Betty Mould-Iddrisu

The year was 1967. I was in form one, Achimota School. The school prefect was some handsome young guy, Kwaku Yeboah. When you see him in his blue sixth form uniform, walking majestically along, blessed by God with a very noble personality – not tall, not short, not fat, not slim – just a prim figure – you cannot but admire him. And he was correct and flamboyant, neatly dressed all the time, the very epitome of what a senior student must be, an inspiration to all; the school prefect of Achimota school- Kwaku Yeboah.

All of a sudden, one evening, when we went to supper, I saw the deputy school prefect sitting on the SP’s chair, so I asked one senior at my dining table – where is the SP?

He retorted: ”Go to the notice board”,

Straight from the dining hall, I rushed to the notice board and there was this terse notice from the Headmaster, Alan Roudwick: “The School Prefect, Kwaku Yeboah, has resigned”.

That was my introduction to the spectre of resignations.

Anytime I hear that someone has resigned from his or her appointment, my mind races back to November 1967 – the resignation of the school prefect.

You can therefore imagine how my brain lobes reacted when I heard on the airwaves that old an student of Achimota, fine and distinguished lawyer Betty Mould-Iddrissu, had resigned as Minister of Education.

Betty has resigned? Why? Minister of Education? The Minister with the biggest budget? How come? Reports say no reasons were given, probably for “personal reasons.”

There are three types of resignations – voluntary resignation, principled resignation and compulsory resignation -which of these three best fits Betty Mould Iddrisu?

Voluntary resignation is where circumstances compel you to resign, either because of negative natural causes or positive natural causes. For instance, if you are holding a position and you are continuously sick, bed ridden, incapable of performing your functions, it is only fair that you resign.

Or, in other stances, like I found myself in the year 2000. I had been the President of the Berekum Citizens Union for six years running, and had now become the NPP parliamentary candidate for Berekum. I did not want people to think that I was politicizing the union, so I resigned as president of the union and my vice president took over.

Or you are the president of the Ghana Bar Association and you have been named as Ghana’s Ambassador to Papua New Guinea. You cannot go there and run the Association from there (don’t ask me where on the map Papua New Guinea is – probably somewhere in the Far East). Usually, voluntary resignations are not very common.

Principled resignation is also not common, but takes guts to carry out. A principled resignation is required when you like the job you are doing, in fact you are enjoying it, but you realize that the environment you are operating in is hostile to you and if you want to be at peace with your conscience, sleep soundly at night without tossing up and down on your bed, avoid being saddled with unnecessary questions in future about “what did you do” or “what you did not do”, then you must say a word of prayer to God and come to terms with the fact that the ship is sinking and you don’t want to be part of it.

Principled resignations are very common in the USA and in Europe – but in our part of the world; principled resignations are few and far between.

The most famous principled resignation I can recall in Ghana was when Hon Kojo Yankah, MP for Agona West and Ashanti Regional Minster was reshuffled by President Rawlings and he literally told him to ‘knock off’ with his appointments – he had had enough. Reader, principled resignation is not easy.

When P.V. Obeng was the PNDC Coordinating Secretary and virtually Prime Minister, he fell out with some of the men around Rawlings and called it quits and left Accra to live in Kumasi.

The rumour is that several people went to talk to him and he reneged on his stance, ate humble pie and resumed his functions as PNDC Coordinating Secretary.

I remember when Prof Kwesi Botchway was Minister for Finance. He held that portfolio for a long time and got pissed off when the President, Jerry Rawlings, travelled abroad with Tsatu Tsikata, whom he (Rawlings) described as a “financial wizard”.

Kwesi Botchway resigned but after three days, he ate humble pie and announced that he was still “the nation’s Minister of Finance”. Not long after he was reshuffled out of that office.

Reader, principled resignation is not easy.

I will not be doing justice to this article if I don’t mention the purported resignation of Alan Kyerematen from the NPP after losing the flag-bearer race in 2007. One was not too sure the reasons for his resignation, but within two weeks Alan ate humble pie, renounced his resignation and returned to the fold of the Elephant family.

I conclude that it takes guts to resign on the basis of principle, the reason being that usually the perks associated with holding public office almost tend to blindfold one’s vision of wisdom. In Africa, principled resignation is uncommon.

The third and last form of resignation is compulsory resignation. It is a respectable way of sacking somebody from office, either preparatory to condemnation or to save one from upcoming embarrassment.

