Thursday, June 30, 2011

EC Silent on Biometric Registration

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday June 30, 2011.
Although the Electoral Commission (EC) has promised a biometric voters register for the 2012 general election, it is still silent on the date for the commencement of the registration exercise.

The commission short-listed seven companies that expressed interests in the provision of technology for the biometric registration of voters but not too much has been heard from them ever since.

When Daily Guide contacted Christian Owusu-Parry, Communications Director of the EC on Tuesday, to know about progress of work on the biometric registration he said the process of procuring materials for biometric registration was on course but would not reveal the exact date for the commencement of the registration exercise.

“We have a date for the start of the registration exercise but I will not disclose it now. We have to start public education on the biometric registration before it can be carried out.”

“There isn’t much I can tell you. We are in the process of procurement. We have plans for voter education and the modalities are being worked out.”

Mr. Owusu-Parry said the commission has not submitted budget for the 2012 general elections adding “this is not the time for submission of budget.

According to the commission, the process would involve the electronic installation of names, pictures and thumb prints of prospective voters. It is estimated to cost GH¢ 80m.

The EC says the replacement of the manual voters register with a biometric register would help to address critical issues including double and multiple registrations that impede transparency, free and fair elections in the country.

Since Ghana’s return to constitutional rule in 1993, the country has faced challenges such as bloated electoral register, impersonation of voters, stuffing and stealing of ballot boxes, dub ballot papers, among others.

In some cases, these problems have resulted in violence and intimidation of voters, while prospective voters have been disenfranchised because they are not able to move to regions at the specific times that the EC undertakes its registration exercise.

Since the EC announced its decision to use biometric technology in January 2011, many Ghanaians, especially politicians, have hailed the initiative, stating that the introduction of electronic voting in Ghana was both feasible and desirable.

Others have noted that though a biometric voters’ register could resolve the illegal practice of multiple registrations, it would not solve entirely the problems regarding multiple voting and the anticipated absence of an electronic biometric data identification and verification system for individual voters at the polling stations on voting day.

With the biometric voters’ register, it is also expected that Ghana’s electoral system will be less costly, free from errors, delays and fraud that frequently undermine the credibility of results.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NDC Propaganda Exposed

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday June 28, 2011.
The lies and untruths peddled by National Democratic Congress (NDC) propagandists and apologists reached its peak when a member of the party’s communication team totally misinterpreted New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for political expediency.

The NPP flagbearer, addressing Ghanaians in London in the United Kingdom recently used the expression “sound of decibel” to describe the diversity of audience that gathered at the Dominion Centre, Wood Green, to listen to his address.

Nana Akufo-Addo had said, “I have been told in this audience it is not just NPP people who are here…That majority from the sound of decibel. The majority is NPP but there are all other shades of opinion here as well. That is the way we want our country to develop.”

But longing to play mischief, Owula Mangotey, a member of the NDC Communication team, appeared on Radio Gold’s news analysis programme ‘Alhaji & Alhaji’ at the weekend and claimed Nana Akufo-Addo had insulted the NDC and its supporters by calling them “sons of Jezebel.”

However, the Youth Wing of the NPP says it has noted with ‘distaste’ the attacks on Nana Akufo-Addo on various media by Owula whom they described as “a self styled social commentator”.

A statement issued in Accra and signed by Anthony Abayifaa Karbo said Owula Mangotey should apologize to the NPP flagbearer for misinterpreting what he (Nana Akufo Addo) said in London and going ahead to make unsavory remarks about him.

According to Anthony Karbo, Owula Mangotey had claimed that “Nana Akufo-Addo described some section of the audience at the fully packed hall in London recently as “Jezebels” and proceeded to attack Nana Akufo-Addo, whilst quoting and juxtaposing his assertion and selective hearing with Biblical verses.

The NPP youth Organizer said “we want to point out to Owula Mangotey that Nana Addo never described anybody as Jezebels. What Nana Addo said was a decibel which is used to indicate the volume of sound/noise. What he claimed to have heard was total fabrication and far from what was on the tape he purported to be quoting from.”

“We would not like to emulate Owula Mangotey in the culture of deliberately heaping insults on political opponents, like our opponents do anytime they get the opportunity. The politics of our country we believe is about the development of this country and not vile propaganda and lies.”

Owula Mangotey, who was said to have taken a copy of the Old Testament of the Holy Bible into the studios, referred to 1 Kings and stressed that Jezebel, the “painted seductress of the Old Testament”, was an evil woman, when in fact the NPP flagbearer never made the expression “sons of Jezebel”.

In the speech, which was captured on tape, a copy of which is in possession of DAILY GUIDE, the NPP flagbearer clearly referred to the decibel, the high volume of cheers he was receiving from the crowd and not ‘Jezebel’, as Owula Mangotey wanted Ghanaians to believe.

Decibel (dB) is a logarithmic unit that is used to measure acoustics or sound.
Nana Akufo-Addo stressed the need for Ghanaians to focus on competition of ideas for the development of the country, adding, “We must have to accept that we cannot all think in the same way”.

“It is not possible for all of us in this room to think the same way about everything. In fact was that to happen, it would be very unhealthy because it would be like we are robots and not thinking human beings.”

He said, “There are bound to be differences in opinions among us but these differences in opinions should not shake our allegiance to Ghana. The diversity, the different points of views enables the society to draw the best ideas for its government.

“Competition of ideas and not competition of insults is what we need. As for insults, it would not take us very far but ideas would take us a long way.”

Nana Akufo-Addo said peace, stability and freedom of Ghana is paramount than his personal ambitions, adding that the entire world is waiting to hear Africa’s success story and with the right leadership, he is optimistic Ghana will be Africa’s success story of the 21st Century.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Group slams gov’t over gas shortage

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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday June 27, 2011.
A group calling itself Nana Addo for President 2012 (NAFOP) has slammed the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government for the perennial shortage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) that is fast destroying businesses across the country.

“Ever since the Mills-Mahama administration took over the affairs of this country, LPG has been poorly managed causing long queues at gas filling stations across the country. This has led to severe hardship in many households and LPG dependent commercial vehicles,” Charles Mintah, NAFOP Executive member for Greater Accra region said in a news release issued in Accra.

It said the LPG shortage has adversely affected what it calls “the already poor state of businesses and economic activities” in the country adding “it is getting worsened day by day.”

NAFOP said before the Mills administration took over from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in January 2009, the perennial shortage of LPG had become a thing of the past but the same could not be said under this government which promised ‘Better Ghana’ for the people.

“Every Ghanaian now feels the incompetence with which the energy situation has been so far managed in the country. Indeed President Mills and the NDC promised Ghanaians a year of action in 2011 but the year of action has rather left Ghanaians in a situation of despondency, confusion wailing and gnashing of teeth,” the statement said.

The release said recent comments attributed to the Executive Secretary of Energy Commission, Dr. Alfred Ofosu Ahenkorah to the effect that the LPG shortage was due to increase in demand of the commodity attests to the fact that the government has no solution to the gas problem.

The release said Ghanaians can no longer wait for any feasibility studies to be conducted before they enjoy constant flow of gas given the fact that the West African Gas Supply is operational and Ghana is now a crude oil producing country.

“The fact is that the gas situation at the moment is seriously affecting caterers, taxi drivers, passengers, small factories chop bar operators and restaurants just to mention a few, whose activities are LPG dependent.

“Of late, it is common to observe the long queues of gas cylinders at filling stations for several days as if they were meant for an exhibition. Taxi drivers get stranded and some even spend the night at filling stations in their vehicles waiting for LPG to be supplied. The situation equally affects passengers who are unable to go home early due to the long queues at lorry stations. This constant trend is worrying under the so-called better Ghana agenda,” the group lamented.

It said that it is obvious that the Mills-Mahama administration has not demonstrated what it calls “the slightest competence” in meeting the expectations of Ghanaians, especially in the supply of essential utility.

