Friday, 17 February 2017

Why The Eugene Arhins At The Presidency's Communications Office Must Heed Well-Meaning Critics Of Their Administration

What is it about Ghana's political world, which drives even those who handle communications for governments formed by parties that have just won power after eight long years in the political wilderness, to seek refuge in needless prevarication - which  insults the intelligence of ordinary people in our country - when faced with PR challenges?

Yet, it is obvious to even the youngest of today's primary school children that the vast majority of ordinary Ghanaians are now thoroughly fed up with politicians who tell lies.

The sooner those genuises responsible for communications at the Flagstaff understood that new reality in our country, the better it would be for them going forward into the future - over the  next four years that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration of President Akufo-Addo has to fulfill its mandate.

A four-year mandate, is a rather fleeting political phenomenon, alas  -  and must be used wisely by governing parties.

That is why wise heads put in charge of communications outfits at the seat of governments in power, should pay heed to constructive criticisms offered  by well-meaning and patriotic individuals, who don't seek any favours from their regimes - who only criticise those who lead our homeland  Ghana because they love their nation: not because they are malicious.

Today, I am posting a blog article I wrote when President Mills was in power, advising him to scrap the "Brand Ghana Office" -  becasue in my view "branding" Ghana was a complete waste of taxpayers' money and misuse of the precious time remaining for his regime to focus on the physical development of Ghana and improvement in  the lives of all its people.

Eugene Arhin and the other geniuses who work with him in the communications office at the Flagstaff House would be wise to take note of the article's contents and the point it seeks to make.

With the benefit of hindsight it  shows how quickly a four-year mandate ends and why it must not be wasted on spin and propaganda designed to make the outcome of bad  government policies look good when in reality they are atrocious.

Perhaps the question they must ponder over after reading the article is: What good did the Brand Ghana Office's work do for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regimes of presidents Mills and Mahama? Zilch, as it happens. The NDC regime of President Mahama wouldn't have lost power if branding Ghana was of any value.

That is why the NPP's Eugene Arhins  must not make the same mistake of falling into the trap of deluding themselves that spinning their way out of challenging situations means they are clever. That is pretty daft - for it never is.

The said article of mine follows below:

''Sunday, 10 October 2010

President Mills: Please Scrap The So-Called "Brand Ghana Office" Now!

Dear reader, today, I am writing in response to a feature article entitled: "Understanding Nation Branding" that was authored by Mathias Akotia, who is the CEO of the so-called "Brand Ghana Office," which appeared in the general news web-page of Sunday, 10 October 2010 at www.ghanaweb.com.

I hope that it will catch the eye of one of the powerful and honest individuals who surround President Mills - and get his regime to scrap that financial equivalent of a black-hole known as the "Brand Ghana Office." I shall begin my piece by quoting the conclusion to Mathias Akotia's self-serving article:

“...Conclusion Brand Ghana Office will work to ensure that the people of Ghana have a good, clear, believable and positive idea of what their country really is, what it stands for and where it is going, and manage to coordinate actions, investments, policies and communications of all major channels of national expressions so that they demonstrate and reinforce what the nation stands for.

If we manage to do this effectively then we all will stand a better possibility of building and managing a competitive national identity, to the lasting benefit of exporters, importers, government, tourism, international relations and ordinary people of the nation.” End of quote.

God give us patience! What the geniuses at the so-called “Brand Ghana Office” fail to understand, is that it is creative leadership, as well as the adoption and implementation of world-class sustainable-development strategies, which will make our homeland Ghana a prosperous and dynamic place that commands the respect of the rest of the world.

If they want our nation to become the toast of the world, it is hard work, discipline, honesty, and creative thinking on the part of all Ghanaians, most particularly by those we elect to run our nation’s affairs, which will do the trick – not the mission-impossible that the daft smoke-and-mirrors idea of using slick marketing campaigns to "brand Ghana"(dreamt up by individuals with provincial mind-sets ensconced in the “Brand Ghana Office” at the Osu Castle - to benefit their cronies in the advertising and PR worlds: both locally and internationally!), represents.

Ghana will neither become a destination of choice for the outbound tourism markets of the U.S., Canada, the E.U., the U.K., China, Japan, and elsewhere, nor for discerning international investors, as long as we continue to be a nation served by mostly-corrupt public officials, which is slowly being engulfed by filth; and in which traffic lights seldom work; urban roads are riddled with potholes; and is a place where many people living on our coastline answer nature’s call on golden and white-sanded beaches!

