A crisis that reoccurs a second time is a crisis that must not occur again. A well managed plant, I soon learned is a quiet place. A well-managed factory is boring. Nothing exciting happens in it because the crises have been anticipated and have been converted into routine”
“Our mission is not just to understand what happened but why it happened, with the intent of preventing it happening again”
—Earl Weener, National Transportation Safety Board official
In the developed democracies, the buck stops with the head of the pack. Indeed, a former United States President had a sign on his table which read: “the buck stops here.” This arises from the well-known management axiom that authority can be delegated but responsibility is never delegated. It is for this reason that in the advanced democracies, responsible officials resign their exulted entrusted positions when disaster occurs in sectors they head and manage. In the advanced civilized democracies, persons occupying exulted entrusted positions resign following disasters not because they consider themselves personally liable. They resign because they see the disaster as failure on their part and the shirking of responsibility.
In any situation, once you are appointed as the head of an entity to manage that entity, it is your responsibility to design and create a highly effective and efficient structure, appoint persons with the right competencies, skills and knowledge into positions and then grant them the requisite authority to perform successfully. Therefore, even though, as the head, you might have delegated authority for the performance of certain functions, you still hold yourself responsible for the competent performance of the functions embodied in the delegation. Thus a disaster constitutes failure of such noble responsibility on the part of the head and the only course of action is to resign from the exulted and entrusted position. When the head resigns, he signals to his constituency that he has failed the public. In effect, he is also signaling that the next time round, he would sack all non-performing officials under his watch before they create disasters which would cause him to resign his position.
In the ensuing mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Malaysian plane during flight MH 370, the question was put to the chief executive officer of the Malaysian Airlines whether he would resign. He replied that it was personal decision which he would take at the appropriate time. There is no doubt that he has already signaled that his resignation is on the way and I would be surprised if it does not happen sooner than later. So in the case of the Malaysian plane disaster, if the chief executive officer resigns, he is only sending the signal that he has failed to create the enabling environment for top performance thus resulting in the disappearance of the plane with the loss of precious lives. He would not be claiming that he personally caused the disaster.
Again in the developed democracies, when a disaster occurs, meticulous and diligent attempts are made to investigate it in order to learn lessons which would lead to fresh legislations to prevent such disaster from occurring again. Again in relation to the Malaysian plane disaster, the international community is actively involved in trying to solve the mystery in order to learn lessons which will guide the prevention of such future disasters. For instance, The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says authorities are “throwing everything we have” at the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
He disclosed this while the weather conditions in the southern Indian Ocean had improved to allow the search for the missing plane to resume.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) says 12 aircraft are taking part in the search operations.
“We owe it to the families, we owe it to an anxious world to do everything we can to finally locate some wreckage and to do whatever we can to solve the riddle of this extraordinarily ill-fated flight,” Mr. Abbott said.
It would be recalled that the Malaysian plane vanished on March 8 this year as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
In Ghana and for that matter, Africa which we call home, when disaster occurs, at worst, we consider the hand of God in it or attribute it to spiritualism or the work of the devil or evil spirit or magic.
Owing to the corrupt and incompetent management of the country’s economy by the Mahama administration, the cedi engaged in acrobatic free fall like a pilot who has parachuted from a burning plane. The disastrous NDC apparatchik in the current Mahama administration attributed the development to the activities of dwarfs, spiritualism, End-time ministry, the construction of high-rise apartments close to the residence of a former president, among other outlandish and mind-boggling reasons.
A bishop of religion also prayed loudly to the almighty God to stop the cedi from falling.
Of course, the Almighty God has not got the time for such buffoonery so the cedi continues to fall.
In Ghana and Africa for that matter, which we call home, when disaster occurs, at best, we call on the local traditional priest to offer sacrifice, commandeer the biggest cow around and force all migrating guinea fowls to return home and slaughter them to the gods as sacrifice. The political head then comes round to make some unintelligent perfunctory speech and everybody goes back home happily thereafter.
What happens to the slaughtered animals is left to the imagination of the reader. There are times, as part of the bargain, in order to provide avenue for illicit officials to earn illicit income from the state coffers, a committee of enquiry is established to probe the disaster which does not yield positive results. Most of the time the report is left on some discarded shelves where mosquitoes use as destination for their honeymoon.
The disaster re-occurs with vengeance in more gargantuan format thereafter.
The two latest disasters that struck the nation were the disappearance of some babies at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi and the collapse of a storey-building in Nii Boy Town at Accra.
Last week, I wrote in this column that the chief executive officer of the KATH, the chief executive officer of Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the Minister of Health should have resigned.
Since his appointment as the chief executive of KATH, that fellow has been one big disaster.
It is incomprehensible that he was retained for so long and allowed to accumulate his leave to continue to wreck untold havoc on KATH.
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is in complete disarray and all those involved should have been shown the exit long ago led by the Minister of Health, who has continuously supervised the rot which has been going on for so long at the NHIS and KATH.
To have asked certain officials at KATH, including the chief executive officer to take their accumulated leaves while suspending some low-level officers within the inspectorate division of the AMA begs the question and amounts to fire fighting.
Since independence, this nation has had its moments of glories, as well as its moments of disasters. However never in the annals of this country have the citizens witnessed such unprecedented greed on massive scale, such gargantuan corruption on such massive scale, such gross incompetence on such massive scale, such unbelievable idiotic behaviour on such massive scale, such uncaring roguish attitude on a massive scale by any political administration like the current John Dramani Mahama NDC administration.
Is it any wonder that on 57th anniversary of independence, the heavens opened their full gates followed by massive rainfall, which the incompetent Mahama administration could only interpret as showers of blessing followed by total electricity blackout.
At independence, the departing colonial masters left us with diesel powered electricity generating sets which provided electricity to a cross-section of the country. These generating sets were expensive to maintain but they were efficiently managed. After 57 of independence, the country is blessed with three hydro dams and about 10 thermal generating plants and yet the country is virtually in darkness most of the time, despite the astronomical increase in electricity tariffs. Today, after 57 years of independence, many industrial and commercial establishments are planning to install their own diesel powered electricity generating plants, irrespective of the massive cost.
They have realized that it would be cheaper for them to generate their own electricity than to rely on the national grid. Who can doubt that the nation is going back to the Stone Age under the greedy, corrupt and incompetent John Dramani Mahama NDC administration? The plain truth is this country has been turned into one big zoo providing attraction to foreign tourists. Ghana – forget it, we can never make it, period.
By Kwame Gyasi