In September, 2011, I posted an article in the Daily Graphic on Ghana’s Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor.
People who read that piece thought I was doing the old man’s bidding. Why? Cos I was writing about how he had decided to work without taking a dime from the state coffers.
For the records, I did not know him from Adam before that article came out. Not even had I met him at a public event as a reporter.
I had snippets of that information from a different publication.
At the time, my raw calculation of how much he had saved for the state as a result came to about GHC 250,000. A little over a year on, it would probably a couple of Cedis more.
On the eve of this New Year, I had the rare opportunity of meeting Dr Kwabena Duffuor- at his request. We had a real hearty chat and the old man opened up, close and personal!
Last year was not exactly a good year for him; he received a pretty bad press for what he, himself, describe as issues that many people know very little or nothing about.
He has not been spared the dirty vitriol that has been an everyday show of our politics.
He got the front pages in the heat of the infamous Woyome judgement debt payout and many thought his head should have rolled.
But he had his own thoughts.
“Whenever I hear them on the radio pouring insults on me, I pray for them. I am in public service to help people and so if I find the same people in whose interest I am working say things against me, I can only pray for their souls. Most of them barely know me,” he said on the low key.
But that’s not the point with this piece- in any case; nobody has put forward a shred of evidence to back any such allegations- so let’s leave it at that.
The man is not a politician; he’s not even NDC as all the other people who got into the last administration.
In the 2011 piece, I asked a question that’s still on my mind; what if we had more Kwabena Dufuors in public service?
Of the 70 or so Ministers and their Deputies that we have, the close to 200 District Chief Executives (DCEs), the dozens of ambassadors and the numerous CEOs and board chairmen of public enterprises exetera exetera, I am yet to hear anybody rendering his time and energy on voluntary basis.
They take not less than GHC 5,000 (even as junior Ministers) aside all the fat allowances even though they don’t really pay for any service (electricity, transport, water, telephone etc).
They don’t even pay taxes like all of us do.
So in our chat, he goes on and on about how necessary it was for public servants to ‘die’ a little for the nation’s development. “We spend the bigger part of our state coffers on remunerating public servants but nobody is telling us how much they are giving in return,” he noted.
And that’s exactly the point I’m making; how much service are the people who are supposed to be in public service rendering us?
You may hate or like Dr K.D, as I as choose to call him, for whatever reason- (and of course you are entitled to your view).
You may even decide to think that he’s made the booty already and that working voluntarily as minister is no big deal, but the truth remains that he’s raised a bar in national service- that we should all be talking about.
People should go into public service for what it means; service. All the extra largesse must come as secondary. But when we start getting people jostling for appointments only because they can draw free fuel into free cars and suck the already depleted state treasury, then we should all be scared
Dr K.D’s stint at the Finance Ministry has seen one of our cleanest bills of an economy as a country amidst the glaring global challenges.