- AA: Like any armchair football coach, the armchair politician’s task is always the easiest; it becomes a different story when the reality hits him in office. What is your take on that?
Marricke Kofi Gane is a chartered accountant by profession, a corporate coach, and an International Development expert, with experience managing several aid funds for European governments in over 30 countries.
He is an accomplished author with well over a dozen books to his name, a lecturer in Public Financial Management, and a well-known commenter on topical Ghanaian issues on Facebook.
Based on several of his recent comments and posts on Facebook, myghanalinks.com’s Abena Alice (AA) reached out to him via email for an interview on a couple of topical Ghanaian issues. Below is the final part of the interview.
AA: Generally, I like to conclude my interviews with what I like to call mundane questions, but given the political overtone, I will go for a series of hypothetical questions. Your answers do not have to be lengthy. Here we go with the first question. Should you decide to run, would you run as an independent candidate, create a new political party, or join forces with an existing party?
MKG: I genuinely don’t see myself joining forces with either of the 2 major existing parties – we have had them both alternating for almost 3 decades – Ghana is still NOT where it has the potential to be. Instead of solutions, we have had many broken promises and wasted youth; instead of moving forward, we have endured the stagnant politics of one party blaming the other in circles. I’d much rather prefer the option of running as an independent or form a party.
AA: How do you plan on financing your campaign should you run, and how will you reward those who contribute heavily to your campaign should things turn out perfectly?
MKG: I am afraid that is not open for detailed discussion at the moment, but when that final announcement is made, I will welcome all the support I can get from every ordinary Ghanaian home and abroad, who like me, simply wants to see a Ghana that progresses, a Ghana we can all be proud of. In terms of rewards, you are assuming that everybody who funds politics wants something in return; I can assure you, there also are rare but well-meaning Ghanaians out there who have made enough wealth and simply want to be part of something that makes Ghana better. That said, I like to be pragmatic and so I do not believe in perfect pictures as you have put it. I can assure you I do not stand for the principle of political donors automatically becoming ministers of state or being appointed to other positions as our current politics approves with impunity – It is what has got us into our mess these last 2+ decades. I am resolute on ensuring that the politics of winning power is separated from the business of running the state at all times – I represent a new era and it should start from how we do politics.
AA: What would you like your legacy to be, should you have the chance to ever serve as President of Ghana?
MKG: Ghanaians are smart. I trust that opportunity to serve will come. When it does, I want to focus on 4 things only – (1) To build an educational system that guarantees at whatever stage a citizen exits it, s/he knows HOW to think not WHAT to think, how to CREATE not just what to EAT (2) To engineer a set of strategic economy-focused infrastructure that positions Ghana as the business centre of West Africa and to support our local businesses and entrepreneurs to reach out internationally to their fullest potential (3) I want to leave a legacy of sanitizing the way we do politics in Ghana – I want to leave behind a highly efficient public service and politics that puts Ghana first at all times, (4) and finally with the help of the Ghanaian people, to exorcise Ghana of this protected demon of corruption that has caused us too much harm.
AA: Who is your favourite living politician and why?
MKG: Lee Hsien Loong – Prime Minister of Singapore – He has done well in maintaining the successful heritage his father Lee Kuan Yew started building – and for me, succession is something we don’t do enough of in this country and as such, we don’t focus on HOW WE CAN EXPAND the good legacies of those before us, but rather, on HOW WE CAN PULL DOWN what others have done, so we can appear as the only ones who did something good. That culture of building Legacies and not Names need to be embraced, both politically and in our local businesses.
AA: What is your favourite Ghanaian football club, any hope for the sorry state of our stadiums, expectations for the national team, and poor patronage of local games? What can you do to help the local football players who are regarded as professionals, but are not treated as such in terms of payments etc.?
MKG: It would be Accra Hearts of Oak. Internationally, I am a Manchester United fan. The issue transcends football. Every sports discipline is affected so I don’t think the stadiums are the real problems – I say that because if there are no smart business modules to bring in the money, stadiums will continue being ill-maintained and eventually fail our sports. I believe the focus will have to be on rethinking a more creatively profitable business model to support a vibrant league as well as creating world-class competitions for other sports. I may not be a crazy football fan but I have a few ideas. Once we have a thriving league and a competitive sporting calendar, it will make sense to flesh out some basic regulations (of course, with the involvement of clubs and sporting bodies) that set minimum levels for the remuneration of sportspersons – not just footballers. It’s about time we revive our core sports. All of this means, finding sporting professionals with aggressive business acumens.
