Monday, February 28, 2011

55 Ghanaians In Libya Return Home

The Liyba dictator is under unprecedented pressure from his people
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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday February 28, 2010.
THE FIRST batch of Ghanaians who were stranded in Libya have arrived safely at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), Accra from the troubled North African country.
The all-male returnees numbering 55 touched down between 1: 30 and 2pm on Saturday on board Egypt Air.

They were taken to the Aviation Social Center near the airport by officers of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and some government officials for screening before heading for their various homes.

According to government officials those who returned were close to Egyptian border so it was not difficult to airlift them.

Kwabena Dwemena, a Ghanaian resident in Benghazi, Libya’s industrial city who spoke to the media said the situation was getting out of hand and the government needs to do something to help them without delay.

“I have been in my room for 11 days. You cannot go out. If you venture you could easily be killed,” he lamented.

Pressure is mounting on the government to evacuate over 10,000 Ghanaians in Libya as some of them alleged that the telephone numbers given by the government for them and their family members back home to contact to ensure a smooth evacuation exercise do not appear to be effective.

Anxiety is beginning to set in among residents particularly Nima, a suburb of Accra where it is believed many have relatives in Libya.

Asibi Mohammed, a food vendor told Daily Guide that she has a brother in Tripoli but since the disturbance started she has heard from him once, adding her son told her the situation was getting serious.

Another Nima resident who gave her name as Fauzia said she has two sons in Libya but has not heard from one of them. She made a passionate appeal to the government to step up the evacuation exercise.

“My brother is in Tripoli. He called to say that there is sporadic gun fire every day. All countries are evacuating their citizens. I will plead with the government to bring our brothers and sisters out of the place,” Oumar Alhassan said.

According to the Ministry of Information, close to four thousand Ghanaians in Libya have been registered out of the estimated 10,000 expected to be airlifted home.
The repatriation became necessary due to increasing anti-government protests that have rocked that country in the past fourteen days.

Enormous pressure from Ghanaians both home and abroad has been mounted on the Government to evacuate Ghanaians resident in the north African country following the political unrest there.

Government had earlier said Ghanaians were not in danger since black Africans were not being targeted. But the evacuation became necessary as xenophobic attacks were reported.

The reports that Ghanaian soldiers were collaborating with Libyan security forces to suppress the political uprising against Libyan leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi, has been already denied by the Ghanaian government.

Deputy Information Minister Baba Jamal told Citi FM on Friday that “every single Ghanaian will be evacuated from that country whether they are illegal immigrants or not”.

The returnees are accusing Ghana Embassy officials in Tripoli of neglecting them.

Some of the evacuees accused the Ghana mission in Libya of paying deaf ears to their desperate calls to evacuate them. They however praised officials of Ghana mission in Cairo for coming to their aid.

But Baba Jamal told Joy FM the volatile situation in Libya may have prevented the Embassy officials from offering the necessary help.

He indicated that the complaints will be looked into.

He had said a temporary structure will be created at the El-Wak Sports Stadium and Trade Fair site in Accra, to accommodate the returnees for a while, before they are reunited with their families.

Unprecedented wave of revolutions currently sweeping across Northern Africa and other parts of the Middle East has already seen Presidents of Tunisia and Egypt respectively toppled but the one in Libya is deadly.

Colonel Muammar al-Qathafi, the Libyan dictator who has stayed in power for 42 years has said he will not succumb to demands by protesters asking him to resign and insisted he would rather die a martyr.

According to BBC, information from Libya remains difficult to verify and many reports cannot be independently confirmed. The total number of deaths has been impossible to determine.

However, Human Rights Watch said it had confirmed nearly 300 deaths, but the International Federation for Human Rights said at least 700 people had been killed while Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said estimates of 1,000 dead were “credible”.

Masses of foreigners are still struggling to leave Libya with the situation at Tripoli airport described as mayhem.

Under Resourced Schools: Future Leaders At Crossroads

Teachers of Akotoshie DA JHS work under trees

This is where pupils of Avegorme DA Primary School in Sagakope study.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday February26, 2011.
“Madam Speaker, this year, we will further intensify our commitment to free exercise books, free school uniforms and turn more schools under trees into brick and mortar classroom blocks.”

These were the words of President John Evans Atta Mills when he delivered the 2011 State of the Nation address in Parliament, Accra on Thursday, February 17, 2011.

The President admits that there are many school children studying under trees and indeed even in Accra. Some secondary schools in Accra are operating under trees because of the form four students under the previous educational system recently repealed by Parliament to return to the old form three system.

The President’s statement commits the government towards acceleration of infrastructural development in education. The reality is that the pace of development is way below expectation and equal educational opportunities and facilities are fast eluding many of our future leaders, particularly those in deprived communities.

The conditions under which most pupils study, and where their teachers work, does not speak well of a nation that continually touts education as the bedrock of national development.

In Ghana, the right of children to access basic education is guaranteed under the Constitution but equal access to educational opportunities and adequate facilities is not equitably distributed.

Article 25 of the 1992 Constitution states, “All persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realization of that right”.

A trip by Daily Guide to Ga West in the Greater Accra Region painted an alarming picture.

While some towns and villages in Ga West Municipality may have an appreciable level of educational infrastructure, that is not the case with other parts of the area.

Akotoshie District Assembly Basic School is a typical case of the state of neglect that characterizes public institution. The Primary section seems to be in place but their counterparts in the Junior High School study in an incomplete structure and a makeshift shed roofed with palm fronds. Their daily prayers are the rains should not come down.

Plight of Pupils and Teachers
“When we see that the rains are coming we have to stop everything we are doing and send the children home because there is nowhere to keep them,” Obed Agbenyo, Headmaster of Akotoshie District Assembly JHS told DAILY GUIDE.

He explained that a block for the JHS was constructed through the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) three years ago but the contractor abandoned the project midway because he claimed the GETFund refused to pay him the contract sum.

“I was posted here only three weeks ago. There were no classrooms for us. We used palm frond sheds. Then we decided to use the [uncompleted] building’s classrooms by using palm fronds as roofing sheets.”

The School Prefect, Felix Ahiaga complained, “When we are in the classroom reptiles and all sort of insects disturb us a lot. It is affecting our studies. Our colleagues in other schools are studying under a proper environment but we are not. This is the reason why some of the students would prefer staying at home than to be in school”.

Mary Finako, Girls Prefect of the school summed up the pupils’ feelings when she said, “We feel like we are not part of the children in Ghana. We study under difficult conditions. During the rainy season we are not able to go to school.

Please speak for us to get proper classrooms so we can also be happy.”

The teachers have no desks. They converge under trees and sheds to mark work - sometimes using benches and other things as furniture.

Even in the primary section where the situation has significantly improved the pupil/teacher ratio is overwhelming. The numbers of pupils in the classrooms exceed what the teachers can suitably cope with.

“Teachers who are posted to deprived schools are sacrificing a lot”, added Headmaster Agbenyo. “They work under harsh conditions but whenever the students are not able to do well in examinations we are criticized. They simply need sound structures to do better.”

From Akotoshie to Avegorme, a suburb of Sogakope in the Volta Region, the story is the same: there is no decent place for children to study. School children in Akotoshie may be fortunate to have at least an uncompleted structure - the story of their counterparts in Avegorme is comparatively abysmal.

The Head Teacher, Emmanuel Nudzogbeti of Baptist DA Primary School in Avegorme, a suburb of Sogakope in the South Tongu District, summed up his despair when he said: “We cannot produce future leaders out of this. We have to commit ourselves as a nation towards the infrastructural development of all our educational institutions.

“We allow the children to go home when the rains are coming because the structures are just too bad,” he complained.

Maclean Yevu, Assembly member for Akotoshie Electoral Area took DAILY GUIDE around the area for inspection. It was clear that educational infrastructure needs urgent uplift.

He says, “We are trying to do our best but there are no funds. The assembly alone cannot shoulder this burden. Everybody is needed to help.”

Emerging threats to Urban Schools
Rural schools may be lacking basic facilities but the emergence of challenges facing urban schools should be taken serious by city authorities.

They face problems of encroachment - bandits and miscreants use the schools’ premises, while in other cases local churches virtually take over classrooms. The abuse of the facilities leads to a shortage of desks and other supplies.

