Thursday, September 29, 2011

Biometric Verification Is Key - Says Group

Members of the CFI at the news conference (from Left): Douglas Quartey (IDEG), Emmanuel Bombande (WANEP), Major General (Rtd) C.N. Coleman (Chairman of CFI), Prof. Kwame Ninsin (Chairman of IDEG) and Dr. Kwesi Jonah of the University of Ghana.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday September 29, 2011.
“If the system cannot be verified then it will come with serious problems for the nation”.

This was the assessment of a coalition of Civil Society Organizations on the much-talked about biometric voters registration exercise to be carried out by the Electoral Commission (EC) for the 2012 general election.

“We are very clear in our statement. Verification is something that everybody wants and it is important that we should not make verification an ‘either or issue’. In case there is a challenge we want to find the means of verification then upon that we can be able to insist on what is right but if we do not have verification mechanism how are we able to engage one another?”

The coalition which calls itself Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) had organized a news conference in Accra yesterday to share their ‘perspectives’ on the impending biometric voters registration which they said is “one of the most troubling political developments in our country as we prepare towards the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.”

The organizations that make up the CFI are the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), African Security Dialogue and Research (ASDR), Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), National Chief Imam’s Office, National Catholic Secretariat, Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Women in Law and Development (WiLDAF).

Addressing the media at the premises of IDEG, Emmanuel Bombande of WANEP who read the CFI’s statement said it was no secret that the bidding process for the procurement of biometric registration equipment has been a matter for litigation before the courts while verification on election day in the biometric system has become a very contentious issue between some political parties and the EC.

“Just yesterday, September 27, 2011, the Commercial Court a division of the Fast Track High Court cleared the way for the EC to award the contract for the procurement of the biometric register for the 2012 elections.”

He said “we are of the view that unless these issues are urgently addressed, they could pose a serious threat to the credibility of the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections as occurred in 2008. It is also important that all efforts are made to reduce delays to the minimum and raise public confidence in the biometric registration system that is being introduced.”

Mr. Bombande said all stakeholders especially political parties must maintain the trust in the EC and support the commission not only to complete the biometric registration process but also to deliver free, fair and transparent elections in 2012 saying “as major stakeholders in Ghana's democracy, political parties and the EC should work closely together and do so in good faith.”

“Constitutionally, the EC is an independent State institution that must not be subject to the control of any other body or institution in the performance of its functions. However we also recognize that the EC, like all state institutions, must be fully accountable to its various publics.”

According to the WANEP boss, the functional effectiveness and past successes of the commission had been enhanced by “its responsiveness to ideas and proposals that invariably contributed to the integrity of both the processes and outcomes of Ghana's widely acclaimed record of holding free, fair and transparent elections,” and should continue to be receptive to dialogue.

He said the EC since 1992 has established a good track record in the management of elections and has won the trust and confidence of everybody including the international community saying “in view of its past performance, the EC is an institution that must be trusted to conduct free, fair and transparent elections.”

“We recall the serious flaws and abuses associated with the manual voters' registration in this country. At this stage we think the nation should not consider manual voters’ registration as a viable option.”

“In that regard, we appeal to the EC to take concrete measures to ensure that issues raised about verification, quality and security of the biometric voters register are comprehensively addressed to the satisfaction of all stakeholders, and in a timely manner.”

“The EC and other stakeholders such as the NCCE, the media and CSOs should be supported to intensify public education on the biometric registration system. This should be done early enough to enhance general understanding and appreciation of the value addition we hope the system will bring to the credibility of the electoral roll and the conduct of free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections in 2012.”

He said the people of Ghana and the entire international community are looking up to the country to maintain the very high standards the EC has already set in managing competitive elections adding “we cannot afford to fail in 2012.”

During question time, Mr. Bombande said it was important and urgent for the EC to work towards regaining public confidence towards 2012 saying “it is what we do before that provides the quality and not what happens on voting day. And so there is that component of public education.”

“Associated with that is the key stakeholders. If you notice we highlighted the question of trust. When mistrust deepens it creates the grounds for these contentious issues to become more difficult to deal with.”

He said all the stakeholders will not disagree with anybody that they want a credible election and added “but if we all agree that we want a credible election and there are issues that need to be put on the table why are we taking so long to sit down and talk about them.”

“In our analysis as Civic Forum initiative, we see that we are seeing a growing and deepening mistrust and we are saying let us stop that mistrust now… and for that reason we have called the track record of the EC and we have drawn the attention of the people Ghana to the fact that we have done it before and therefore cannot afford to fail.”

He said the problems are not because it is a biometric registration but rather because key stakeholders have a deep perception of mistrust about the other saying “that is why we are calling on the EC to institute those measures that allow the consultative processes, the dialogue processes for the consensus building.”

Mr. Bombande said that the journey to December 2012 is going to be achieved on the processes of every stakeholder being part of the consensus building and consultative process rather than standing on the sides and raising the issues without being part of the whole process.

EC’s Independence Real – Sarfo Kantanka

Mr. Sarfo Kantanka explaining issues to the delegation.

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By William Yaw OwusuThursday September 29, 2011.
THE DEPUTY Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC) in charge of Operations, Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka has reaffirmed the commitment of the commission to assert its independence under the constitution.

“This current composition of the commission has been in existence since 1992. We have supervised many general elections of which the outcomes have further consolidated the country’s democracy. We have always operated within the confines of the law and all stakeholders have accorded us the respect we need.”

Mr. Sarfo-Kantanka was speaking in Accra yesterday when a delegation from political parties in Tanzania paid a familiarization visit to the Commission.

The visit was organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) for the delegation to get first hand information on how certain institutions of state are advancing the course of democracy in Ghana.

Giving an overview of the functions of the EC, the deputy Commissioner said it was erroneous for anybody to hold that the EC manipulated election results to favour certain political parties saying, “The system is so strict that before we at the national head office get the results, everybody is aware of it at the polling station level.”

Asked how the commission handles allegations of rigging he said, “Nobody has been able to prove allegations of rigging against us but when we receive reports of malpractices, we set our investigative machinery in motion.”

He said “we are subject to the electoral and other laws of the land. Where we go wrong we are taken to court. In most cases we win our cases and lose a few.”

He told the delegation that the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) has been very collaborative in the effort to ensure that the organization of elections is effective saying “they make their views known to us if they are not happy with certain issues and we take our time to explain issues to them.”

He noted that the EC was planning to increase the polling stations to about 23,500 so that the commission could bring the processes of elections to the doorsteps of the electorate.

Mr. Sarfo-Kantanka also said the EC was waiting for the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) to release findings from the 2010 Population and Housing Census to enable them to consider increment of constituencies.

The deputy commissioner said the collaboration between the security agencies and the judiciary was effective adding “we involve the security agencies particularly the police whenever the need arises.

“Once the system is solid, it will be difficult for anybody to be favoured. In the end it is the process that will indicate whether the process has been free and fair but in all these we have always tried our best to live above reproach as a commission.”

“We have insulation from interference under the constitution and we want to maintain the sanctity of the commission.”

Dr. Michael Ofori-Mensah, a policy analyst at the IEA, who led the delegation, in his introductory remarks, said the institute was committed to deepening the democratic engagements of state institutions to ensure accelerated development of democracy.

Lecturer Vows To Capture Ayawaso West For NDC

Dr. Ebenezer Kofi Hayford wants to lead the NDC to capture the seat from the NPP.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday september 29, 2011.
A lecturer at Geology Department of the University of Ghana Dr. Ebenezer Kofi Hayford says he is the ideal candidate to ‘capture’ the Ayawaso West Wugon Constituency for the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

“I have been in this constituency for many years and I know development needs of the constituents. The NDC has been an orphan in the constituency for 15 years. I come on board as a servant who is prepared to recapture the seat for our great party.”

Speaking to DAILY GUIDE after filing his nomination to contest the Ayawaso West Wugon Constituency primaries of the NDC, Dr. Hayford, who is a National Executive Committee member of the ruling party, emphasized the need for NDC to present what he called ‘solid’ candidates to enable them capture more seats and also retain power in 2012.

He said the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) which currently controls the seat has lost what he called “confidence of the people,” adding “whether they like it or not next year the voters are going to give them an exit cheque.”

