Michael Yao Wodui Serwornoo, PhD

Democracy has become synonymous to concepts like human rights, rule of law, freedom of speech, right to life and many others.  While many Ghanaians claim to believe in the virtues of these concepts, they are simultaneously involved in acts that defeat and undermine the principles of these same concepts in a benign fashion. When a nation and its citizens are frauds, they will pay lip-service to the very crucial mechanism aimed at protecting the vulnerable in society and yet extol themselves as democrats.

The winner takes all democratic system in place in our country discourages all forms of consensus-building on many issues. This system has led to a nasty regime of nepotism worthy of description. Even though it is nice to start from governments, I have chosen not to because the governments are a composition of the Ghanaian society. These governments over the years admit to their ranks teachers and students, chiefs and subjects, clergy and charlatans, captains of industry and consumers; judges and lawyers, men and women of the press; armed robbers and philanthropists, all of whom mainly come from Ghana, not Afghanistan. I am convinced that since Ghanaian governments are representative of virtues and vices in the country, it is more fruitful to chase out the vices in the people. I believe that should all of us eschew nepotism, governments committed to it will be unpopular.

When a nation and its citizens are frauds, they finance the activities of universities with taxes and still allow them to abuse equal opportunity employment rules that govern them. Although public universities in Ghana claim to be equal opportunity employers, they have simultaneously encouraged a de facto alumni policy. The net for these unwritten rule has widened to the tribe and political affiliation of the candidates. Shame on all the search committees that have paid lip-service to the principles of equal opportunity employment. It started with being an alumnus and then it went to the tribe and we have added party affiliation recently. Those who found nothing wrong when alumni were consciously sought after for the chief executive position, all of a sudden, they have found something very wrong when it was extended to include tribe and political affiliation. But for fraud, nothing better explains why on earth alumni relationship, tribe and political affiliation should play a role in selecting a Vice-Chancellor or a Registrar-positions that are significantly pre-defined by certain competences. Whenever search committees for VCship and Registrar position in the university fail to pay attention to a key governance principle of equal opportunity employment, they question their very own existence. I challenge search committees across the country to publish any such attempts or criteria they have developed to eliminate nepotism from their recruitment process. Whether in their terms of reference or not, they must identify sources of nepotistic influences and assess how best to eliminate them. I appealed to a university lecturer friend of mine to apply for a position in the university and his answer was worrying: “Mike, I am not alumni oh”. People contesting for positions in public universities now have to send delegations to politicians to testify of their political affiliations. Some say they are neutral while others say they are not against any government and they are ready to cooperate as fully as possible. Gracious God of Devego!!! I wish one of them could send a delegation just to say I am the most competent…and that is all that matters.

Why on earth should we use the taxpayer’s money to support a university that visibly limits staff potentials based on discrimination? Why at all are we thinking that our kids will improve this country when their teachers are practising the worst forms of nepotistic regimes in this country? When a nation and its citizens are frauds, competences of employees are thrown to the dogs and associations of all kinds are exalted and yet everyone else finds it the order of the day. Why have these nepotistic practices grown so amorphous that it has become normalised and trivialised and refused space in any audit report? Interestingly, these have escaped a lot of people because we have all become so immersed in fraud that we cannot see a violation of ethical principles that question our moral grounds to even hold higher office.

Religious denominations are the worst advocates of these nepotistic regimes. Mission schools that have been nationalised and now benefits from government funding are disgustingly nepotistic. A teacher in St. Augustine College where I did my teaching practice a decade ago told me this: “I am not Catholic and as such no matter how good I have worked over the years, I can’t Head the school I attended and so loved”. He is probably gone on retirement without holding any meaningful role except a housemaster. No wonder, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference have now waged a war on GES to make the de facto rule lawful. They want only Catholics to Head Catholic founded schools. A College of Education, under the supervision of NCTE, have had the Moderator stop the appointment of a Principal because he is not from their Church. The appalling and stinking side of this particular case is that NCTE’s assessment of that suitable candidate did not matter. If not that we are driven by the spirit of fraud and institutionalised nepotism, what else can explain the situation where an institution whose staff and students are paid with tax revenue will be allowed to practice such a barbaric apartheid regime and yet receive no confrontation. I assure you Mr Moderator, this is ungodly and I summon you before the Lord our maker and whoever is guilty between us will surely face the judgement of God. Remember, no human being has a superior knowledge of this judgement. Repent and seek reformation for your heart. Nepotism fundamentally undermines Jesus’s message and his death.

The government of Ghana who acts on behalf of all citizens should demand a policy from all government-funded institutions against nepotism. Public institutions must publish their diversity and inclusion statements and demonstrate their commitment to progressively achieve these goals. The fundamental beliefs about democracy are significantly severed whenever the government uses tax payer’s money to support institutionalised nepotism. The long list of party members that are submitted to state and quasi-state institutions for employment is appalling. What is, even more, demeaning is the harassment that follows when a head refuses to comply? If this government and subsequent governments intend to continue in this manner then there is no need to require compliance with equal opportunity employment from public institutions.

Nepotism is not progressive because it ignores competences and duels on trivialities. It breeds disaffection which results in backwardness. People working for Catholic Education Unit, Methodist Education Unit, Presbyterian Education Unit and the likes should not be paid by the Ghana Education Service. If they are considered useful for the development of our education, then GES must set up a non-denominational state unit. But when a nation and its citizens are frauds, they will ignore all advice except those that carry politically expedient elements. The leaders of such nations will demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion when delivering speeches for cameras knowing very well their lack of commitment to these same principles they shout out loud.

Michael Yao Wodui Serwornoo, PhD

Department of Communication Studies

University of Cape Coast

Cape Coast, Ghana


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