“People living around Abossey Okai Cluster of Schools have turned the premises into their home. They do all sort of things there” a teacher told Daily Guide.

“They break our desks, doors and windows and use our toilet facilities. They even defecate in the classrooms,” he added.

ICT & School Feeding Programme
“Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Environment Science and Technology has already begun distributing computer notebooks to brilliant but needy science students.” the President stated during his state-of-the-nation address.

The President may have outlined the government’s plans to boost ICT learning in schools but this will remain elusive as long as electricity is not available. ICT development is possible only in tandem with availability of electricity and the best way forward is to make it accessible in all schools.

“We will also expand the Capitation Grant as well as the School Feeding Programme support” the President added. “The latter programme has been restructured in such a way that the development partners who earlier pulled out on account of poor financial and procurement audit reports are considering resuming their financial support for the programme”

The School Feeding Programme (SFP) has greatly increased enrollment of students, which accounts for the pressure on already overstretched schools.
“The School Feeding Programme has really helped a lot but it has to go to the villages and vulnerable communities - not those in the cities”, Nii Armah Tackie, the Ga West Municipal Chief Executive notes.

“It is clear the children want to attend schools where food is served”. He continued, “I am lobbying to get more schools in my area under the programme and when I am successful I will send it to those who need it most.”

Motivation and Support
The Ga West MCE is confident that conditions are improving in the school system. “The government’s commitment to solve problems confronting basic education is on course”, he says.

“Parents do not send their children to schools where there are poor facilities” he added. “As soon they know you are improving infrastructure they rush to enroll their wards. It is up to us as major stakeholders to continue to improve educational infrastructure to bring hope to school children and their parents.”

He says the assembly established education fund to support infrastructural development, ICT learning and provide scholarship to vulnerable children. “We are working hard but we want the School Management Committees and the Parent Teacher Associations to partner us very well so that we can effectively tackle these problems.”

GA West MCE tells DAILY GUIDE that every town and village in the municipality will get its share of educational facilities, decent enough to satisfy the needs of all children. He emphasized, “We are building more schools and supply the needed facilities and very soon the results will start showing.”

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), in its case is struggling to improve education facilities in the capital starting with the abolishing of the shift system. But this good plan is at a huge cost because now classes are far beyond acceptable level. Classrooms are choked with some classes holding up to 120 pupils. Now parents are being asked to make monthly contributions to build more school blocks in the metropolis.

Numo Blafo, PRO of the AMA says the Assembly is embarking on an ambitious project dubbed “Millennium City Schools” and adds “We have already started with Ayalolo Cluster of Schools and those in Mamprobi. It will be all over the metropolis. It is going to be huge with 18 classrooms and all the necessary facilities. It will change the way we handle basic education.”

Similar stories are being told by the various assemblies. They are all putting the needed interventions to make education accessible.

Goal Two of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) sets out that by 2015 all countries should ensure every child completes primary schooling. Ghana is on course to achieve this goal.

However, the quality of education may be sacrificed in the process. Thus, the tools necessary for future leaders to succeed may not be available, unless resources are effectively and equitably allocated on time.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Prosecution Replies Defense in Ya Na Trial

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday February 25, 2011
The prosecution in the case of 15 men standing trial for the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon in March 2002, has filed a reply opposing the accused application that they have no case to answer.

The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ms. Gertrude Aikins announced in court yesterday that the prosecution filed a 120-page response on February 21, 2011 to oppose the ‘Submission of No Case’ application that is seeking to have the case discontinued for lack of evidence against them.

She told the court presided over by Justice E.K. Ayebi of the Court of Appeal: “We have filed our reply. We did it religiously and on time”. But Phillip Addison, counsel for the accused told the court that they were not served with the processes filed by the prosecution.

The court then invited Rexford Gyiamah, the Fast Track Courts Registrar to explain to the court the reasons why the processes was not served on defense team and the Registrar told the packed court that the application did not have specific address.

He said as a result it was difficult for the registry to direct the service and subsequently gave a copy of the prosecution’s document to defense counsel.

Defense counsel then asked for an adjournment to enable them to study the prosecution’s reply and file additional submission if possible and the court granted the request and adjourned proceedings until March 4, 2011.

On the next adjourned date, the court is expected to fix a definite date for ruling on whether or not the accused have a case to answer.

Defense counsel declared their intention to file ‘Submission of no case’ when after failing on three occasions to present more witnesses the prosecution officially closed its case on November 5, 2010 and the court granted the request and asked them to file it by November 23, 2011.

However, just as the motion for “Submission of No Case” was to be moved, the prosecution on November 18, 2010 filed “an application to re-open its case and tender recording through witness.”

The affidavit, claimed the sixth accused person in the case, Alhassan Braimah is said to have been recorded by one Moses Nsor, an ex-security officer, confessing that he (Braimah) killed the Ya Na.

As a result there was a long argument as to whether or not the prosecution should allowed to re-open the case to adduce additional evidence but the court on December 17, 2010 threw out the prosecution’s application saying they were in possession of the very evidence they are seeking to adduce but failed to bring it before closing its case.

All the other accused persons, except Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the seventh suspect who is currently at large, were in court.

They have all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and with Forest (A7) facing an additional charge of murder.

They are currently on remand in police custody except Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu due to old age.

Those on trial are Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, 45, former DCE of Yendi as second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth accused persons respectively.

The rest are Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Shani Imoro, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee and Hammed Abukari Yussif and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused persons respectively.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

9 nabbed for murder of two pals

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday February 24, 2011.
THE CASE of two friends and three dogs that were mysteriously killed after allegedly being struck by lightning last week at Wawaase near Assin Fosu in the Central Region has taken a new twist.

Following an autopsy report which indicated that Yaw Bondam, 33 and Nicolas Fianyo, 25 died from being hit with heavy objects rather than lightning as initially claimed, the Assin Fosu Divisional Police Command moved swiftly and arrested nine persons who they suspect committed the crime.

The nine are Yaw Owusu, 26, farmer; Kofi Tawiah 42, farmer; Kwasi Ayisah 42, palm wine tapper; George Tweneboah 34, farmer and Tetteh Galloway 42, also a farmer.
The rest are Denis Adoba, 52 farmer; Francis Ransford Oppong aka Apitipi, 48; Charles Eyiah aka Kwame Clinton 30 and Ebenezer Amuzu aka Ogyatanaa, 29, a farmer and herbalist.

They were all arraigned before a Magistrate Court in Fosu on Monday, charged with two counts of murder except Ogyatanaa who was charged with abetment.

The court presided over by Mr. Joseph Blay did not take their plea and remanded them into police custody until March 8, 2011.

They had no legal representation when the case was called.

According to ASP J.K. Ansu, Assin Fosu Divisional Crime Officer the deceased together with the accused persons except Ogyatanaa went to drink palm wine in a farm at Wawaase but whilst there the rains started pouring so some of the accused persons sought shelter at a nearby cottage.

After the rain, the Ayisah claimed he came back to the scene and saw Bondam and Fianoo lifeless bodies and that of the three dogs.

ASP Ansu said Ayisah raised an alarm and Yaw Owusu came around so he was asked to rush to Wawaase to inform the deceased family.

He said instead of informing the police about the incident, the accused persons went to the cottage of Ogyatanaa to get him to perform rituals after which the herbalist told them that it was lightning that struck and killed Bondam and Fianyo.

He said Ogyatanaa then asked the family members to take the bodies away for burial which they did.

On February 11, 2011 at about 8:30 pm police got hint that two bodies had been deposited at the St. Francis Catholic Hospital at Fosu with multiple cutlass wounds on their chests, heads and other parts of their bodies.

ASP Ansu said the police subsequently brought in a pathologist from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi to conduct autopsy and the results confirmed that Bondam and Fianyo were indeed hit with heavy objects.

According to the pathologist Bondam suffered severe neck burns, chest injuries with massive bleed from the chest cavity and there were indication of severe assault.

On the body of Fianyo, the pathologist reported that he suffered subdural bleed as a result of head injury and had also been heavily assaulted.
ASP Ansu said the matter is still under investigation.

Mills, JJ Cracks Widen

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday February 24, 2011.
The frosty relationship coupled with the yawning communication gap that exist between President John Evans Atta Mills and his ‘political godfather’ and founder of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Jerry John Rawlings appears to be widening by the day.

