Friday, 24 May 2013

Professionalism In Procurement

There is no doubt that procurement plays a critical role in business. However, procurement is often a neglected part of business. Perhaps because we all purchase for our homes and so take for granted procurement for the value creation process. Procuring for value creation requires strict accountability to the business owner; be it private or government. In the past manufacturers grappled with their costs amid all the inefficiencies, added a margin and were still able to sell. 

However, technological advancement, fierce competitive and demanding customer taste have placed limitation on the price the market can take; implying pricing strategies have changed from cost-led pricing to price-led costing. 

Businesses are therefore forced to take this price ceiling and work on their cost for an appreciable margin in order to survive; failing which businesses risk extinction through natural selection. The topic for the Pan African Conference- ‘the strategic role of professional procurement in the development of Africa’ drives home once more the import of procurement in corporate and national prosperity. The conference could not have come at a better time than now when this country, in pursuit of a ‘Better Ghana Agenda’, is redefining its frontiers in the ever-changing world of business.

The truth is that good sourcing leaves money for the business by way of savings for research, business and social infrastructure development to improve the lives of our people and good returns for business owners. The need for professionalism is underscored by research to explain the reason some countries do better than others in international trade. Why does Africa treasure professionalism in accounting, medicine and engineering? Why in architecture, marketing, insurance but not in procurement? It is about time high performance standards were set for procurement people so they can be held accountable, in line with the axiom ‘what gets measured gets done’. Another area of neglect in procurement is the Store/Warehouse function.

Simply put a congested warehouse connotes ‘waste’ which is passed on to the consumer. It is about time the ‘5S’ concept was strictly enforced in our store set-ups. That procurement is in complete jeopardy if we fail to get this right. Professionalism in procurement is a ‘must have’ if Africa wants to rub shoulders with the rest of the world. In this time of nation building and fierce competition, the profession Africa needs mostly is procurement because procurement holds the future of business. The stone that the builders rejected, the scripture says has become the head of the corner.

Africa needs professionalism in procurement to continue to attract foreign investment or wean herself from foreign investment.


Friday, 17 May 2013

Press Freedom Issues

For the past 20years the UN General Assembly has adopted May 3rd every year to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, with the goal to draw attention to the fundamental principles of press freedom across the globe. It is also a time to remind governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. Above all, World Press Freedom Day serves as a time for sober reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.
As Ghanaian Journalists joined their colleagues to celebrate the day, quite a number of issues came up for discussion. Among them are remunerations for Journalists, treatment meted out to Journalists at public functions, ethical issues and media legislation. For the lay person and most professionals it is safe to say that Journalists are free to publish or broadcast without hindrance. Yes, clearly censorship is perhaps a thing of the past since the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law in 2001.

However, developments in recent time have caused some journalists to ask the question, are we really safe? Some Journalists have complained bitterly of maltreatment at public functions especially one that involved the President. With the recent being this year’s 6th March Independence Anniversary Celebration where two Journalists were reportedly manhandled for breaching security guidelines. After investigations the report did not favor the victims. This has generated a debate among the media fraternity to the extent that some are calling for a boycott of all military functions. What is now heartwarming is that the military have dialogued with the Ghana Journalists Association and have not only rendered an apology to the Journalists, but have promised to replace the damaged camera and any equipment and compensate the victims. In as much as we empathize with our colleagues in the fraternity for their agony, we should be cautioned that as media personnel we need to respect and obey instructions just as anybody.Having the power of the pen or the camera should not be a license for one to think he or she is above the law. It is incumbent on Journalists to also use dialogue and tact when dealing with security details during such functions as this will go a long way to minimise the occurrences of such rift. On another note, Minister of Information and Media Relations, Mahama Ayariga who addressed the media at the World Press Freedom Day Celebration in Accra congratulated all Journalists for contributing to the relative peace and democracy in the country. He was however of the view that Journalists are not covering social or economic issues enough, as compared to coverage giving to politics. It could be said that Ghanaians simply seem to be more interested in politics than anything else. Every conversation in this country has political undertones; to the extent that one wonders if there will come a day when political coloration of anything in this country will be nil?