The group called on Ghanaians to reject the NDC government in 2012 insisting that “the government has lost focus especially during this period that the sitting president is being contested, for reasons relating to incompetence and corruption by members of his own party.”

Stan Dogbe Bluffs

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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday June 27, 2011.
Stanislav Xose Dogbe, a presidential aide and member of the government’s
communication team who recently blew GH¢ 169,000 (¢1.6billion) of taxpayers’ money, under the pretext of organizing public education campaign on the 2010 budget, last Thursday displayed a high level of arrogance when he moderated a television programme on Multi TV.

This time around, it is Professor Kwesi Yankah, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, who fell prey to Stan Dogbe’s trademark arrogance.

The distinguished Professor of linguistics’ crime was that he gave a lecture last Wednesday at the British Council Hall in Accra, where he said to the effect that there were too many contradictions and inconsistencies in government communication.

He questioned the rationale for the appointment of a spokesperson for the Vice-President, saying the presidency is one office and should not under normal circumstance have different spokespersons for the President and the Vice-President.

Prof Yankah said the two belong virtually to the same office. “You need a presidential spokesperson, Period! There is a competition for attention and that is very wrong.”

“I think the direction in which we are heading is ridiculous.

“The current comedy of errors, retraction and glitches arising out of a proposed World Bank loan is the expected outcome and the earlier a single voice spoke for the entire presidency, the better,” the Professor had advised.

The lecture, which was heavily attended was themed ‘Dzi Wo Fie Asem: Rhetoric And The Politics Of Expediency’ and it was organized by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) as part of its occasional series of lectures towards finding solutions to the development of the country.

But Stan Dogbe’s reaction as herein quoted was not charitable to the renowned Linguistics teacher: “Not everybody who teaches English or for that matter who can speak English is a communications person!”

Flanked by Kobby Acheampong, Deputy Minister of the Interior who recently described NPP General Secretary Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie aka Sir John as a ‘Kookooase Kuraseni’, and Felix Kwakye, an NDC activist who was sponsored by the government abroad to learn about oil, Stan Dogbe said the renowned Professor of Linguistics, who is retiring from the University of Ghana next month, had engaged in what he called “exaggerated analysis” at the lecture and went ahead to challenge Prof. Yankah to point out the contradictions.

“My comment has been that the person who made that comment, clearly was engaging in exaggerated analysis and not any analysis that is based on any empirical facts because he said today on Joy FM that every single day, there are contradictions in government policy communication. I challenge the host of that programme (Joy FM Super Morning Show) to ask him to name today’s contradiction, name Wednesday’s, Tuesday’s, Monday’s contradiction so that we can put his discussions into perspective.”

Stan Dogbe said Prof Yankah cannot determine for the NDC government how it should run its communication.

“Our government chose to have a presidential spokesperson, have a spokesperson for our Vice-president and so also, there are ministers (of Information). The NPP, which some of them are aligned to, even had spokespersons for social services and many others,” he maintained.

Stan Dogbe said the suggestion by Prof. Yankah that the government adopts a White House system where an individual handles the information of the United States government and coordinates all forms of government policy statements is “misplaced and ill-informed.”

“Quite clearly, if he was not engaging in exaggerated analysis, he would have done some empirical reading to know that even the Defense, Homeland Security, the State Department all have spokespersons and they have at least three assistant spokespersons. If you go to the White House, there is a Press Secretary, there is a Director of Communication and there are five different assistant press secretaries – one assigned to the Vice-President who works. So if you don’t know, don’t just make comments,” he boasted.

He bragged: “We are focused as the communication team of government and we will continue to come out to the people of this country… and tell you what your government is doing”, adding, “Good evening; NDC, Ekoyie kɛkɛ!”

CAUCUS, the programme on which Stan Dogbe appeared as a moderator, has been designed by Multi TV, a cable television, to afford political parties a one-stop campaign platform to inform, educate and present their political agenda and manifesto to a captive audience, in an ongoing dialogue with voters.

CAUCUS also offers the parties a unique opportunity to review the most pertinent political issues and activities undertaken during the week under their respective ambits. It is shown every Monday to Friday at 6:30pm.

Police Chase Konadu Boys

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday June 25, 2011.
A planned demonstration by some disgruntled supporters of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) against President John Evans Atta Mills and his government could not be staged yesterday because the demonstrators failed to turn up.

The demonstration which was supposedly organized by James Kofi Amanmuo, an ardent supporter of Former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings was to protest against “intimidation” and also “expose bribery scandals” in their own party in the run up to the national delegates’ congress in Sunyani that would select a flagbearer for the NDC in 2012.

Amanmuo had earlier told Joy News the group is meeting to provide the police with the needed information to enable them embark on the demonstration.

He said “the one who took the bribe is a delegate. The bribe came from the Office of the President,” adding the delegate is from the Central Region and the amount involved is GHS6,000.

Kofi Amanmuo said they are bent on proving that the Mills administration is superintending some corrupt practices that can destroy the party.

They had planned to converge and march from the NDC Headquarters to Parliament house and then to the Castle (seat of government) to present their petition.

Yesterday as early as 6:15 am hoards of police officers with riot control gears and tankers were seen patrolling some principal streets particularly the Ring Road Central and later converged at the Divisional Command at Nima for a ‘showdown’ with the demonstrators.

The police had to wait at their ‘base’ virtually the whole day for the demonstrators but there was no ‘action’.

At about 1:30 pm, the men in black were still seen at the Nima Divisional Command awaiting the demonstrators.

Later, Chief Inspector Kwaku Dompreh of the Police Public Affairs Unit of the Greater Accra Regional Command confirmed to Daily Guide that a letter dated June 13, 2011 and signed by James Kofi Amanmuo had been sent to them but the leadership of the demonstrators had refused to co-orporate with the police on how the march was going to be like.

He said the police was taking the necessary precautionary measures to protect life and property because Amanmuo had threatened to hit the streets with his gang without recourse to the Public Order Act.

He said “the police needed to sit down with the leadership of the demonstrators to define the route for the march, the time and other matters but they simply refused to co-orporate with us”.

“They brought the letter alright but afterwards they told us point blank that they were not going to sit down with us to discuss the way forward even though they are bent on hitting the streets today,” Mr. Dompreh explained.

“The letter brought to us lacked all the necessary ingredients spelt out in the Public Order Act and as law enforcers we will allow anybody or group to circumvent the law.”

He said the police is there for the public and are ready to offer support for anybody or group that obey the law, rules and regulations of the country adding “once we have chosen to embark on a long democratic journey we should all play our roles to make the country safe to live in.”

He said the police had to withdraw all personnel who were on special duties in the region to join their colleagues to offer protection for the demonstrators who never turned up.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Legon Pro-Vice Chancellor Presses Alarm Bell

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday June 23, 2011.
Professor Kwesi Yankah, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana on Wednesday evening set the British Council agog when he took his time to dissect what he called “the growing sensitivity to political communication” in the country.

The depth of his analysis using popular political slogans such as “Dzi wo fie asem”, “All Die Be Die”, “Kookooase Kuraseni”, “Yutong” among other rhetoric earned the renowned Professor of Linguistics a standing ovation from an enthusiastic audience who were yearning for more.

Delivering the occasional lecture themed “Dzi wo fie Asem: Rhetoric and the politics of expediency” organized by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, Prof. Yankah said the current state of rhetoric in the public sphere was a cause for alarm.

“Regardless of the real intent of the prevailing party slogans, I dare say the establishment of a heroes’ fund by one party, and the adoption of an ‘’all die be die’ slogan by another party, are bad news for peace and democracy.

Prof Yankah who is retiring from the University of Ghana next month explained that the slogans “are liable to interpretations as institutional preparations for lawlessness, hooliganism and civil strife in Election 2012.”

