Brilliant youth must go into politics – Sir Jonah

Executive Chairman of Jonah Capital, Sir Sam Jonah, has encouraged the youth who are bright and intelligent to offer to work in politics, government and public service to strengthen good governance and leadership.

He said until and unless bright women and men chose to work in government and the public sector, African nations would continue to fail their people.

Addressing the graduation ceremony and 25th anniversary of the SOS-Herman Gmeiner International College in Tema, Sir Sam said, while there were a number of reasons which made some individuals shun public service, there were others who entered politics for personal considerations other than the desire to make a difference.

Distaste for public service

“Among corruption, nepotism and the antagonistic partisan political discourse, citizens tend to mistrust public servants and do not feel represented by them. Beyond that, weak public institutions with out-dated and long-winded bureaucratic processes, poor management practices, unsatisfactory conditions of service and an insidious deficit in skills capacity make working in public institutions unattractive, “ he noted.

However, quoting Plato he said that “one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Sir Sam reminded the intelligent and bright youth that “ it is precisely because the right people do not enter public service that change has been so long in coming.”

Turning to the graduating students, he said, the college had curricula that had made them critical thinkers who had the knowledge and ability to effect change in society and encouraged them to put their knowledge at the service of the people and never be afraid of making mistakes pointing out “I have not met a successful person who has not had her fair share of failure and setbacks.”

Strength of institutions

He said there was a correlation between the strength of national institutions and socio-economic development stressing that nations which built strong institutions had done better than those with weak ones.

He mentioned Singapore and South Korea where rapid transformation in sustained development has occurred because of visionary leadership, judiciary, legislature and civil service.

Of Singapore, Sir Jonah said the country’s public services attracted and retained the best human resources culminating in excellent health care, public housing and strong educational system, low infant mortality and high life expectancy, while in South Korea, an important part of their value system was the inculcation in the youth of service to the nation. Encapsulated in the expression “sun gong hu sa”, which translates as first public, later private or personal.

Civic obligations

“Civic-mindedness is promoted among the youth and children are reminded of their obligations to the country as its future leaders. At the core of these principles are what have accounted for the strength of South Korea’s institutions and public service.”

He said Ghana had seen a strong public sector at work before and that much of the progress made in the early years of independence resulted from a reliable and competent civil service.

He said students of the college were among the finest and best trained in Africa and had what it took to face challenges head on and charged them to, “make your hard work count for something, for yourself, for your country and for Africa.”

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