Journalists have a lot of work to do in the area of political depolarization. It is also encouraging to hear from our Minister that there are policies in place to improve capacity building of Journalists. Some will like to call it training. Training is a good thing, but it must not end there. There should be a mechanism in place to measure, monitor and evaluate the impact of the training. That way specific needs can be addressed in the future to make the media landscape in Ghana a better one for all. Remuneration and total welfare of the Journalists are discussions that have been on the table for a very long time. This is not the first time that the GJA is pushing to be unionized, so it can negotiate for better salaries for its members. The GJA should say when the Unionization process will be completed and where the process has gotten to as of today. The private media must also be happy to learn that government is working out modalities on how to share government advertisement between the private and public media. It is gratifying to note that dialogue on this score is going on because the government recognizes the role of both the private and public media in working to build and sustain Ghana’s democracy. The media truly holds the key to Ghana’s development as the fourth estate of the realm, but a legal frame work such as the passage of the Broadcasting Bill and the Freedom of Information Bill will be a feather in the cap of Journalists as these will promote greater efficiency and higher Journalistic standard in the country.


Friday, 3 May 2013

The Kumbungu By-Election

The victory of the CPP in the Kumbungu Constituency by-election is significant in the sense that this is the first time the party has won a by-election in the country since the return to democracy in 1992. The achievement gives the party which hitherto had no representation in the legislature, a voice in the law-making body. The NDC which relinquished the seat paving the way for the by-election will this time be counting its loss since it has dominated the constituency all along. The NDC must learn vital lessons from its defeat in the poll given reports that its preparation towards the election was generally lack luster. The top Executive were engrossed in the ongoing Supreme Court hearing of the 2012 election petition. In the by-election, the CPP Candidate, 61 year old development worker, Amadu Moses Yahaya polled 13,039 as against 11,896 obtained by the NDC candidate, Alhaji Imoru Yakubu Kakpagu, a former MP for the area. The seat became vacant after it had been abdicated by the Member of Parliament Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni following his appointment as Secretary General of the African Carribean and Pacific States.

The NDC since its victory in the December 2012 general election has been encumbered with a lot of difficulties critical among which is the challenge of the election results before the Supreme Court. Also affecting the party in government are the water and electricity crisis, strikes by Doctors, Pharmacists and UTAG members, irregular gas supply among others. Also bedeviling the government is the payment of huge sums as ex-gratia to Article 71 office holders. What is more, in many constituencies the NDC's front is divided. Many of the party foot soldiers who helped to clinch victory are disenchanted. They feel sidelined from party’s activities. In Kumbungu for instance, we are told, the NDC pretended there were no problems within its ranks in the constituency when in actual fact there were gaping cracks. According to media reports since the primaries that elected the former Foreign Minister the party had been divided between the two leading candidates in the primaries. The division it is said further deepened when Dr. Jacob Mahama contested Alhaji Kakpagu and lost in the primaries leading to the by-election. As a result of the existing misunderstanding, some chiefs and opinion leaders in the Constituency fell out of favour with Alhaji Kakpagu. In an interview with Radio Ghana, the National Organiser of the NDC, Yaw Boateng Gyan confirmed these, citing lack of unity, in-fighting and divided attention from the leadership as the cause for the defeat of the NDC in the Kumbungu by-election.

The Kumbungu by-election therefore comes in handy for the National Executive of the party to put its acts together and try to reconcile all feuding groups within the party. Total reconciliation is what the NDC needs at this critical period of its existence. Actions that will embitter any group of party supporters must be suspended for now. As the party goes for branch, ward, constituency, Regional and perhaps National Executive elections in December this year, it is hoped hard working and committed leaders will emerge to re-organise the party's structures towards the 2016 general election. As a grassroot party, some people believe the NDC is losing touch with its antecedents. They believe some policies enacted by the party in recent times leave much to be desired. These include the proposed ban of motor cycles for commercial purposes popularly called Okada and the new motor traffic regulations vis a vis the on - the spot fine. Even though some of the people see the policies as relevant they believe the timing is not right given the myriad of challenges the government is going through.