He said the current situation is an indictment on state security apparatus who he said had become “partisan and cannot even-handedly discharge their constitutional obligations of protecting life and limb, and a state that appear to lack a reliable mechanism for non partisan celebration of national heroes, leaving this to the capricious designs of individual parties.”

He said the winner-takes all mentality as well as an emerging politics of intolerance, threaten to denigrate social values of communication, leading to a creeping culture of combative discourse, and the celebration of verbal abuse and invectives on decent political platforms.

Prof Yankah said the outcome of combative discourse has been the perception that rationality in public debate is diminishing with time explaining “subject specialists and experts who would have enriched the quality of public discourse appear to have yielded the floor to ubiquitous pseudo experts who seek to standardize noisy argumentation and fiery discourse as cherished values.”

He said the situation has also “triggered a swath of ill-prepared spokesmen and communication functionaries who unleash a Babel of tongues at the least opportunity, and end up polluting public space, shedding more heat than light on party as well as national policy.”

“The perception of spokesmen in traditional society as associated with unanimity of purpose and finesse in communication has been enormously eroded over time.”

He said regardless of the channel or origin of discourse, public officials may momentarily switch codes and insert a local idiom, sometimes followed by an instant translation where deemed necessary by the speaker adding “devices like proverbs, aphorisms, local metaphors, allegories constitute and enormous rhetorical capital available to public officials representing ordinary people.”

Prof Yankah said the emersion of the electorate in the indigenous aesthetics of speaking encourage officials to occasionally allegorize governance in political discourse, or use extended metaphors, or even folktales in discussions where expedient but public life and Ghana’s popular culture are replete with satire, innuendo and allegory.

“Creeping into the indigenous value system is a culture of vociferous rhetoric, where media heroes are made sometimes on the basis, not of reasoned argumentation, but fiery speech comportment.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nigerian Soccer Star Visits Western Group To Seek Support For Foundation

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday June 22, 2011.
The desire to give back to society has led to the establishment of a foundation by Nigerian star John Utaka who currently plays for Montpellier in the French League.

He told Daily Guide exclusively in Accra on Monday that the John Utaka Foundation (JUF) is seeking to provide what he calls “the needed support towards the development of the youth in Africa.”

He said “the youth of Africa are lagging behind in all aspects of development. They have become hopeless and disillusioned but I strongly believe that the time has come for some of us who are fortunate enough to start looking back and support them to have a better future.”

Utaka, 29, had called on Western Publications, publishers of Daily Guide - Ghana’s most read private newspaper, New One, Business Guide and Guide Young Blazers to introduce the foundation which he said belongs to the youth of Africa, to Ghanaians.

He said the JUF which was started in June 2010 would offer scholarship for the education of needy young Africans who exhibit future potential as well as empower the youth by providing work placements on the continent to enable them to gain training and vocational skills through the foundation’s international partners.

“The foundation is committed to the provision of positive activities and support in order to stimulate young people's development through arts, culture and -from film, photography and music as well as other sporting activities particularly football”.

Utaka said helping to reduce poverty through the provision of basic amenities such as water, food and medicine to the vulnerable in society will enable him to contribute towards the reduction of poverty and improvement of health on the continent.

Utaka who has not played for the Super Eagles since Nigeria’s exit at the 2010 World hosted by South Africa, said the foundation will be working in partnership with registered charities to bring hope to the numerous youth on the continent.

He said African governments should continue to pursue democracy, good governance and the rule of law so that, the people, particularly the youth, would get the needed freedom to explore.

He recounted how he started life as a footballer and admitted “it was never easy for me but I persevered to reach the top.

“We had two stones for goalposts and played four against four. Sometimes something sharp would cut your feet, but we played through our wounds, didn’t even think about them. We just loved to play.”

He said his humble beginnings made him to realize the importance of education and how little support can change someone’s life, adding, “The foundation truly represents my belief in helping and empowering the youth of today for a better tomorrow.”

John Chukwudi Utaka was born on January 8, 1982 in Enugu, Nigeria. He is the older brother of Peter Utaka, who plays for OB in Denmark.

Utaka has played for several clubs across three continents, first for Arab Contractors and subsequently Ismaily of Egypt, spent a season with Al-Sadd of Qatar, before joining Racing Lens and later Rennes, both of France.

Utaka joined Portsmouth on a four-year deal in July 2007, for a fee of around £7,000,000 and May 17, 2008, he won the English FA Cup with Portsmouth.

On January 29, 2011, Utaka signed for French first division side Montpellier, agreeing a two-and-a-half year deal for an undisclosed fee.

UTAG Raises Red Flag

Dr. Samuel Kwasi Asiedu-Addo (2nd left), explaining issues to the media. With him are some executives of UTAG.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday June 22, 2011.
Concerns raised by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) in 2010 over the implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) are resurfacing after the teachers claimed they were being shortchanged under the policy.

Just as the public thought all was going well with the implementation of the SSSS as promised by the government, UTAG has once again come out strongly to state their case by accusing the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) of deliberately thwarting their effort towards smooth migration onto the SSSS.

At a news conference organized by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of UTAG in Accra yesterday, its National President Dr. Samuel Kwasi Asiedu-Addo said “we would like to express our displeasure with what appears to be the FWSC’s deliberate attempt to stifle government’s efforts with particular reference to the migration of the academic senior members onto the SSSS.”

Making their feelings known, the UTAG President said since the FWSC replaced the Standing Joint Negotiating Committee (SJNC) as their negotiator of salaries, the commission has refused to create a platform and opportunity for negotiations.

He said since 2009, UTAG has written several letters to the FWSC on salary negotiations and on the upward adjustment of the Book and Research Allowances of senior members but the commission has consistently failed to respond to the letters.

Dr. Asiedu-Addo said the FWSC has failed to furnish UTAG with a completed job re-evaluation report in spite of several requests made to the commission saying “we wish to emphasize that the report is necessary for study by UTAG prior to any discussion and negotiation with the FWSC”.

“The continual delay on the part of the FWSC to open negotiations towards the migration of academic senior members of the nation’s universities onto the SSSS is, in the opinion of UTAG, a clear attestation to the existence of problems and difficulties associated with the migration, which need to be carefully addressed by both parties,” he said.

He said for instance that the commission promised to select members of the various unions and associations to undertake a study tour of countries where the Single Spine Salary Policy is being implemented but that was never done and added that all the issues put together was an affront to the association.

As a result, the UTAG President said the association is calling on the commission to make available the re-evaluation report to them, set a definite date for negotiations to begin and also respect UTAG by responding to its letters.

Dr. Asiedu-Addo also said UTAG has not mandated any third party to negotiate on its behalf with the commission on their conditions of service and added that as long as the association has no objection to being migrated onto the SSSS it will not allow anybody to rush them onto it.

During questions and answers Dr. EM Wilmot, Vice President of UTAG said the FWSC was aware that the association’s case is different from other categories of workers but was being stubborn in dealing with them.

“Officially we were told by July we will be migrated onto the SSSS. We are in June and we have not even started negotiations. The FWSC needs to take us seriously and start negotiating with us.”

Dr. Kodzo Gavua, another executive of UTAG said the FWSC was not being transparent when dealing with the association’s concerns towards the migration onto the SSSS.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I’ve Not Cleared M&J - AG

Martin Amidu is the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, ghana
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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday July 16, 2011.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Martin Amidu has stated categorically that his office has not cleared six ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) bigwigs and one New Patriotic Party (NPP) minister who have been accused of taking bribes from Mabey & Johnson, a United Kingdom based construction firm.

“I am compelled to say in response to the ‘Daily Graphic’ publication that there is no CID report or docket in my office as at the date of the publication under reference which has cleared any seven ex-government functionaries in any alleged M&J saga,” Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Martin Amidu said in a statement yesterday.