“For years that the NPP has sat on the seat, you cannot pinpoint anything specific that they have done for the electorate. The NPP has not justified the sort of trust put into them by the electorate,” he claimed.

“This constituency is one of the largest and richest in the country. Although you have some of the modern houses, good streets in Accra in this constituency we have also got areas where the streets are actually very bad. The area has been developed such that it is difficult for you to get recreational centers especially for the youth.”

He said, “I am more concerned for the youth, we have to create enough avenues for the youth to explore their potential. We have to nurture them to become responsible future leaders who will do everything to move Ghana forward. If the opportunities are there the youth might not very quickly turn to acts that impede the development of the nation.”

He said creation of employment is critical on his agenda.

“I want to see the constituents, particularly the youth enter into productive ventures. The issue of joblessness must be tackled without delay.”

“I have also realized that even though our constituency is the richest, we do not have a party office. I know the constituency executives are trying hard to find an office space for us. I am going to set myself a task to build an elaborate constituency office. I have already started talking to some members of the party on how to raise funds for such a laudable project.

“I will also make sure that all the wards get spaces for meetings in the form of offices to enhance party activities.”

“I must be honest that it is not all problems that can be solved at the constituency level but in any case with the strategy I have, I should be able to handle most of the problems that may come up.

“Already I am assisting brilliant but needy students and I am going to intensify this effort when I get the nod. I believe that we should use our positions to bring hope to the needy.”

He said President Mills’ Better Ghana Agenda is on course and it was up to the appointees to articulate the policies of the NDC government to the people.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

John Tia Lauds Ghana’s Media

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday September 28, 2011.
Minister of Information John Akologu Tia says even though there may be excesses in the media, it has become “indispensable in the country’s journey towards socio-economic advancement.”

“The various socio-economic programmes carried out on our print and electronic media in the form of documentaries, features and discussions go a long way at educating the masses. The sheer wide coverage nature of the television and the radio means that the media has become such a powerful medium with which to educate, inform and entertain dispersed people within the shortest possible time.”

The minister was speaking at the opening at a regional tool kit pre-validation workshop for the working group on Communication for Education and Development (COMED) in Africa at GIMPA, Accra on Monday.

The three-day event is being organized by the COMED working group in collaboration with the Ghana Journalists Association and the Institute of Continuing and Distance Education for journalists, academics, communication experts and education specialists from several parts of Africa in attendance.

The COMED programme was established in 1998 to help build national consensus and enhance public support for education policies and programs. It became an ADEA working group in 2002.

The working group is made up of four major constituencies: ministries of education through their communication or information units, media specialized in education reporting, communication researchers and trainer and development organizations involved in the group's areas of concern.

Mr. Tia said the role of the media is even more prominent because “it has become so accessible to the masses therefore through the regular media debates, talk shows and public interactions,” the electorate had become part of the governance process and “responsible comments on programmes and policies are given fair consideration by politicians and other government actors.”

He said what the media is doing “gives further impetus to the country’s goal of ensuring that there is a cross-sectoral participation in the business of governance.”

“One cannot exhaust the importance of the media without exploring how the media integrates other communication platforms to advance the cause of both formal and informal education. Today in Ghana, educational instructions targeted at both junior and senior high school students are broadcast on television,” he noted adding “this is indeed possible through the combined effect of the media and other communication platforms which have virtually eroded spatial limitations.”

The minister pledged to work toward strengthening inter-ministerial collaborations to ensure that government’s business becomes very effective.

Lawalley Cole, Coordinator of WG COMED said he was hopeful that the toolkit will remain an integral instrument in the education sector.

Seatholo Tumedi, Coordinator of the COMED Toolkit in Botswana said the scenarios in the module which the toolkit is seeking to address are prevalent in Southern Africa.

Professor Kate Addo-Adeku, a member of COMED said Ghana has been playing a lead role in actualizing the objectives set out in the toolkits and called for continuous collaboration to ensure it is followed to bring accelerated development.

Professor Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi, Head of the Institute of Continuing Education said his outfit was prepared to partner the media to facilitate the COMED agenda.

For his part, Ransford Tetteh, President of the GJA said the time had come for the media to reassess its contribution towards development and tackle teething problems that are hindering development.

Professor Alfred Opubor, the first man in Africa to get a PHD in Communication said it is absolutely not true that development stories are not interesting.

“I think it is rather poor journalism which is not interesting. Even when it deals with the fables of people in society including politicians, it can get boring if it is not well handled. We know that there is development journalism. Read stories of websites and other media that are doing well on development issues and you as a journalist will be inspired.

“What we need is not a move away from development journalism but a move to get our journalists better trained to write stories on African development in an engaging and professionally competent manner”

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pressure Mounts on Electoral Commission

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday September 27, 2011
PRESSURE IS mounting on the Electoral Commission (EC) to complete the processes that will lead to the much-talked about biometric registration for the 2012 general elections.

With about 14 months to the elections, political parties, particularly the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and People’s National Convention (PNC) have raised red flags over the process being adopted by the EC for the exercise expressing fears that the program might not materialize after all.

Last month, some parties walked out of a demonstration exercise organized by the EC for shortlisted companies, one of whom was to be selected to undertake the biometric registration.

They cited the pending legal action instituted by another company that felt shortchanged in the short-listing process.

Apart from organizing public education and orientation to staff and all stakeholders on the new technology, the EC is yet to present a proposal to parliament for the amendment of the Public Election Act that allows the commission to conduct the biometric registration exercise.

The EC is also silent on the critical issue of verification of the whole biometric process without which the process will be flawed.

Even though Acting Public Affairs Director of EC, Christian Owusu-Parry has assured that the commission is on course to delivering on the biometric registration, an allegation by the political parties that the EC had kept them in the dark on the implementation process is worrisome.

Amidst the confusion, Intelligent Card Production Systems (ICPS) - the company that instituted the legal action has hit back strongly against accusations that it was responsible for the delay in the implementation of the biometric registration exercise because of its decision to seek redress in court.

A news release issued by ICPS Consortium signed by its Legal Director Joseph Kofi Amoako titled: ‘Re: Procurement of Biometric Voters Registration System,’ said ICPS was correcting “certain factual inaccuracies in the public domain on this issue”
The company said in March 2011, the ICP-led consortium of international companies was “shortlisted and pre-qualified to submit a bid for the Biometric Voter Registration System, after it submitted an expression of interest in the project pursuant to an advertisement in the newspapers in February 2011.”

The statement said “Five (5) entities were initially short-listed and prequalified in order of merit (ICPS consortium was 4th in ranking), but subsequently, the EC increased the number of shortlisted companies and pre-qualified entities to seven (7), which ICPS contends, was in contravention of a mandatory limit of six (6) as set by the Public Procurement Act (Act 663) Section 67.

“In the first week of August 2011, the EC commenced its evaluation of the shortlisted companies including the ICPS led consortium. By a letter dated 11th August 2011, the EC informed ICPS that its bid had been disqualified because it was not responsive.”

The release said the reason advanced was that ICPS failed to submit a Certificate of Incorporation with its tender documents, a decision that ICPS contended was not in consonance with sections 58 & 59 of the Procurement Act (Act 663).

“ICPS considers its disqualification unlawful, unfair and arbitrary, as there was no requirement for the said Certificate to be submitted (as required by law), in the Invitation to Tender (ITT).”

According to the statement, “without responding to ICPS’ protest letter on August 12, the EC on August 15 commenced the second stage of the evaluation process by calling two (2) of the shortlisted companies to demonstrate their Technical Proposal.

“The ICPS consortium was compelled to commence legal proceedings against the EC on the morning of 15th August 2011 when the EC started the demonstrations as scheduled at 11am, without having evaluated the ICPS consortium’s Technical Proposal.”

The release said on the same day, ICPS wrote two letters to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), complaining about what it viewed as a breach of the law in the EC’s conduct of the bidding process and applied for an administrative review of the wrongful disqualification and exclusion of its bid from the demonstration.

“The EC was served with the application for interlocutory injunction around 11:35am on 15th August 2011 when it had just commenced the demonstration. The EC however proceeded with the said demonstration in spite of service of the court process on it.”

