Tuesday, 31 March 2009

THE NDC ADMINISTRATION MUST PROBE THE KUFUOR REGIME QUICKLY AND THOROUGHLY!

During the campaign for the December 2008 elections, one of the key campaign themes of the presidential candidate of the party in opposition then, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Professor Mills, was what he described as “massive corruption” in the regime of President Kufuor. It is important that having won the presidential election and become Ghana’s new president, Professor Mills acts quickly to expose that “massive corruption” and bring all those who participated in the gang-rape of mother Ghana, during the tenure of President Kufuor, to book.

He will lose his credibility rapidly, if he fails to establish the fact that, indeed, there was massive corruption during the NPP era – and it is important he does not fail to act quickly to ensure that all those who were culpable are prosecuted and jailed. It is crucial that the NDC never forgets that one of the key factors that led to the defeat of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime was the widespread perception amongst most independent-minded voters, that it was one of the most corrupt regimes Ghanaians had ever seen.

Exposing that massive corruption will count as an achievement in 2012 – so that task must go hand in hand with the task of improving the quality of life of ordinary Ghanaians. The NDC administration must set up a task force that will dedicate itself to bringing to light as quickly as possible the daylight robbery carried out by the rogues in the NPP regime – and devote its energies to getting them to account for their stewardship.

They must not worry about being accused of witch-hunting by some NPP members – as such people have a vested interest in seeing that no one probes those who were corrupt in the NPP regime. After all, we must not forget that there were also many NPP members who served Ghana faithfully and honestly during their tenure of office, who want the world to acknowledge their honest stewardship. Only a thorough probe will avail those who served Ghana with clean hands during the Kufuor era, of the opportunity to prove to the world that they were indeed men and women of integrity.

Perhaps the new administration can start with Ghana International Airlines (GIA). The shadowy offshore vehicle used by the Americans (and their local partners?) to set up GIA, ought to be their principal target. If they can unravel the ownership structure, it might help them expose any abuse of power and conflict of interest, involving members of the NPP regime, which could prove that there was corruption involved in the setting up of GIA. That could prevent the Americans walking away with zillions of taxpayers’ money in the case they are pursing against Ghana overseas – specifically with that very objective in mind. The government ought to countersue them in the US law courts too, if it does discover any unethical acts in the setting up of GIA.

The NDC must understand that their return to power in the 2012 elections will be dependant on how their regime deals with those whom they accused of being corrupt during the campaign for the December 2008 elections. Ghana’s independent-minded voters do not regard the question of bringing those in the NPP, who abused the trust of Ghanaians by looting our country when they were in power, to book, as “witch-hunting. They see it as part of the process of ensuring accountability in our public life – so that those who are given the opportunity to lead our country do not betray Ghanaians by shortchanging their nation.

If President Mills is truly a president for all Ghanaians, as he keeps on telling us, then he must ensure that those responsible for the “massive corruption” he accused the NPP of, pay for their crimes against our country and its people. It is also incumbent upon the president of all Ghanaians, to act quickly to remove from office, all those public officials who benefitted from the patronage and nepotism of the previous regime – and are now actively showing their gratitude to their benefactors of old: by sabotaging his regime in many subtle ways.

Whiles some members of the new administration show such pride in their tolerance and God-fearing nature, and pussyfoot around the issue of investigating yesteryear’s rogues, ruthless and amoral saboteurs in the system, are also busy making sure that evidence of the corruption from the past is safely hidden from their regime of “born-again Christians.” President Mills must not forget how President Kufuor and his tribal-supremacist fellow-travellers grabbed asset after asset through the abuse of power – and had the effrontery to call those who pointed out their greedy and destructive behaviour as lazy and envious people.

Ghanaians elected the NDC and President Mills to power to run our nation with a firm hand – and to deal with the ruthless individuals, who apart from looting our country on a massive scale, also played the tribal card so outrageously: and ended up nearly destroying the nation of diverse-ethnicity that Nkrumah succeeded in moulding into a united and detribalized society. With respect, if the president does not have the heart to punish those criminals (some of whom were even prepared to kill to remain in power, apparently, despite being voted out of office), let him step aside and devote the rest of his life to prayers and devotion.