Officials of Mabey & Johnson admitted at a Southwark Crown Court, London in 2009 of conspiring to obtain contracts by corruptly influencing politicians in Ghana and Jamaica between 1994 and 1999 to land build-bridging contracts.

The affected NDC gurus are Dr. George Sipa Yankey who resigned as Minister of Health under President John Evans Atta Mills, Kwame Peprah former Finance Minister during Flt. Lt. JJ Rawlings regime, Ahaji Baba Kamara Ghana’s current High Commissioner to Nigeria and Alhaji Amadu Seidu a former MP and until recently Minister of State.

The rest are Brigadier-General Lord Attivor who is currently appointed by President Mills as the Managing Director of Intercity STC and Dr. Ato Quarshie, the Minister of Roads and Transport under JJ Rawlings together with Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Sadique, Minister of Works and Housing in the erstwhile NPP administration.

Mr. Amidu in a news release titled “Re: Mabey & Johnson Saga Seven cleared”, said under the 1992 Constitution, it is the Attorney General who determines whether or not a suspect in a police docket should be charged; a docket be closed for lack of evidence etc; or that further investigations be conducted along lines indicated in the opinion.

He said “the police cannot and will not as professionals direct the Attorney General as to how to perform his constitutional duties as the ‘Daily Graphic’ sought to suggest. I have not received any police report containing the findings quoted in the ‘Daily Graphic’. I have also not endorsed any such findings as the Attorney General of the Republic of Ghana.”

“On 10th June 2011 (after official working hours) I received from the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service a letter No. S.220/SF.1/INVEST /V.2/68 dated 9th June 2011 seeking further and better particulars from my office in the matter of the M&J investigations. This letter is clearly inconsistent with any allegation of a letter from the same source addressed to me clearing any persons of any allegations”, he added.

“I wish to repeat what I said in my press statement in reaction to the “Daily Post” publication which was carried by the print and electronic media on 9th June 2011. “The innuendoes contained in the ….[Daily Graphic] publication do no good to the suspects in the case, Police CID, the office of the Attorney General, the office of the President or the credibility of the eventual resolution of the case.”

“It may be useful if the alleged police CID report or letter referred to in the ‘Daily Graphic’ were published in full so that its content can be verified and investigated against the denials of my office. I feel ashamed and embarrassed at the suspected obvious source of the series of false publications on this matter which seeks to undermine the office of the Attorney General.”

The scandal broke in September 2009 when the new Directors of the firm in a plea-bargain with the UK Serious Fraud Office confessed having bribed government officials in some developing countries, including Ghana in the mid-90s for the award of contracts to them.

To get to the bottom of the allegation, President Mills directed the then Attorney-General, Betty-Mould Iddrisu, to investigate the case. After a trip to London on a fact-finding mission during which she met officials of the UK SFO, the Attorney-General advised that Commissioner for Human Rights & Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) investigate the case. AFAG, a pro-NPP pressure group also dragged the matter before the CHRAJ.

However, before the Commission could begin public hearing of the case, six out of the seven accused persons filed a writ at a High Court challenging the jurisdiction of CHRAJ to investigate the matter claiming Justice Francis Emile Short, who until recently was the Commissioner of CHRAJ, allegedly made prejudicial statements on the case in an interview on Metro TV.

An Accra High Court which sat on the case ruled in favour of the accused persons but on appeal by CHRAJ, the ruling of the High Court was quashed by the Appeals Court.

The accused persons preceded to the Supreme Court for direction and succeeded in getting the highest court of the land to asked CHRAJ to step aside for the law courts to try the case.

The CID of the Ghana Police Service as a result began investigations into the matter by first inviting the accused persons to write their statements and nothing was heard of the controversial matter until pro-NDC Daily Post reported that the AG was sitting on the report followed by state-owned Daily Graphic which also reported that the CID has cleared the seven.

Fishermen cry foul over police attack

Joseph Nii Moi Allotey (left) and Nii Ago Aryee (right) suffered tear gas inhalation.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday June 16, 2011.
Fishermen whose peaceful demonstration was violently disrupted by the police on Tuesday have recounted the harrowing experience they went through at the hands of the men in black.

“We embarked on the peaceful demonstration to give support to the government to enforce a ban on the use of light for fishing but the police treated us like common criminals causing injuries to some of our members,” Nii Ago Aryee one of the leaders of the fishermen groups lamented.

Daily Guide sought to know what motivated them to embark on the demonstration and what really transpired as sections of the public continue to condemn the disproportionate force applied by the police in dispersing the innocent fishermen.

The police on Tuesday violently disrupted a peaceful march at the Castle cross roads in Accra when they fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse innocent fishermen who were drawing the government’s attention to issues affecting the fish industry in the country.

Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Nii Amasah Namoale had justified the attack on the fishermen, saying that the Castle junction was a security zone and therefore the demonstrators could not take the law into their hands.

The fishermen who were between1500 and 2000 in number drawn from various coastal towns had started the peaceful march at James Town to present their petition to President John Evans Atta Mills.

Matters came to a head when the demonstrators tried to cross over from the Independence Square to the main junction linking the Castle in an attempt to accompany their leaders to present the petition.

The police who had positioned their riot control equipment and vehicles at the cross road started firing rubber bullets and tear gas indiscriminately causing pandemonium among the demonstrators.

In the process, three fishermen were hit by stray rubber bullets while the rest were drenched in tear gas.

“At a point I thought something was going to happen to me. The whole place was covered with tear gas. I had to wet my shirt to be able to contain the situation,” Nii Ago Aryee aka Onyame Ndae recounted.

“We went to the Independence Square, Accra without any offensive objects. We only held placards but they showed us that power is sweet.”

Nii Ago Aryee said they can no longer bear the hardships they are going through adding “our businesses are collapsing as a result of the rampant use of light for fishing, persistent shortages in pre-mix fuel as well the high cost of outboard motors.”

He said for instance that pre-mix fuel has become scarce while the price for outboard motor has moved from GH¢ 4,900 to GH¢ 6,000 within two years.
He said the use of light for fishing is fast depleting the country’s sea resources and predicted that bumper fish harvest would soon go away if the practice is not checked.

Joseph Nii Moi Allotey, another leader of the fishermen groups said “some of our colleagues were fascinated about the serenity of the Castle and were only pushing closer to catch glimpses of the edifice but the police misinterpreted it to mean that they were becoming violent.”

He said they would not relent in their bid to get the government to stop the use of light in fishing and added that if it was not checked they would advise themselves.

Bature’s wrong predictions

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday June 16, 2011.
ALHAJI IDDRISU Bature, the Managing Editor of Al-Hajj newspaper seems to be carrying on with his bid to destroy the presidential ambitions of former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings who is lacing her boots to contest President John Evans Mills to enable her lead the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 2012.

Now that it has become clear that there is going to be a straight fight between President Mills and Mrs. Rawlings, Alhaji Bature has started making started talking once more.

This time around, he says he is certain that Mrs. Rawlings will not go to contest the President in Sunyani insisting that the former First Lady will announce her decision to back out of the NDC race in a matter of days.

He was emphatic on Adom Fm, a Tema based private station that should Mrs. Rawlings fail to stop contesting President Mills he (Bature) should be barred from speaking on radio and contributing to panel discussions as a ‘resource person’.

According to him, the party has scheduled a meeting between the NDC founder, Jerry John Rawlings and President John Evans Atta Mills and based on the outcome of the meeting, Nana Konadu will announce her withdrawal from the impending congress.

“They want to rebuild the party so if they (Jerry Rawlings, President Mills and council of elders) are able to meet and put across the issues that they think is not going well or what they expect to be done by this government, I believe amicable solutions will be arrived at and Nana Konadu will graciously bow out of the flagbearership race,” he reiterated.

He claimed that it has never been the intention of the former first family for Nana Konadu to contest as president, and stressed that Mr. Rawlings meant it when he declared in Tamale that no member of his family was interested in the presidency.

