It is not often that we praise our sector ministers and the reason is simple; we think they are professional politicians, corrupt, incompetent, self-centered and not attuned to our hopes, aspirations and daily struggles to survive an increasingly difficult world. Invariably, they have become the targets of ridicule and scorn, if not outright disdain.
Last week, the minister for Roads and Highways, Mr. Amoako Attah thought he was doing the nation a lot of good and endearing himself to Ghanaians with his visceral dressing down of a foreign contractor. But the opposite was true.
Mr. Attah apparently wasn’t the least pleased that the contractor, a Turk, had put up an obstructive structure near a road that runs parallel to the project the contractor was working on.
It was a sight to behold. Mightily incensed, the minister, huffing and puffing, did not only berate the poor contractor, cursing him out and calling him all sorts of names, he also had him immediate arrest on the construction site.
That wasn’t enough for the minister. Invoking a harsh rhetoric about colonialism and the impunity that he claims foreigners enjoy in Ghana, he asked how dare the contractor do what he had been accused of doing? Would the contractor do that back in his home country of Turkey, Mr. Attah incredulously asked?
The poor contractor, brow beaten, frightened and handcuffed, stood silently without as much as uttering a word. It was just overwhelming and sad, a minister of state publicly raining abuse on a contractor discharging his duties.
Mr. Attah came across as a jerk, ill-tempered and crass. After watching the minister rant and rave, I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me up.
It was the most abusive and disgraceful demonstration of authority I have ever seen.As a Ghanaian I was deeply embarrassed and ashamed. I felt sick to the stomach that our minister would go that far.
By the by, it became abundantly and rapidly obvious that Mr. Attah was on an ego trip; shamelessly trying to feel big in his shoes and in the process telling the poor contractor and the world by extension that he is the top dog, the don, the head-honcho, the ultimate go to man at the ministry of roads and highways and no one, not even a foreign investor, was going to ride roughshod over him.
Yes, Mr. Attah got all the attention he craved, but his crass behavior was a complete turn off and worse, he projected the wrong image of Ghana to the international community.
One point needs to be made clear, Mr. Attah’s obnoxious behavior notwithstanding;Ghana is a democracy, albeit, a struggling one, but nonetheless the most resilient and vibrant in the West African sub-region.
Be that as it may Mr. Attah’s behavior was unfortunate and regrettably. It was, by and large, the wrong message to send to foreign investors, which is to say, if they come to Ghana and invest their capital, employ young Ghanaians on their projects and contribute to the development of the country, in short, if they play by the rules and regulations of the country, they won’t be singled out for praise by government officials.
Instead they will face the wrath of lunatic and egotistical ministers such as Mr. Attah who will drive up to their construction sites, publicly humiliate them and have them arrested.
The hope here is that the President will summon the minister for a private tete a tete, mano a mano and drum some modicum of sense into him. Mr. Attah should be told in uncertain terms that his behavior was appalling, despicable, absolutely not necessary and counterproductive.