If President Mills does not know what stuff those hypocritical traditional rulers, who are now playing the role of peacemakers and reconcilers, are made of, let us remind him that they too ate greedily from the same trough Kufuor and Co. had their long snouts in. They collaborated to milk our country dry together – and were actively working in an unholy alliance with Kufuor and Co. to Balkanize our country, for their mutual benefit. Even as those sly crooks act as mediators, they are at the same time secretly urging others to cover the tracks of the shameless thieves who took our country for such a massive ride, during their tenure (and whom it must be said, were only a very small, albeit powerful minority, amongst the vast majority of decent-minded NPP members).

Let the president cast his mind back to the past and think of the astonishing accusations Nana Frema Busia leveled at his predecessor and some of those in his inner circle, to understand that he is not dealing with angels. Let him listen to the tape-recordings of the treasonable conversations of the Maxwell Kofi Jumahs and the Atta Akyeas, which were played by the brilliant Raymond Archer on Radio Gold FM during the December 2008 elections. Probing the Kufuor regime thoroughly is a matter of priority as far as ordinary people are concerned. It must be handled with the same degree of ruthlessness that those amoral and shameless rogues dealt with their opponents, when they were in power.

With respect, in case he has forgotten, this is a nation of some twenty-two million plus human beings he is leading, not a charismatic church with a few thousand members beholden to some self-appointed “Bishop” – and it is important that President Mills understands the difference. Even Jesus Christ asked his followers to give Caesar his due: and to give God what was his due too. He is dealing with ruthless political opponents, not angels – more so, when they happen to be men and women who grew super-rich literally stealing national assets: and who now desperately want to get away with their crimes against Ghana at all costs.

If President Mills neither has the strength nor the heart to make them pay for their crimes against our nation, let him quickly step aside – so that those who can better protect our nation and punish those criminals can take over the reins of government from him. The rogues we are dealing with are callous and super-ruthless individuals, who never believed that they would be turfed out of power so soon, by Ghanaians. They ignored those of us (who were their critics only because we loved mother Ghana) who constantly reminded them not to forget the wise Ghanaian saying: “No condition is permanent.” President Mills had better make sure that he also never forgets that old Ghanaian saying, either. A word to the wise…

Monday, 30 March 2009

IS IT NOT TIME WE TOOK A FRESH LOOK AT OUR OIL AND NATURAL GAS INDUSTRIES?

It is interesting to note that when the executives of a number of foreign oil companies called on President Mills recently, they all commended the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) as an excellent partner. As the cynics amongst us would ask, “Yes, naturally they would, wouldn’t they?” For, the GNPC is a very different animal today, from the shrewd and nationalistic company it was under Tsatsu Tsikata. He made sure that the GNPC was underpinned by an ethos that ensured that the company always acted to protect our nation’s interests in all its dealings with foreign oil exploration companies.

Today, thanks to the daft restructuring carried out by the stooges for neocolonialism who used to rule our nation yesterday, that relationship is a “monkey-dey-work-baboon-dey-chop” one, in which the GNPC helps those foreign oil companies to more or less successfully rip Ghana off, legally. President Mills must make it absolutely clear to all the foreign oil companies that Ghanaian democracy will not survive if the current arrangements between Ghana and the oil companies continue to remain in place.

A General Acheampong-type military coup to “seize the commanding heights of our economy” by nationalizing the oil and natural gas industries, is a real possibility at some point within the next eight years, if our political class (including President Mills’ regime) fails to improve the quality of life of ordinary people – and it will fail to do if it does not ensure that our country derives the maximum benefit from our oil and natural gas deposits.

