Presidential Letters: (on our work ethics or lack of it)

Posted by By at 4 November, at 12 : 21 PM Print

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Presidential Letters: (on our work ethics or lack of it)


Fellow Compatriots, Greetings.

In my inaugural speech last week (, I promised to engage with you weekly with very frank talks on how I think we, individually and collectively, can do our best to move our nation forward.

In that speech I also promised to tell you nothing but the honest, home and homely truth.

It is not for nothing that it is said that truth is bitter, so I expect that many of you will not like my frank manner of speaking the truth to you.

This is understandable because for many years, leaders, for simply political expediency, have all shied away from telling citizens the truth that they found unpalatable enough to cost them votes.

I think that was and is wrong.

My firm belief is that citizens deserve nothing but the truth from their elected officials. I believe that you are all matured enough to handle the truth.

If at the end of the day, you believe that it was a crime to tell you the truth, and decided not to vote me or my party back into power, so be it. My conscience would be very clear and I will sleep easy at night; will you?

I begin my address today with another frank assessment of what I see as a great shortcoming in our dear republic.

We all yearn for good services, good roads, excellent hospitals and educational facilities.

These are very laudable yearnings; nothing wrong with them per se. It is the wish of every thinking human being to look for improvement in one’s station in life.

But since we all know that all the beautiful things we crave do not fall from the sky, is it not right to ask what we do, as individuals, to see to their actualisations?

What do we do as citizens to contribute our quota to the realization of the developed country of our collective dreams?

The last electioneering campaign afforded me the opportunity to travel the length and the breadth of our beautiful and great country.

We are blessed with a truly magnificently beautiful country; there is no doubt about that.

We should be thankful to the gods for their abundant blessings and for giving us such well-endowed land as our heritage.

But the poverty I witnessed in many parts of our dear country truly shocked me. It also left me with the question of what exactly is wrong with us as a people to make us accept this abysmal state of affairs.

Why do we not feel affronted that after over half a decade of self-government, many of our people are still deprived of access to many basic services that many people in other land take for granted?

I know that many of us immediately jump to blame government.

I have no quarrel with that

But I say that it is time we also take the time to reflect on what we as individual can also do to pilot the ship of our nation to the desired destination.

The electioneering campaign took us to Kumasi, the capital of Ashanti Region. There I took time off to visit the main campus of our country’s premier institute of technology, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Technology, KNUST.

Just to see and assess things for myself, I went incognito, without any protocol or fanfare.

Strolling through the gates, I was shocked to the marrow to see the gardening staff using cutlasses and hoes and wheel-barrow to maintain the lawn.

This is the 21st century, for Christ sake!

Why does the irony of people using primitive tools in this age lost on the authorities of KNUST?

Our founding president established KNUST to help with our technological advancement; how would he feel today to see that we have not moved beyond using hoes and cutlasses at our premier technical school, when even in some primary schools in some land, the maintenance of lawn is done by electric mower?

Assembling common lawn mower is no longer a daunting technical task as there are many Do-It-Yourself kits one can buy and put together.

We have two universities between Accra and Cape Coast. The stretch of the road between the two cities remain unlit.

Why do we not question what our professors are doing to help solve some of the challenges that face our nation?

When we look at our capital, Accra, especially the Odaw River, why do we not ask ourselves why we have allowed that once beautiful river to be turned into such an eyesore?

Why do we blame president or leaders when we see people, grown-up and, apparently, with all their faculties in the right places, defecating in broad daylight in full public glare?

Fellow Compatriots, I know that these are not the type of messages you like to hear from your leaders, but I say that if we want to accomplish anything, it is time we shorn hypocrisy and tell ourselves home truth.

The job of building nations cannot be left to leaders alone.

Let’s consider our attitudes to work.

It is no longer a secret that we spend over seventy percent of our budget in paying salaries. Yet, like Oliver Twist, our workers clamour for more.

Do we need not ask ourselves how we ended up with such a sad state affairs and, more importantly, how we expect to develop our nation when we have only thirty percent of our income to build the desired schools, hospitals, roads and the other things we need to propel our nation into greatness?

It would not be such a terrible thing if our clamour for high pay and good living is matched by quality productivity.

But, the honest truth is that the rise in our salaries is not matched by higher productive.

If anything, the rise in salary has also witnessed a decline in productivity.

I can illustrate this with a very simple example with which many of you will be familiar.

Few years ago, for between 15 to 20 cedis our masons come to work at 7am. They work until about 5pm and lay between 250 to 300 blocks. Today, they come to work whenever they like, stop work at 1:30pm, lay about 80 to 100 blocks and their payment has risen to 60 or 70 cedis.

Those who have engaged the services of our tradesmen will attest to the fact that I tell the truth when I say that both the quantity and the quality of their work has declined tremendously.