Jerry Rawlings seems to have finally given up on President Mills. “To some extent, it is true [the tension between Rawlings and Mills] because I keep telling him that he has surrounded himself with people who shouldn't be there. He has surrounded himself with people who keep stabbing the party and some of us in the back. I keep warning him that if he does not change, if he does not improve, he will be a one-term president. He is not listening now, and by the time he starts listening, I think it [will be] almost be too late. People are disillusioned with him and the people around him,” Mr Rawlings had told The Roots magazine in an interview as quoted in the latest edition of Africawatch magazine.

Ex-President Rawlings does not care if his comments create unnecessary confusion as to who is in charge of the country saying “they may or they may not. But I will say it because I did not come [to this interview] for my party or my president, I came for a principle. And so long as you step aside or you don't want to keep up with that principle, you will hear [from] me. I will talk.”

In its February 2011 issue titled “Ghana: How 2012 is shaping up”, the magazine dissected the political terrain focusing on the actions and inactions of both the NDC and NPP.

It said Ex-President Rawlings “plucked” President Mills from “obscurity” as a tax commissioner into political stardom and campaigned vigorously for him to win the 2008elections after two unsuccessful attempts but upon assumption of office the law Professor wanted to be his own man.

“It was a good idea but the process of getting himself out of Rawlings shadow was bungled by some of the President’s strategists who were more interested in protecting their own political space, and thereby sidelined and ignored Rawlings, making him a very angry and bitter man.”

Without Rawlings hitting the campaign trail for President Mills, it will be difficult for him to be re-elected, stating: “Most people like Rawlings because he speaks their language, even though he doesn’t live by it.”

In the magazine’s opinion tension between Presidents Rawlings and Mills has become “quite intense” and Mr. Rawlings does not hide it any longer and says the Ex-President’s fears are borne out of the fact the actions needed to save the NDC from electoral defeat might come too late.

President Mills’ preferred posture according to Africawatch seems to be “a measured calmness” but Vice-President John Dramani Mahama, thinks "it is an issue that creates difficulties for us [the NDC] because it gives the impression of a party that is not united and solid, and that can affect our chances electorally.”

“Though some of the concerns expressed by Rawlings
may be genuine, the President's men think that Rawlings’ open criticisms are not done in good faith.

They whisper that Rawlings’ wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman, will launch a challenge against Mills for the 2012 nomination at the party's next congress, and that Rawlings is only trying to make Mills unpopular in order to give an undue advantage to his wife,” Africawatch posits.

It believes it would be a wise idea for Mrs. Rawlings not to challenge President Mills in an NDC primary because if she does she may not survive the fight but also believe that if Mrs. Rawlings contests the primary and loses the “President’s candidacy will be weakened by Mr. Rawlings’ challenge.”

Another reality according to Africawatch that the NDC has to contend with is the President’s ailing health: “If he doesn’t get a good bill of health from his doctors, the president might not run for re-election. That possibility is very real and could be a nightmare for the NDC.”

If the President decides not to run for reasons of poor health, Vice-President John Mahama, Foreign Affairs Minister Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Agriculture Minister Kwesi Ahwoi among others are likely to join the fray apart from Mrs. Rawlings.

Africawatch believes the Vice President “has dramatically stepped up his fundraising, expanded his political operation and is laying the groundwork for a possible run and will throw his hat in the ring. He has a good personality but there are ethical and moral questions swirling around him.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ghana Paying for her democracy – Veep

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday February 22, 2011.
VICE PRESIDENT John Dramani Mahama says the donor community which previously funded the Electoral Commission (EC) to carry out its mandate is beginning to cut back that financial support because there is a perception that Ghana has come of age democratically.

“We have become victims of our own success and are paying dearly for it as we embark on our democratic journey. Because of our laudable democratic credentials our development partners do not bother too much about our democratic process but we still need them,” he said.

The Vice President raised this concern in Accra Friday when the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) organized a forum to enable ministers of state, politicians, academia and civil society organizations in the country interact with UK Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham who was visiting Ghana.

The visiting minister for Africa who is also the Member of Parliament for North West Norfolk spoke on the topic “Shared prosperity, shared security and shared values: a solid foundation for the future.”

The Vice President said development partners now prefer to fund health prevention programmes such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other socio-economic programmes rather than support the democratic process saying “about 70 per cent of the EC’s budget from donors has been cut.”

“This calls for concern because our democratic process must not be truncated. We all have to dialogue to ensure sustainability of the process and see how the EC can always be supported and encouraged to deliver,” he added.

He said the independence of the EC is crucial if Ghana is to consolidate her current democratic gains and charged the commission not to “let its guards down” adding “we need to constantly be on the EC to ensure that it maintains and improves upon the standards it has set for itself over the years.”

He said curbing election-related violence is a shared responsibility and not the burden of government alone noting that if the EC and other civil society organizations leave the responsibility of determining the democratic will of the people to politicians alone “we will always things around.”

Vice President Mahama said the role of the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) in the democratic process cannot be under estimated saying “we should continue to work together with the EC to build confidence in the entire electoral process.”

He said the poor organization of the recent local level elections is an attestation to the fact that “we cannot take things for granted and remain complacent that the EC can do it alone without everybody’s collaboration.”

Mr. Bellingham for his part stressed the need for the ruling party and members of the opposition to use dialogue to resolve issues and to ensure that there is always “no democratic deficit.”

Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, Minister of Foreign Affairs said Ghana and the UK have a strategic partnership which needs to improve for both countries and affirmed Ghana’s commitment towards sustenance of the current democratic dispensation.

Sherry Aryitey, Minister of Environment and Science said government is committed to formulating and implementing the necessary policies that would tackle the climate change menace.

Enoch Tei Mensah, Minister of Employment and Social Welfare bemoaned the high unemployment rate saying “we need to take pragmatic measures to tackle this problem while Hackman Owusu Agyemang, a former Foreign Minister and MP for New Juabeng North appealed passionately to the donor community not to cut back funding to the EC saying “please help us find money to fund our elections.”

MP cautions assembly members over chieftaincy

Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh is the MP for Sunyani East.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday February 22, 2011.
The Member of Parliament for Sunyani East, Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh has cautioned assembly members to ignore the temptations of dabbling in chieftaincy matters because it has the tendency to derail accelerated development.

“It is not within the powers of assembly members to install, enskin, destool or deskin any chief in Ghana because that is the preserve of the chieftaincy institution. Assembly members should not take sides in chieftaincy disputes but rather work to protect the interests of your community,” he said.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP gave the caution when he presented a paper at Nkoranza recently titled: “The district assembly concept and the assembly member.”
The two-day workshop was organized by the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) with sponsorship from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) for newly elected assembly members.

Mr. Ameyaw-Cheremeh said the idea behind the local governance concept is to deepen the process of decentralization saying “it is important for assembly members to ensure that assemblies operate effectively and efficiently to bring development to the people.”

Stephen Agyemang Badu, budget analyst with the Techiman Municipal Assembly who took participants through the workings of the District Assemblies Common Fund underscored the need for assembly members to ensure effective utilization of resources at their disposal.

Emmanuel Danso of the District Assemblies Common Fund, who spoke on how assembly members could utilize such funding, urged members to follow the guidelines for disbursing funds and also assist the assemblies in their revenue collection drive.

Isaac Osei-Antwi, former Chief Executive of the Techiman Municipal Assembly, who commented on the relationship between the assembly member and the chief executive, called on them to be tactful, committed, humane and respectful to ensure that the people enjoy the benefits of good governance.

Nana Okofo Agyapong II, Adontenhene of Nkoranza Traditional Area cautioned assembly members against undue politicization of issues since such tendencies could impede accelerated development.

Senior Programme Manager of KAS, Isaac Owusu-Mensah said the various communities need urgent and rapid development and that there is the need for assembly members to support government and other civil society organizations to make the country better.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Speak Against Gbagbo – UK Minister Tells Ghana

Henry Bellingham is the United Kingdom Minister for Africa.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday February 21, 2011.
The visiting United Kingdom Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham has said the Ghanaian leadership has every moral authority to speak out against Ivory Coast dictator Laurent Gbagbo who has decided not to relinquish power after losing an election.

“The Ghanaian leadership on democracy, religious tolerance, human rights and the rule of law stands out. You can speak with moral authority and experience and that is impossible to ignore or to discount as Western interference”, he explained.