The current “monkey-dey-work-baboon-dey-chop” agreements will simply allow the foreign oil companies to end up doing to us, what we have allowed the foreign gold mining companies to continue doing to us, thus far, since they got a foothold in our gold mining sector. The current situation as regards Ghana’s projected share of revenue from our oil and natural gas deposits is simply an untenable one – and ordinary people cannot, and will not, allow it to remain in place for long.

That is a non-negotiable issue of basic survival, as far as ordinary people are concerned. They are simply tired of having to make endless sacrifices for their democratic country’s sake – and want to enjoy the “democracy-dividend” too. They too want to live in a nation that can afford to provide them with generous ex-gratia payments and retirement benefits when they retire – after years of serving their nation faithfully. They do not want the enjoyment of such benefits to be restricted to the members of our political class only.

We cannot afford to let what are finite resources that Providence has bestowed on our nation (in order to give our country a second chance at becoming a prosperous nation finally – after years of endless suffering!), end up benefitting foreigners only. President Mills should reappoint Tsatsu Tsikata to run the GNPC – and give him a freehand to restructure it to protect our country from the sharks in designer suits, who control those foreign oil companies. The president must not allow himself to be beguiled by their charming ways and “sweet tongues.”

They are ruthless and greedy businesspeople out to make a killing at our nation’s expense. They must not be allowed to repeat the rip off of our country by foreign gold mining companies – a rip off that has seen those greedy monsters literally gang-raping mother Ghana for decades. He must ensure that they account for every drop of oil they extract – and get an elite force of our navy trained to ensure that no oil tanker departs our shores without being accounted for properly.

Posterity will never forgive President Mills, if he does not renegotiate the sharing of the profits from our oil and natural gas deposits on an equal basis – or nationalizing both industries if those companies refuse to listen to reason. He can always pay them fair compensation – by issuing them with Ghanaian sovereign bonds: on which they can collect ten years hence.

If need be, he must be prepared to get the best-resourced of the Chinese state-owned oil and natural gas companies to partner the GNPC to produce the oil and natural gas on a joint-venture basis – and also build refineries to process both to enable us derive even more revenue from both the oil and natural gas deposits. It is a great deal better to process them locally ourselves than to export them elsewhere to be processed for a profit by others. A word to the wise…

WHAT ORDINARY AFRICANS EXPECT FROM THE G20 MEETING IN LONDON!

For many ordinary Africans, the G20 meeting in London will only be counted as a success, if the meeting decides to close all the loopholes in the international financial system, which enables Africa’s corrupt ruling elites to successfully hide and launder the huge sums they siphon off annually from the continent. In their view, such an outcome will be one of the most effective means of helping to end poverty in Africa.

Another outcome from the G20 meeting that would help the ordinary people of Africa to escape from poverty, is for all the wealthy Western nations to pass new and tougher laws, which will make it illegal for companies domiciled in their territories, which invest in Africa, to engage in any acts of corruption in the continent. They must also make sure that those tough laws will make it possible for those companies to be sued by individuals and entities from Africa, in the wealthy nations that those companies are legally domiciled in, for any acts of corruption they engage in, in Africa.

A leading cause of poverty in Africa is the willingness of foreign investors from wealthy nations to collude with corrupt African politicians to cheat the nations they rule. A case in point is the astonishing situation in Ghana – where parliament incredibly passed a law that in effect indemnified Vodafone from prosecution for all actions pertaining to its takeover of the state-owned Ghana Telecom for a paltry US$900 millions: when the company was worth a great deal more than that figure. Why would a major multinational with a clear conscience seek such legal protection – and would eyebrows not be raised if that occurred in any telecoms privatization deal in the UK?

Ordinary Africans, desperate to escape from poverty, would be delighted if the G20 decides to abolish tax havens worldwide. They understand the importance of the role that tax revenues play in the provision of schools, healthcare facilities, roads, etc., etc. Consequently, in their view, tax havens must not be tolerated in whatever new international financial system the G20 eventually comes up with – as that will stop Africa’s wealthy and corrupt elites from keeping their money offshore to evade their tax obligations.