The same goes for our teachers two few years ago earn 70 to 150 cedis. Today, the least paid among them take home about 500 cedis. I talk about those with degrees. Far be it that they improve their productivity. They are forever on strike.

Few years ago, when I first entered politics, I made a round of some construction sites, to get good account of the accurate picture on the ground, I travelled incognito and mixed with every strata of workmen.

What I found absolutely shocked me.

While the Chinese and other foreign workers were willing to work long hours – putting in twelve to eighteen hours, Ghanaian workers stopped work at 4pm. They claim that it is against their union rules to put in extra hour without double pay.

I was aghast.

If foreigners come to our land and are prepared to work long hours to help us build the roads, the bridges, the dams, the houses and the other projects we still cannot build for ourselves, methinks the least we can do is to try and match their productivity.

Yet, when we look around we see foreigners making it good in our country, we complain. We become envious and resentful.

But rather than blame the foreigner, or lambast the president or complain about government, why do we not try and put in the extra efforts that will help us to help ourselves?

We tend to have forgotten our parents’ admonition that the only antidote to poverty is hardwork.

My compatriots, these are times for straight talk and, as I promised, I will try to tell you nothing but the truth.

It is good and proper to yearn for the good things of life, but we should be prepare to work for it?

When we see the Chinese, the Lebanese and the other foreigners in our country living big whilst we remain mired in great poverty, rather than become covetous and aggrieved, their success should spur us to re-arrange our mental attitude to life, change our work ethics, learn a few things from their success stories and apply their methods in our lives.

When we look at the Lebanese and the Chinese, we see only the result of their success, we do not see the efforts they put in to produce the glittering results. We see the big four-wheel jeep the foreigner drives around, we do not see the punishing hours he and his entire family put into building the business that today allow him to drive the car and live big. We do not see the hard labour expended on building the business. We do not see the thrift, the deprivations the foreigners suffer so that they can build the success stories we see and resent.

We can learn a lot by observing the work ethics of the Chinese, for example. Coming from a poor background, he starts with little. He had business idea and he is prepared to work for it. He and his family put in ungodly hours in the service of the business. They deprive themselves of all worldly luxuries and save every pesewa they made. They do this year in year out until they know that the business foundation is solid and they can afford to spend little on their comfort.

In contrast, we start our business and manage it helter-skelter. We do not trust family members sufficiently to employ them, so we employ people and pay them poor wages. The first hint of profit send us into dizzying spending spree.

Rather than plough profit back into the business, we think it’s time for a new wife, new girl-friends, the biggest car on our streets. We do all this just to impress our neighbours.

Of course, our elders say that the house built with spittle will be fell by dew. The badly-managed business will not survive and will collapse in few years and we are back to ground zero.

And we cannot claim not to know that many of us, especially the men folk spend inordinate hours at drinking bars during working hours. We cannot claim to be ignorant of the numerous youth who play all manner of games all day.

Rather than lament our shortcomings and personal failures, it is time to blame bad government and lambast Mr. President.

No, compatriots, I do not excuse those that have rule us. The gods know that they have taken many wrong steps that have been detrimental to our well-being.

But in honesty, our problems do not emanate from bad government alone; we also have made poor false steps that have crippled our personal advancement.

We cannot run away from that fact.

We started with advantages the foreigners do not enjoy, but we do not take advantage of our good fortunes.

What I urge here today is that we all go back to the drawing board, take a hard and critical look at where we went wrong and resolve to apply the necessary remedies, so that we can begin to make the personal progress that will redound to propel our great nation to the desired prosperity.

My dearest compatriots, I thank you, once again, for lending me your ears. May the ancestors continue to guide and protect us and also our motherland. Until next week, goodbye.

Plug for Femi Akomolafe

Femi Akomolafe is a freelance writer, film & video documentary producer, IT Consultant and a Web-designer.

His highly-acclaimed books (Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” and “Africa: It shall be well,” are now available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

  1. Freedom Bookshop, near Apollo Theatre, Accra.
  2. The Daily Dispatch Office, Labone – Accra
  3. WEB Dubois Pan-African Centre, Accra
  4. Ghana Writers Association office, PAWA House, Roman Ridge, Accra.

They are also available on the internet. Here are useful links:

  1. Africa: it shall be well:

Africa: it shall be well is available for sale on Kindle books at this link:

A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: It shall be well’ could be downloaded here:

  1. Africa: Destroyed by the gods (How religiosity destroyed Africa)

Africa: Destroyed by the gods is available for sale on Kindle books at this link:

A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: Destroyed by the gods’ could be downloaded here:

Read a review here

Femi maintains a blog @:


Gmail+: +Femi Akomolafe

LinkedIn: Femi Akomolafe

Facebook: alayeclearsound dotbiz




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