“It was not until the EC was instructed by the PPA to suspend the demonstration for a period of seven (7) days by a letter dated 15th August 2011 that it halted the said demonstration. The suspension of the demonstration, the PPA indicated to ICPS was because the PPA was investigating a case for Administrative Review, as per its mandate under Section 82 of the Public Procurement Act (Act 663). Consequently, ICPS discontinued the suit against the EC on 19th of August 2011, to allow the PPA’s Administrative Review process to proceed in order to save a lengthy court process.”

The release said having ascertained that ICPS had established a prima facie case, “the PPA by a letter dated 22nd August extended the suspension for the entire tender process for a further period of twenty-three (23) working days. On 23rd August 2011, the PPA issued another letter, commencing a full scale investigation into the matter by demanding relevant documents from the EC to enable it conduct an effective Administrative Review.

“Notwithstanding the suspension of the bid process by the PPA, the EC went ahead in contravention of the PPA’s orders for suspension and Administrative Review, and scheduled the morning of 30th August 2011 to resume the demonstration of the technical proposals of the two (2) bidders. On 30th August 2011, the ICPS consortium was therefore compelled to re-institute legal proceedings due to the EC’s disregard of the PPA’s suspension order. Had the EC complied with the suspension order, ICPS would not have returned to the courts and the PPA’s expedited Administrative Review would have concluded and the contract awarded by now.”

The ICPS consortium assured the public that the institution of legal proceedings against the EC “is not an attempt to delay the biometric voter’s registration exercise; neither is ICPS imputing any malicious intent to the EC.”

The statement said the actions taken by ICPS consortium was to ensure that the rule of law prevailed by pointing out what it called “grievous errors of law made by the EC that can and must be corrected expeditiously, and also to exercise its constitutional right to protect its interests in relation to its wrongful exclusion from the bidding process.”

Mills Battered Over Lame UN Speech

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday September 27, 2010.
Kwesi Pratt Junior, Managing Editor of Insight has descended heavily on President John Evan Atta Mills for his ‘free school uniform, exercise books, elimination of schools under trees’ address delivered at the United Nations General Assembly.

“You compare the speech that our President gave to speeches delivered by Evo Morales (Bolivian President) and see how he grabbed world attention. It is incredible…I must say with all honesty that I was not impressed at all with President Mills’ speech.”

Speaking on Radio Gold’s news analysis programme Alhaji and Alhaji last Saturday, Mr. Pratt who has been defending President Mills and NDC government said the free school uniform, exercise books, and elimination of schools under trees speech made by the UN “is the kind of speech you make at your national assembly and not at the UN General Assembly”.

The UN is a world platform where you go and mobilize the world on issues and so on…what are you saying at the UN… we have eliminated schools under trees…we are distributing free exercise books and school uniforms and so on… what has these got to do with the UN.”

“To be honest with you, even though the issues the President raised are critical to the development of Ghana, they are issues not worth the attention they received at the General Assembly.”

Mr. Pratt said “yesterday when I listened to the President’s speech I felt very uncomfortable…so something is wrong with the speech writers of the President, something is wrong with the Foreign Ministry and something is wrong with developing a global perspective.”

He said most President used the forum to discuss problems of the world and how they see the world but President Mills went there to talk about distribution of free school uniform, free exercise books, schools under trees among others.

“Look, the organization of free and fair elections is important because if we do not do it we risk pushing our country to the brink of catastrophe but why the UN?”

He said one of the key issues being decided at the UN is whether or not the people of Palestine are entitled to a seat in the UN but President Mills chose not to join the debate and state Ghana’s position on the matter saying “why can’t we be bold enough and join the world movement in condemning Zionism”.

He said the world is confronted with the bellicosity of imperialism and added that the UN had become “something which is in the back pocket of the United States” adding “on the basis of things which were found in Wikileaks and so on, the US is killing hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.”

“What is the stand of Ghana? Do we mean that we have no stand? Are we afraid of the US? Are we afraid of the imperialists? What is wrong with us” he asked.

“Look at the bellicosity of the imperialism. Look at the ravaging recklessness of imperialism and so on and we go to talk about free school uniforms.”

He said for President Mills not to take the opportunity to re-affirm Ghana’s support for Palestine when in fact Ghana was one of the first countries to recognize the state of Palestine is unpardonable.

“We took the lead in recognizing the state of Palestine…how come that at this juncture we are all running away…why are we afraid of the US?”

Monday, September 26, 2011

NYEP Health Workers Not Paid

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday September 24, 2011.
About 200 Health Extension Workers engaged under the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) are up in arms with the authorities after they claimed they have not received salaries for the past 10 months.

However, Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed, a deputy Coordinator of National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) in charge of communications has told Daily Guide that the delay was as a result of a technical hitch but assured that the salaries are ready and would be paid on Monday.
Yesterday, about 40 of the workers who operate in health facilities in the Accra Metropolis stormed the NYEP headquarters near the Ridge Hospital to press home their demand for salaries but were turned away.

According their leaders - who do not want to be named for fear of victimization - they have never received salaries since they started full work in December 2010 but nobody seems to care about their condition of service.

“When we got to the premises we requested to see the accountant to know the reasons why we have not been paid but we were not allowed to see him.”

“They asked us to rather put down our names and account numbers;” adding “writing down our particulars has become a common thing but we always do not hear from them,” one of the leaders claimed.

They alleged that the coordinators had employed people through the back-door who were not working but were withdrawing salaries and that may have accounted for the NYEP’s inability to pay them

They said when they were engaged their salaries were pegged at GH¢ 120.

Explaining the circumstances leading to the delay, Murtala Mohammed told Daily Guide that “when a person is given an appointment letter, the person reports to where he or she has been sent and would have received letter of acceptance.”

He said having received the letter of acceptance; the District Coordinator will then give him or her letter of introduction to the bank to open an account and usually we do it at ADB and where there is no ADB we allow them to open their accounts in community banks there.”

He said having opened the account the beneficiary is expected to assume work and the head of the institution where the beneficiary is posted to would write to the headquarters through the District Coordinator to conclude that indeed the person is working.

Murtala Mohammed said after the processes had been completed the headquarters would then certify that beneficiary should then start collecting his or her salary.

He said there are several reasons why some of the beneficiaries might not have received their salaries saying “some of the beneficiaries might not have reported for work in order to go through the processes to qualify for salary.

He said some of the beneficiaries had gone through all the processes but their District Coordinators delayed in sending their information to the headquarters for them to sanction the process.

“We have told the coordinators that even if they have three people they should send the information to us. They should not wait for to get the full list before they send them to us.”

“I can tell you that we have sent the money to the ADB. We were expecting that the bank would have credited the accounts of the beneficiaries but that has not been done because once they credit the accounts the bank would send them text messages.”

He said they have followed up to the bank and the bank has assured that all the accounts would be credited on Monday saying “it is certain that from Monday they will enjoy their money.”

Kufuor Gets ECOWAS Post

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday September 24, 2011.
After launching his foundation to promote excellence in leadership, governance and development, Former President John Agyekum Kufuor is on the move again, this time around in Liberia to promote peace democracy.

He has commenced a four-day pre-election mission in Liberia as the Special Envoy of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) with former Nigerian Head of state of Nigeria, General Abdulsalami Abubakar as joint Special Envoy.

The two leaders are expected to get first hand information and brief ECOWAS on preparations towards Liberia's second general election since it returned to constitutional rule almost five years ago after more than a decade of civil war.

Sixteen political parties including the ruling Congress for Democratic Change of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is seeking a second five-year term, will take part in the election slated for October.

President Sirleaf when she became the leader of Liberia had said she would not contest for a second term in office and her turnaround has shocked many.

The two former Presidents held separate meetings with officials of the United Nations Mission in Liberia and the Independent Electoral Commission of Liberia (INEC) on arrival.

Former President Kufuor made a passionate appeal to INEC to live to conduct the elections in a manner would win the trust and confidence of all the parties and the people.

He told the INEC strictly apply the electoral rule to ensure a successful election because history beckons Liberia.

Both Madam Ellen Margaret Loj, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Liberia and Mr. James Fromayan, Chairman of INEC, were concerned about the use of intemperate language by political actors which they said has the tendency to plunge the country into chaos once again.

Mr. Kufuor and General Abubakar are expected to meet President Johnson-Sirleaf and later representatives of political parties, civil society and the media.