Mr. Bellingham was speaking in Accra on Friday at an encounter organized for him by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) with Vice President John Dramani Mahama, Ministers of State, politicians, academia and civil society organizations all in attendance.

The visiting Minister for Africa who is also Member of Parliament for North West Norfolk in UK spoke on the topic “Shared prosperity, shared security and shared values: A solid foundation for the future.”

He said there will be about 20 elections this year on the continent and it was important for African leaders particularly those in the sub-region to collaborate to get former President Gbagbo to cede power to his rival Alhassane Quatarra who was declared winner by the Electoral Commission otherwise Mr. Gbagbo’s action could motivate others to misbehave.

“The situation in Ivory Coast makes it clear that the threat of violent undemocratic action by those who refuse to recognize the will of their people remains as real as ever.”

Asked about his reaction to President JEA Mills’ stance that Ghana should mind its own business with regards to the crises in Ivory Coast, Mr. Bellingham said: “I spoke to President Mills this morning and he reaffirmed Ghana’s commitment towards finding a peaceful solution to the challenge of undemocratic behaviour.

He said Ghana is committed towards the AU and ECOWAS Protocols on the Ivory Coast”
Praising Ghana for her democratic credentials, Mr. Bellingham said “former President Gbagbo’s actions can be held in stark relief to those of Ghana’s politicians. Your last election was one of the most closely contested I have heard of, coming down to a few thousands of votes. Yet both sides were clear that there are no winners when leaders put their own interests ahead of those of their people.”

“It is not just economic achievements that set Ghana out as a model for the region. Ghana’s prosperity is founded upon good governance, rule of law and is rightly held up as beacon of democracy in the region and across the continent – and it is not just saying it. President Obama’s first visit to sub-Saharan Africa was to Ghana for precisely this reason.”

He commended Ghana for making her voice heard in the Climate Change debate and urged them to keep “building upthis momentum”.

The Minister for Africa traced the history of UK/Ghana relationship saying “there is so much that binds Ghana and the UK: our people-to-people links, our shared values of democracy and rule of law, our aspirations for prosperity and security and our deep and genuine desire to tackle the world’s climate change dilemma.”

He said Ghana is one of UK’s priority markets in Africa and praised the government for weathering the global economic downturn far better than Europe and the United States.

When he took his turn, Vice President Mahama expressed the government’s appreciation to the UK for continuously supporting Ghana’s development programmes saying “we note with appreciation that this years this year alone the UK government is to give Ghana 36 million pounds from DFID to support the county’s budget.”

Friday, February 18, 2011

Investigator testifies in Ex-MP Girlfriend’s trial

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By William Yaw owusu

Friday February 18, 2011
The investigator in the case of three people standing trial for allegedly conspiring to rob J.B. Danquah Adu, Ex-MP for Abuakwa North and Deputy Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs under the erstwhile Kufuor administration yesterday appeared before an Accra Fast Track High Court to give testimony.

Sergeant Yaw Gyan of the East Legon Police in Accra told the court presided over by Justice Mustapha Habib Logoh that when he got to the crime scene he saw the Ex-MP’s pair of shoes, two mobile phones, car keys and two kitchen knives among others.

Narteley Nettey Yirenkyiwaa aka Awura Ama, 24, the ex-Minister’s estranged girlfriend is standing trial together with Charles Antwi and Nana Yaw Ampaw; the police say the three conspired to rob the JB at the East Legon apartment of the lady on August 26, 2010.

The three have pleaded not guilty to three counts of conspiracy, causing harm and robbery and have been in police custody since August 2010.

Led in evidence by Paul Asibi Abariga a Sate Attorney, Sgt. Gyan who is the seventh Prosecution Witness (PW7) told the court that when he led a team of investigators to the apartment of Yirenkyiwaa at American House in East Legon he saw blood stains on the floor of the room.

During cross examination by Kwabena Addo Attuah counsel for Yirenkyiwaa and CK Mintah counsel for Antwi and Ampaw respectively, Sgt. Gyan denied that saw the Ex-MP’s pair of trousers which is a bone of contention between the prosecution and defense counsel in Yirenkyiwaa’s room.

Counsel: When did you visit the crime scene?

Witness: I was there in the afternoon of August 25, 2010.

Counsel: Are you aware that the alleged incident happened on August 26 and that it is not possible for you to have visited the apartment on August 25 as you are saying?

Witness: Sorry my Lord. That was a mistake. I went there on August 26.

Counsel: You are not a credible witness

Witness: I am credible.

Counsel: When visiting the scene, who did you go with.

Witness: Myself, A1 (Yirenkyiwaa), A2 (Antwi) and officers from CID Headquarters.

Counsel: I suggest to you that you went there with other persons apart from the ones you have just mentioned.

Witness: I was not there with other persons apart from the ones you have just mentioned.

Counsel: The complainant’s (JB) brother called Twum Barimah was there and you introduced him to the accused as the Police Chief of East Legon.

Witness: No my Lord. I did not do that.

Counsel: Did the accused go into the room with you?

Witness: Yes, my Lord.

Counsel: I put it to you that you went into the room, ransacked the place with the complainant’s brother before bringing the accused persons inside.

Witness: No, we went there with them.

Counsel: I am further putting it to you that you went inside first to arrange the place before bringing the accused persons.

Witness: No, my Lord.

Sgt. Gyan told the court that he was not the one who preferred the charges against the accused persons but said he took their caution statements.

Immediately the witness was discharged by the court, Mr. Abariga moved an application to have the accused person remanded into prison custody, claiming the police was finding it difficult to bring them to court from the Police Headquarters.

Messrs Attuah and Mintah vehemently opposed the application questioning the rationale in moving their clients from the Police Headquarters which is closer to the courts to Nsawam Prisons which is far away.

Justice Logoh dismissed the application, describing it as frivolous.

The facts of the case are that on the morning of August 26 this year, Yirenkyiwaa allegedly called JB to meet her at Protea Hotel. When they met, she asked for financial help from him and they agreed to meet later at her house.

When JB got to her house, he met Yirenkyiwaa outside, who took him into the house. They then proceeded to her bedroom where she allegedly undressed him.

The prosecution said when she had done this, the other two accused persons came out of the bathroom where they were hiding and started taking pictures, after which they attacked the complainant with a knife and took his pair of trousers which contained GH¢1000.

The struggling and shouting by the complainant in the room attracted the watchman at the house who together with some other tenants arrested Yirenkyiwaa and Antwi but Ampong escaped and was arrested later.

Sitting continues on March 1, 2011.


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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday February 18, 2011
The case of two friends and three dogs who were mysteriously killed after allegedly being struck by lightning last week has taken a new twist.

A pathologist brought in from Kumasi by the Assin Fosu Divisional Police Command to perform an autopsy on the bodies of Yaw Bondam, 33 and Nicolas Fianoo, 25 made preliminary conclusions that the two were hit by heavy objects and may not have been struck by lightning.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Alhassan Sabaliko, Assin Fosu Divisional Commander told Daily Guide yesterday that the police was putting in place the necessary measures to arrest and prosecute those involved such a heinous crime.

He said there are potential suspects and witnesses that the police will targeting adding “now that we have the confirmation from the pathologist, we will swing into action.”

Assin Wawaase, a farming community near Assin Fosu in the Central Region was thrown into a state of shock and mourning following the mysterious deaths of the two friends together with their three dogs.

The two Bondam and Fianoo were found lying dead beside their dogs on Thursday, February 10, 2011 following a heavy downpour that hit most parts of the country.

DSP Sabaliko, when reached by Daily Guide on Tuesday confirmed the tragic incident and said the police was not ruling out any foul motives even though majority of the people were concluding that lightning may have been the cause of the deaths.

“Majority of the people are saying that thunder and lightning may have struck them and their dogs to death but we are also not ruling out any foul play,” he had said.

DSP Sabaliko said the incident occurred about 15 kilometers south of Assin Fosu, the district capital and noted that it was not the first time such a bizarre incident was happening in the area.

“After a thunder storm there was heavy rain on Thursday and our initial investigations showed that the two men and their three dogs were found in the bush at a place called Bediadua near Wawaase”

According to Seth Mantey, a local reporter with Nkwa FM in Assin Fosu, the eyewitnesses in the area claimed the two were killed by thunder and lightning and quoted an a man called Yaw Owusu as saying he went to the bush with the deceased but was not at the scene where the thunder struck.

