No Shaking

In a recent blog post I exposed a problem that was experienced by an American tourist as he was departing through Kotoko International Airport. The incident involved the improper actions of three Immigration Officials. Several readers have requested that I provide a follow-up to that incident, and I am pleased to relate this reaction from one representative from the Government of Ghana.

Yesterday I forwarded to the Deputy Minister of Tourism a copy of a letter which outlined the incident. In a very quick response (less than five hours after transmitting the message), the Deputy Minister called me to learn more details and to let me know that he shared my concern. He assured me that he will request a meeting with the Head of Immigration in order that the matter be properly investigated and rectified. Wonderful! This is precisely the response which is required. This is the kind of action which will keep our country moving forward.

There are two other sides to this incident which I would like to bring up. Two years ago I submitted my application to the Ministry of Interior to become a naturalized citizen of Ghana. That application has been in the hands of Immigration officials since that time, and I have been assured that the processes will soon be completed. I confided in a friend yesterday that I have been somewhat reluctant to push the issue of the Kotoko incident too far because I did not want to jeopardize my application. He correctly pointed out to me that “no country is worth becoming a citizen of if you have to compromise your values in order to gain citizenship”.

My friend went on to point out that we all have a responsibility as citizens to speak out when we see situations which are not correct. Failure to do is the way in which countries cease to be ruled by just and transparent laws. Of course he was right, and the response from the Deputy Minister has allayed any concerns which I may have harboured. No doubt those in charge of the Immigration Service will also wish to see this problem solved because they do not want the actions of the officials of a few to reflect badly on the Service as a whole.

There is yet another aspect of what has unfolded and it is this: in the 8 years since I returned to Ghana to make it my home, I have witnessed a profound change in attitude in many of the government agencies with which I have dealt. I have seen men and women acting out of a sincere sense of responsibility and with professionalism and self-confidence. These people are a new generation of bureaucrat, people who are of a generation younger than my own (I am now 61), people who do not exhibit the attitudes which we used to have to endure in dealing with anything of an official nature in the early 1970’s when I first came to Ghana.

It is this new generation, as exhibited by the Deputy Minister and many others in agencies as diverse as Immigration, Internal Revenue and Education, who will move this country forward. These people in turn rely on the citizens of Ghana, each of us, to act as guardians of our working democracy by always keeping them on their toes. Let us all take our share of shaking things up when things need shaking.

Stay tuned, for more updates on the incident at Kotoko, and on my application for citizenship.