IMANI Names Top 5 Public Sector Leaders For 2010

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Imani
Imani

?And worst 5 to boot

* in Ghana*

Imani
Imani

In the finest tradition of civil society activism, the right philosophy is
to be critical of government, in all its forms.

In liberal democracies, like Ghana has gradually become, the government pays
enough people to sing its praises that civil groups who spend their time
flattering the incumbent administration would very quickly become redundant.

Evidence-based criticism is a niche that groups like us have been rushing to
fill ever since our democracy matured in the late 90s. Even where government
has been manifestly successful, we rarely see the need to offer praise,
since it is the moral duty of a government to do right by its citizens. In a
democracy, the government does not conduct itself creditably because of its
magnanimity. It does so to survive, which by definition cannot be considered
praiseworthy.

When they fall short of the glory of the constitution, however, it is
important that we are loud in our reproof. For, it amounts to a breach of
great oaths, which they have voluntarily taken. Our culture, at least,
frowns on breakers of oath.

All the above notwithstanding, sometimes, praise can be utilised for
critical purposes. By highlighting good behaviour on the part of specific
institutions and individual actors, the spotlight necessarily turns
afterwards to the failing conduct of other institutions and actors. That is
to say, it is possible to highlight in order to contrast.

That is why for the first time IMANI-Ghana has decided to release a list of
the top 5 most inspirational public sector leaders in Ghana for the year
2010.

In the finest tradition of rating lists, the assessments implied by the
rankings reflect the opinions of those keen observers of the public sphere
who were approached. They reflect a review of media accounts, policy
statements, public records and documented outcomes from the perspective of
independent researchers who nonetheless would have their personal biases as
to what constitutes ?accomplishment?.

The methodology undergirding this ranking is quite straightforward,
actually. We graded a vast number of public sector institutions according to
our three-prong criteria:

*Independence*. Has the institution demonstrated significant independence
from the central government to the extent that the resulting autonomy has
shielded it, to a reasonable extent, from the arbitrary will of
partisan-minded politicians?

*Public Engagement*. Has this institution avoided easy and convenient
propaganda and focussed on providing information to the general public that
is reliable, accurate, thoughtful and useful for the purposes of assessing
the institution?s challenges, performance and objectives? Have they told the
citizenry the hard facts of policy choices and kept away from gratuitous
controversy?

*Promise of Transformation*. The challenges that confront all facets of our
national life are many, deep and complex. Even great leadership would not
succeed in delivering instant results. However, has the institution under
consideration articulated by dint of hard work and persuasive argument an
end in sight that is uplifting and empowering such that its followers and
the general public can dare to hope that transformation may be imminent?

But this is a list of leadership, to wit: inspirational leadership. Thus,
once the institutions had been agreed upon, the rake that was used to winnow
the list down even further was that of clear and unambiguous evidence that
leadership is at play here. Our bias was to look for evidence of exemplary
leadership by the Chief Executive though we were also quite ready to concede
that in some instances leadership appeared to emerge with collective
features. But that is where the quibbling over leadership theory ended.

We all know leadership when we see it. Has this public sector leader
demonstrated resolve in leading her institution to pursue a clearly
articulated vision even in the face of limited resources and the pressures
of conformity in an environment of cheap politics?

When all was said and done, our team and external consultants settled on the
following inspirational leaders of 5 promising state institutions.

1. *Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur*, Governor of the Bank of Ghana

The Governor impressed us with his conduct of the affairs of the Monetary
Policy Committee in particular, though there is evidence that other aspects
of the Bank?s work, such as banking inspection, have also improved. Despite
pressure from political forces to go beyond moral suasion in compelling the
banks to reduce interest rates, the Governor has been unwavering in going
where the evidence leads. Diplomatically, he has rebuked the government to
pay the contractors and stop dithering, since this has an effect on
non-performing loans in the system, and by extension lending rates. In the
words of Friedman, ?inflation everywhere is a monetary phenomenon?. What
this quip means in this context is that the Governor?s conduct of monetary
policy has more than contributed to the era of stable inflation and the
stable national currency. His attitude to his duties has helped stem the
loss of investor confidence that marked the early months of 2009. He may be
dour, but only in a manner quite becoming of a guy who has his fingers on
the nation?s purse strings.

1. *Alfred Oko Vanderpuije*, Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan
Assembly

After a number of false starts, the Mayor quickly settled into the hot seat
of managing the affairs of the country?s most politically sensitive city. We
were unimpressed in the early months of his administration, especially
during the botched decongestion exercise, and we still have a few unresolved
policy differences with him about the right approach to urban ?planning?.
The jury is also still out on his sanitation policy, which some have
interpreted as a ?get Zoomlion? strategy, and also on his outdoor
advertising directives. But the Mayor is fast learning to focus the energies
of the assembly on the big picture. His symbolic raids on government
agencies in pursuit of property rates arrears and his optimistic courting of
Jeffrey Sachs? Millennium City initiative are all testimony to a
determination to ?transform? how city management is done in Ghana. He has
refrained from involving himself in petty partisan squabbles and maintained
a balanced posture with respect to Accra?s many chieftaincy and other
sectarian faultlines. He wants greater devolution of power from the central
government to the towns and regions, and he has even begun developing
investment plans for some of the most challenging sectors under his
jurisdiction. The results are yet to change the fortunes of the city, but we
were inspired by his energy and commitment.

