It has been said that ‘the old-time friend of acerbity or acrimony is greed’. It is a dangerous quadruped or an untamed beast that can easily harm the nearest prey. In other words, greed destroys healthy societies and turns institutions into a state of mockery. The excessive desire to have more money, power and earthly possessions other than what one needs is what I term as greed. The lust for money comes in the form of gambling, stealing, lying to enrich oneself, or selling one’s body for money.
There is nothing wrong with a longing for more resources, provided the means of acquisition is permissible, lawful and ethical. However, any unscrupulous, dodgy or crooked act to amass wealth to the detriment of the people around us leads to our failure as leaders. Getting money in the right way is the divine plan of God for man. Remember, money is the reward of diligent effort. It may also come to us in the form of a gift as a result of a person’s kindness. However, lusting for money destroys one’s true identity and brings him below the belt of shame.
Leaders who lust for money have a limitless desire to accrue greater, and then still greater wealth. It is interesting how warped or twisted people assume that their acquisitive behaviour is common to all. The assumption that everyone is doing it should not be your standard if you value truthfulness. Yes, some people may be doing it without being caught, but be prepared to face the granitic of the law should you be caught in such a dubious act. Notwithstanding, live to please the Almighty with your good conscience, even when no one is watching.
The issue of exploitation, sleaze, corruption, bribery, greed and fraud should be critically examined under the lens of societal development. Any culture that wants to make strides must work hard to eliminate corruption or, at least, bring it to the barest minimum. Right will always be right and wrong will also be wrong in any society of respectability. On the contrary, when right is overturned to mean wrong and the latter is branded to mean right, a warped society is built. Let’s set the ball rolling on the issue of dishonesty.
There is this platitude, banality or chestnut that brands Ghanaians to be extremely hospitable within the sub-region. But how friendly or welcoming is the average Ghanaian on the street of say Greater Accra or Greater Kumasi? If we only become hospitable to unfamiliar people because of the benefit we shall receive from such an association, we are unethical or unprincipled. In other words, we are dishonest and manipulative. If we cannot show a little kindness to people without any subscriptions or money, we are corrupt. So, instead of always looking at the bigger picture of corruption from the governmental section, let’s do a little introspection to make some changes in our personal lives.
At the office, when a clerk demands money before tracing a file for someone, he/she is not only callous, but also a deep-seated corrupt personality. When you enter the wrong time in the time book at your office in order to prove a point, you are abusive and very untruthful. If we falsify documents and change our age in order to have access to a higher position at our workplace, we are also corrupt.
When income or indirect taxes are evaded through under invoicing and over invoicing, the nation loses money meant for developmental projects to an uncultured individual. On the highway, when we jump into the red traffic light when the signal demands a halt, we are dishonest and lawless. In effect, we are careless and we do not value road safety regulations.
When students pay their way out as an inducement to swindler school authorities in order to have access to the college of their choice, we are not only hoaxers or fraudsters, but also charlatans, contributing to the ill-state of our country’s challenging educational system. We are so greedy that we care less about human development. We are not satisfied with what we have, but the desire to have more through crude method is our highest goal. Once money is on the table, grades can be manufactured to give way for entry into any course of our choice.
In most public offices, most crosier officers preparing for retirement – given the slightest opportunity – will team up with other shady and twisted schemers to make quick money. When a system is absorbent or porous, and the caretakers occupying sensitive positions are unethical, the rate of dishonest gains will astronomically increase in a considerable number. In that vein, the desire for more money through unqualified means becomes their greatest obsession. Learn from these passages in the Holy Book: “Dishonest money dwindles away but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” – Proverbs 13:11
“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied unto his income. This too is meaningless.” – Ecclesiastes 5: 10
Stronger nations are built on credibility and asceticism, and not on fraudulent traditions. When money intended for a specific project is redirected or diverted to another use, we are not only misapplying funds, but also swimming in the pool of dishonesty. When the salaries of your employees are continuously delayed without any tangible reason, you are not only cruel, but also practising skullduggery or dishonest gain.
Greed, like a terminal disease, calls for a special treatment. In the history of colonisation in Africa, the industrialised nations took advantage of the permeability in the economies of the African continent. The struggle for more colonies led to the super powers indoctrinating the African continent though known to be one of the richest in terms of natural resources with their philosophies and systems.
Today, it has become increasingly difficult for us as Africans to be united in terms of socio-economic policies. The founding fathers of Pan-Africanism put all efforts to bring all African countries under one umbrella of a united states but it never worked out because of dissimilar belief systems and certain external influences. Though we have the theoretical amalgamated organisation, the Africa Union, its colossal impact on the world stage is either negligible or not very much felt.
Greed on the part of most leaders has collapsed the moral fibre of a continent so blessed by the Almighty with uncountable resources. If ancient human civilisation started in Mesopotamia – now located in modern-day Iraq, Kuwait and Syria – and then shifted to Egypt (Africa), where advancement in agriculture, architecture, law, astronomy, mathematics and more emerged, how come most of the inhabitants of modern-day Africa, in general, live in abject poverty?