As the tragic situation in Darfur has clearly shown, aid money from the wealthy nations that is channeled through the most reputable international NGO’s working in Africa, helps poor Africans directly, in those African nations that are governed by corrupt, brutal, and tyrannical regimes – such as the regime of President Omar Bashir, the war criminal indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), who currently leads Sudan.

The wealthy nations of the West must stop providing all governments on the continent with aid money to support their budgets – as that only serves to prop up lazy, unimaginative, incompetent, and corrupt regimes that should not be in charge of the nations they rule in the first place. It will hasten the demise of corrupt and inefficient African regimes that fail to improve the quality of life of their people. Such aid money will be far better spent if they are given to international NGO’s working in the continent, such as Fearless Planet, the American NGO that is doing such wonderful work helping rural farming communities in Ghana to prosper.

If the huge sums of official aid money given by some of the G20 nations to various Ghanaian regimes since independence, had gone to NGO’s such as Fearless Planet, for example, millions of ordinary Ghanaians would have become prosperous individuals by now – and it would all have been achieved without damaging their natural environment, either: thus helping to preserve their natural heritage and improving the quality of their lives in the process. Above all, the wealthy nations of the world must open their markets to goods and services from Africa – as most ordinary Africans do know that trade, not aid, is what will help end poverty in Africa.

NO GHANAIAN CAN BE BANNED BY ANY “TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY” FROM ANY PART OF THE REPUBLIC 0F GHANA!

News that a group calling itself the “Osu Traditional Council” had ‘banned’ former President Kufuor from the area comprising lands traditionally occupied by the Osu people, is one of the most outrageous news items, ever put out into the public domain, in recent times. It also illustrates perfectly the absurdity of the delusions of grandeur that afflicts so many traditional rulers (and their acolytes), up and down our homeland Ghana.

Yet, the plain truth, is that “traditional authorities” do not wield the same powers that their pre-colonial predecessors had in the past – although so many of them like to delude themselves into thinking that they are just as powerful as some of their feudal forebears were. Today, the Ghanaian nation-state is a Leviathan that has the power of life and death over all who reside within the landmass encompassed by its borders – and it exercises powers clearly spelt out in our constitution: including the power to compulsorily acquire land in any part of our Republic.

The time has come to make it plain to so-called “traditional authorities” across our homeland Ghana, that many ordinary Ghanaians mainly tolerate their continued existence for purely sentimental reasons – and that as an institution, if they are to become a source of continued tension that threatens the cohesion of our united nation of ethnic-diversity and its very survival, we will gladly get rid of them quickly: in order to save the enterprise Ghana from disintegrating. India, after all, more or less got rid of its Maharajas successfully, without breaking up, did it not?

Although some of us may loathe all that he stands for politically, it is important that his critics come to the defence of our former president in this instance. The gross disrespect shown to former President Kufuor, by those unpleasant tribal-supremacists masquerading as Ga Dangbe patriots, ought to be condemned by all decent-minded people in the strongest possible terms. No “traditional council” can ban former President Kufuor, or any other Ghanaian, from any part of our country.

The “Osu Traditional Council” does its cause, whatever it is, no good at all, by resorting to crude tactics reminiscent of the authoritarian rulers of our pre-colonial feudal past. It is important that all the arrogant tribal-supremacists in our midst countrywide, understand clearly that in the final analysis, all land in Ghana ultimately comes under the control of the Ghanaian nation-state – whose sovereign territory includes all the lands traditionally occupied by the indigenes of Osu, as well as lands elsewhere traditionally occupied by Ghanaians of other ethnic extraction.

Ultimately, they all occupy those lands on sufferance – as the government can acquire any of those lands compulsorily at any given point in time, for the benefit of our Republic and the generality of its people. Throughout our history, Chiefs have been notorious for selling lands they hold in trust for their people in opaque transaction after opaque transaction, and have shared the proceeds between themselves and their sycophantic palace acolytes – and they have been at it for hundreds of years.

