Our State Institutions are Under Performing

Dr. Joe Abbey
Dr. Joe Abbey

There is palpably lack of faith and trust in state institutions in Ghana today because majority of Ghanaians think they are not working. Instead of these institutions doing the job they were set up to do, at worst they operate mostly against the tenets for which they were established, and at best they exist to protect the interest and needs of only a few, the powerful and the rich in the society.

Obama in a 2009 address to Ghana?s Parliament exhorted Ghanaians and Africans in general to build stronger institutions because they are the foundations upon which democratic governance depends. There is no doubt that strong, accountable, effective, independent, fair and impartial institutions that do the job they were set up to do without fear or favour are the pillars upon which democratic governance is anchored. However, if these state institutions are weak, lethargic, incompetent, and palpably corrupt, we the people lose faith in them and with it the entire democratic governance process.
Dr Joe Abbey, the executive director of Center for Policy Analysis, in a recent lecture reported by the Daily Graphic on May 17, 2013, bemoaned the lack of confidence and trust in state institutions. He was reported to have stated that, the continued general distrust for each other and the vindictive erosion of confidence in national institutions can have only odious consequences for national cohesion and it?s about time to stop pushing the self destruct button. ?Sailing close to rocks is not the smartest thing Ghanaians can be doing for themselves as a nation?, he was quoted as saying. He was of the opinion that Ghanaians have undermined confidence in public institutions.
Whereas Dr. Abbey?s advice was timely and wise, it?s a fact that our state institutions face serious credibility and trust issues. Many lack commitment, trust and credibility. It?s often the gap between what these??institutions were set up to do and what they actually do in reality or perceived to do that leads to the loss of faith and trust in them. This disconnect can be damaging to the country?s democratic governance.
Every Ghanaian knows the mind boggling corruption that has engulfed the Judiciary which is or supposed to be the vanguard of justice in society to the extent that cocaine exhibits in the custody of a High court of the land can turn into konkonte powder overnight. Who is not aware that justice in Ghana today is sold to the highest bidder? Who in Ghana today doesn?t know that the police is the worst culprit when it comes to bribery and corruption? Why are building standards not enforced in Ghana even though we have laws and institutions that are supposed to enforce them? Why is the Electricity Corporation of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Water Co. Ltd (GWCL) not doing they work they were set up to do? Why is nobody holding them accountable?
How can I have faith and trust in state institutions when the director of security at the airport whose job it is to prevent drug trafficking among others is himself busted on drug trafficking ? When the Minister of Defence whose job it is to ensure that citizens are protected and the security of the state is ensured goes on air to announce that ?only 3 people? have been killed in Kumasi and that?s no big deal because more have been killed elsewhere, then you know we deserve more effective, fairer, and accountable state institutions. We deserve better fellow Ghanaians when chiefs and district chief executives collaborate with the Chinese to engage in illegal galamsey to destroy our lands and water sources and cause environmental pollution under the very eyes our??government and the security agencies, how can I have faith in such institutions of state that are not working?
From governance perspective it is more detrimental than helpful to have blind faith in weak, lethargic, corrupt and incompetent state institutions. Ghanaians need physical and moral courage to challenge national institutions that are not working. The chicanery of corruption that has afflicted our national life has led most Ghanaians losing faith in many of the state institutions that shape our society. President Obama, in an address to the graduates of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. recently charged the graduates to ?live with integrity and help restore trust in institutions???in the wake of sexual harassment cases that has hit many military institutions in the US.
Ghanaians need to do the same. We need to live in integrity and help restore faith and trust in state institutions. Institutions do not exist in a vacuum. They are made up of individuals and people. The actions of a few can undermine the integrity of those institutions. Institutional breakdown creates a culture of poverty and insecurity.?Economic institutions that fail to provide enough jobs dimming the hopes of young people, educational institutions that fail to provide adequate training in the skills needed in the 21st?century job market and government and political institutions that fail to provide adequate public support, and family institutions that fail to provide enough moral discipline all contribute to the perpetuating of the poverty cycle we find ourselves.
If we want to restore the trust the Ghanaian people rightly deserve to have in their institutions, then everyone must do his part. Those in leadership positions must constantly strive to be worthy of the public trust. The level of tolerance for corruption in Ghana today is mind boggling. We can?t keep on going like that. We will be pushing the self destruct button if we don?t arrest, prosecute, jail, and shame corrupt officials. State institutions have shirked their responsibilities, they are not deserving of our blind faith and trust. They must work for it. We must build stronger institutions and governance mechanisms that are accepted as trustworthy and accountable by the population, and particularly, by all ethnic and social groups in the society.
Source: Ben Ofosu ? Appiah,
The writer is a corporate strategist, senior socio-political and economic analyst, and a policy strategist based in Tokyo, Japan. He has written extensively on political, social, and economic situation in Africa and the developing world. He welcomes your comments:?[email protected]


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