According to www.issafrica.org statistics on global poverty, Africa has the largest share of extreme poverty rates globally, with 23 of the world’s poorest 28 countries at extreme poverty rates above 30 percent. Using the poverty line of US$1.90 a day, Africa’s extreme poverty rate of 43.1 percent in 1981 was almost equal to the average for the rest of the world’s rate. You still wonder why a continent so endowed with rich natural resources and adequate human resources still lives in abject poverty? No matter how it may be debated that people contribute to the success of their lives, my argument is, if people are not empowered with the requisite tools, how would they enjoy prosperity?
With all these resources, what accounts for our absorbency, porosity or sponginess? Is it attitudinal or a curse? Definitely not a curse – but our poor attitude. Most of our state institutions are porous because of sleaze, malpractice, self-ambition and excessive preference. The desire of every self-ambitious person is not to make people’s lives better, but to take undue advantage of the porosity of the institutions to constantly amass wealth and draw attention only to themselves. There are bad roads, under-resourced hospitals, poor healthcare delivery, weak educational policies, among others.
We are in a continent of abundance, yet our self-ambition, greed and pride have paved way for looters and selfish strangers to take advantage of our weak systems. Take a look at most of our West African countries so blessed with oil. Most of the proceeds from the drilling of oil and other natural resources are not well-accounted for. Though we have massive natural reserves, our countries live in abject poverty as funds are misdirected into some people’s coffers at the expense of the development of the states. Are we not interested in a good name?
Poor leadership has scattered most brilliant citizens of Africa to roam around the world in search of greener pastures. The desire to make our system better is constantly fought by some quarters, all because their percentage in the share of the booty will be denied. In his book Three Stages of Salvation: Heavenly Oriented or Hell Bound, Gyasi (2015) asserts that: “In September 2014, for example, 22,000 ghost names were discovered on the payroll of a certain public organisation in Africa. The estimated cost of this scandal to public coffers was thirty-one (31) million US dollars per year”.
This is so sad! This astronomical malfeasance was about 1 percent of that country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014. Meanwhile, some public workers in that particular year were not paid, and hospitals and schools were starved of the basic resources, just to mention a few. Some government officials and even middle-level managers of corporate organisations embezzle public funds in some countries, and the severest punishment meted to them is indefinite suspension. Instead of asking them to refund the money before going to jail, they are allowed to go with impunity.
In fact, some perpetrators are even promoted to positions attracting higher pay check. Thus, they get away with the stolen money. This is the state of greed and bad leadership. Such acts of mismanagement of resources and appointment of incompetent people into higher offices are a sign of disrespect to the people being led. Until we deal with the canker of voracity, self-interest, and learn to be content with what we have, we will continue to disappoint ourselves, fail our generation, and terminate the dreams of the people we lead.
Are we interested in building a co-operative community, or our selfish interest makes us use other people’s skills for our personal agenda? Maybe it’s time we did an extensive cross-examination of our thoughts. How patriotic are we? Do we become happy when our water bodies are destroyed because of illegal mining and other unhealthy practices which are not healthy for our environment? Are we so much interested in unwarranted money through dishonest gains that making our community better is irrelevant to our communal growth? Can the next generation benefit from our impact?
Life is measured in terms of a good name and a great impact. Life without a good name is worthless living. Will you be praised for making a positive impact on the lives of others or your name shall be in the sea of forgetfulness? I pray the former becomes your ultimate. Let your good name in the areas of idea creation, charisma and personality modification change the lives of others. No matter how imperfect we are as humans, our eccentricity, unconventionality and nonconformity shall stand out in all our endeavours.
Desire to leave a good legacy behind for others to emulate. Examine your life. Ask if the things you do are for personal agenda, personal recognition, or they are from an open-heart devoid of any ominous intention? Remember, one of the most cherished assets for living is a credible name. So, go for it!
- Gyasi-Agyei, A. (2015), Three Stages of Salvation: Heavenly-Oriented or Hell Bound. Mumbai: Patridge India, p.253.
- Owusu, P. (2016) The leading Edge: An all-inclusive leadership approach for leading nations, families, churches, corporate organizations and enriching one’s life in an effective and efficient manner. Kumasi: Streams Publishing House, pp.216-219.
The writer is an Academic, Visiting Lecturer, Leadership Consultant and a Reverend Minister with the WordSprings City Church, Kumasi-Ghana.
Email: [email protected]
Grab copies of the writer’s books from Kingdom Bookshop, KNUST, Kumasi; and in Accra, contact: Mrs. Justina Asempa (Phoenix Insurance, Ringway Estates, Osu) on 0244 20 88 43 and Pastor Stephen Gyamfi (ICGC, Asylum Down, 054 679 7323). In Obuasi, contact Sammy on 024 77 3 78 11.