What Would You Do If Your Boss Told You: Either You Leave, Or I Leave?


After three-months of house arrest and investigation resulting from the false allegations made against him, Ampeh felt that his life looked like a soldier who had returned from a battlefield with amputated legs. Such a soldier and his relatives would feel grateful to God that he had returned home alive.
On the other hand, they would inwardly feel permanently sad that he had been badly wounded and permanently disadvantaged. Inwardly, Ampeh was feeling sad, despite the fact that he was happy to have triumphed over those who reported him and wanted to assassinate his character. This inward sad feeling notwithstanding, he told himself that he was not going to look gloomy and allow his enemies to feel triumphant. So, he kept his composure and carried smiles over his face, as he did before; while, at the same time, continuing to maintain his strict control over official business affairs to ensure that nobody mistook him for having been intimidated.
All the four people who reported him to the Castle had been transferred and demoted, not by him but by his Ministry. That, in effect, should have meant that he would not have any more trouble-makers at his station. But Ampeh believed that the whole community was his enemy, not just the four senior officers who tried to put him into trouble. He recognised that “if a fall from a tall tree does not cause your death, it gives you broken legs and bruises”.
Yes, he was himself not too much worried about what had happened to him; but his wife was. She no longer wanted to be at that station. And that was affecting her temperament and her health. Accordingly, Ampeh secretly started arranging for his transfer from a place he called “the den of public office criminals”. A little over one year after the investigations, he got a transfer to a new station in a new region.
They left as soon as the transfer was through. Their new station received them warmly initially. It did not take a year, though, before Ampeh had another problem there. His problems were always not about his office; nor were they about his personality generally. They were always about his attitude towards abuse of public office at his workplace.
He hated any form of office abuse. So, a few months after arriving at his latest station, this attitude of his immediately found expression. A section of the staff there wanted to embark on a demonstration against another section whose members were acting in concert with other professional colleagues nationwide to openly and unlawfully abuse their offices by privately charging for official “public services” they provided to their communities, and for which the State already paid them every month.
The section that was planning to go on demonstration was against this privatisation of what was unarguably part of “public service man-hours” paid by, and belonging to the State; and they wanted to put pressure on the abusing section to abandon such abuse of their offices. The demonstrators had sought clearance from Ampeh, as the man in-charge of the general administration of the station. Ampeh had followed civil service guideline to convey the intention of the section proposing to go on demonstration to the other section whose members were abusing their offices.
He also counselled the section planning the demonstration on the position of the law which required that they first sought police permission. After the police gave approval, the demonstration went ahead in a massive and contagious way, with its rippled effects travelling nationwide and over many weeks. As a result of Ampeh’s hatred for cheating and misuse of office for personal gains, he himself fully backed the demonstration, despite being an administrator; and was happy when it spread beyond his station. In the end, there was a cancellation of the “privatisation” and “abuse” of office and power by the section that sought to do that.
In view of the structure and lines of authority within the Public Service, Ampeh had a superior officer to whom he was immediately answerable. Incidentally, this superior officer of Ampeh was part of the section of the establishment that wanted to privatise their publicly paid services and man-hours. So, when the self-imposed illegal scheme was forced to fold up because of the demonstrations, Ampeh’s immediate superior was furious with him, accusing him of having failed to stop the demonstration before it started and spread.
Even though Ampeh explained that he did not have the legal power to stop workers from embarking on a lawful demonstration, his superior officer was adamant. Thus aggrieved, this superior officer of Ampeh summoned the latter officially to his office and gave him a blunt ultimatum: “either you leave, or I leave”.
Ampeh had done nothing wrong. He was sure about that. He had no power to stop workers’ demonstrations. Moreover, he believed that the demonstration was justified legally and morally. So, he, Ampeh could not be blamed for either the demonstration by the section that embarked on it, or the unlawful action by the other section whose misuse of their public positions precipitated the demonstration. He was hundred percent sure that he, Ampeh, had done nothing wrong to require his exit from the service or his transfer from the station. He said nothing immediately to his superior officer, though. Instead, he went home after work that day to think over the matter. After consulting with his wife, he decided that very night.
“A car should always swerve aside and avoid a collision with an articulated vehicle,” Ampeh examined a scenario that, in his opinion, was parallel to his dilemma. Should a driver of a car in its lane stick to his position and crash into an articulated vehicle that has taken the wrong lane? Or should the car driver swerve his car “out” of the path of the articulated vehicle and give way to the law-breaking driver? He concluded that the driver of the car must swerve. “Swerve”, to him, is another way of saying “give way”.
It was a case of “law” versus “logic”. Stay with the law and behave foolishly. Ampeh decided to stay with logic. On the day that followed, he submitted his resignation letter to his Ministry and quitted his position with immediate effect. Like Napoleon Bonaparte, Ampeh felt he had warred with a world [of criminals] that vanquished him only when the meteor of conquest allured him too far.
Corruption and other forms of abuse of office in the Ghanaian Public Service are very serious. They are the cause of Ghana’s economic stagnation. Dealing with corrupt subordinates and peers may be relatively easy. However, dealing with corrupt superior officers such as those who occupy political offices and their associates is a much harder task. There is a need for “a new breed” of Ghanaians who will not only shun corruption and all forms of office abuse, but will abstain from them and seek their eradication. Until we get this “new breed” to fill top positions in Ghana’s Public Service, as well as to volunteer into politics and form the ruling class, not even the combined oil reserves of Russia and Saudi Arabia can change Ghana’s economic misfortunes. Let us look for this “new breed”!
*NOTES: All five serialised articles published recently concern an actual Ghanaian who, soon after graduation and completion of his National Service, started work as a senior officer in an administrative position within Ghana’s Public Service. The events narrated took place in only two of the ten regions of the country; but in no way can they be said to be isolated or confined to those two regions. All the three names used in the narration are merely symbolic; and were carefully chosen to add “natural features” to the characters they relate to. The names do not portray any ethnic background; nor are they “stereotypes”.
The particular Ministry involved in the story is one of the most important part of Ghana’s civil and public services; and it is a typification of both, in terms of misuse and misappropriation of State funds and other assets. It is important for readers to know that two months after quitting his office, this public officer whose experiences are being told in the series left Ghana to become one of this country’s “brain-drain” statistics. Readers who missed any of the series and want to know the full story of Ampeh can go to the Columns’ Page of Ghanaweb and read it. The series are part of the Author’s campaign against corruption in Ghana.
Source: Otchere Darko; [This writer is a centrist, semi-liberalist, pragmatist, and an advocate for “inter-ethnic cooperation and unity”. He is an anti-corruption campaigner and a community-based development protagonist. He opposes the negative, corrupt, and domineering politics of NDC and NPP and actively campaigns for the development and strengthening of “third parties”. He is against “a two-party only” system of democracy {in Ghana}……. which, in practice, is what we have today.]
Source: Otchere Darko