Friday, September 23, 2011

‘Nana Is No Booze Man’

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday September 23, 2011.
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor appears to have given a further boost to the credibility of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo when he said he has never seen the NPP flagbearer smoke or drink alcohol.

“If I am not exaggerating, I have known Nana Akufo-Addo for 40 years and more and I have never seen him indulge in smoking or taken alcohol in all these years,” the ex-President said.

Speaking to Adom FM yesterday about how he managed to invite Ex-President JJ Rawlings to his foundation launch at the University of Ghana and also the Wikileaks expose’ on Tuesday, Mr. Kufuor said Ghanaians should disregard smear campaign against the NPP flagbearer and rather look at what he (Akufo-Addo) can offer the country.

He said the Wikileaks expose should be disregarded because it has the tendency to derail the democratic gains made by the country by further dividing the people saying “I have always said that Wikileaks is just hearsay but if we are not careful and we rush to accept the contents we will destroy ourselves as a people.”

He said Nana Akufo-Addo is knowledgeable and has experience in politics and added that “he has matured to lead the NPP”.

“For many years I have known Nana Akufo-Addo especially in his time as Attorney-General, Foreign Minister and MP…if you give him light drink he will not take it…if you give him cigarette he will not smoke.”

The ex-President said it was not appropriate for detractors of the NPP flagbearer to judge him on his past deeds especially when it remains mere perception.

He said it is clear that people told lies about Nana Akufo-Addo to foreign diplomats and said those who made statements later came back to deny them saying “if we are not careful we can denigrate precious people who are capable of leading this country.”

“These are some of the dangers Wikileaks pose to our democracy.

Mr. Kufuor offered a sound advice to the youth to avoid being used by politicians to cause mayhem in the country.

He said “we need to trade ideas and dialogue to bring development and not indulge in insults, lies and character assassination.”

NDC Squeezes Sekou

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday September 23, 2011.
Sekou Nkrumah, son of Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah who recently resigned from the ruling NDC has branded his former party ‘vindictive’ after storming out of the Founder’s Day celebration in memory of his father.

“I am not upset…I have been in this country for a long time and I have been treated even worse long ago under the previous PNDC and sort but I am saying that we need to move above vindictive and petty politics currently on display.”

Dr. Sekou, who is no news to controversy, caused a stir last Wednesday when he walked out of the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum where a special wreath-laying ceremony was being laid in memory of Ghana’s first President as part of the Founder’s Day.
In attendance were Vice President John Dramani Mahama, former Presidents JA Kuf
uor, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Horst Kohler of Germany, top politicians, parliamentarians and members of the diplomatic corps.

Explaining circumstances leading to his abrupt departure from his father’s tomb, Dr. Sekou said “on evening Monday Baba Jamal, a deputy Minister of Information called me to find out where he can send the invitation to the three of us that is Francis, Samia and myself.”

He said after a couple of telephone calls, he received his invitation for the programme on Tuesday evening and he went to the mausoleum with his wife on Wednesday.

“When we got there we asked where is the family to be seated and they seem to be a lot of confusion over where the family should be seated and then somebody took us to the podium where the dignitaries were.”

Dr. Sekou said whilst on the podium, a lady came up to him and said they were not supposed to sit there and therefore had to look for a different place to make himself comfortable.

“So they took us to another place then as we sat down they gave us the programme and when I looked at it I realized my brother and my sister were to lay a wreath on behalf of the family.”

He added “my sister was to give a speech and then when I looked at the podium I realized she was already seated there and I thought that was not proper because the family needed to sit together.”

He said the choice of who should give a speech in the family should not be the decision of the government adding “even the seating arrangement…yes you have the right to put people where they think they should be placed but you do not divide the family because we were all invited to that function…We are all Nkrumah’s children not because somebody is NDC, somebody is NPP, somebody criticizes Prof. Mills or somebody does not praise Prof. Mills”.

He said when President Mills declared September 21 as the founder’s day he praised him for fulfilling a campaign promise but added “I am saying we do not have to then go beyond that and turn round when we feel people do not belong to our party.”

“If people are not supporting a person and are supporting somebody else then we go back to the vindictive and petty politics of the past. It is something that we should all have left behind.”

According to Dr. Sekou, “the politics of today is not attractive to a lot of people because people are still being vindictive …people are still being very petty …people are just seeking their self interest and not collective interests.”

He said he suspects the day was to celebrate the contribution of Kwame Nkrumah and not “smite” his children saying “because you think you have a difference of opinion with them or you do not belong to the same party or they have criticized you in the past and so on…these things can be put aside…we can address these issues on a different platform but not a day when we are celebrating Nkrumah and then you seem to want to slight some of his kids.”

“As I mentioned there were dignitaries there…there were people there who were also observing…and it does not speak well…they will not take us as people seriously.”

He said he could not have raised any concern at the ceremony because it could seem “I had walked in there thinking that I am Nkrumah’s son and so I deserve to be put in a certain level.”

“You remember when I resign from the NDC and gave my reasons…later I heard their General-Secretary saying that -‘when you come to the NDC you work with them and that the NDC do not have special place for people who think they are big men or children of big men’- but Sekou Nkrumah has never behaved in any way to call that attention to himself.”

“I left before the programme ended because I was being slighted and unfairly treated. I thought I was invited because I was one of Nkrumah’s children. I do not think where I was seated was proper.”

Dr. Sekou has time and time again called on the electorate to change President Mills in 2012 because he (President Mills) lacks vision.

“A lot of people see Mills as an academic and a gentleman. But, in the political arena, you need to be strong-minded, and it looks like this leadership quality is missing in Mills. So I guess we need a more strong-willed, dynamic personality, a charismatic person to inspire national confidence, and also to let the population see the national agenda and feel part of it.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kufuor’s Guest Prescribes Rule Of Law

Horst Kohler is a former President of IMF and Germany.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday September 22, 2011.
FORMER GERMAN President Horst Kohler who was the guest speaker at the launch of President John Agyekum Kufuor’s foundation at the University of Ghana prescribed for developing economies four thematic approaches that could bring socio-economic breakthrough.

He said rule of law, equitable distribution of wealth, transition to a new society and being part of a globalized world rather than against it country propel any country into a developed one.

Delivering a lecture themed: “Walking the tightrope: Balancing state, market and society”, President Kohler who was once the MD of International Monetary Fund (IMF) saidif Ghana or any country should adopt the social market economy system then the rule of law should reign supreme.

“Your own people as well as foreign investors and customers will only plan and engage themselves and their talent and capital long term if they trust in the laws of the land and the enforcement of their observation.”

He said “no enduring prosperity without the rule of law and a fine civil service or to say it with another familiar expression, good governance is crucial to reap the fruit of economic progress.”

Sharing his experience on how Germany was able to distribute wealth equitably under the social market economy system, President Kohler said “Africa has a huge potential thanks to its natural resources. The demand for them has increased significantly over the last years. Old and new players like China are trying to secure them for their economic development and some even talk about a new scramble for Africa.”

He said this international demand can provide a great source of economic prosperity for Africa, but the crucial task would be to ensure that this fortune will benefit all the people.

“In history, too often abundant natural resources did not become a blessing but rather a curse. The reason for this was very often corrupt leaderships which led the money rather into the private pockets of a few instead into investments for all.”

President Kohler said the industrializedcountries cannot also deny responsibilityof the state of affairs of most of the developing countries saying “they seized the profits from unequal contracts and were too often involved in corruption as well.”

“A country like Norway has proven that natural resources can become a blessing. I think that Ghana can be an Africansuccess story by rather going the way of Norway than that of Nigeria.”

He said transition to a modern, successful social market economy means nothing less than the transition to a new society saying “to keep such a newly developing society together is a political challenge of the utmost importance and difficulty.”

“All mattersconcerning the reward for achievement, the openness for talent and the distribution of economic success and growing wealth deserve the keenest political attention. The temptation to hit and run- to make money and free the country- must be ruled out.”

President Kohler said all success-stories are written within globalization and not against it saying “that does not mean that there is only one way of achievement. On the contrary, each nation should make its own way, just as each should find its own balance of social market economy-principles and policies.”

“Africa still has much of the Garden Eden in which all people of good faith like to believe. To preserve Africa’s natural beauty and richness by internalizing all cost to it caused by economic development will be a huge long term investment for the African people as well as for all mankind. And it will pay off best in my view when it is done in accordance with principles of a social market economy.”