Nations with good international images have earned the respect of the rest of the world, because they are corruption-free, well-functioning, and prosperous entities, whose citizens enjoy a high standard of living: and exist in free, secure, clean, dynamic, efficient, and modern societies, which are underpinned by cutting-edge technologies: amongst other things.

Rather than utilizing our taxes to pay those geniuses at the so-called “Brand Ghana Office,” hapless Ghanaian taxpayers’ money should instead be devoted to the provision, by the Ghanaian nation-state, of a good public educational system for the talented offspring of all Ghanaian families, a health-care system that is truly world class and accessible to all, good infrastructure, including well-built and designed affordable public-sector housing: to ensure that no Ghanaian citizen who does not want to, ever has to sleep in front of a city-centre shop again; protecting the natural heritage of our nation to underpin the eco-tourism industry (and ensure the well-being of all resident in Ghana!), at a time of global climate change.

Above all, our leaders must step out of the shadow of conventional economic thinking: for example, instead of allowing fat-cat wealthy rogues in the timber industry to continue destroying Ghana's forests for personal gain, they must regard our forests as a new sustainable economic pillar to enable us leverage the new carbon economy, and, like Indonesia (which received some US$ 2 billions from Denmark recently: not to cut down its forests!), benefit financially from maintaining our forests.

They must also ignore the nation-wrecking advice of sundry foreign carpetbaggers, including those agents of unbridled market-capitalism, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - such as increasing taxes in Ghana.

Instead of following such initiative-killing advice, they must rather do the opposite, and act quickly to ensure that we have low interests rates and a liberal tax-regime for businesses in our country – which makes Ghana the nation with the lowest tax-rates for businesses in the whole of Africa, and, best of all, be bold and abolish personal income tax immediately: so that hardworking individuals in our homeland Ghana will benefit from their hard work, instead of slaving to provide non-performing public officials with perks and other creature-comforts at taxpayers' expense.

It is that kind of creative-thinking by our leaders that will end up making Ghana a prosperous country whose citizens are immensely proud of their homeland, and also earn it the genuine respect of the whole world – and give it a positive image that draws tourists and investors by the millions!

Those given cushy sinecures in the "Brand Ghana Office" must get it into their super-clever minds that the transformation of our nation into an African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia will be accomplished only by extreme hard work in the real world. Not endless spin.

That important task of transforming Ghana will most certainly not be accomplished, as a result of the adoption, by a nebulous coordinating body employing latter-day-baby-Goebbels, who will apparently use, amongst other things, "post-modern" (whatever that means!) marketing campaigns designed to obviously create a false impression of our country in the minds of gullible foreigners.

Ghanaians will definitely be proud of their country only when they have a good quality of life that ensures that they can all lead comfortable lives - because their country has a system that is equitable and works efficiently for the benefit of all: not just for the well-being of the families and cronies of a powerful and politically well-connected few (“…with greedy ambitions”: to quote the great and selfless Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah!).

"Branding Ghana" is not a life-and-death priority item on the list of must-haves for the well-being of our homeland Ghana and its hard-pressed citizens.

Consequently, instead of continuing to humour those too-clever-by-half individuals who work there, the honest and hardworking President Mills, must scrap the so-called “Brand Ghana Office” quickly – and politely ask all the geniuses who work there to take their bright ideas to the private sector: and work hard to solicit funds from corporate Ghana to help them brand Ghana as a private-sector initiative, and nation-building contribution from corporate Ghana, to help ensure our nation’s economic well-being.

Those independent-minded and patriotic Ghanaians, whose crucial swing-votes made such a difference, in run-off of the December 2008 presidential elections, will never tolerate Ghana’s oil and natural gas revenues, being dissipated for such dubious ends – just so that the few crooks in the presidency, who still do not seem to understand that the Kokofu-gravy-train days, which characterized much of the era of the most cynical individual ever elected to rule Ghana, ex-President J. A. Kufuor, are long gone.

Ghana now has a man who is the most honest and principled individual to rule Ghana since the overthrow of Nkrumah in 1966, as its president – and discerning Ghanaians have no intention of allowing the few crooks in his party to derail his “Better Ghana” agenda. President Mills must quickly move to close down the “Brand Ghana Office” now. Period."

End of quoted article of mine posted on this blog on Sunday, 10 October 2010.
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