On a social media platform, someone posted a message that piqued my curiosity. This is a platform of managers who once worked for a multi-national conglomerate. Obvious, therefore, that the person who posted the message was shocked to witness an unacceptable attitude in a public office where he had a fixed appointment.
For those he was sharing the message with, he knew they were going to be just as baffled as he was. In his mind, the experience he had encountered in that public institution where rain was an excuse for two hours of lateness to work and the processing of a single document could take as long as nine years to complete was never going to happen in a private sector setting. The message shared read:
“Really intriguing how some government institutions function? I had an 8 am appointment with an office. Got there at 7.30 am. At 9 am it’s only the cleaner who’s here. She got in at 8 am. She can’t let me in ‘coz she’s not authorised. That’s fair. She tells me officers start coming in around 8.30 am but today, because of the rain, I should expect to be attended to around 10 am. My reason for coming here is to pick up a document which took nine years to process! I’m alarmed. I always heard stories on inefficiencies in government sector. Today, am experiencing one myself.”
Does this posting sound familiar? It is very much the story of our lives here in our beloved country. Incongruous attitudes and mannerisms have fully blown up into lawlessness and impunities even in official circles. Crippling attitudes and mannerisms, even at white-collar positions are critically rife. From the top, right through to the level of a commercial motorbike rider popularly known as Okada, who would sit behind his motorcycle and behave as if he is the only smart guy on our roads, intolerable behaviours are hitting us hard as if curses have been rained on the entire country.
Many of us have irritating experiences at public institutions to tell. Officers paid to render services behave as if they are rather doing one a service when executing their duties. This kind of attitude has eaten so deep into us, it has almost become an extension of our being. Sometimes it gets so disappointing seeing those who have travelled far and near and have better experiences from elsewhere to apply and or teach others are not doing that.
We talk so much about customer service but one’s encounter with some of the sales personnel in shops and offices make you regret having stopped by.
The whole lackadaisical public service attitude seems to worsen with time. Despite the painstaking efforts made by some past heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of state, regrettable attitudes and mannerisms continue to permeate our public service. At the change of governments, authorities do their best to bring about changes in people’s behaviours and attitudes to duty. We have heard before about the locking out of latecomers and new measures for appropriate remuneration based on actual hours worked in a week as operates in some private sectors.
We have heard about courses and workshops to bring about attitudinal changes, all in the bid to introduce positive changes at the workplace. But how far have those attempts succeeded in turning things around? Not very much, regrettably.
Sadly, when we go into other jurisdictions outside the country, we put up our best selves but not when we are in our own country. We are able to conform and follow their laws, especially when we are in public spaces. For those of our people who stay in such jurisdictions for a much longer time, the behaviours and attitudes of their acquired environment become inseparable parts of them.
Once they get back into their natural jurisdiction, things gradually change and people begin to get into the trap, back to their old self. The poorly attitudes and behaviours we have got ourselves into as a people are gradually taking the shine from us. It seems a Ghanaian problem, a curse from which we may need a deliverance of some sort. But who would cast that spell out for us?