AA: Approach to rooting out corruption, cronyism etc.?
MKG: First things first – it has to start with me, enforcing a zero-tolerance personally and with those around me. A fish always rots from the head. I hate corruption with a passion in the same manner I love competency. Coming from an Audit and International Development background – so that explains a lot. My last major role was cumulatively managing a £700million+ Development fund for a European government for which I set up the financial and due diligence processes, was responsible for disbursements, approvals, and with a 7 year clean record. It’s called integrity and professionalism. That is not to say as a country, we have never had the tools, recommendations policies to root out corruption, we have – if you ask me, the real reason corruption is still here, is the LACK of political will to enforce existing laws or create new ones that ensure that the cost to any citizen of being corrupt far outweighs the rewards to be gained from it – I intend for all of that to be fully enforced. It may require taking a second look at the powers available to institutions like the Auditor General and EOCO and supporting the latter to expand its capabilities with domestic and international collaborations.
AA: Should the Government be the employer of all, or should it be strengthening and building a viable private sector that can help boost employment in the country?
MKG: The business of Government is not to be in business, that’s one. Two, I don’t believe it is the job of Government to BUILD private sector. Government’s job should be to build 1. Strategic infrastructure (physical, economic and information), 2. Design ongoing support tools for businesses 3. Initiate mutually profitable collaborations domestic and internationally and 4. Put in place strong regulatory frameworks to guarantee success of businesses – that’s what will make business grow and thrive. You see, all past governments have failed to put in place data gathering mechanisms from the private sector and as such in order to be able to answer the recurring question “how many jobs have you created?” – they tended to forcefully create projects, geared at temporary employments so they can have numbers to answer the question – sadly, private sector has suffered as a result, because focus shifts from WHAT IS NEEDED to “What can we do to create jobs”.
AA: Like any armchair football coach, the armchair politician’s task is always the easiest; it becomes a different story when the reality hits him in office. What is your take on that?
MKG: I do not dispute the fact that the picture is always going to be different on the inside than from the outside. I will also say, an armchair coach with better pragmatic solutions to our problems, is arguably much better than an on-the-field-coach with no practical solutions. Let’s not forget those on the “inside” today, were once on the outside too. My view is, it all comes down to how one has been moulded before getting into office – I am personally pragmatic, very disciplined, a critical and equally creative thinker – it means when I see issues, I think Long term solutions. It’s just how I am wired; I am widely travelled so I see problems from a 360 degree viewpoint rather than one, so I better appreciate how Ghana needs to fit in a larger world; I have worked in some of the toughest conditions and I am passionate about our future generation. But above all of that and most crucial of all – I want and will work with the sharpest brains Ghana has to offer and I am willing to be blinded to political colours for that purpose. Look, the noble office of presidency is not one to be taken lightly, and I don’t. That said, the office expands who you already are. So, if this is who I am, if these are what I believe in – Ghana can only be better.
AA: What would be the key decisions a leader may have to take to achieve significant progress in changing our cultural mindset and productivity?
MKG: Well, you have already answered the question inherently. The hardest choices are going to happen when you have a culturally accepted Ghanaian way of doing things conflicting with a forward-thinking, research-backed way of getting it done instead. And if you ask me, I don’t think there will ever be a difficulty with the decision as to which to go for – the real problem will be getting people to accept that it is the right thing for us even though not culturally in sync. I am a believer that if people are made to know what benefits will accrue to them in choosing a particular path, that those paths will not erase our culture but make it better, and when you have established enough trust and proof that you have been consistent in making decisions that are for their greater good, it gets a lot easier. Nonetheless, those are bridges we’ll cross when we get there. This is not something I can wish and it happens.
AA: Given the partisan nature of our politics, I sincerely believe that the government of the day should entrust all development projects etc. to the appropriate civil institution to avoid the situation where meaningful projects are abandoned once a different party comes into power. What is your take on that?
