I’ve received a cocktail of feedback from the article I published last week under the title “We Need a National Re-orientation and Behavioral Change Program, Mr. President”. At the heart of the article is my proposal that President Akufo Addo creates a new special purpose vehicle or strengthens an existing institution to come up with a deliberate, well planned, holistic but focused, persistent but patient, leadership driven but national in character, firm but gentle national re-orientation and behavioral change program.

The need for national re-orientation and behavioral change (let’s call it NRBC in this article) is not in contest. But it’s time we take the conversation a notch higher by placing the responsibility for leading the program at the doorstep of the president assisted by an institution, a department, ministry or any other office of state. It is my submission that the NRBC program has to be a president-led initiative with the active support of civil society and other private sector organizations. There’s another school of thought that prefers a civil society led program with the support of the government. In this article, I want to make my case as to why the former has more advantages than the latter.

Firstly, an NRBC program is akin to change management in an organization. Research into change management has revealed that the most successful ones are those that originate from and are led by top management. It’ll need the full backing of top leadership to make it effective. At country level, the executive is the equivalent of top management alongside parliamentary leadership and the leadership of the judiciary. The executive has to accept it and be willing to lead the charge. If the fish rots from the head, then the change must start from the head.

Moreover, it’s not the ordinary Ghanaian only who needs to change; our leaders also need to change. Now, if this program isn’t presidency-led but led by the director of NCCE for instance, I wonder how easy it will be for her to educate, exhort and show the stick when necessary to any member of the executive, parliament and the judiciary considering that she reports to the executive. On the other hand, if it is led by the president, he has enormous influence and authority to rebuke and penalize members of the team who go south in adhering to the program objectives.

My second reason for my preference for a president-led program is that, the state has a primary responsibility of ensuring peace, law and order and this can be achieved not only through strict enforcement of the law, but also through education, exhortation, role modeling et cetera. Once again, let me buttress this point with a statement made by Kofi Abrefa Busia. President Nana Addo quoted this in his investiture address. He said about politicians that, “…Our success or failure should be judged by the quality of the individual, by his knowledge, by his skills, by his behavior as a member of the society, the standard of living he is able to enjoy and by the degree of harmony and brotherliness in our community life as a nation”. The success of any government, especially Third World governments should be measured not only by the fulfillment of their manifesto promises but by changes in the behavior of the people.

Thirdly, an NRBC program will need interventions or support from other sectors and state institutions. It is not the work of one ministry, department or agency. Some of the interventions include provision of infrastructure, logistics and legal enforcement. Private individuals can play a role in these interventions but most of them are the primary responsibility of the state.

The final reason I propose the president and state to lead this program is the issue of resources. The target of the program is the 27 million people all over the country. The action plan will be composed of several projects and activities that will be undertaken across the length and breadth of the country. In addition, it is not a one –off program but a long term program. It calls for a huge resource outlay. It will be difficult to find a single private company in Ghana that will be willing and able to devote enough resources to embark on this program. In fact, the state may not even be able to sponsor it fully but can use public-private partnership to make it happen.

In Lee Kwan Yew’s Singapore, he led all the programs to change the anti-developmental attitudes of his people. He offered different levels of leadership in the process. His involvement included introducing some of the campaigns, taking part in some of the activities, rallying all senior officers in his government to participate and ensuring laws were enforced. He didn’t run these initiatives himself but was actively involved in their work at different levels. You’d find all these examples in Chapter 13 of his book, “From Third World to First World”.

For those proposing that civil society embark on this program, remember that civil society is already doing it. Waste management companies, churches, media houses, social groups, motivational speakers amongst others annually organize several programs and activities to address these problems. Despite their efforts, the problems still plague us. The agenda to transform Ghana must be supported by another agenda to graduate from the “tot-tot”, curative, one-off, uncoordinated approach to national re-orientation and behavioral change to a comprehensive, well-planned and holistic program. And the president must lead this program. God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong.

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By: Yaw Frimpong Tenkorang

Ghostwriter | Trainer | Preacher

Email: yaw.ftenkorang@gmail.com