MTN Bright Conversations
The absence of genuine accountability from citizens to leaders at all levels, particularly elected officials, is inimical to the progress of the country and without conscious efforts at reversing the trend, it should be expected to worsen, Rev. Dr. Joyce Aryee has said.
In her estimation, the menace finds root in the hero-worship of leaders often witnessed amongst traditional leaders and has been carried over into public and civil service, distorting the expectations of rights and duties that leaders owe their people.
Dr. Aryee, who served as Minister responsible for Education under the Rawlings administration, made this known when she took her turn at the recently held session of MTN’s leadership and mentoring programme – Bright Conversations. This forms part of the activities commemorating the telco’s 25th Anniversary celebrations.
She explained, “Public service is self-explanatory… But as a people, we have always placed people at the top on too high a pedestal. You go to a community and the chief is held in such high esteem, plus his officials, and everyone is angling to get the chief to be a friend and I think we have carried that into our political life, without recognising that, really, the politician is our representative. We have said, through our ballot, that he is capable of representing us, where the laws are made and where public policy is implemented.”
She added that the erosion of confidence in the public and civil services can also be traced to actions during the lengthy military interventions that disrupted governance, as public servants were unfairly targeted for summary dismissals and other actions.
This, she noted, has plagued the sector and has left it a pale shadow of its former glories, when Ghanaian public servants were diligently sought after in other countries.
“I think when we started having military interventions, there was so much fear by the public servants as when the military would take over, they would blame a whole lot of wrongdoings on public servants and civil servants, and sometimes they would be dismissed by radio, or something like that or get intimidated in some way or the other. I think that dented the respect and the joy of working for the public service, which we used to have,” she said.
Change in outlook
To remedy this, however, the founder of the Salt and Light Ministries, called for a concerted effort to instill a sense of nationhood in all Ghanaians, arguing that it would see a return of patriotism and a seeking of the collective good of all, as opposed to a few.
Dr. Aryee also reiterated calls for the deliberate training of leaders. Using her experience in leadership as an example – beginning at home as one of the older siblings and as Head Girl at the Achimota School, prior to a distinguished career, in which she held various top positions – she admitted that whilst there are persons who have more overt leadership tendencies, everyone has some innate gifts that could and should be nurtured to see them grow into leaders.
This, she noted, was crucial at a time when it has become abundantly evident that human development index, research & development, education and increasing standard of living is what will make a country prosperous, not an overreliance on natural resources, which have their value determined by external forces of demand and supply.
Whilst offering welcome remarks, Chief Executive at MTN, Selorm Adadevoh described Dr. Aryee, who served as the first CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, as a living legend, one who defied restrictive stereotypes and shattered glass ceilings.
“Many if not all would agree with me that Dr. Joyce Aryee is a living legend and someone who embodies passion, beauty, style, success, determination and on top of that, defies all the gender stereotypes and has shown us that it can be done, even as a woman.”