaders of God’s people. Paul sums up, in 1Thes.2:7-9, for leaders to live unassumingly…work with unsparing energy, slaving day and night…so as not to be a burden on any one…”  He advises further, in Rm.12:5-16, on the use of the different gifts and talents, that we should devote ourselves to practical service and work (for the Lord) “not half-heartedly, but with conscientiousness and an eager spirit …”

Leadership teams should therefore serve with a single heart and eye to the glory of the Lord. Such faithful service and whatever we do should be carried out “with all (our) hearts, as working for the Lord…” (Col.3:23). Peter corroborates this statement by saying that, “if anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ…” (1Pt.4:11).   The positive attitude of a faithful servant towards the tasks that are assigned is a measure of the way we honour God. We should appreciate the importance of any responsibilities given to us and do them well.

The Christian youth, in a challenging world, must be comforted by the fact that “all goes well for one who is honest in all his dealings…” (Ps.112:8). Thus, in my opinion, the essence of YOUTH LEADERSHIP FOR FRUITFUL SERVICE should be a preparation for adult life, in Religious Affairs, Politics, Traditional Rule, Business and general Social relationships.

ANTHONY KWEKU ANNAN

 

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