He quoted Yaw Owusu as saying that the deceased after the days’ work decided to go for palm wine at about 11:30 am while he remained in his cocoa farm after which the rains started pouring amidst thunder and lightning.

He said after the rain, he came across the corpses on his way home and quickly raised an alarm.

According to some members of the community, Bondam and Fianoo are well-known alleged notorious thieves who steal from farms at the least opportunity.

When contacted on Tuesday, Ofori Asiamah, Unit Committee Chairman and Nkosuohene of Wawaase had said on reaching the scene they saw two human bodies, three dead dogs, a catapult and a shirt.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Earth Tremor Rocks Accra

Picture1: John Agyei Duodu, Director of Geological Survey Department showing the old equipment. Picture2 showing the new equipment.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday February 17, 2011.
Earth tremor hit certain parts of Accra in the early hours of but unfortunately there was no tracking devise to pinpoint the epicenter or where the tremor came from and its impact.

Residents said they were woken by the tremor between 4-4:30am in areas around Kasoa, Weija, Tantra Hills, Airport Residential Area, East Legon, Achimota among others earthquake prone areas in the city.

Accra is located within the earthquake zone and analysts are worried that no step had been taken to sensitized residents in the event of emergency situation.

To make matters worse, no seismologist could tell how yesterday’s natural happening which shook suburbs in north western parts of Accra for few seconds came about.

According to the Geological Survey Department (GSD), the country has been withou
t any useful earthquake detecting equipment for the past three years.

John Agyei Duodu confirmed to Daily Guide in Accra yesterday that there was indeed shaking of the earth but said nobody could tell where it originated from or how it happened.

He said the government last year supported the GSD to acquire digital seismic equipment which are earthquake tracking machines to replace the manual ones being used, adding “we have been operating the analogue for many years until it became defunct three years ago.”

He said they have put on tender for the construction of two-storey Seismic/Earthquake Central Observatory in the Achimota Forest, West Legon Accra saying “if the government can allow us to do single sourcing to facilitate the project, it would help us a lot.”

He said they considered Achimota Forest because there is no encroachment and frequency interference among other factors that could hinder their operations.

He said with the arrival of the new Seismic equipment, the GSD has relocated all the seven manual ones except in Kukurantumi, Eastern Region saying “we have further programmes to extend our stations to Bui, Axim and other parts of Northern Ghana.”

“Once the installation has not been complete we cannot give you what exactly happened last night. Anybody who provides information about this tremor will be doing a guess work and not based on any scientific proof.”

Mr. Duodu said that the old machine had its own problems but the news observatory center will look entirely different and provide on the spot results.

He bemoaned the lack of support for the department from the corporate sector saying “they rely on our analysis to do their explorations but they leave the government alone to shoulder our burden.”


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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursdat February 17, 2011.
Samia Yaaba Nkrumah, the only daughter of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President is seething with anger following a decision by the Convention People’s Party (CPP) to charge what she described as exhorbitant filing fees for members willing to contest national executive positions in the party.

The Central Committee of the CPP on February 10, 2011 approved filing fees for regional and national executive positions in the impending national delegates congress, but Samia, CPP’s only MP is not happy and has called on CPP supporters to speak out against the “hihg fees” so it can be reduced.

The fee for the national chairman has been pegged at GHC 20,000.00 while that of Vaice Chair, Treasurer and General Secretary are going for GHC 15,000.00 each.
Samia is contesting for the national Chairman position while Kwabena Bomfeh aka Kabila CPP National Youth Organiser who is Samia’s close ally is gunning for the General Secretary position.

Speaking to Citi FM in Accra yesterday, Samia said “I think we need to do what is right with the way decisions are made in the party. Some of us have tried for the fees to be reduced and would wish to see them further down.”

“I think I will urge many of our supporters to speak out against these high fees. It is time we do things very differently within our party. We need to appeal to young people because many of them will not be able to afford these exorbitant fees. We need more people to contest so we should be able to accept them”, she added.

She also want the fees to be rebated for prospective female aspirants to enable many of them to participate in the party’s activities.

“We know that most of our women have less economic capabilities and definitely we need more women to correct the imbalance in the political representation between men and women. Women make up more than fifty percent of our population and that is a good move by the two main parties and we would want to follow suit”.

But the CPP National Chairman, Ladi Nylander disagreed with Samia and said the fees are reasonable.

“The filing fee was something that was decided, debated and recommended by the Central Committee. So in its wisdom, I would imagine that the Central Committee thinks it is right. Everybody will have something to say about the price of something", he told Citi FM.

"Obviously, there are those who will think it’s too high. But it is the Central Committee that took this decision, so whether we like it or not, that is what we are all faced with and have to work with” he insisted.

An internal memorandum announcing the fees said “I wish to confirm that, at the Central Committee meeting held on Thursday February 10, 2011, the following filing fees were approved for candidates who wish to contest for national and regional office positions at the next regional conferences and national delegates congress respectively

The memo said the fees for national chairman has been pegged at GHC 20,000.00 while that of Vice Chair, Treasurer and General Secretary are going for GHC 15,000.00 each.

It said any member willing to contest for the position of Organizer will pay GHC 5,000.00 as filing fee.

For those interest in Regional Executive positions, the Chairman pays GHC 1,000.00 while Vice Chair, Regional Secretary and Treasurer will pay GHC 800.00 each.

The said all others are supossed to pay GHC 500.00.

It said nominations for regional positions opens between Wednesday February 16 to Monday February 25, 2011 while that of national positions opens from Monday March 7 to Friday March 25, 2011.

The memo had asked Regional Officers to supervise constituency elections and submit reports by Monday, March 7, 2011.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lightning Kills 2 Pals, 3 Dogs

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By William Yaw Owusu
Assin Wawaase, a farming community near Assin Fosu in the Central Region has been thrown into a state of shock and mourning following the mysterious deaths of two friends together with their three dogs.

The two, Yaw Bondam, 33 and Nicolas Fianoo, 25 were found lying dead beside their dogs on Thursday, February 10, 2011 following a heavy downpour that hit most parts of the country.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Alhassan Sabaliko, Assin Fosu Divisional Commander confirmed the tragic incident to Daily Guide and said “the police was investigating the circumstances leading to the deaths.”

He said since the deaths which occurred there have been different versions as to what might have happened and added “majority of the people are saying that thunder and lightning may have struck them and their dogs to death but we are also not ruling out any foul play.”

DSP Sabaliko said the incident occurred about 15 kilometers south of Assin Fosu, the district capital and noted that it was not the first time such a bizarre incident was happening in the area.

“After a thunder storm there was heavy rain on Thursday and our initial investigations showed that the two men and their three dogs were found in the bush at a place called Bediadua near Wawaase”

According to Seth Mantey, a local reporter with Nkwa FM in Assin Fosu, the eyewitnesses in the area claimed the two were killed by thunder and lightning and quoted an a man called Yaw Owusu as saying he went to the bush with the deceased but was not at the scene where the thunder struck.

He quoted Yaw Owusu as saying that the deceased after the days’ work decided to go for palm wine at about 11:30 am while he remained in his cocoa farm after which the rains started pouring amidst thunder and lightning.

He said after the rain, he came across the corpses on his way home and quickly raised an alarm.

According to some members of the community, Bondam and Fianoo are well-known alleged notorious thieves who steal from farms at the least opportunity.

When contacted, Ofori Asiamah, Unit Committee Chairman and Nkosuohene of Wawaase said on reaching the scene they saw two human bodies, three dead dogs, a catapult and a shirt.

The bodies have since been deposited at Assin Fosu Catholic Hospital for autopsy.


Prof Yaw Agyeman Badu is the Rector of GIMPA

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday February 15, 2011.
Baring any hitch, students of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), at Green Hill, Accra will embark on a peaceful march to protest the new school fees paying policy introduced by the school.

Under the new policy, students are paying the full fees of $1025 before they are registered but the students say they will protest on Wednesday February 16, 2011 to press home their demand for the decision to be dropped.

A news release issued in Accra and signed by Efua Hiagbe, a member of the Student’s Representative Council (SRC) said “the day has been declared ‘Red Day of Mourning’ by the General Assembly of the Student’s Representative Council.”