He said whatever decisions Ghana takes regarding the economicand social developmentshould be based on “your own roots and ideas,” adding that the high expectation of oil revenues and the diligence of the people is making Ghana take what he called “a remarkable step towards sound economic development.”

The German President praised President Kufuor for his exemplary leadership saying “although it has been now for more than two years that you are out of office we know that a lot of the progress which Ghana is making today still goes back to the wise decisions under your leadership.”

JJ Storms Kufuor Launch

From L to R: Eberhard Schanze (German Ambassador), Thabo Mbeki (Former President South Africa), John Agyekum Kufuor (Former President Ghana), Prof. Ernest Ayittey (Vice Chancellor Univ. of Ghaha), Horst Kohler (Former President IMF & Germany), Jerry John Rawlings (Former President Ghana) and Prof. Kwesi Yankah (Immediate past Pro-Vice Chancellor Univ. of Ghana).

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday September 21, 2011.
It was all pomp and pageantry at the campus of the University of Ghana when former President John Agyekum Kufuor brought three other former presidents to launch his foundation.

The foundation is going to promote excellence in leadership, governance and development.

Former Presidents Jerry John Rawlings, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Horst Köhler of Germany delivered a lecture themed: “Walking the tightrope: Balancing state, market and society.”

Also there to show solidarity were a host of dignitaries including NPP flagbearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and many former NPP appointees, representatives of political parties particularly the newly elected Chairperson of the CPP Samia Nkrumah, the academia, religious bodies, civil society organizations as well as students.

Before the German President’s lecture at the Great Hall of Ghana’s premier university, Presidents Kohler and Mbeki accompanied Mr. Kufuor to the project site to officially break the ground for construction of the John Agyekum Kufuor Center of Excellence.

The Great Hall was packed and some of the audience had to stay outside throughout the programme.

Immediately Professor Kwesi Yankah, former Pro-Vice Chancellor of the university who was the moderator announced the presence of former President Rawlings and Nana Akufo-Addo in the course of the programme, the audience greeted each announcement with huge applauds.

An elated former President Kufuor in acknowledging the presence of his predecessor said “the presence of former President Rawlings shows how the foundation is determined to be non-partisan.”

Making an introductory remark, Mr. Kufuor said the center will serve as a think tank on institutional and socio-economic development issues and added that the foundation will have a global outlook.

He said the center will focus on critical thinking and provide an atmosphere that will ensure that the youth are nurtured on how to become responsible leaders.

“In my time in office, I became convinced that good and exemplary leadership is the critical ingredient for national development and after retiring I decided to leave a legacy for the emerging generation.”

President Mbeki in his solidarity message said it was time for authorities and institutions on the continent to make concerted efforts to provide quality leadership and nurturing for the youth.

He commended President Kufuor for establishing the foundation and said it will serve as an inspiration for the youth to strive for excellence.

Professor Ernest Aryitey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana who chaired the lecture said “this is the first this university or any other university in the country is playing host to such an event.”

He said the commitment shown by former President Kufuor should help to strengthen the bond between politics and the academia and also facilitate the effort to nurture the youth take up leadership position.

Lecturer Weeps for Basic Schools

Dr. Kwadwo Tutu is not happy with the standards of basic education in the public sector.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday September 21, 2011.
A SENIOR lecturer at the University of Ghana Dr. Kwadwo Tutu has lamented the lack of attention given to public basic schools in the country saying “we are setting a very dangerous precedent for the country’s future development.”

“Basic education has become the preserve of the rich, the influential and the privileged. Every parent is abandoning public basic schools for private education for their children. The majority of pupils in public schools continue to perform abysmally and nobody seems to care…what future are we building for this country?” he said.

Dr. Tutu, a lecturer at the Economics Department of the university, was addressing a news conference in Accra on recently on the topic ‘The Gradual but persistent descent of Ghana into catastrophe: The privatization of basic education in Ghana.”

He said “I am here as a concerned Ghanaian to express my dismay and fears about a dangerous process that has been going on for a long time but now with intensity. This dangerous outcome faces us starkly in the face but like the proverbial ostrich, Ghanaians behave as if nothing is happening. This is the consistent destruction of basic public schools and the mushrooming of private preparatory schools at the basic level.”

He noted that the quality of education at public basic schools continue to deteriorate at a fast speed adding “I am sure most of you are aware of several rural and some semi-urban schools scoring zero percent in the recent BECE results. I heard on the radio two days ago that at Agona East, only one student had aggregate 15. All the other schools scored zero percent. How can students go through 9 years of schooling and several schools score zero percent? These are the results from public schools. While this is happening at the public schools, the private schools are scoring 100 percent.”

He explained that in the past, 90 percent of university students came from public schools but currently about 80 percent of university students come from private schools, saying “the basic reason is that the quality of students from public schools is so bad that about 70 percent of JSS graduates cannot read or write. Therefore, they cannot pass to SSS and then to tertiary levels.”

Dr. Tutu said the idea of making basic education end at the SSS level brings about the issue of quality at the SSS level saying, “the results this year for those who went through four years of SSS was excellent. University of Ghana for instance had an admission cut-off point of aggregate 14. This is unprecedented. Does this nation not want such quality education for its children?”

“If four years will give good quality education, why are we politicizing it? If the reason is resources, let us look for resources because the alternative of ignorance and illiteracy will not take the country anywhere, and in the long run will be many times more expensive than the resources that would have been used to educate them. Let us open the debate on the number of years of our SSS level with sober minds and stop the politics.”

He said he was in full support of Nana Akufo-Addo's plan of making every child go to SSS saying “in fact, basic education should terminate at the SSS level. Even if we cannot get all children going to SSS now, we should aim within 4 years to have 60 percent of children progressing to that level. Even if we run budget deficits to finance such a venture, it will be repaid several times over because Ghana will get back about 40 percent additional scarce productive human resources that would have been wasted.”

Dr. Tutu said what was worsening the plight of these underprivileged schools was the introduction of computer literacy as a core course at the BECE level asking “is computer literacy the solution to students not being able to read, write and do basic math and science?”

He said government’s plans to introduce computers to basic schools are “a complete waste of resources,” adding “how can anyone solve illiteracy problems with a supply of computers? The government would be causing financial loss to the state if it goes ahead with its plans.”

“The reason why this is a financial loss is that these students who cannot read or write don't need computers because they cannot use them. They need what will make them literate, effective teaching and supervision, books and libraries including mobile community libraries. The government should channel these computer resources into these areas not into computers.

Any good educationist will tell you that the best way for a child to be a good student in all other subjects is for him or her to develop the habit of reading at the primary level. If this habit is not developed at those levels, forget it. It is finished. This is why many of our university graduates cannot write good English and position papers.”

Dr. Tutu said ICT will facilitate economic development and research but may not be able to solve all the country’s problems noting “let me emphasize from the outset that the only way to liberate people from poverty, ignorance, disease and superstition is to make them literate.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

IGP Heads For Jail

Mr. Paul Tawiah Quaye, Inspector-General of Police in Ghana has been cited for contempt.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday September 20, 2011.
THE Inspector General of Police as head of the Ghana Police Service could find himself in jail very soon if he does not take steps to purge himself of a contempt application brought against him by 24 police officers who were arbitrarily dismissed from the service.

On April 13, 2007, the police administration announced the dismissal of 24 policemen after a Police Enquiry established that they misconducted themselves by allowing the media to cover the bad accommodation problems facing them at the Police Barrack Depot in Accra.

The affected policemen, who were not given a fair hearing at the Police Enquiry sitting, challenged the decision to dismiss them and won the case but the police administration has blatantly refused to re-instate them as directed by the High Court leading to the filing of contempt proceedings against the IGP.

It all started when 30 policemen were brought before the Police Service Enquiry Board on charges of misconduct in 2007 but each of them denied the allegation.

According to the policemen, even though they were questioned, they were not allowed to tell their side of the story or cross-examine the witnesses who testified at the enquiry and later all they heard was that only six had been cleared and the rest (24) given dismissal letters to take effect from May 1, 2007.

