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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Officials Hijack Satellites Moment of glory

Satellites 09.09

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....with the photo session outside, almost all the players were consigned to the back, some standing because of limited seats, as an array of jostling officials shamelessly took up most of the front-row seats

The welcoming ceremony for world champions Black Satellites at the Kotoka International Airport on October 17 was not as chaotic as the recent one for U.S. President Barack Obama - or the presidential swearing-in ceremonies of 2001 and 2009.

But it was chaotic nonetheless, and that must serve as a wake-up call for us to deal once and for all with the notorious lapses in our crowd (and event) management skills.

The first sign of chaos came when the pilot of the Egypt air flight that brought the players home excitedly thrust the trophy of the Satellites outside his window as Ghanaian officials sorted themselves out inside and outside the plane.

The first thing that came to mind was, Who gave him the trophy and for that matter the right to go waving it the way he did? What if it had fallen from his hands? Indeed, should such a unique national trophy be handled anyhow at that unfolding moment of our history?

As if that wasn't bad enough, the same pilot would later come down the stairs with the trophy, in addition to the golden boot award won by Dominic Adiyiah.

It would be a while longer before some officials took back the trophies to the plane for proper protocol to be followed. Indeed, one could see a visibly upset Kwesi Nyantakyi, president of the GFA, frantically calling for the trophies to be brought on board before the captain and other officials disembarked.

Eventually, both players and officials found their way down the stairs with team captain Dede Ayew rightly clutching the team?s trophy while Adiyiah cuddled his awards with obvious pride.

But official marginalization of the players soon set in as they lined up for a photo session on the tarmac. Out of nowhere, a phalanx of officials took up positions before the cameras, pushing most of the players into the back and depriving them of the spotlight that they, not the officials, so richly deserved.

This brazen hijacking of the Satellites? moment of glory continued into the VIP lounge where vice president John Mahama was waiting to welcome them.

Etiquette demanded that the players and their coaches be given pride of place by being seated in the front row, with the officials, who played only a supporting role in the Satellites' accomplishment, taking the back or side seats.

But, as with the photo session outside, almost all the players were consigned to the back, some standing because of limited seats, as an array of jostling officials shamelessly took up most of the front-row seats, displaying that warped sense of entitlement that has long plagued leadership in this country and undermined efforts at fairness and social progress.

Our leaders always think that they - and only they - are entitled to the best of everything: Housing, cars, schools, medical services and even seats at a ceremony at which they were, at best, the supporting cast, not the central characters. Surely, we need to do better.

We should start with getting the fundamentals of social and economic organization right, and that may include requiring every public official above a certain position to study the rudiments of project and/or operations management, as China and India now do.

The principles of project management, for example, would have seen the planning committee prepare a work breakdown schedule that would have laid out the entire welcoming ceremony on paper before the actual event materialized. This would then be accompanied by a dry run that may even have included a mocked up airplane staircase and volunteer stand-ins for the crowds, players, and officials, including the vice president.

If there is one lesson we must take from the Satellites' improbable history-making victory, it is that discipline determines everything. Indeed, the laws of nature that govern the affairs of humans reward those who are disciplined enough to obey them and severely punish those who are not. That is what sets winners apart from losers, developed societies from non-developed ones.

For us as a country where indiscipline runs deep - from pervasive insanitary habits to shoddy construction works to unplanned human settlements to chaotic welcoming ceremonies ? the choice could not be any clearer. Our decades long struggle to break free of the tethers of underdevelopment will rise and fall on how disciplined we become, or undisciplined we choose to remain.

Written by Dr. Nii Moi Thompson

Email: niimoi@yahoo.com

Dr. Nii Moi Thompson

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