“It is not speculation, do you remember that Rawlings said in Tamale that neither he nor any of his family members is interested in the presidency. There were denials from Kofi Adams and co but if you compare it with what he reiterated in Kumasi, you can see that their intention is not for Nana Konadu to go and become president.

Konadu is in the race because there is a problem and if it is amicably resolved, why will she continue to be in the race?” he asked.

It will be recalled that on several occasions, Alhaji Bature, who has virtually become the unofficial spokesperson of the NDC boldly predicted that Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings will never contest President Mills at the ruling NDC congress slated from July 8 to July 10.

First, he had said Nana Konadu who is being fully supported by her husband Flt. Lt. JJ Rawlings, the NDC founder, was not serious about her presidential ambitions and went ahead to state that she was only “testing the waters.”

But Nana Konadu who campaigns on the slogan “Be bold” finally picked up her nomination forms for the contest despite complaints of glaring intimidation from her opponent’s campaign team, Get Atta Mills Elected (GAME).

After getting a rude shock, Bature recovered to claim that some NDC leaders were urging the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II to impress upon Mrs. Rawlings not to contest President Mills but that did not work.

Mrs. Rawlings then went ahead to subject herself for vetting and has since been cleared to contest President Mills.

Bature then threatened “there’s a lot of information I am suppressing on the Rawlingses, but if people like Kofi Adams (Aide of the Rawlingses) push some of us and we come out to disclose them, his boss will not be able to work on the streets (again). We are suppressing all that information for the unity, progress and growth of NDC; but if Kofi Adams keeps calling us blackmailers or sycophants, we may be forced to come out.”

He was however not bold enough to disclose the so-called ‘information’ he has on the Rawlingses despite Mr. Adams persistence in calling Bature’s bluff.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I’ve Dirt on JJ…says Bature

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday June 14, 2011.
It appears the myth surrounding Ex-President Flt. Lt. JJ Rawlings founder of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the party is broken.

Since his wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings declared her intention to contest President John Evan Atta Mills in the impending delegates congress that will select a flagbearer for the party in 2012, the former President has not relented in his bid to run down the government and has said NDC will lose the election if President Mills is retained as the flagbearer.

As a result, more and more members within the ruling party continue to challenge the Ex-President accusing him of making unsubstantiated allegations against President Mills and some of the government appointees.

First, it was Allotey Jacobs aka ‘educated fisherman’ followed by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa a Deputy Minister of Information and many others who called the bluff of Mr. Rawlings but Managing Editor of the Al-Hajj newspaper, Alhaji Iddrisu Bature has gone a step further, threatening to strip the former President naked if he continues to ‘bash’ President Mills.

According to Alhaji Bature of Radio Gold’s Alhaji & Alhaji fame he is privy to some ‘very sensitive’ as well as ‘damaging information’ about the NDC founder who he said if released could lead to him (Rawlings) being so humiliated.

He said “the last vestige of respect Rawlings holds in the public eye will be quickly eroded” and added that if he is to disclose the kind of information at his disposal, former President Rawlings will not be able to walk on the streets of Accra again or hold his head high in public.

Alhaji Bature was reacting to comments made by Kofi Adams, an Aide for the Rawlingses questioning his (Alhaji Bature’s) integrity as a member of the NDC.

Kofi Adams had referred to the “Al-Hajj” newspaper Managing Editor as a “sycophant” and a journalist whose bread is buttered by the Mills-Mahama administration.

Mr. Adam also recently on a radio programme had told Kwesi Pratt Junior, Managing Editor of Insight and an unofficial spokesman of the NDC similar things with the latter getting offended by the comment.

Speaking to Alhassan Suhyini on Radio Gold, Alhaji Bature warned Kofi Adams to be mindful of his utterances and careful about the choice of words he uses to describe him (Bature) when reacting to issues regarding the Rawlingses.

“There’s a lot of information I am suppressing, but if people like Kofi Adams push some of us and we come out to disclose them, his boss will not be able to work on the streets (again). We are suppressing all that information for the unity, progress and growth of NDC; but if Kofi Adams keeps calling us blackmailers or sycophants, we may be forced to come out,” he warned.

“…don’t attack my personality, I have my integrity and reputation so whatever I publish, I have evidence that can be verified,” he added.

Alhaji Bature claimed that the reason why Mr. Rawlings is always at the beck and call of his spouse, Nana Konadu, is because the former First Lady had placed a request somewhere in 2005 for a divorce.

According to him, the ex-President, in a bid to prevent the wife from carrying out her desire for divorce has virtually become a “slave” and a pawn in the hands of his wife.

“I just advertised that we were coming out last Tuesday on the reason why Nana Konadu is holding Rawlings captive. This is because Nana Konadu wanted a divorce from Rawlings in 2005 but I have withheld that information for now, so if the Rawlingses think they are the people with the highest integrity then we will also come out and let the world see the ugly side of the Rawlingses,” he forewarned.

“He (Rawlings) should stop calling people greedy and criminals because he is not clean as well,” Alhaji Bature added.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Aqua Vitens Failed…Says Bagbin

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday June 10, 2011.
Minister of Water Resources Works and Housing, Alban Bagbin has justified the non-renewal of contract entered between the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL) in the management of urban water saying the overall performance the company was not encouraging.

“In spite of the achievements claimed by AVRL, the review report concludes that not much was achieved in the early years of the management contract by the operator, but some progress was made in the third to fourth years, although the service standards were not fully met.”

Mr. Bagbin made the justification in Accra yesterday when he took his turn at the Meet-the-Press series organized by the Ministry of Information to offer platform for appointees to articulate government policies and programmes.

AVRL came into the scene in November 2005 when it entered into a management contract with GWCL under the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime to handle 81 urban water systems in the country and by June 6, 2006 it had commenced operation.

Mr. Bagbin said as the deadline for the expiry drew close there was heightening of public anxiety and many civil society organizations, NGOs, media and others had had encouraged the government not to renew the AVRL contract so that the status qou would prevail.

He said “in the interest of industrial harmony, and ultimately the protection of the interests of the good people of Ghana, the government had to pay heed to these developments in the sector and take action.”

He said the government had considered what he called “the longer term and more holistic implications of all the other options available to us in the management of urban water sector” in not renewing the AVRL contract.

The Minister said although AVRL made some strides in its management, the company was unable to meet the water quality service standard and had delays in customer account receivables apart from the unimpressive targets for treatment plant operations.

He said in the interim, the government has instituted what he calls “a dispassionate process of auditing AVRL’s performance over the past five years” and also “the nature of the terms and conditions of the management contract that tended to frustrate the partnership between the two.”

The Minister said as a result, the government has made arrangements in the form of a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ (SPV) that would ensure the establishment of Ghana Urban Water Limited (GUWL) which he said is in the process of incorporation to manage the situation in the interim for 12 months.

He said during the 12 month period GWCL would continue to play its role as asset holder with responsibility for asset expansion while GUWL would assume the role of managing the water system in 81 urban areas saying “we will be vigilant and play our respective oversight roles to make it happen.”

Mr. Bagbin said during the period, the government would take comprehensive look at the entire water sector of the country, review legal and institutional arrangement to ensure effective urban water delivery.

ICT Park On Course- Minister

Haruna Iddrisu (2nd left) admiring architectural model of the ICT Park.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday June 10, 2011.
The first-ever Information Communication Technology (ICT) Park being spearheaded by the government in its bid to make information technology the mainstay of the country’s economy is on course, according to Minister of Communications Haruna Iddrisu.

The park, to be sited in Tema in the Greater Accra Region, is one of initiatives of the government to provide enabling environment for ICT development and it is being established in collaboration with the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Information and Technology Enabled Services (ITES).