To the CPP, most people see their sweet victory as truly deserving. It is hoped they have learnt useful lessons from confronting elections with a united front. The CPP we are told was assisted by the PNC in their campaign in Kumbungu. This indeed gives credence to the adage “United we stand, divided we fall.” The CPP and PNC as the leading Nkrumaist parties must shed their individual garbs and merge into a prolific political entity with a common interest. The NPP have regretted not contesting the Kumgunbu by election for it would have been the people's choice as an alternative to the NDC. Every seat in Parliament counts a lot as it could determine policy direction. The NPP seems to be betraying the first of the people by continuing to boycott some of the by-election. Some people doubt if they will boycott a by election if it occurred in Ashanti. As things stand now, the NDC must eschew appointing Parliamentarians to positions of trust which will take them out of the August house for a by-election to take place. To the victors, this is an opportunity to make their presence felt in Parliament. The victory should serve as a platform to bounce back the CPP back to political limelight.


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Indiscipline In Second Cycle Institutions

The media has in recent times been inundated with issues of indiscipline among students in second cycle institutions. The one which presumably is still fresh in the minds of most parents are those of students of Northern School of Business (NOBISCO) and Kumasi Girls’ High. They were alleged to have disobeyed school rules. Perhaps, a form of indiscipline in our second cycle schools is the issue of homosexuality which has caused great concern among the clergy in particular and the citizenry at large. About 12 girls were recently de-boardenised in Wesley Girls High School in Kumasi for their alleged involvement in acts of lesbianism. While these disciplinary actions have been endorsed and hailed by many people, a section of the public has also condemned these actions describing them as harsh and misplaced. There are a number of times when we hear people retort that: our time it was not like this. Now, are the current generations made up of some abnormal genes totally different from ours?

It is a fact that adolescence is a period of transition from childhood to adulthood. This is a critical and defining moment for most of them in a quest to develop and gain their identity. Growing up in a rapidly globalised society, adolescents face a myriad of challenges. In discovering their true identity, adolescents may model personalities including their peers. They may experiment a lot of things including drugs, alcohol and even sex. It is not unusual for teens to rebel against authority either by arguing, disobeying, or talking back to their parents, teachers, and other adults. Some adolescents idolise rebels and feel that disobedience is a way of asserting their maturity.

Child psychologists have asserted that disobedience can have a variety of causes, such as school problems, family stress, the child’s personality, or unreasonable parental expectations. Most parents are married to their jobs to the detriment of the very children whose future they seek to secure. Sex education in some families is erroneously and socio – culturally abominable. When push comes to shore and these adolescents begin to exhibit ruddiness especially in schools amidst the seemingly helpless teachers, it turns out to be a blame game. Teachers blame parents for not bringing up the children properly whilst parents blame the teachers for being irresponsible in maintaining rules for the students. Reinforcement and constructive punishment are vital in the upbringing of the child. Rewarding a child’s good deeds will influence him or her to repeat such deed. Punishments whether in the form of isolation, deprivation or reparation, should aim at causing the child to think about why the consequences have been imposed and to consider not committing that significant misbehaviour again. In the case of the students who are de–boardenised, most of them would have their future jeopardised forever. Most of the victims who have no relatives in towns where their schools are located and presumably true – may rent rooms in town preying themselves to unscrupulous adults. Others who cannot afford to rent rooms in town are likely to drop out of school with its attendant social vices such as armed robbery, prostitution and pick pocketing. As a nation, this erodes the gains of having a well educated populace to ensure gross productivity.

In order to have a responsible youth, there is the need for parents to include their wards in rule setting and be consistent in enforcing them. They have to create an open communication channel with their wards, recognise positive behaviour in their children and reward them as such. Sex education should be paramount and done in a culturally appropriate manner. Teachers and parents have to partner each other for the upbringing of children. Authorities need to strengthen guidance and counselling in the second cycle institutions to provide care and support for the children. The government needs to ensure the full and sustained implementation of the Ghana Youth policy. We as a society owe it a duty to ensure that the youth are brought up in a responsible manner, for it is said that when a dog lies aloof and allows a goat to alert the landlord of the presence of a visitor, then the dog may be ashamed of itself.