President Akufo-Addo says Ghana’s image and pride of place amongst the comity of nations, over the past 23 months, has been greatly enhanced and restored.
This, according to him is as a result of the work done by Ghana’s High Commissioners and Ambassadors whom he has sworn, and has urged them to “continue in this regard over the period of your tenures in office.”
The President said this on Monday when he delivered the opening address at the Conference of Heads of Missions, held at Jubilee House, in Accra.
Addressing the Conference attended by all of Ghana’s Ambassadors and High Commissioners, he noted Ghana that, over the last two and a half decades, has managed to build an enviable reputation as a peaceful, stable country, and a beacon of democracy on the continent.
“It is in our collective interest that we do everything we can not only preserve this hard-won reputation, but also to attract the investments that will facilitate the structural transformation of our economy, so central to the future prosperity and stability of our country,” he said.
With the Heads of Mission deliberating on a range of issues that are the priorities of government and the Ghanaian people over the course of Conference, President Akufo-Addo was expectant that the outcome of the Conference should serve to deepen further their understanding of their roles and responsibilities, so that they achieve concrete and beneficial results for the nation.
“You are the chief promoters of Ghana’s diplomatic and commercial interests in your respective countries, and this Conference will reinforce that motivation,” he said.
The President continued, “As Heads of Missions, you are now required to be more visible and proactive in your dealings, in order to make the desired impact. You must endeavour not only to interact with the Executive and Legislative arms of Government in your host countries but also with academic institutions and influential civil society organisations, including the media.
“When this is done, you can be certain that you would have helped to promote Government’s agenda for economic transformation and the prospects that it offers all stakeholders.”
Whilst acknowledging the challenges facing the Ministry and Mission, President Akufo-Addo indicated that Government is committed to resolving these challenges, and, as a first step, there has been a modest increase in this year’s budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“It is incumbent on you to exercise prudence in the use of the Mission’s resources and find innovative ways of increasing the proportion of internally generated funds. Furthermore, the Ministry has also contracted a $50 million loan to help in the rehabilitation of the rundown infrastructure of many of our Missions. The Minister has assured me that the loan will be vigorously disbursed and employed in this new year of 2019,” he added.
Respect the rights of your staff
Reminding them of his appeals at their swearing-in, President Akufo-Addo noted that the various Foreign Service Officers at the Missions possess invaluable experience and an in-depth knowledge of the terrain, which should help them discharge their duties effectively.
“It has, however, come to my attention that, in some of the Missions, the exact opposite of my appeal is being adhered to. There are several reports of petty squabbles, turf wars, outright confrontations, and a complete breakdown in relations between some Heads of Missions and their respective Foreign Service Officers.
“This situation is completely unacceptable and is proving detrimental to the smooth running of High Commissions and Embassies, and occasioning unnecessary, additional costs,” the President said.
He put on record his strong opposition to such developments, and urged the Ambassadors and High Commissioners to exercise utmost restraint in their dealings with the Foreign Service Officers, even with those who may be problematic.
“Those, who misconduct themselves, can be duly sanctioned in accordance with the law, after being subjected to due process. I would advise the Minister for Foreign Affairs to investigate and act swiftly in dealing with complaints lodged by a Head of Mission about any officer who misconducts himself or herself, in contravention of the rules and regulations that are to guide their conduct,” he added.
As Heads of Mission, President Akufo-Addo maintained that “you must help create a harmonious working environment. When that happens, you are guaranteed staff who are sufficiently motivated to work hard in order to achieve the desired results and the stated goals of our nation.”