The project, estimated at $10 million which will be the first of its kind in the West African sub-region, would stimulate start-ups and ensure the growth of indigenous technology and knowledge based businesses.

It is also designed to provide infrastructure and business-support services to assist export oriented SME ICT businesses and other ITES/BPO firms.

At a workshop to review the master plan, draft, drawings and designs of the proposed ICT Park, Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu said “we have moved beyond the drawing board and are on course to make the project become real.”

He said the money is ready for the take-off of the project and there was the need to subject the designs to ‘thorough scrutiny’ so that export oriented services could take advantage upon completion.

“It is going to promote ICT research and development. We are determined to prime ICT as an enabler of our investment drive.”

He said “we have language, location and time to our advantage therefore we should be able to harness our resources effectively.”

The Minister said upon completion the project is expected to create about 10,000 jobs, adding “it requires the giant effort from the government and we will provide the needed leadership to make it happen.”

Caimin Jones of Garland Ormond International, Consulting Civil and Structural Engineering, who are providing technical advice for the project, said Ghana stands to benefit enormously from the project after its completion.

He said “the park can be turned into a marketing model to attract major brand names in the world.”

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Blows at Konadu Vetting


A scene at the NDC headquarters on June 7, 2011 when Konadu went for vetting.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday June 8, 2011.
The level of intimidation that the camp of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer aspirant, has been complaining about resurfaced yesterday when she appeared before a vetting committee at the party’s Kokomlemle headquarters in Accra.

Placards that appear to be condemning her bid to lead the NDC in 2012 and at the same time extolling the virtues of President John Evans Atta Mills, her main contender greeted her when she arrived for the vetting amidst the throwing of blows by supporters of both candidates.

But for the professional manner in which her bodyguards managed the situation, it would have been bloody as hired placards-holding hoodlums were brought to put the ‘fear of God in her’.

Matters came to a head when about 10 young men who were allegedly ‘sponsored’ by elements within the Get Atta Mills Endorsed (GAME) stormed the party’s headquarters with hostile placards to cause ‘disaffection’ for the former First Lady. Barbara Asamoah, spokesperson for GAME name resonated as the likely brain behind the commotion.

Nana Konadu arrived at the party’s headquarters at about 10:40am and the ‘protesters’ who came in a Green Hyundai mini trotro bus with registration GR 629–11 started displaying the placards.

The supporters who were accompanying Mrs. Rawlings pounced on the ‘protesters’ with some receiving hefty slaps and others being chased away.

When information reached the Konadu bodyguards they rushed to the scene outside the office to intervene and in the process they brought some of the ‘protesters’ including the driver of the vehicle to safety.

The Konadu boys then seized the placards and there were reports that the placards were sent 31st office at Ridge despite pleas by Yaw Boateng Gyan, National Organiser of the party that the placards be brought to the party’s office.

The Konadu boys in the process started accusing GAME and the party’s national executives of being behind the protest and also working against the interest of Mrs. Rawlings.

The angry-looking supporters then entered one of the party’s executive’s office, DAILY GUIDE learnt it was Anita De Sousou, Women’s Organiser office and brought out more placards to prove that the NDC executives were behind what they called “the shameful act”.

One Konadu supporter said “this is a clear case of leadership’s failure. Party executives who are supposed to remain neutral have taken sides and are intimidating our beloved Konadu but we are capable of resisting every intimidation.”

Some of the placards read: ‘Prof Molls don’t mind him’, ‘Mills all the way’, ‘Atta Mills Asomdweehene’, ‘NDC is not for Konadu’, ‘John and John Part 1 and 2’ ‘We want Mills” among many others.

National Security operatives took over the security of the place and they did not have it easy controlling the Konadu supporters who had become enraged as a result of what happened.

Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings together with Kofi Adams, spokesperson for the Rawlingses spent about 45 minutes at the vetting room where Alhaji Issifu Ali, Dr. Mrs. Mary Grant, Cletus Avoka, Leonard Mobila, Larry Adjetey and Chris Ackumey all members of the Vetting Committee quizzed her.

When they came out to the reception area, a horde of media personnel swam on Mrs. Rawlings, eager to ask question.

She said “it was smooth. I think the committee was fair. The issues were based mainly on the way forward for the party.”

She said she responded to the issues raised by the committee candidly.

“Although the process was rather long, the questions were basically on the way forward for the party and I think they were really fair,” she said.

Mrs. Rawlings who was itching to go outside to salute her supporters said “I am returning to my campaign tour. The campaign has been going well.”

She cut short her tour of the Ashanti region to face the vetting committee.

Immediately she stepped outside, the shouts of ‘Be Bold! Be Bold!’ greeted her from her supporters who had stormed the Kokomlemle headquarters of the party.

According to sources close to the vetting committee the presidential aspirant complained about intimidation of her campaign group and supporters and was given the assurance by the committee that her grievances will be addressed.

The second candidate, President John Evans Atta Mills, would be vetted today after which delegates list will be released on June 10.
went for vetting

Group ‘shows’ political colour at News Confab

(From L to R) Dr. Clement A. Apaak, Convener of the forum and Dr. Samuel Buame of the University of Ghana at the news conference.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday June 8, 2011.
A GROUP calling itself, Forum for Governance and Justice on Monday held a news conference under the guise of promoting good governance and justice for all but ended up making statements that clearly showed they may be pursuing a political agenda.

From their statements it was clear they are doing the bidding of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and may not necessarily be seeking the welfare of the ordinary Ghanaian.

They had called the news conference which was poorly attended to lambast the judiciary for victimizing four lawyers who had claimed there is widespread corruption in the judiciary. As a result of this, the Association of Magistrates and Judges reported them to the General Legal Council for appropriate sanctions.

The group said at a news conference in Accra yesterday that they “are not for or against any group” yet they went ahead to make statements that clearly showed they were an anti New Patriotic Party (NPP) group which believes the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) is in ‘bed’ with the NPP regime.

They said they did not understand why the GBA had refused to come to the defense of the four affected lawyers who they noted are being deprived of their right to seek justice by the judiciary through the Association of Magistrates and Judges.

Dr. Clement Apaak, convener of the forum who read the statement said “we hope that this dereliction of duty on the part of the Ghana Bar Association is not a carry-over from the bizarre stance not to comment on human rights violations under the Kufuor regime.”

He said the statement made by the four lawyers to the effect that there is widespread corruption in the judiciary was an “innocuous comment” therefore they did not understand why the judges should victimize them.

The group added that it was “completely unacceptable that having exercised their inalienable right to free speech and commented on the matter of corruption in the judiciary, these four lawyers should be ostracized and prevented from practicing their profession from which they derive their livelihood.’

Apaak said “we find it exceedingly regrettable that judges who are the bastion of our freedoms and rights as citizens of Ghana and in whose courts we seek refuge whenever our liberties have come under threat should now be at the forefront of efforts to curtail the freedoms of individuals contributing to a debate about judicial accountability.”

He accused some members of the bench of taking “partisan postures” under the banner of the Association of Magistrates and Judges whenever the public decide to draw attention to “serious flaws in the administration of justice.”

Dr. Apaak said the decision by the judges to boycott the four lawyers’ hearings for criticizing the judiciary at a forum organized by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) “represents a frontal attack on the independence of the commission.”

He said the decision to include the NCCE Boss Laari Bimi in what it calls the “illegal ban” is an attempt to “stifle him and prevent him from doing his work as head of a constitutional body.

“We find it inconceivable that while the judiciary has always defended their independence, an amorphous group like the Association of Magistrates and Judges whose constitutionality is in doubt can dictate what happens in our court rooms.”