The release said Norman Tetteh, SRC President will lead the march from the Students Car Park to the office of the Rector, Professor Yaw Agyeman Badu where he will present the petition on behalf of the students.

“Previously students of the institute were registered upon payment of half the amount and were given two weeks to end of semester examinations to settle the rest.

This semester however, school authorities have refused to register even those who have paid 80% of the total fees. The SRC after several pleas to the administration which fell on deaf ears had no choice but to act accordingly.”

“Wednesday's demonstration would therefore seek to draw the attention of the school authorities to the fact that most students in the school are parents who pay their children fees as well have other obligations they fulfill. It is therefore unfair on the part of the authorities to demand full payment of fees considering the harsh economic times we are living in.”

Norman Tetteh, SRC President said students have been advised to put on either red or black attire on Wednesday for the protest march.

When reached for her comment Mrs. Juliana Appiah Director of Students Affairs said she has not been notified by the students on their intended march.

However when Daily Guide reached Mr. Tetteh again he said what Mrs. Appiah said could not be correct be he personally handed the letter informing the authorities of their intention to protest to her personally on February 4, 2011.

He said they also sent copies to the Rector, all the deans and other relevant bodies of the institute.

Aspirant in double registration

Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan is the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday February 15, 2011.
The Electoral Commission (EC) appears to be turning a blind eye on a petition to investigate alleged double registration of an aspiring assembly member at Agavenya Electoral Area in the Yilo Krobo Constituency in the Eastern Region.

The suspect, who used the names of Stanley Tetteh and Stanley Tetteh Doku respectively in the registration, is walking free without the EC or any of the security agencies questioning him and he intends to contest a re-run of the District Assembly polls scheduled for today.

In his petition of February 10, 2011, a copy of which was sent to the EC and the police, Michael Jackson Bruku who was also a candidate in the recent District Assembly polls complained about the attitude of the police and the EC in looking into the matter which could have led to the disqualification of Stanley.

He said at Minee Prep. School Polling Station in Somanya his opponent (Stanley) registered with the name Stanley Tetteh Doku aged 28 with Voter ID 24215807 while at the Apostolic Primary School Polling Station also in Somanya he registered with the name Stanley Tetteh, aged 24 with Voter ID 12263597.

Mr. Bruku said the election is being re-run because in the first contest on December 31, 2010 there was a tie as both candidates polled 149 each.

“In spite of reports sent to draw the EC’s attention to my opponent’s activities, the commission has failed to act. The police who were also petitioned have turned a blind eye to the issue. None of them even acknowledged receipt of my petition”.

He said “I have followed up to the EC’s regional office in Koforidua on the matter but nobody gave me any concrete information. They only called to tell me to prepare for a re-run.”

When contacted via telephone, Eric Mensah-Bonsu, Deputy Regional Director of EC confirmed the said petition against Stanley but said Mr. Bruku was advised to seek redress in the law courts.

“We cannot annul election disputes unless the courts order us to do so,” adding “even if his opponent wins the election; he has the right to overturn the results in the law courts.”

He said it was up to the police to investigate the matter and all the EC needs to do is to assist the police to get to the bottom of the matter.

He said under the Election Petitions and other Legal Proceedings Regulations nothing stops a candidate or an electorate seeking redress from the courts and the EC is enjoined to support the courts to come out with the truth.

Assembly Members urged to be focused

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday February 15, 2011.
A Senior Programme Manager with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), Isaac Owusu-Mensah has tasked newly-elected assembly members to ignore partisanship and work hard to bring accelerated development to the various communities.

He said even though most assembly members in many ways received support from the various political parties, it was imperative for them to seek the interest of the people before other political considerations, adding, “You have an opportunity to make a mark for posterity.”

Mr. Owusu-Mensah was speaking at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region during a two-day workshop organized by the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) with support from KAS to explain the concept of local governance and rural development to newly-elected assembly members.

He said the various communities need urgent and rapid development and there was the need for assembly members to support government and other civil society organizations to make the country better.

Presenting a paper on “The Assembly Member and the Assembly System”, Gloria Ofori-Boadu, a gender activist, who was a facilitator at the function, urged the assembly members- elect to make proposals and inputs during the preparation of assembly’s budget.

She said “as a representative of the people, the assembly member is expected to hold periodic meetings with the electorate to know their needs and present them to the general assembly for redress.”

She said the time has come for assembly members to provide adequate information about their communities to the assemblies, lobby the assemblies on behalf of the communities and initiate and take part in communal and other developmental activities.

Emmanuel Danso of the District Assemblies Common Fund, who spoke on how assembly members could utilize common funds, urged members to follow the guidelines for disbursing funds and also assist the assemblies in the revenue collection drive.

Stephen Agyemang-Badu of the Techiman Municipal Assembly said many communities are endowed with human and material resources for development but it is only those who exhibit dynamic leadership that can bring change to the people.

Isaac Osei-Antwi, former Chief Executive of the Techiman Municipal Assembly, who commented on the relationship between the assembly member and the chief executive, called on them to be tactful, committed, humane and respectful to ensure that the people enjoy the benefits of good governance.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Media ownership by politicians dangerous

Prof Karikari (Middle) launching the document. With him are Kofi Asamoah (left), Ransford Tetteh (3rd left), Kofi Bonney (Right).

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday February 11, 2011.
Professor Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) says the rate at which politicians are acquiring the rights to own media houses is dangerous and must be checked.

“In Ghana currently, almost every media outlet is owned by a politician. This is dangerous because it is this situation that has plunged the Ivory Coast into chaos. The politicians over there have acquired media rights and are using journalists, who should know better, to destroy themselves.”

Prof. Karikari was speaking in Accra yesterday at the launch of a media study report on the wages and working conditions of media workers in the country.

The research was conducted by Labour Research and Policy Institute of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) to highlight the unacceptable working conditions of journalists in the country.

Prof. Karikari said high ranking politicians in the country are exploiting the unemployment situation to engage all sorts of people majority of whom are not well educated, and all they push them to do is to attack their opponents whilst protecting their parochial interests.

He said politicians owning media outlets are no news; however the dimension it is taking currently should be a source of concern for everybody saying “the 2008 elections showed clearly how the media can be misused when politicians are running them.”

“The current situation is unacceptable. I would suggest that the authorities take a second look at our media laws and if possible bar politicians from owning media houses.”

Prof. Karikari said the media is politicizing every national issue leading to undue polarization in the country saying “every issue has been reduced to NDC/NPP yet the people are bigger than these parties.”

“Even if they want to talk about plantains, the media will bring NDC and NPP activists to discuss the issue instead of the right person which is the market woman.”

He said the time has come for media owners to employ and motivate journalists “with dignity, self confidence and self respect to uplift the professionalism that we are all seeking to bring into our work.”

The Professor said: “the media industry is expanding very fast. There is unprecedented competition. It is therefore prudent for media owners to employ qualified journalists who can enhance sales, prestige and all the other things that can happen to a media house.”

Journalists who collect money and other incentives before publishing stories lower their self esteem and output thereby further lowering the standards of journalism saying “sometimes when you pick certain newspapers you can see clearly that somebody is holding the editor’s pen”

Ransford Tetteh, President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) said upholding the ethics of the profession should be a responsibility of every journalist, but regretted that many of the members had refused to take advantage of the numerous training programmes to upgrade themselves.

He said the effort to unionize the GJA to enable journalists to bargain for improved working conditions is on course but said “we are facing challenges from some media owners who are not happy about our decision to turn the GJA into a union.”

Mr. Tetteh “you cannot improve standards when people are not paid well. Some media owners issue out identity cards to their staff and send them on the streets without salaries and in the process these journalists do all sorts of things to survive to the detriment of professional standards.”

“We are always seen fighting on behalf of others yet we cannot take good care of ourselves. The way we enter into the profession is also a huge impediment in the effort to uplift standards.”

He commended the TUC for their effort to ensure that journalists get decent working conditions and promised that the GJA would work hard to protect the interests of journalists.

Kofi Asamoah, General Secretary of TUC bemoaned the high number of journalists who are engaged in poor working conditions saying “most employment relations are not covered by the dictates of labour laws”.

He urged the GJA to facilitate the plans to turn the association into trades union to enable them to get the best for members.