Greed for money is what lies behind the mad scramble by “traditional authorities” across Ghana, for the return of lands acquired by the state, before and after independence, to facilitate our nation’s developmental agenda. Many of those past land acquisitions by the state were made by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s regime because he was a leader who wanted our nation’s resources to benefit all Ghanaians (not just a powerful few with greedy ambitions, to paraphrase Nkrumah).

Nkrumah would never have countenanced any part of the portfolio of land acquired by the Ghanaian nation-state, being returned to their original owners, simply because specific projects they had been earmarked for had not yet seen the light of day. Sadly, some of our post-Nkrumah leaders adopted the rather shortsighted policy of ‘returning’ state-owned land to their original owners – because it suited them personally to do so.

Unfortunately, that shortsighted policy will continue to be carried out whenever our nation has the misfortune of falling into the hands of powerful and greedy people, for whom good governance principles (such as always avoiding conflict of interest situations) do not matter. It is precisely when such tragedy befalls our nation that there is the scramble by politically well-connected individuals to acquire government-owned land.

As far as many of Ghana’s patriots and nationalists are concerned, the state acquired all those lands in good faith and paid fair compensation for them – and in their view it can be argued that since they were acquired for national development, that overall public-good objective holds true for all time, in perpetuity. Consequently, once those lands have been acquired, it is not necessarily the “project-status”, in terms of the non-completion of the particular individual projects such lands were originally acquired for, that should determine their continued retention by the state.

The justification for their continued retention is that they are intrinsically valuable national assets in themselves. All the parcels of land in the government’s portfolio of land must be regarded as a store of value for the enterprise Ghana – and ought to be considered tangible parts of the diversified investment portfolio held by the Republic of Ghana, on behalf of all Ghanaians. They are there to be utilized for future national development projects for which land will be required, but the nature of which cannot possibly be foreseen now.

Today, for example, we are blessed to have the Kofi Annan Information Technology Centre located bang opposite the Council of State’s offices – yet, when that area was originally acquired in the colonial era to build houses for public officials, no one could have foreseen, then, that one day there would be a need to allocate a plot there to house that vital national institution, and facilitate the important work done there to secure our country’s digital future in the 21st century ICT age.

As regards the rumpus caused by the activities of the so-called “Osu Traditional Council,” it can be said that in a sense President Kufuor has been hoisted on his own petard – and is paying personally for his ruthless pursuit of Kokofu-football politricks, during his tenure. The irony in all this, is that at the beginning of their tenure, the Kufuor regime’s Akan tribal-supremacists (who constituted the small but powerful cabal at the heart of the presidency), felt that returning state-acquired lands in Kumasi to their original owners, was urgent business that in their view had to be seen to quickly.

Their hidden agenda at the time was to give their favourite tribal Chiefs the opportunity to enrich themselves – by making as much state-owned land in Kumasi available to them as was possible, to sell. As a consequence, throughout President Kufuor’s tenure, scores of parcels of land still owned by the state in Kumasi, for example, ended up being sold illegally, with total impunity, by some of the greediest of traditional rulers that Ghanaians have ever known.

At one stage, even land at Kwadaso (my birthplace), on which important crop trials by one of the research institutes of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) were being held, was suddenly grabbed by some of those greedy philistines, and promptly sold to developers. They did not care one jot that the results of those crop trials could eventually help provide food security for our nation.

Having opened the floodgates and finally succeeded in suitably empowering their favourite tribal Chiefs, that unfortunate and negative character-trait so typical of Kufuor and Co., avarice, rose to the fore again – and made them focus their attention on state-owned lands in Accra. One of the unfortunate results of the Kufuor regime’s land-grab-mania is that even land earmarked for a new office building for the ministry of foreign affairs has now ended up in private hands.

As we all now know, choice government land on which houses for government officials were built decades ago (some as far back as the colonial era), were also parceled out amongst some of the members of the Kufuor regime, their relations, and cronies. Another casualty of the greed of some of our previous leaders, has been the military – which has had large chunks of its land portfolio taken away and sold to private developers.