During the question and answer segment, Dr. Samuel Buame, a lecturer at the University of Ghana who is a member of the forum said the issue of injustice should never be endorsed since it has the tendency to undermine the democratic development of the country.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

US Envoy Calls on Ga Mantse

The Ga Mantse welcoming Ray Mabus to his palace. Looking on is the US Ambassador to Ghana Donald Teitelbaum

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday June 7, 2011.
Raymond Edwin Mabus Jr. aka Ray Mabus, Secretary of the US Navy on Thursday paid a courtesy call on the Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Tawiah III at his palace in Accra.

He was accompanied by the US Ambassador to Ghana, Donald Teitelbaum and other top US naval officers who are on tour with Mr. Mabus.

The Secretary was in the country on a two-day visit as part of efforts to strengthen diplomatic ties between the US and Ghana.

Earlier, he called on the Presidency before visiting the overlord of the Ga State.
In his brief remarks, Mr. Mabus underscored the need for the government of Ghana to take the necessary steps to protect its new-found oil.

“Protecting the oil is crucial. We have had a lot of experience in the US and on our territorial waters but we have put in practical steps to deal with the issues that come with them.”

He said the Ghanaian government should collaborate with all stakeholders to make sure the oil boom benefits the people and promised the US’ commitment to help build the capacity of the Ghana Navy to be able to protect the oil.

Mr. Mabus also asked government to devise long term plans to cater for any eventual oil spillage.

He praised the people of Ghana for always pursuing peace and stability and positioning the country as a leader on the African continent saying “everyone whom I have known that has visited Ghana says Ghana is a special place and they encourage me to visit.”

The Secretary also commended the Ga Mantse for his leadership role in the country’s development.

Welcoming them, Mantse Nii Tackie Tawiah III reiterated the need for both the US and Ghana to continue to strengthen their diplomatic ties and work for their common interests.

“In just a few years we have had three American presidents visiting Ghana and it goes to show the level of cooperation between the two nations. We had the respectable Clinton, amiable Bush and our own Obama, all coming to see things for themselves.”

Ray Mabus is the 75th US Secretary of the Navy. He served as the 60th Governor of the US State of Mississippi from 1988 to 1992 and served as US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1994 to 1996.

Monday, June 06, 2011

CDD leads decentralization discussion

(From L to R) Dr. Patrick Osei Kuffuor, Dr. Beatrix Allah-Mensah, Ambassador Francis Tsegah, Acquinas Tawiah Quansah and Kevin Fridy at the forum.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday June 6, 2011.
As part of efforts to deepen the process of decentralization, the Center for Democratic Governance (CDD -Ghana) has organized a round table discussion to find solutions to problems associated with the implementation of decentralization concept.

In recognition of the problem, the CDD created a platform for Dr. Kevin Fridy, a Professor at the Tampa University, United States to share his research findings on the topic: “The MP, the Mayor and Chief: Exploring multi-level local governance in Ghana to explore the various ways that Ghanaians understand competing modes of governance provision at the local level.”

Dr. Fridy conducted study was conducted in the summer 2009 in four constituencies namely Ayawaso West Wugon and Odododiodioo in the Greater Accra Region as well as Bolgatanga and Nabdam in the Upper East Region.

Opening the discussion, Acquinas Tawiah Quansah, a Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development who chaired the discussion said the best way to ensure accelerated development of the country is to deepen the process of decentralization.

He said local government and rural development continues to be the fulcrum around which the country’s development would revolve and should not be undermined.
Mr. Quansah said the reforms currently going on are alternative development strategies and added that the implementation of policies on local governance is leading to “incremental changes.”

To ensure the government’s commitment towards decentralization, the Deputy Minister said the government is determined to ensure the transfer of financial resources to assemblies to enhance fiscal aspect of the policy.

He said the budget would give meaning to the transfer of staff and the functions of the assemblies, adding that the Ministry was working closely with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to operationalize the integrated district composite budget.

Mr. Quansah said the composite budget would support the district assemblies’ common fund as a dedicated fund to finance local level development.

Giving an overview of the research Dr. Fridy said the findings suggested that as one moves from relatively affluent urban areas to less affluent and rural areas, the formal modes of governance provisions outlined in the constitution and other legal document became blurred as citizens adapt structures to serve unintended roles.

He said the survey asked respondents who they would consult given various infrastructure, social service, and policing issues.

Dr. Beatrix Allah-Mensah a discussant from the University of Ghana said indicators of governance point to the fact that the country is beginning to realise the need to pursue local governance.

Dr. Patrick Osei Kuffuor, another discussant from the University of Cape Coast said the time has come for stakeholders to assess the routines that enable officials to achieve their functional objectives.

June 4…JJ Still Intransigent

JJ Rawlings on June 4.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday June 6, 2011.
THE ANNUAL June 4 anniversary celebration was once again commemorated by Jerry John Rawlings, one of the architects of the so-called revolution and his cohorts on Saturday.

At the Revolution Square in front of the Jubilee House now Flagstaff House Accra, a sizeable crowd mainly members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) were there to mark the 32nd anniversary.

JJ Rawlings led the ceremony but did not speak as he was billed to travel to Kumasi that morning to address NDC supporters in his bid to get his wife Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings to unseat President John Evan Atta Mills as the NDC’s flagbearer for the 2012 general elections.

The atmosphere was charged when the former President who doubles as NDC founder arrived to preside over the short ceremony.

For about an hour, the highway from the 37 Military Hospital to Ako Adjei Interchange was blocked to allow the ‘revolutionaries’ to pay their respect to the dead by laying wreaths.

Most people at the scene wore white T-shirts with inscription “June 4 Prevails” and as usual the ceremony began with the pouring of libation followed by Muslim prayers and finally Christian prayers.

After observing a minute of silence in memory of those who lost their lives during the uprising wreaths were laid.

It was Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah who withdrew from the race to become NDC flagbearer at the last hour who laid the first wreath on behalf of Ghanaians.

The second wreath was laid on behalf of the security forces by Martin Amidu, Attorney general and Minister of Justice while the 3rd was laid for cadres by Nii Amasah Namoale, a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture with support from Rejoice Amable and Allen Torsu.

The last was laid by WO1 Ben Della in honour of the principles of probity and accountability.

Former Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Arnold Quainoo (Rtd) lighted the perpetual flame with support from two others.
JJ Rawlings was accompanied at the ceremony by his wife and children.

NDC party Chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei, secretary general Johnson Asiedu Nketia propaganda secretary Richard Quashigah was there for the celebration.

Others who were there included Hani Sherry Ayittey Minister of Environment Science and Technology, Nii Armah Ashittey, Greater Accra Regional Minister among others.

Conspicuously missing was president Mills and his vice John Dramani Mahama.
Herbert Mensah, a friend of the Rawlingses gave the vote of thanks.

Daasebre hails Prez Mills' Visit

Daasebre Professor Emeritus Oti Boateng welcoming President Mills to koforidua.
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By William Yaw Owusu

Monday June 6, 2011.
Daasebre Professor Emeritus Oti Boateng, President of the New Juaben Traditional Council, has said the successful durbar held to welcome President John Mills during his tour of the Eastern region last week is an indication that peace and unity can always be achieved.

“This is an indication that with ones of purpose and unity, the traditional areas and the Eastern region as a whole can be assured of progress and prosperity in the years to come,” he reiterated.

A news release issued in Koforidua and signed by Daasebre Oti Boateng on behalf of the traditional council said “Nananom would like to appeal to the youth and all other citizens to continue to support the traditional authority in its determined efforts to make the area a much better place to live.”

He said the council would welcome the views of the youth and other citizens toward a peaceful and progressive development of the area.

He said “any person or group, which is aggrieved should bring forward their grievances for the necessary measures to be taken to redress them,” adding “all such grievances and concerns should be channeled through the registrar of the council to the authority for peaceful resolution so as not to disturb the prevailing peaceful atmosphere and the on-going development projects in the area.”

Daasebre Oti Boateng said the council expects citizens of the area to do their utmost to support Nananom to maintain and enhance the traditions, customary usages and practices so as to preserve and uphold the high image of the traditional area.