MKG: I don’t think simply entrusting projects to civil institutions will solve the problem. In theory, it should but it isn’t so because even civil servants get booted out through fair or foul means when parties change – over time, we haven’t really had an independently efficient civil service. It is a long-term correction that needs to be made. In the short-term however, it will be more useful to designate a system of statutory-backed classifications, so that for example once a project is classified as say “National Priority level 1” – it automatically gets statutory backing and funding commitment over its period of execution – irrespective of political change-overs.
AA: What should be Ghana's positioning in the current global setting? Should we be inward looking, or open our doors some more to external partners? In each instance, why?
MKG: I think our doors are already open – unfortunately, they are only opened one-way, that is, into Ghana. What I want to see more of, is a structured support system for local businesses to explore external markets much more – whether regionally or further internationally. What I look forward to implementing is an educational system that intentionally gives our youth, structured access to international exposure via technology. Currently, we are too inward looking and that is hurting our economy. Our youth finish universities and have no basic understanding how the world really works or that outside of Ghana is their real competition. To do all that, we need to support our local businesses with very basic things like quality control, international business relation skills, cheap international logistics models, business diplomacy – the latter is what I would expect our foreign embassies to be doing – not just issuing passports to Ghanaians in the diaspora. We’ll get there.
AA: What is your take on the Togo crisis, and what would you do to help bring the crisis to an end?
MKG: I believe our President H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo has already put in place a mediation team to support Togo. I don’t think we as a sovereign country can bring the Crisis to an end – but being pioneers of democracy in Africa and considering that Togo is closest to us and what is happening there has the potential to spill over if care is not taken – the best we can offer is a neutral space and unbiased mediation for all sides to engage and more importantly, leveraging our diplomacy to impress on the parties involved to put the Togo people first. It is crucial that the voice of the Togo people are heard and made a priority in all these engagements in whatever form it take. The people MUST always come first.
AA: You’ve been very protective of your family; you rarely mention or post pictures of them etc. Can you give us a snippet of what the potential first family would look like?
MKG: I don’t think “protective” is the word. It is a personal preference that our children’s pictures are private and rightfully so - they have nothing to do with my ambitions. Secondly, I don’t believe the shape of a first family should in any way, determine how capable I am for office. My wife and I are separated, but we don’t have a dysfunctional engagement. That said, since you ask for a snippet, well we have 4 children, 2 girls and 2 boys, just like the family I hail from. My only focus now is to do all in my power, to build a Ghana they can be proud of – we all owe the next generation that.
AA: You have the floor, sell your message to Ghanaians.
MKG: The second line of our National anthem has in it “…and make our Nation Great and Strong” – that is my Ghanaian dream. I once asked a gentleman by the name Ato, what his Ghanaian dream was. His response was – “I just want a Ghana we didn’t have to travel out of, to become the best of ourselves.” That too, is my Ghanaian dream but more importantly, that is the Ghana I want us to build – given the opportunity to its highest office. I understand the politics we have been used to in Ghana will make anyone doubtfully ask “aren’t you like every other politician” – the short answer is NO. The truer answer is – I have never been one of them, so I haven’t been corrupted by them; I am a critical and creative thinker, so I have it in my nature and professional psyche to focus on the solutions Ghana needs, not pleasing political agents; I am a disciplined professional, that is why you can count on me to separate the politics of winning power from the professional business of running a country; but most importantly, this is my generation too, I am an ordinary Ghanaian like you – I have a vested interest in this country and so do my children, so if it fails, I suffer too – it’s the reason you can trust me to make decisions that are positively generational. Ghana is 60+ years old, we have so much resources, Ghanaians excel wherever they go – but with all these at our disposal, we MUST each ask ourselves – what have we achieved, what makes us relevant? We are at a point that places a duty on us all beyond which political parties we belong to, beyond what tribes we hail from, beyond which individual we like – we are at a point where Ghana has to move from this desert of Nothingness. Ghana has one last window through which to climb from mediocrity into significance – we cannot climb it by the same minds, the same hands, and the same people who have robbed us to date. We need a new order, we need to embrace a new way of doing things – I am that new way, I am Marricke Kofi Gane. Time is Up, Time na asuu, Ɣeyiyia de!
AA: I wish you the very best on this journey. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
MKG: No, thank you!! The pleasure was all mine!