1. *Akwasi Osei*, Chief Psychiatrist, Accra Psychiatric Hospital

For many years, the Chief Psychiatrist was almost a lone crusader for mental
health policy reforms in this country. Today, he has been joined by a number
of non-governmental organisations and won the attention of the President.
Some have faulted his professional diplomacy skills, following persistent
falling outs with the sector Minister. But what the Chief Psychiatrist lacks
in negotiation skills, he more than makes up for it with relentless focus,
determination and dedication. His knowledge of psychiatric issues and the
policy environment is encyclopaedic, even daunting. He has also shown that
he has a streak of positive opportunism in him. Seizing on the Anas Aremeyaw
exposes, rather than feel indicted by it, he has forced mental health issues
up the media?s priority list for the health sector, bringing into sharp
focus such matters as alcohol regulation, substance abuse, and
community-based care. And by reminding all of us that there is one
psychiatrist for every 2 million Ghanaians, Akwasi Osei has changed the
terms of the debate. He isn?t bringing a neglected issue to our attention;
he is exposing the hollowness of our Ghanaian civilisation.

1. *The Commissioners* of the Commission for Human Rights &
Administrative Justice

CHRAJ?s managers never hide from the fact that there is a host of human
rights issues across the breadth and depth of this country that their
limited resources and personnel prevent them from even remotely addressing.
But there has never been a doubt about the organisation?s direction. This
year, they have navigated political controversy and militant cynicism, and
come out with their reputation intact. They have been vocal in urging
greater speed in prisons reforms, and been loud in their denunciation of the
mob mentality that still dogs nominally liberal-democratic Ghana. They have
firmly planted the issue of disability rights in the labour reform agenda of
Ghana. When ?decongestion? became a lazy excuse for haphazard demolition
activities, CHRAJ descended upon municipal authorities, giving much impetus
to public interest activists who took to the Law Courts to redress the
excesses of these so-called ?urban planning? programs. CHRAJ has never
missed an opportunity this year to paint for all of us what a ?decent and
humane society? looks like.

1. *The Frontline Staff* of the National Disaster Management Organisation

NADMO failed to take major steps towards achieving the organisation?s own
objective of transforming into a comprehensive risk preventive system for
the country from its current status as a disaster response agency. But the
organisation?s field staff need to be commended for their valiant efforts
this year in responding to multiple incidents, predominantly
flooding-related, across the country. Lack of policy robustness
notwithstanding, these underpaid personnel responded quite creditably to
tragedies across the length and breadth of our nation, from the marshy banks
of the Volta to the arid grasslands of the Savannah. Many risked their
lives, as they wrestled against the elements, working without the right
equipment and protective gear. Their actions are the stuff of which genuine
patriotism is made of, and not the bombastic rhetoric of the Accra elite.

So there you have it.

As we said at the very beginning, this is a list of the most inspirational
public sector leaders 2010 gave us. And that indeed is the focus of this
report, but we couldn?t help taking a jab at some of the public sector
institutions that have been most egregious in flouting the list of 3
?virtues? we outlined earlier on. If we were compelled to produce a list of
the 5 least inspirational institutions, we would have gone for the
following:

1. *Ghana Statistical Service:* for mucking up a vital national exercise
as the Census (none of the authors of this report was ?counted?), and
generally larking about with essential public communications of crucial
policy relevance, such as the rebasing fiasco.
2. *Brand Ghana Office*: for raising our hopes of a new era of strategic
national image development, and promptly dashing all of them. True, several
public sector institutions seem dormant too. Forestry and Wildlife
Commission; Water Resources Commission; Chieftaincy Secretariat etc., are
just a few examples of dozens of lazing bureaucracies maintained out of
public funds to what purpose only God knows. But Brand Ghana takes the can
because of the fun fair which surrounded its launch and the audacity of the
PR fraud that was perpetrated on us, the poor citizenry of Ghana. No doubt
its managers shall blame their abysmal performance on resource constraints,
but there are many civil society and private sector organisations labouring
under similar challenges that nevertheless ?makes an effort? to be relevant.
At any rate, we feel that this phantom state body is a good placeholder for
the many state institutions that hide behind the ?no money? slogan to waste
our time and limited resources in this country.
3. *Public Utilities Regulatory Commission*: not that we have any
disrespect for the very capable professionals who are in charge of this
body. But the truth is that we have seen little in the way of clear
regulatory decision-making about how to improve on the quality of the
service delivery of the vital utilities. Next year, we hope they up their
game.
4. *National Communications Authority*: for the creeping signs of
regulatory interference in market phenomenon best left alone. Compulsory SIM
card registration, for instance, was an unnecessary burden on the system.
There appears to be renewed political domination of the regulatory process,
and an alienation of the private sector in the telecoms space. We all know
that many things could be changed for the better in this critical industry,
but the quality of the change is important too.
5. *Ghana Police Service*: the reformist instincts of the Inspector
General of Police notwithstanding, this security establishment got itself
involved in too many controversies for its own good, in some instances
actually damaging its credibility in the public?s perception.

There are certainly a number of organisations that came to our attention
that we decided to somewhat ?ignore? in this report. We have always
respected the National Development Planning Commission?s senior staffers,
but we also felt that the organisation is very much in flux at this time and
it would be best to give it a bit of time to settle. The GNPC puts us off by
their secrecy and aloofness and undemocratic attitude to public
accountability. First oil, notwithstanding, we decided that they do not
merit our ink, positively or negatively. Perhaps, who knows, 2011 may be
different.

*Courtesy AfricanLiberty.org and IMANI, Foreign Policy Magazine?s fifth most
influential think tank in Africa in 2009 ***

Respectfully yours,

Franklin Cudjoe
Franklin Cudjoe is head of Ghanaian think tank, IMANI, a non-profit,
non-government organization dedicated to fostering public awareness of
important policy issues concerning business, government and civil society.
He is also editor of AfricanLiberty.org The Foreign Policy Magazine named
IMANI, the fifth most influential think tank in Africa in 2010. Franklin was
named Young Global Leader 2010 by the World Economic Forum.

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