Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Atta Mills: What Are We Re-branding?

Sometimes one has a problem understanding the thought processes that lead to some of the decisions that some of our leaders take. It was with some surprise I read that the government has created an office to be funded by the taxpayer to re-brand our country.

I had and am still having a hard time understanding what motivated President Professor Atta Mills to set up this office, because I cannot understand. What is he re-branding? It is not that Ghana does not have a good name.

The visit by Barrack Obama, President of the United States of America to Ghana demonstrates amply that indeed Ghana does not need any re-branding. We have, or had a good international reputation, and all that we needed to do was continue with the quiet but effective steps previous leaders were taking to create a good image for this country. Instead of doing that, the new administration, for reasons best known to it, has set out on a path that can only be described as disastrous and chaotic. When I heard that government intends to re-brand Ghana, I asked myself, what are we going to re-brand? Since the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) took over the administration of this country, many Ghanaians, locally and internationally, have been shocked by the level of perfidy that it has demonstrated with regard to running national affairs. Sometimes, one is left with little option but to believe that most of what we are witnessing is deliberate and perfidious behaviour orchestrated to shock the whole country into realizing how very crude a group of people can be.

I mean, which person, in his right mind, would think of re-branding some of the atrocities that we see daily in this country? I can list many, such as the butchering of Ghanaians in broad daylight on the streets of Accra, the illegal seizure of cars, the attacks on political opponents, the abuse of state security for political ends, the daylight banditry targeted at state institutions such as lorry parks, toilets and other facilities which are seized at gun point, the creation of a guerrilla camp, and many other such abuses.

One would ask which government, in its right mind, would seek to create a positive spin on these numerous and large-scale transgressions? Of course, it is only the NDC government that can dream of the idea that it can re-brand such wanton abuse.

The idea to re-brand, of course, is also an indication that this government is failing in delivering the rightful objectives that is expected of it. We have a president, assisted by a Cabinet of supposedly able men and women, a Communications Director at the Presidency, a Minister of Information with two deputies as well as numerous ministers in critical areas of public policy such as a Minister of Communication and another for Trade. If all these people, who are being funded by the state, cannot re-brand this country and give it a positive image, what makes us think that a little office operated by a little-known PR man and a few staffers would be able to undo the horrendous image that the NDC in government is creating for this country?

Add to that is the Policy Unit of the Presidency, which, like the Office of Accountability under former President Kufuor, is charged with ensuring that Ministers meet their objectives. I ask, why can’t this Policy Unit at the Presidency take on the job of ensuring that our government meets high standards of public policy, which would go much further to create a positive image for Ghana, as against creating an office for the re-branding of our country Ghana?

But indeed, if the President and his Cabinet were doing what is expected of them, they would not need a policy unit. They need a Policy Unit because they are getting wayward and off-track. The Policy Unit is not helping them and they think that by creating another system of bureaucracy, they would be able to get back on the right path.

The truth, of course, is that what they would do is end up wasting even more precious resources.

Before we think of re-branding this country, we should be thinking of how to get the basics right in our country. How can a government which is so confused that it allows five separate ministers to tell five separate stories on just one simple issue (the acquisition of the jets) assume that a publicity blitz is enough to create a positive image for it?

How can a government that has declared war on an international transaction (Vodafone) assume that by a mere media blitz, it would get a good image?

We are a laughable lot. In our courts, as we speak, the Attorney General is accusing the Foreign Minister of India of colluding with a former Foreign Minister of Ghana to dupe Ghana. Yet we have the President sitting in Accra claiming that India is an old ally of Ghana.

How confused can one government be? Do we think that that merely saying that Ghana is a friend of India convince the Indians that we mean well? And how do you re-brand such barefaced perfidy?