Based on this, their counsel, J.K. Yeboah filed an order of mandamus at the High Court, presided over by Justice N.M.C Abodakpi on June 24, 2009 to compel the IGP to “furnish the applicants with the proceeding that culminated in their discharge within 30 days after the service of this order.”

It took several months for the police administration to comply with the court’s order and when they finally did the lawyer realized his clients had been unfairly dismissed per the proceedings.

He therefore filed a notice for judicial review in the nature of certiorari under order 55 Rule1 of C.I. 47/2004 asking the court to compel the police administration to re-instate the dismissed policemen.

The respondent (IGP) was served with the processes but his counsel failed to attend court when the application was moved before Justice Edward Amoako Asante.

The court then quashed the decision by the police administration to dismiss the applicants by ordering their immediate re-instatement and also awarded cost of GH¢ 1,000. 00 for each applicant against the respondent.

The police was also ordered to pay all entitlements due the applicants including salaries and allowances from the date of their unlawful dismissal.

However, since October 25, 2010 when the court gave the order, the police administration has refused to comply with the court’s order.

When the contempt application was to be moved, the IGP’s (contemnor) counsel came to court to argue that the application ought not to have made the IGP as the respondent but rather the applicant should have directed their action against the Attorney General, who is the advisor of the government on legal matters.

The argument was however rebutted by counsel for the applicant who argued that the motion for contempt was mounted under Order 55 in the processes for judicial review and not the human rights charter in the constitution where the AG was to have been joined in the action.

The court, presided over by Justice Dennis Adjei, upheld counsel’s submission and said the applicants have the right to cite the IGP for contempt.
The case resumes after the 2011/2012 legal vacation.

Kufuor hosts Köhler, Mbeki

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday September 20, 2011.
FORMER President John Agyekum Kufuor will host two renowned world leaders today as he launches The John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation with the establishment of a center of excellence at the University of Ghana, Legon in Accra.

Apart from a host of dignitaries, the two prominent leaders attending the sod-cutting, lecture and dinner are Horst Köhler, Former President of the Federal Republic of Germany and Thabo Mbeki, Former President of the Republic of South Africa.

The schedule of activities include a courtesy calls on Vice-President John Dramani Mahama at the Castle, Osu, sod cutting at Legon, followed by a lecture and later in the evening a dinner all in Accra today.

The next day, former President Kufuor and his guests will fly to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to inspect the on-going construction of ‘John A. Kufuor Presidential Library and Museum’, unveil a plaque and interact with the Vice Chancellor Prof William Otoo Ellis and the students.

The entourage would then move to the city center to pay a courtesy call on the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II at the Manhyia Palace before emplaning to Accra to see off President Köhler to Germany.

According to Frank Agyekum, spokesperson of the former President, the sod-cutting will take place on the campus of the University of Ghana and the lecture held at the Great Hall of the university.

He said the inaugural lecture which will be addressed by President Kohler on the theme “Walking the Tightrope: Balancing State, Market and Society,” and chaired by Professor Ernest Ayittey, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana.

He also said former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa will be the featured speaker at the dinner to be held at the Banquet Hall, State House.

Former President Kufuor in an interview with Metro TV last week said he would use the foundation to promote excellence in education.

He said in places like the United States, former presidents established such facilities in their hometowns and had impacted positively in societies.
Both former Presidents Kohler and Mbeki arrived in the country yesterday.

Daoud Yemoh Tours Constituency

Daoud Anum Yemoh, MP for Domeabra-Obom inspecting a six-unit classroom block under construction at Odumah Suaba.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday September 20, 2011.
THE MEMBER of Parliament for Domeabra-Obom in the Greater Accra region, Daoud Anum Yemoh has inspected developmental projects in his constituency. The MP after his inspection declared “our promise to deliver a Better Ghana Agenda is on course.”

He visited 4 out of 13 electoral areas to check progress of work on the construction of schools, clinics, water systems, upgrading of feeder roads and rural electrification projects.

The tour took the MP, his entourage and some NDC constituency executives to communities like Fankyeneko, Domefaase, Paanor, Kofi Kwei, Obom and ended at Odumah Suaba.

The Domeabra-Obom constituency shares political boundaries with four other constituencies including Trobu-Amasaman, Weija, Aburi-Nsawam and Lower West Akim.

At Fankyeneko, the foundation for the construction of a six-unit classroom block had been completed while at Domefaase, a two-classroom block has also been completed; one constructed by World Vision and another by the Ga South Municipal Assembly were awaiting commissioning by President Mills.

The six-unit classroom block at Paanor has been roofed and plastered but is awaiting painting and furnishing, with the toilet facilities already completed and in use.

At Kofi Kwei, a satellite clinic has been completed and yet to be commissioned. A mechanized pipe system to supply water for the community has been erected but some work must be done on it to aid water flow.

At Obom, an ICT center has been completed with sponsorship from Samsung while the main town’s football pitch is being refurbished to promote sporting activities.
Odumah Suaba already has a six-unit classroom block and another is under construction.

Furthermore, almost every town or village visited had electricity supply but the constituency has no senior high school.

“I lobbied to get O’rielly Senior High School to the constituency but due to chieftaincy problems it had to be taken to Teshie but I am still collaborating with the assembly to get an SHS for the constituents,” said Mr. Anum Yemoh.

He said “when I became MP in January 2005, only four communities had electricity. Today, about 66 towns and villages have been hooked onto the national grid under the rural electrification programme.”

He said the provision of educational infrastructure has been a priority for him and that he was determined to ensure that every child in the constituency had access to quality education.

“There are brilliant but needy students in my constituency and I have been sponsoring them to access education particularly at the basic level. I also sponsor teachers to training college for further studies.”

The MP noted that he would continue to collaborate with the assembly and lobby for projects so that the potential of the constituency would be realized.

The NDC Constituency Organizer, Daniel Danfro and the Women’s Organizer, Aminatu Osumanu were all happy with the performance of the MP so far.

Mr. Danfro said “he is always listening to us on the ground to know about the needs of our people. He has particularly tasked us to ensure that the Better Ghana Agenda is on course.”

Madam Osumanu said “there is not a single week that our MP does not come down to the constituency to visit us. He is in touch with us all the time and knows what goes on in the constituency.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

Political Intolerance Getting Dangerous

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday September 16, 2011.
Participants at an Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) forum marking this year’s World Democracy Day have all admitted that the politics of insults, character assassination and the use of intemperate language is fast destroying the country’s fledgling democracy and must be stemmed without delay.

Speaker upon speaker complain bitterly about the way and manner the country’s political discourse has degenerated so fast citing politicians and the media as the worst culprit in the up-scale of politics of insults.

The IEA forum attracted top-notch politicians, ministers of state, academia and gurus in the civil society organizations and religious groups with Kabral Blay Amihere National Media Commission Chairman and Dr. Vladimir Antwi-Danso, Senior Fellow of LECIA as the lead discussants.

Nana Ato Dadzie, former Chief of Staff during the JJ Rawlings regime who chaired the forum set the tone when he said “we ought not to permit a few vocal political operatives to rock our collective democratic experiment and inflame this country.”

“Many are agreed that we as a people must prepare to confront and uproot completely this canker of insults, intolerance and intimidation from our body politic. Many agree we can achieve this through bi-partisan approach involving the politically partisan, as well as civil society and the involvement of millions of non-career politicians.”

The former Chief of Staff said if all the political leaders voluntarily signed undertaking in December 2008 to work towards eschewing political violence then they should first accept responsibility for the current situation and not blame the youth groups for the up-scale of politics of insults.

Most Reverend Charles Gabriel Palmer Buckle, Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra who delivered the keynote address said Ghana is larger than any one politician’s ambition and should not be allowed or encouraged inadvertently or otherwise by anyone to destroy the country’s hard-earned reputation as Africa’s beacon of good governance and democratic development.

He said “good governance blossoms naturally only from cross-fertilization of rich ideas and different opinions. Our politicians should therefore not be the ones to lead the country down the path of national self-destruction through the use of intemperate language and insults.”

The Catholic Bishop said he is in full support for political parties to have codes of behaviour, censure by civil society groups, and self-censorship by the media as well as mass public education.

Speaking on the topic “The power and responsibilities of the media in the consolidation of democracy”, NMC Chairman Kabral Blay-Amihere said the example of media irresponsibility leading to conflict in many parts of the world “should remind Ghanaian journalists and all who use the media the day of judgement will surely come for all of us.”