“Nananom trust that peace and tranquility as well as established harmonious relations will continue to ensure the smooth implementation of the request by Nananom to the President of Ghana for the establishment of a public university for the region, the building of a regional capital, the support of tourism and sports development and the promotion of industrial development in the area in particular and the region as a whole.”

He said if the development interventions are made it would create more jobs and bring about poverty alleviation.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

STX Housing Project in Danger

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday May 2, 2011.
The controversial STX Housing project which sparked intense debate before deal was approved by Parliament appears to be stalling as the Ghanaian and Korean partners virtually trading punches.

The partners are battling it out in court over the sourcing of funds for the project, while the government panics as the dream of building the supposed 30,000 houses for the country security agencies fizzling out.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) government reached an agreement with STX Engineering & Construction Limited, Korea through its subsidiary in Ghana for the construction of 200,000 houses in Ghana within a period of five years estimated at $10billion and in August 2010, parliament approved an initial off-take agreement for 30,000 housing units for the security agencies at a proportionate cost of $1.5 billion.

However, the sources of funding for the project as well as the alleged attempt by STX Korea to remove the Ghanaian Directors from the company has cast serious doubt on the take-off of the project, five months after the ground breaking by President Atta Mills amidst fanfare.

STX had promised to bring the money from Korea as captured in the agreement, but that has not happened, leading to the government and the local partners to look else where for cash.

According to DAILY GUIDE sources, the sovereign guarantee issued by the Ghana government to STX to enable it to raise loan has allegedly been given to B.K. Asamoah, the man who facilitated the deal to source for funding in financial market without reference to the Koreans.

This side stepping is what has infuriated the Koreans, prompting them to go to court to dismiss the Ghanaian directors.

Even though the government is trying feverishly to make things appear as if all is well with the project, as Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Alban Bagbin says the parties have been spoken to.

When Mr. Bagbin was asked by Joy FM about additional sources of funding for the project he simply said “the money is available so it is not an issue of funding. I won’t disclose the source of additional funding but the money is coming into our account at the bank of Ghana.”

He continued “there is no difficulty in sourcing funds. Funds have been sourced and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning can confirm that money is available.”

Mr. Bagbin said since the Bank of Ghana issued sovereign guarantee to cover the project, there is mad rush by banks to provide financial support for the project.

He also said the government is committed to the project saying “it is government’s project and not STX project. Government definitely has a plan B to continue with the works the parties are in court we can deal with the technical team.”

He said the problem between the directors was as a result of breakdown in communication and that government had another strategy to ensure that the project still continues even if the standoff is not resolved on time.

B.K. Asamoah is credited largely for bringing about the STX Korean deal that the Mills administration is hoping would provide accommodation for many Ghanaians but sensing that the Koreans are planning to remove him from the company through emergency board meeting, he went to court in Accra to stop the move.

In the motion, Mr. Asamoah wants the court to declare as illegal and wrongful, notices of an impending extraordinary meeting where he and another Director, J. B. Asafo Boakye would be dismissed.

Recently for instance, Danquah Institute (DI), a policy analysts group raised red flag over the implementation of the project because of what it calls “the government’s ambiguity, changes and re-arrangements with sources of funding of the project”.

A fellow at IMANI Ghana, Kofi Bentil has also challenged Bagbin’s claim that there is funding for the project and stated that evidence available clearly showed that there is no funding for the project.

He further challenged the Minister on Joy FM to come out with the details of the names of organizations which have provided the money and the amounts involved.
He said such details should not be concealed and treated as though it was a national security matter.

He reiterated his belief that the STX project is a misplaced priority which government should have avoided.

According to him, money for the project will be of better use if channeled towards solving the perennial water problems the nation faces.

Akufo-Addo visits Jones Attuquayefio

Nana Akuffo-Addo (left) in a hearty chat with Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio (right). With him are Akuamoah Toyota (2nd right) and Reverend Osei Kofi (2nd right), all retired footballers.
Posted on:

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday June 2, 2011.
It was a moment of nostalgia for Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, the renowned football coach when Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) visited him to offer his encouragement and support for his speedy recovery.

Sir Cecil as he is affectionately called has been sick for about two years and has not been able to do active coaching ever since.

The NPP flag bearer is said to have had a stint with Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s Republicans in 1962 where Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio Jones was an active member of the team and they have been friends till date.

Nana Akufo-Addo, accompanied by Gabby Asare Otchere Darko, Executive Director of Danquah Institute and other aides were met on arrival at the coach’s Kaneshie home by Reverend Osei Kofi, one of Ghana’s greatest footballers ever and Akuamoah Toyota who once played for Accra Great Olympics.

Welcoming the NPP flag bearer, Akuamoah Toyota who spoke on behalf of Sir Cecil commended Nana Akufo-Addo for remembering his old friend saying “he will forever be grateful for your gesture.”

Nana Akufo-Addo for his part underscored the need for the nation to reward its footballers and other athletes who have made significant contributions towards the development of sports.

Later in an interview Reverend Osei Kofi, one of the greatest footballers ever to play for Ghana said the time has come for the government to set up a fund for retired footballers and other athletes as it is done for civil and other public servants.

“They have contributed their quota towards the development of sports and this is the time for them to be rewarded for their sacrifices.”

“We sacrificed a lot for this nation but almost all our members are now wallowing in abject poverty.”

The NPP flag bearer later presented undisclosed amount of money and some items to Sir Cecil.

Sir Cecil had an illustrious coaching career including Accra Great Olympics, Okwawu United, Stade Abidjan, Goldfields Football Club (now Ashanti Gold) and Academy, Black Meteors (U23), Black Starlets (U17), Accra Hearts of Oak where he won the CAF Champions League, senior National team Black Stars, Benin National Team and Dansoman-based Liberty Professionals.

WACAM sad over Anna Bossman’s exit

Posted on:

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday June 2, 2011.
WACAM, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) campaigning against irresponsible mining in the country, has expressed sadness over the resignation of Anna Bossman who until recently was the Acting Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

“WACAM wishes to express its surprise and sadness on the resignation of Ms Anna Bossman, the former Acting Commissioner of CHRAJ. We wish her the best in her future endeavours and hope that she would not stray from her commitment to the protection of the rights of the poor.”

A statement issued in Accra and signed by Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of WACAM, said Ms. Anna Bossman personifies excellence in the public service and many Ghanaians would remember her “for her dedication to national duty especially the protection of the rights of the poor.”

The release said WACAM will remember Ms. Bossman “for advancing the preliminary work of her predecessor Justice Francis Emile Short in constituting investigations on the human rights abuses in mining communities.”

WACAM said Ms. Bossman had the patience to listen to testimonies of the mining communities on human rights abuses, displacement of communities, cyanide spillages, air and water pollution, loss of livelihood and the general worsening of the living conditions of host communities, which resulted from the unbridled desire of foreign capital to exploit the country’s natural wealth.

“She visited mining communities in very remote areas to have first-hand information on the human rights abuses perpetrated by multinational mining companies. Those of us who had the opportunity to accompany her on the visit to mining communities would forever remember the simplicity with which she handled human rights issues and this manifested in her deep respect and tolerance for very ordinary people.”

WACAM said the former CHRAJ Boss worked hard with her team of staff of the Commission to document the human rights abuses in mining communities in a report titled “The State of human rights in mining communities,” which was published in 2008, adding “CHRAJ report has contributed immensely to the on-going reforms in the mining sector and the report has become a reference point globally that brings out the human rights challenges confronting resource rich developing countries.”

“WACAM and the mining communities commend her highly for her extraordinary commitment to the protection of the rights of poor mining communities. Though we are sad to lose such a dedicated public servant at this time when we need the services of nationalists of her kind, her leadership style has become a model for public service. We are proud that she has left a legacy of dedicated public service to be emulated by many public servants.”