I have a small group called Theatre Mirrors, a drama society, and the most coveted position in the group is Stage Manager. One guy was elected to that position and he was doing marvellously well to the admiration of all.

Regrettably, he had a terrible weakness and he misconducted himself so badly that instead of reporting him to the police for terrible consequences, I just told the group that the stage manager had resigned, and as you can guess, “for personal reasons.”

Following the kidnapping and murder of the three High Court Judges, serious finger pointing began, directed at the corridors of the PNDC, hovering around PNDC member Joachim Amartey Kwei.

All of a sudden, it was announced in the media that two members of the PNDC had resigned- J. Amartey Kwei and Rev Dr Kwabena Damoah. I have no doubt in my mind that none of them ever wrote a letter resigning, or even said a word about resigning, but resignation was imposed upon them. That is compulsory resignation.

Now, the news is that Betty Mould-Iddrisu has resigned. Was it a voluntary resignation, a principled resignation or a compulsory resignation? It definitely must be one of these three.

I know Betty personally. I invited her, as the Copyright Administrator at the time, to be the Guest of Honour at the opening ceremony of the Accra Drama Festival, and she came. I also invited her to officially cut the tape to open a boutique for my wife in Ablemkpe in 2000 – and she came.

Betty, married to Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, former PNDC member and Minister for Defence, is a lady by all standards, very noble from a high class family in Ghana and a professional lawyer through and through. Of course she is my senior in age by almost 10 years.

Maybe her classmates in Achimota School definitely know her better, because I for one was surprised when I heard that she had “entered politics” and was being touted for running mate for Mills in the 2008 General Elections, that she was a Konadu woman, that she was now Attorney General …this quiet “I don’t want problem” lady? How possible?

There is so much dust in the air about the Woyome affair that I do not want to make any comment about the possibility of linking her resignation to the Woyome affair. Is it possible, mark you, I am only asking a question – is it possible that probably this whole Woyome fracas was brokered over her head and that she is angry at all the rubbish being heaped at her doorstep? So, resign and leave? Or is it possible that she is neck deep in the mess and is therefore now on the firing line of the President so she is using resignation as an honourable escape route?

To conclude, let me offer the following suggestions for further reflection, reader.  

Before you accept any office, ask yourself whether you have the mettle for the office – are you ready to accept public criticisms, insult, abuses, and also ready to throw some back? Are you capable
of handling the job? Do you know the technical pressures on the office?

One of the best attorney generals in the history of Ghana was a famous court-going lawyer, Joe Reindorf. Prior to this appointment, he was always in the courtroom, head of his own law firm. As the nation’s top lawyer, you dare not send any funny paper to the office of the attorney general- all the lawyers in the department were working under a man who they knew, if he were not an attorney general, was already a solid man, so standards were very high.

You know why it is important to have expertise? Because at the end of the day when the chips are down, they will say that you were the minister of finance, you were the attorney general, you were the managing director, you were this, the that, ….. history will be merciless on you.

Make no mistake, the hawks and aides around the “old man” are not saints. They are always looking for weak joints to carry out their acts of mischief.

They want to siphon some state funds, but they cannot do it through the consolidated fund. Meanwhile, the minister for trees is a school teacher who knows nothing about forestry, so his technocrats are doing all the work… let us call the chief director … or the minister for livestock, who is a retired diplomat who spent all his life in New York and China and does not know the difference between piggery and cattle …let us call the chief director….. or the minister for parks and gardens.    Reader, unless you know your job very well, technocrats will make you a “simpa painyin” and soil your beard with frightening volumes of thievery.

One of the best sermons I have ever heard in church was delivered by Professor Adei, one time Rector of GIMPA at the Accra Ridge Church one Sunday. His theme was a verse from one of the Psalms – “what can the righteous do when the foundations are being destroyed?”

All around are unsteady roaring waters; corruption is rife, people refuse to tell the truth, they worship mediocrity, fear inhibits righteousness … there is chaos all round.

Reader, you can do a lot. Let your staff and those who come in contact with you testify that you are different, you are a man of your word, with you in charge there are no loose ends…

Believe it or not, it is these few noble vessels around who are used by Almighty God to keep our society running. It is these few who know their job and do it well, who stand out in history and are canonized as heroes of their generation.

Come to think of it – your name in history versus access to free food and drink and cars – which is better?

Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu has resigned – are you sure?

From: Dr Kwame Nkrabeah

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