Why IMANI named NDC flag bearer hopeful Prof. Joshua Alabi the best of Five Most Inspirational Public Sector Leaders (IPSLA) in Ghana in 2012

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Barely a year ago(2011), Parliament passed the University of Professional Studies Act. What was then the Institute of Professional Studies was overnight admitted into the prestigious ranks of the country’s public universities.

This could have been the highlight of Professor Alabi’s tenure at the Institute. He had been appointed three and a half years prior to the change of status, and had been responsible for shepherding the process past sceptical Parliamentarians from all sides of the political divide worried about the ‘lack of focus on core mandate’ that has become the bane of many of Ghana’s public universities.

But Professor Alabi, whose first term of office came to an end in January of this year, can point to more than one highlight in his term. Having worked for about two decades prior to his appointment to the position of Rector, he demonstrated very early on a keen eye for spotting the institute’s assets and unique value propositions. As a specialist school in accounting and management, he immediately realised that the institute had a competitive edge over the traditional science and humanities universities in Ghana that were busy piling up courses in business disciplines.

He charged into the business education space with a vengeance, investing appropriately in facilities and adjunct faculty to capture a new customer base, those eager to set up on their own. This freed the University from the excessive reliance on the pool of public servants looking for promotion, a pool fiercely targeted by the likes of Legon and GIMPA.

UPSA’s post-graduate program is steadily rising in stature, and more courses are passing successfully under the sharp scalpel of the National Accreditation Board. This year, (2012) IMANI believes that Professor Joshua Alabi deserves the top spot in its public sector rankings for his quiet, sturdy, and persistent focus on utilising the resources of UPS with a shrewd emphasis on returns and a long-term goal of sustainable excellence. Given the fiscal recklessness we have seen in parts of the public sector this year( 2012) , this attitude is worth celebrating.

There is of course more to do at UPSA. Curriculum design could receive more attention. Institutional governance could do with a facelift. Student welfare and alumni relations can still be improved, but all in all, comparing the present with what Professor Alabi came to meet, we can confidently applaud him for remarkable leadership in the face of general constraints.”

PS. IMANI adopted the IPSLA approach for appraising our public insitutions because basic human psychology is such that scrutiny and criticism alone are not sufficient springs of good conduct. Measured, and purposeful, praise can sometimes be used to even more powerful effect to motivate those on the right path, to shine a light on positive developments, to erect powerful role models for the guidance of the rest of society, and to serve as a sharp contrast to behaviours considered detrimental to the country’s progress

Since focusing on this issue over the last eight years, some of the leaders we selected for inclusion in the early recognition lists have since then been unable to resist the lure of mediocrity and grand corruption. But that was to be expected. The Top 5 list is not a ‘lifetime achievement index’. It is an advocacy tool to support on-going reform and to boost the stature of those pursuing those reforms in the here and now. It is unashamedly current in its emphasis and agenda.

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