He said the recent Wikileaks disclosures showed how polarized and politicized the Ghanaian media had become judging from the way and manner journalists selected for publication from the leaked cables to score political consideration.

“The NMC which has the constitutional mandate to promote the highest journalistic standards after 18 years in existence must begin to examine what measure must be taken in the wake of new realities and challenges our democracy faces.”

However, the NCM Chairman bemoaned the lack of budgetary support for the commission to be able to fulfill its constitutional mandate saying “I understand only GH¢ 40,000 is allocated to us annually for our work.”

Dr. Vladimir Antwi-Danso who touched on “Political intolerance: A threat in the consolidation of democracy in Ghana”, traced the history of political intolerance in the country saying “if you want to call a spade a spade, then let us call it so…it was the PNDC more than any other government that brought the modern kind of political intolerance, where indiscipline, non-decorous language, intimidation, propaganda, exclusivism are the ingredients into our body politic.”

He said the politicians appear to realize the gullibility of the public and are exploiting it to the detriment of peace stability and consolidation of democracy.

Dormant NDC MPs In Trouble

Difficult times for the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Ghana.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday September 16, 2011.
A GROUP calling itself Skirt and Blouse Association of the ruling NDC has asked certain MPs they described as “do nothings” to step down in their own interest because the grass roots agitations against them are at their peak.

According to them, they have conducted extensive research into the activities of their own MPs and have realized that they have not contributed in any way to President Mills’ Better Ghana Agenda adding “their constituents have vehemently vowed to vote massively against them, should they be re-elected as NDC parliamentary candidates in their respective areas.”

A news release issued in Accra by the association jointly signed by Andy D. Boutrous, National Coordinator and Wisdom Crah, Deputy National Coordinator, mentioned the affected MPs as Nii Armah Ashittey, Klottey Korley; Nii Nortey Duah, Ledzokuku; Nii Amasah Namoale, La Dade Kotopon; Joseph Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo, Kpone Katamanso; Kojo Adu Asare, Adentan; Theophilus Tetteh Chaie, Ablekuma Central and Daoud Yemoh Anum, Domeabra Obom, all of the Greater Accra region.

The rest are Prince Joseph Hayibor, Hohoe North; Edem Assimah, North Dayi, both of the Volta region as well as Michael Teye Nyaunu, Lower Manya in the Eastern region.
“If the NDC would perform any political miracle in the 2012 election it must first start with booting out these incompetent MPs who could best be labeled as enemies of the Better Ghana Agenda,” the statement said.

“In view of this, we the members of Skirt and Blouse Association wish to reiterate our demands on all delegates of our great party to reject the above MPs and also entreat the National Executive Committee to ensure transparency and fairness in the upcoming primaries.”

The group said “as promised, the campaign has just begun; the names of ministers, deputy ministers and MMDCEs and other MPs which our research proves will be
disastrous to the future prospects of the party will follow suit in our next move.”

“All we are demanding is total transparency in the upcoming primaries and we entreat all delegates to place the party’s interest above all selfish interests in deciding who become our parliamentary candidates,” they said.

They claimed that since they went public to “expose” their MPs, they have received “veiled” threats from people who claimed to be supporters of some of the MPs in question but said they would not in any way be deterred by the threats.

“We will like to state categorically that no amount of veiled threats, intimidation will stop us from exposing these incompetent MPs, who are nothing but political laughing stocks that lack the basic moral sense of tolerating dissenting views. The attacks mounted on us, shows how ill-mannered these so-called honorable men; some of whom cannot read between the lines, are.”

The group claimed that instead of working to deliver the Better Ghana Agenda these MPs have rather “taken vital advantage of their position to lord it over their people and failed the people woefully.”

“Indeed, they have done very little or nothing to promote the cause of government’s Better Ghana Agenda and have completely lost touch with the grass roots base of their own party supporters. The group therefore deems it expedient to continue this relentless campaign to safeguard the future prospects of the party, specifically the 2012 general election.”

The group said further “it is also true that the despondency and attrition amongst floating voters and core supporters have reached a dangerous height. The NDC, as it stands now cannot afford to maintain mediocre MPs to stand on its ticket.”

“Now, the NDC constituencies represented by these MPs are slipping along with the disillusionment of the constituents who have propped up the seats for the NDC as evident in the country’s electoral statistics. On this occasion the NDC cannot count on its loyal and core supporters. This will be a costly mistake if the delegates and NEC do not act on advising them to step aside because they will be challenged at the impending primaries.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

NDC Group Answers Young Patriots

Jacob Adongo (in suit) reading the coalition’s statement. With him is Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed, a deputy Coordinator of National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP).

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday September 15, 2011.
A group calling itself Coalition for Responsible Leadership (CRL) which is aligned to the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has served notice to the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) Young Patriots to desist from what they call “politics of insults and distortions of facts” or face their wrath.

They have therefore fixed September 20, 2011 as a day that “we mobilize and demonstrate against the NPP and Young Patriots who have made the use of violent and provocative language their stock-in-trade in a demonstration we have termed ‘Stop the ntoa toa’.”

At a news briefing in Accra yesterday to address what they called “Unfounded claims and allegations made by the Young Patriots and other youth groups of the NPP against the NDC government”, Jacob Adongo, a member of the coalition said they have the believe that the NPP youth are being encouraged to by the Akufo-Addo/Jake Obetsebi Lamptey leadership “to conduct a form of slash and burn politics in Ghana regardless of the negative effect on the peace and stability we enjoy.”

According to Mr. Adongo “the attitude of the splinter groups within the NPP masquerading as defenders of accountability and good governance is not remotely new to the politics of this country. They have always pretended to know everything than any other group of people.”

“They seem to think they understand politics than any other political party in this country, they know how to rule, how to govern and therefore must rule at all times and that any other party democratically elected to govern the country must be maligned.”

Mr. Adongo said the recent attacks on President John Evans Atta Mills by the Young Patriots whom he described as “frustrated” and “disgruntled” is part of “a campaign by a desperate and frustrated political party to win political power by any means –all die be die.”

He claimed that the NPP had adopted a strategy to put out “blatant lies” because they know that any strategy that is going to be based on logic, reasoning and decent would not help their course.

He boasted that the NDC government had been able to bring inflation down and stabilized the economy and had also embarked on what he called “massive infrastructural development including the construction of storage facility in Tema to address the perennial shortage of gas, which started under NPP.”

He also claimed that the $3billion Chinese loan approved by parliament for infrastructural development and job creation was the “biggest worry of the NPP”.

Mr. Adongo also claimed the NDC government has eliminated over 1000 schools under trees and replaced with well structured classrooms blocks while 175 six-unit classroom blocks have been provided for senior high schools coupled with the distribution of free textbooks, uniforms and 60,000 computers.

He said President Mills has upgraded facilities of the health sector and built more clinics and also increased the producer price of cocoa.

Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed, a deputy Coordinator of National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) in charge of communications who is also a member of the coalition warned civil society organizations in the country not to dare comment on the actions of the NDC because according to him “they have failed to criticize the NPP whenever they make statements that creates tension in the country.”

He claimed that the NPP when in office “recklessly implemented policies” and should not have any right to criticize the NDC adding “in as much as we will not endorse politics of insults, nobody should dare equate Nana Akufo-Addo to President Mills.

Thomas Ashong, NDC Regional Youth Organizer said the intended demonstration is in response to what he calls “the noise that the NPP is making” adding “they are covering up their deeds and pretend to be innocent.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kufuor Gave Us Dev’t …Say Poly Students

The Ex-President admiring his portrait, presented to him by the students.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday September 14, 2011.
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor says the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government should be given due credit for its contribution towards the infrastructural development of educational institutions in the country particularly at the tertiary level, as the polytechnic students commend him for the unprecedented development.

“In this country, recognizing and giving credit where it is due has become lopsided but I want everybody to know that the government I led also did quite well in the provision of infrastructure in the education sector,” Dr Kufuor said.

The Former President made the complaint when national executives of Ghana National Union of Polytechnic Students (GNUPS) paid a courtesy call on him at his private residence at the airport West residential area in Accra.