Kofi Bonney, Chairman of TUC who moderated the launching said the role of the media in the country’s democratic engagements should never be taken for granted.

No Duplication of Functions between EC, NCCE – Afari-Gyan

Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan (left) and Dr. Laari Bimi (right) are Chairmen of EC and NCCE respectively.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday February 11, 2011.
The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan has dispelled the notion that there is duplication of functions between the commission and its sister organization, the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE).

He said, “I see in the public education mandates of the NCCE and the EC as set out in our constitution, no duplication but complimentary functions. In this respect, the popular view that the role of the EC is to educate people on the how of elections and the role of the NCCE is to educate people on why of elections is simply wrong. There is no such division of labour.”

Dr. Afari-Gyan was speaking at a roundtable in Accra on Wednesday organized by the Institute of Economic Affair (IEC), a policy think-tank as part of the efforts to consolidate the country’s democratic process.

The event, which was under the theme “Duplication of functions between independent institutions of the constitution, with particular reference to the NCCE and the EC in their education mandate,” was attended by politicians and a host of dignitaries from the academia, civil society.

The EC Boss said the commission is mandated to educate people not only on the electoral process, but also its purpose saying “that clearly takes the education beyond the how of election.”

He said electoral or voter education has three aspects, which he termed as “publicity, know-how and value-orientation”, adding “beyond concerns relating to the general electorate, electoral education should also target specific groups for effective participation in the electoral process.”

He said for instance that security personnel must know the limits of their authority during electoral exercises while the journalists must also be conversant with the electoral system to be able to give accurate or authentic information.

Dr. Afari-Gyan said transparency, which is the hallmark of good election administration, requires much more than setting up a transparent framework for doing one’s work or doing things in the open, noting “Direct one-on-one, person-to-person, institution-to-institution dialogue, consultations and negotiation are often necessary to achieve the sort of consensus, confidence, trust and collaborative relations.”

He also made it clear that the commission will no longer pay for the services of security agencies deployed to monitor elections, saying “we have already informed the National Security Council to budget for them.”

Dr. Laari Bimi, NCCE Chairman bemoaned the situation where the practice of democracy has been reduced solely to elections, stressing that civic education should be deepened for the public to know more about their civic responsibilities.

During the open forum, Sam Okudzeto, a legal practitioner, said politicians are taking advantage of the high illiteracy rate in the country to incite sections of the public to cause chaos in the country, especially during elections.

“They attend political rallies in their numbers yet when it comes to electoral education they shy away from such important assignments,” he said.

Professor Paaku Kludze, a retired Supreme Court judge and senior fellow of IEA, who moderated the event, said duplication of functions is a wide question whose resolution encompasses different organs of government.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

CRC meets Operators of Constitution

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday February 8, 2011
All current and past officials who have directly operated the 1992 Republican Constitution are being consulted by the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) in order to tap their expertise for possible constitutional amendment.

They include all former and sitting Presidents and their Vice, past and present Speakers of Parliament, Chiefs Justices, retired Supreme Court judges as wells as leaders of all political parties that polled more than 0.5 per cent during the 2008 general elections.

The commission has decided to set aside the month of February 2011, to collate the views of these officers and so far, Dr. Edward Mahama and Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, flag bearers of People’s National Convention (PNC) and Convention People’s Party (CPP) during the 2008 general elections had made their submissions.

As at press time yesterday, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was expected to take his turn but Mrs. Justice Joyce Bamford Addo, Speaker of Parliament, Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi Hughes, former Speaker and Justice Francis Kpegah, a retired Supreme Court judge had made their submissions.

Other important personalities expected to also contribute to the exercise include former Presidents JJ Rawlings and JA Kufuor as well as former Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama and Chief Justice Georgina Wood.

In an interview with Daily Guide in Accra yesterday, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, Executive Secretary of the CRC said the commission is focusing on such important public office holders because their terms of reference are defined by the constitution.

“We write to them to make their submissions and after agreeing on the venue we then hear them in camera. The idea is to have peculiar insight into those who have operationalized the Constitution.”

He said “we have direct interface with them, know their minds. We look at their areas of expertise but if after everything they have other suggestions, we hear them.”

Dr. Atuguba said the commission has already concluded collating all public views except for those from the Diaspora as well as those making brail submissions.

“We received about 75,000 submissions and we have already come out with the top 25 issues that Ghanaians think need a second attention.”

On the top 25 issues submitted, there appear to be consensus among Ghanaians that the laws regulating the executive need pressing review than any of the other arms of government.

Issues such as the payment of ex-gratia and emoluments of former Presidents and public office holders, whether or not ex-Presidents should be exempted from taxes, the number of ministers to be appointed from Parliament as well as the number of ministers to be appointed by the President have come up strongly for consideration.

Furthermore, the decoupling of the Attorney General’s Department from the role of the Minister of Justice, when a sitting Vice President leaves the party on whose ticket he was voted into power, whether or not Presidential and Parliamentary elections should be held at separate dates have also been proposed.

Not all, the issue of whether or not all Supreme Court judges should hear all cases, whether or not there should be a Constitutional Court to hear only constitutional issues, whether or not the position of District Chief Executives should be elected and the President appointing 30 per cent of members of an assembly are also on the bill.

Also, the issue of whether or not the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) cannot investigate an issue without an identifiable complainant, whether or not to give CHRAJ the powers to prosecute corruption cases, whether or not chiefs can partake in active partisan politics, whether or not the retirement age should be maintained featured prominently during the deliberation.

Finally, the issue of whether or not the indemnity clause of the Transitional Provisions should be repealed and whether or not the death penalty should be abolished has attracted public comment for the attention of the commission.

Monday, February 07, 2011

From Frying Pan to Fire: The Kayatie Journey

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Article & pictures by William Yaw Owusu & Atkilt Geleta

Saturday February 5, 2011.
HUNDREDS OF young people mainly from northern parts of Ghana make dream moves down south in search of non-existent jobs and other economic opportunities but whilst in Accra and other cities, they begin to realise that all is not rosy after all.

Jamila Sulemana, 25 is one of several hundred young women who embarked on a “journey of hope” to seek sanctuary from the harsh economic conditions up north.

She tells DAILY GUIDE that as she travels down south from her Tumu hometown in the Upper West Region, all she is thinking about is to “work hard in Accra and save some money to feed my twins who are in the care of my mother.”

Porters known in local parlance as Kayayie have become human couriers that roam Accra, especially the Central Business District (CBD), bearing all the loads and indignity of a pitiless city.

A day in the life of the Kayayo begins at the slightest ray of light from the morning sun and ends when all the noise and dirt have settled after dark.

They are identified by their sweat-soaked glinting bodies. The mothers among them are normally lightly clothed and sometimes strap up with a thin calico to hold their emaciated babies to their bodies.

Their swollen feet tread the rugged terrain of the city; fighting the existing hazards with sheer human endurance as they walk along the broken walkways and roads.

They live in the slums of Accra, places where survival is the only element they are forced to pursue. A majority of them are nursing mothers and their babies go through the same ordeal.

The areas they live in are sprawling communities of shacks created out of necessity rather than deliberate urban planning. These unplanned communities or slums lack the basic amenities like sanitary facilities.

They share single rooms that they are crammed into like sardines. They pay exorbitant fees as weekly rent, ranging between GH¢20 and GH¢25.

Their babies go through hell, routinely having to wake up between 4:30 and 5:00am daily except maybe Sundays. The children are deprived the basic rights of a decent living, education and health.

“You have no option but to join your colleagues very early in the morning, comb the streets looking for loads to carry in order to earn some money. You cannot survive if you are lazy. Everyone in this trade is working hard but the income is very low,” Jamila says.

On days when business is good Jamila says she can earn between GH¢3 and GH¢5 but on the average, the highest a Kayayo could earn in a day is GH¢2.

“In the past you could get between GH¢10 and GH¢15 but nowadays it is difficult because we are too many. Business people do not come to the markets to buy as they used to do,” she says indicating the biting effect of the economic crunch.

Mohammed Salifu together with others has set up a small organization called Kayayo Youth Association to coordinate and see to the welfare of all Kayayie in the metropolis.

He tells DAILY GUIDE from the association’s modest office at Old Fadama in Agbogbloshie, Accra “we have 12 branches in all the major markets in Accra. We want to coordinate their activities to ensure that they are somehow safe.”

