Opinion: Politics of promises and concept of project management

Opinion: Politics of promises and concept of project management
Source: Supt Peter Lanchene Toobu (Rtd) | toobu32@gmail.com
Date: 20-10-2019 Time: 03:10:47:pm

Democracy refers to a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections. Project Management on the other hand is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specific time. 

Democracy gives the president the opportunity to assemble a Team to help drive his vision towards achieving specific goals within a timeframe of four years in the case of Ghana. Whether the president opts for a slim or a fat team, it is his choice with a price attached. The bane of Ghana’s democracy is anchored on our quick to accept projects without the capacity to conduct detail cost-benefit analysis. We ought to be viewing every project from the impact window and not the numerous intended activities or campaign promises enshrined in manifestoes. 

The current project we have closes on 6th January 2021. There are a lot of activities lined up within the 4 years’ timeframe with several benchmarks. This include but not limited to the almighty One District One Factory, One Village One Dam, One Constituency One Million Dollars, no village or town will have toilet/water problem in the first 18 months, 350 schools will be built in the first 18 months, the battle against illegal mining (galamsey), etc These are all sub-projects with assigned managers. Some of the sub-projects such as the creation of new regions have shorter duration compared to the main project. 

The people of Ghana, as usual, have played their democratic role by sub-letting their sovereign power to the president and his team. They have endorsed the list of promises presented by the President in the NPP Manifesto as well as some unwritten ones. The president, therefore, has the responsibility to constitute a team to help him deliver within the given timeframe respecting various benchmarks. Whether the team is good or bad, everything rises and falls with the president as he is not under compulsion to appoint any specific person. However, raising the number of Ministers beyond 120 is a novelty and shows how we can exploit grey areas in our constitution. 

The system is such that the President can sometimes suffer from appointment fatigue as there are so many positions that must be filled by political appointees. Respecting the winner takes all system we have adopted, the dense of political appointees mostly dilute the quality required to govern successfully. This has been the practice that creates political entrepreneurs with a hope of landing a good job when one’s political party is in government.

As earlier stated, many of the sub-projects have shorter lifespans than the main project. For instance, as I write, the new regions have been created with new Regional Coordinating Councils inaugurated and functioning. They are not accountable to the Minister who helped in their creation. That was a job well done by the Minister, Hon Dan K Botwe and the expectation is that he should be reassigned or in the worst-case scenario laid off. He is too fine a brain to be wasted in silence. Secondly, if the president assumes the role of monitoring and evaluating projects country-wide, the Ministry for Monitoring and Evaluation should be scrapped. 

The title of this article ought not to be taken lightly. We have a project at hand with a time frame of 4 years. The list of promises or intended activities has won votes bringing the New Patriotic Party into office. We have gone past the euphoria associated with promises. Ghanaians are project-minded as they standby for output and very important impact. They demonstrated this knowledge in 2016 when the Mahama-led Administration brought in a lot of power generating systems to solve the energy crisis popularly referred to as “dumsor” but missed the timelines.

The Administration also didn’t meet the timelines of infrastructural projects such as the 200 E-Blocks, Roads, Hospitals, etc. They had probably promised what could not be done in a single project lifecycle of 4 years and Ghanaians showed them the exit. I do not know if the two major political parties have learned any lessons from the loud statement made by Ghanaians in 2016 with their newfound project-minded approach to decision-making? 

Many political appointees get angry or frustrated simply because they feel they have exhausted themselves yet the public is very unappreciative. Mr Appointee, the fact that one is seen industriously working in the sun with heavy sweat means nothing to the Ghanaian who is wearing his “impact glasses”. All we want to see is the impact of your policies on our lives. Sometimes when the impact cannot be immediately felt, the outcome will suffice but not activities. 

As Nana Addo-led Administration’s project closes on the 6th of January 2021, the implication is that they will have to start selling a new 2021-2024 project pending completion of the 2017-2020 Project. Ghanaians will only be looking at the benchmarks of the current project to decide on government’s fate come 7th December 2020. 

On 12th September 2019, there was a hot banter between Kwami Sefa Kayi aka Chairman-General and Henry Nana Boakye aka Nana B on the popular Kokrokoo show. The banter was on the One Constituency One Million dollars promised by the government. Kwame at his level of knowledge and exposure told Henry that the said money was not disbursed but Henry disagreed vehemently. As for the millions down there who are supposed to be the direct managers and beneficiaries of the said money, they know the truth and the truth shall surely set them free in due course. 

My piece of advice to all political party leaders in Ghana; let's learn to be honest with our project goals, smart with the objectives, conscious of the cost and sources of funding and finally keep monitoring and evaluation highlighted throughout the project lifecycle. Ghana deserves better irrespective of which political party is in government.