The students had called on him to show their appreciation for supervising the massive infrastructural development that was brought to the campuses of all the 10 polytechnics in the country during the NPP regime.

The former President said “when people are sharing the credit for founding educational institutions they leave us out. What about the Ghana Telecom University? I founded it but I do not take credit for it.”

He said the NPP recognizes the importance of education as the bedrock of any nation’s development and added “we realized that polytechnics could serve as a critical ingredient in the nation’s development that is why we directed a lot of resources to that sector.”

“If the polytechnics are that important then any responsible government should see it as a duty to commit more funds to uplift the physical and development of these critical institutions.”

He said “we brought infrastructural development to the various polytechnics and even Legon will be envious of some of the facilities in the polytechnics.”

“The polytechnics are meant to provide middle level human resource for development. They should be given the needed infrastructure and a conducive atmosphere of learning and above all the sense of pride to be able to contribute meaningfully to the development of the country.”

When the students appealed to him to adopt either Bolgatanga Polytechnic or Wa Polytechnic and nurture it, President Kufuor said “they are all my children…I cannot pick and choose…I will do all I can to help both.”

Later when journalists asked for his comment on Wikileaks expose’ the former President “they are hearsay reports. We have to be careful the way we use hearsay reports. There should be a caveat on Wikileaks”.

Sika Antobre, Coordinating Secretary of GNUPS who spoke on behalf of the students said President Kufuor and his government “gave the polytechnic fraternity a tremendous help.”

He said GNUPS was looking forward to partnering the soon to be unveiled John A. Kufuor Foundation for Excellence saying “we want to build a fruitful relationship with your foundation.”

The students later presented to Mr. Kufuor his portrait as captured by an artist from one of the polytechnics.

FBD Boss Warns Students on Drugs

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday September 14, 2011.
HEAD OF Communication at the Food and Drugs Board (FDB), James Lartey has made a passionate appeal to young people particularly students not to venture into narcotic drugs since it could destroy their future career.

He said “through new friends, peer pressure, broken homes among others, the youth who are mostly students have adopted all sorts of lifestyles but it is up to the elderly in society to nurture them and always give them sound advice so that the future of the country would not be in jeopardy.”

Mr. Lartey gave the advice as guest speaker at a thanksgiving service held for graduands of the Light of the World School Complex at New Aplaku near Weija in the Ga South District of the Greater Accra Region recently.

The school presented awards to 70 candidates in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) who scored distinction this academic year.

Mr. Lartey said research has shown that the key risk periods for drug abuse are during major transitions in children’s lives, adding “the first big transition for children is when they leave the security of the family and enter school.”

He said students are most likely to encounter drugs for the first time when they advance from basic to senior high school explaining “when they enter high school, adolescents face additional social, emotional and educational challenges.

It is at this point that they may be exposed to a greater availability of drugs, drug abusers and social activities involving drugs. These challenges can increase the risk that they will abuse alcohol, tobacco and other substances.”

Mr. Lartey said “it is known that about 70 per cent of drug users who die by age 45 are those who start drugs by the age of 15 to 17 years.”

He said the time had come for all stakeholders to unite and support government to tackle the demand for illicit drugs to ensure that Ghana is free from the sale of narcotic, counterfeit, expired and unwholesome drugs.

He also said parents need to rise up and take good care of their children by nurturing them to become responsible adults saying “as parents we have a huge responsibility to protect children and we should do it to glorify our Maker.”
Esther Hamilton, Headmistress of the school said the educational module being pursued in the country does not appear to benefit children.

“It is obvious that not all children were born to be science, general arts, visual arts and even technical based pupils. They do therefore miss out of any scheme to nurture them as we are experiencing in the second cycle schools at the moment.”

She said in as much as the junior high school education was intended to identify the potentials of each child, it had failed due to the lack of the needed logistics and commitment through its implementation.

Mrs. Hamilton said it is not the numerous educational reviews that are needed but rather strict adherence to the identification of the individual’s talents and developing them for the sake of national interest.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NDC In Crisis Over Wikileaks

Hot! Ms. Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry in Ghana.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday July 13, 2011.
The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has held a crisis meeting at the Castle to devise ways and means to contain the Wikileaks revelations as they put the party in a bad light.

According to sources, the meeting attended by senior government and party officials last Thursday concluded that henceforth no NDC official who was exposed in the United States Embassy leaked cables should grant interview to the media or make public pronouncements on the matter.

The decision to seal the lips of the affected people, the sources put it succinctly “it is not in anybody’s interest” and they cannot pick and choose since most of the cables are about personalities still serving in the government.

In the leaked cable, Hannah Tetteh, Minister for Trade and Industry and former Director of Communications of the National Democratic Congress, told the United States officials that the party founder, former President Jerry John Rawlings, is a “loose cannon who sometimes loses sight of his role.”

The US embassy officials described former President Jerry Rawlings as a key player in the NDC campaign, a larger than life presence whose populist touch and bombast rouse crowds that reach beyond the party faithful.

Ms Tetteh said: “Rawlings was ‘a blessing and a curse,’ vital to the cause for his charismatic appeal, but equally risky as a loose cannon who sometimes loses sight of his role.”

She also explained why the NDC opted for Joyce Bamford Addo as Speaker of Parliament.

“She [Joyce Banmford Addo] was seen as someone who would take orders and be malleable to party discipline,” Hannah Tetteh revealed to the discomfiture of the NDC leadership in parliament.

She said that “for important votes, the party would remove Addo and put the First Deputy Speaker Edward Adjaho into her place as a stronger enforcer.”

The leaked cable further states that Hannah Tetteh had an inkling that the NDC’s National Chair would be replaced at the party’s post-election congress to elect party leaders, adding that it was probably because Dr Kwabena Adjei "...lacks maturity -- and I don't mean because of his age."

The crisis meeting Daily Guide gathered was held in the wake of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Young Patriots claims that about $5million is spent on President John Evans Atta Mills’ health annually, a development that the NDC is not ready to contest publicly.

Since the revelations in the secret cables, it has become apparent that the two main political parties, NDC and NPP are poised for a tit-for-tat over their flag bearers on the contents of the leaks.

The NDC whose leading members, including ministers of state have stated publicly that they believe in everything published in the secret cables have asked the ‘Okro mouth’ officials to ‘keep quiet’ and allow their communication team to handle the issues emanating from the cables.

Daily Guide learnt that the NDC may start playing down on reports in the cables because they have realized that some of the contents may not help their cause after all.

Vice President John Dramani Mahama on Friday at the 16th Ghana Journalists award night dropped the first hint when he said “the recent Wikileaks cables have accentuated the media warfare. Nothing matters any more. Reprinting the juiciest gossips from the US Embassy cables provides a media that was already polarized on partisan lines, enough ammunition and firepower to pound one's opponents for the rest of the year.”

He said “the cables were meant to be confidential and if they remained so there would no problem. Unfortunately Julian Assange and his Wikileaks organization have opened a real Pandora’s Box. Well, ‘Wikileaks’ has its positive side. It shows what happens with even the most casual conversations we may have with foreign diplomats.”

He said “a cursory look at our media would seem like we are a nation at war. Newspapers and radio stations are lined up in the political trenches with their political allies or paymasters.”

“Throwing printed and verbal grenades and taking pot shots at the ‘enemy lines.’ Each side is trying to outdo each other in inflicting maximum damage on the perceived ‘enemies’.

The diplomatic cable which has been released from the archives tackles all political parties in the country from the years 1997 -2010, exposing especially issues affecting personalities of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) with a few trickles here and there on PNC’s Dr. Edward Mahama and CPP’s Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom.

The leaks have also brought journalists on head on collision, with most of them trading accusations and counter accusations.

Baba Jamal, a deputy Minister of Information; and Fiifi Kwetey, a deputy Minister of Finance, have also popped up as having made statements to diplomats, including the revelation by Baba Jamal that President Mills is suffering from throat cancer.

Others are Akrasi Sarpong, the Executive Secretary of Narcotics Control Board; Ben Ephson, a self-acclaimed pollster and Editor of Daily Dispatch; as well as Kwesi Pratt, Managing Editor of Insight.

The rest are Dr. Kwesi Aning of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Center, Johnson Asiedu Nketia General Secretary of the NDC and Alban Bagbin Minister of Water Resources Works and Housing.