He says: “Our goal is to ensure that they are safe and also to sensitize them on the need to return home but we want to give them vocational training before they go back.”

He says the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) being established to bring development to the north should target and empower the youth to stem migration to the south.

Jamila says, “As you move around with loads people use all sorts of unprintable language for you. Sometimes you feel like you are not a human being. They treat you with contempt, disdain and scorn. You can be in a bad mood the whole day.”

“We carry heavy loads yet owners of the loads do not appreciate our effort. They insist on paying paltry fees for our services but because you have nobody to speak for you, you accept it as it is.”

“Sometimes when a load is available, the owner insists on allowing young girls among us to carry them. The idea is to cheat them because they know an older girl would challenge them. You can carry a box of tomatoes to cover about two miles only to be given GH¢1 for the service.”

“In the course of your work if any accident occurs and your customer’s goods are destroyed, you are not spared. The owner makes sure you pay for the damaged goods, otherwise it will land you in a police cell.”

“Three weeks ago Khadija, one of our colleagues, died at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital after a box of tomatoes she was carrying fell on her. The owner of the load immediately asked another Kayayo to carry the load. She left Khadija to die. Doctors later said her spinal cord got damaged,” she lamented.

At sunset, the curtain is drawn on the day's work and the stage is set for a more terrifying scenario which awaits them in the slums. Some get raped while others are robbed and physically abused.

“Sometime, when you wake up you find out that criminals have expertly cut your clothing around your abdomen to remove either your money, mobile phone or any personal effects. Those who are not lucky are raped. You do not know how they do it but we are suffering at the hands of these bandits,” she grieves.

Asked about her current intentions, Jamila echoed what the majority of Kayayie have been saying: “I would gladly go back to resettle in my village if I can get a bit of support. I now realise that it is not worth embarking on such a journey. It is dangerous and wasteful and does not serve any purpose.”

The Migration Issue
There is a huge developmental gap between the northern and southern regions. Inadequate and inaccessible education and limited employment opportunities drive proactive young people to the south in search of better standards of living.

“It starts with an assumption and it grows into a belief and a possibility” says Frank Doyi of Amnesty International, “so they come in search of, we say, unavailable jobs.”

Additionally, agriculture is the sole source of income for most families in the north, but recent rainfall patterns and extended periods of dryness during the Harmattan, followed by periodic rains and sporadic flooding, have diminished agricultural opportunities. In a farming culture where child bearing is seen as an effective social safety net, large families are left financially burdened.

Protracted conflicts in the northern regions also compound the migration issue.
There are also cultural, tribal and traditional motives for relocating. Some young women flee forced marriages, while others seek adventure in metropolitan areas. A few claim to have fled from witches in their home communities.

With limited or no education, and lacking skills in specific trades, young women find work carrying loads for peanuts in Accra and other major cities.

Kayayei fill a crucial vacuum in overly congested city centers and market areas where transporting goods proves difficult or at times impossible by vehicles and wheel barrows. The porters can flexibly navigate between cars, stalls, pedestrians and buildings with goods placed on their heads. With a basic knowledge of Twi, they are able to secure work in the markets without any application.

Consequently, the business community has built a dependence on the female porters, a comparatively inexpensive form of transport relative to taxis and trucks. With the demand for more workers, increasing numbers of young women have moved south.

The AMA Factor
Conditions in Accra are hardly welcoming for Kayayei. Ninety per cent of Kayayei reside in Accra’s largest slum - Old Fadama – popularly referred to as Sodom and Gomorrah, a name which Amnesty’s Frank Doyi says was ascribed to the area “in an effort to dehumanize and degrade its residents.”

City authorities have made multiple attempts to decongest the area. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) is determined to forcibly remove or relocate the more than 79, 000 occupants, some of whom have lived in the area for more than 30 years.
Repeated forced eviction attempts have been made in the past few years. Civil society groups and NGOs have intervened on the slum dwellers behalf.

“The last time they went on a sit down strike, businesses stalled within the city. People couldn’t buy,” says Abdul- Mujeeb Salifu of People’s Dialogue on Human Settlements, stressing the importance, numbers and organizational capacity of Kayayei.

Paradoxically, while the AMA has been trying to remove slum dwellers including Kayayei from the city, it has been collecting daily tolls from them. However, it does not provide even the most basic services to assist with their living and working conditions.

They have become a vital component in the chain of distribution of goods and an indispensable part of the local economy yet due to their large numbers they are officially and popularly regarded as a nuisance.

Mensah Owusu, Programmes Coordinator at People’s Dialogue says: “Here’s a case where the city is trying to get rid of these people because they’re considered a nuisance meanwhile it continues to collect tolls and other forms of taxes so it’s hypocrisy.”

Human Rights Violations
The policies formulated to facilitate decent work among Ghanaians including the Kayayei exposes the government’s failure to adhere to international human rights standards.

The conditions under which the Kayayei operate are a clear violation of provisions in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which Ghana has signed and ratified.

Also, Ghana has committed itself to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. As such, government has an obligation to promote the achievement of decent work and respect the rights of its citizens to full employment and fulfill its commitment to the MDGs.

Amnesty’s Frank Doyi argues that the MDG goals “have to be planned for, well-orchestrated and put into an effective policy that can be implemented so we can achieve results.”

Way Forward
The Kayayei are a productive and industrious group making vital contributions to the business sector. They are a tax paying group who government has a responsibility to be accountable to.

There’s a misconception that they are disposable, yet much of the city’s business activity is reliant on them. The Kayayei’s informal business activity compliments formal businesses.

“Without the informal sector, the formal sector cannot survive and vice versa. Here we can look at the issue of Kayayei as an example,” says Mensah Owusu of People’s Dialogue.

The Kayayei, their community and the organizations that work with them all stress the need to promote dialogue between city authorities and Kayayei.

Kayayei Youth Association, People’s Dialogue and Amnesty Intentional have all suggested alterative income generation schemes including vocational training centers, continuing education and micro-finance schemes.

One-Legged Driver Nabbed

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday Febraury 5, 2011.
An amputee who drives an Albion cargo truck with registration GT 3398 H has been arrested by the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service in Accra.

Hudu Abdulai was nabbed yesterday at a scrap dealers’ site in South Industrial Area following a tip-off but he tells Daily Guide that he has been driving as an amputee since 1979.

To prove to the police that he is indeed driver of the truck, Hudu exhibited his driving skills with ease to the bewilderment of police personnel and a curious crowd that gathered outside the MTTU premises where the vehicle was parked.

He said he uses the vehicle for rubbish collection in Accra and makes income out of it to look after his two wives and nine children.

Asked whether he had ever been arrested by the police, Hudu said “I do not remember the day I was stopped by a policeman. I drive with caution and always observe road traffic regulations.”

He claimed that during Non-Aligned Movement Conference hosted by Ghana in1991, he rode a bicycle from Tamale to Accra.

“I was amputated following an accident in 1979. My father bequeathed this vehicle to me and I have taken good care of it ever since.”

Asked why he did not employ a driver to work for him, Hudu said “the last time I gave the vehicle to someone he crashed it so I have decided to drive it myself.”

ACP Angwubutoge Awuni, Commander of MTTU in an interview said following the tip-off, the police arrested Hudu in the afternoon of Friday and during questioning it came to light that the suspect has been driving with expired license.

“He still uses the license that was outlawed many years ago,” adding “people with disability have specially designed cars so he is not permitted to drive the vehicle.”

He said Hudu will be arraigned before court on Monday adding “such people are a danger to the public we should assist ourselves to weed them out of the system”.

ACP Awuni also stressed the need for collaboration with all stakeholders including the public to bring sanity on the roads.

“Sometime when you arrest a vehicle you are easily able to tell that this vehicle is not in good condition yet the driver will be holding a valid road worthy certificate.”

In a related development, 20 motor bike riders popularly called Okada were arrested by the MTTU yesterday.

According to ACP Awuni, until the law banning the Okada business is repealed the police will continue to arrest all perpetrators and prosecute them saying “they want to challenge the law but we will not allow them.”

He also said the police will enforce the ban on the movement on long vehicles after 8pm and it will take effect from February 18, 2011.

He asked cargo drivers to take advantage of the grace period given them and get copies of the log book design to monitor regulate the movement of the drivers on the highways.