In fairness to him, it is important to point out that that disgraceful practice did not start with the regime that President Kufuor led. It began shortly after the Nkrumah regime was overthrown in 1966 – and a number of the free-market conservative stooges for imperialism and neocolonialism in our country, who have held power at various periods in the post-Nkrumah era, have all been guilty of this shameful practice.

One hopes that the current tribulations of former President Kufuor and his acolytes will be a lesson for members of the present regime – and prevent them from continuing with the nonsensical policy of selling state-owned land. We must start seeing state-owned land for what they actually are: valuable national assets that need to be guarded jealously by all of us – for future generations of Ghanaians to use for their collective benefit. A word to the wise…

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

NANA AKWESI TWUMASI - NO ONE CAN EVER DIVIDE GHANAIANS!

Nana Akwesi Twumasi, ordinary Ewes and Asantes (as well as ordinary people from all the other tribes in our country!) are amongst the nicest human beings one can come across, anywhere on the planet Earth. Our troubles do not emanate from ordinary people, in this united nation of ethnic diversity, called Ghana.

The source of all our troubles, are the tribal-supremacists one finds in the palaces of traditional rulers, up and down our country. They are our local equivalent of the odious white-supremacists of the Western world – who regard people of colour as inferior beings. Like those ignorant fools, these narrow-minded compatriots of ours, are also sick individuals – who sadly suffer from the grand delusion that they are superior to all those who aren’t from their tribe.

Yet, the truth of the matter, is that no one tribe is superior to another in our country – for they all have unique qualities as a people, which they bring to the great big melting-pot called Ghana, that makes our united nation such a special place: and a beacon for the rest of Africa.

Let us ignore those whose worldview is still stuck firmly in the pre-colonial feudal era – and get on with the task of creating Africa’s equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia in our homeland Ghana. In the 21st century ICT age, it is ludicrous to suggest that some tribe is superior to all the other tribes in Nkrumah’s Ghana.

Let us allow those ignorant souls to remain enveloped in the miasma of tribalism and continue living mentally in the mediaeval era – so that the rest of us can get on peacefully with our lives. Perhaps they do not realize that in reality, there is virtually no extended family in this beautiful and peaceful land, which does not consist of family members who come from different tribes – and who are united by blood-ties and through marriage in a modern African family clan.

Opanin, just ask the next Ghanaian you come across on the street, whether he or she does not have a mixture of blood-relations who happen to be their cousins, aunties and uncles, who hail from areas that Asantes, Ewes, Ga Danbes, Dagombas, Guans, Fantes, Akims, etc. etc. originate from.

The earlier those who wish to use tribalism as a political tool to win power understand that bald fact, the better it will be for us all. In any case, let us not glorify the nonsense on bamboo stilts, which their tribalism represents. They are selfish and ghastly human beings, who really ought to be pitied – because they despise their fellow human beings: whose only crime is to be different.

May God bless and protect our homeland Ghana, always. Long live freedom! Long live Ghana!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

PRESIDENT MILLS MUST REMEMBER HIS NKRUMAIST ROOTS!

During the fight for independence, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah prevailed over his conservative opponents, because his vision of a united and modern African nation-state, utilizing its resources for the benefit of its own people, as opposed to benefiting foreigners, appealed to ordinary people. His elitist and tribal-supremacist opponents on the other hand, simply wanted the power of the pre-colonial feudal kingdoms revived after the departure of the British colonialists – and used federalism as a cloak to hide their real intentions.

Dr. J.B. Danquah and Co., who were admirers of the elitist English philosopher, Edmund Burke, simply wanted the progeny of the pre-colonial feudal ruling elites to replace the British as the ruling class in the new federal nation-state, which they hoped would emerge after independence – and for the ruling elite to benefit directly from Britain’s continued hold over our resources: by maintaining our close links with the UK and becoming stooges for imperialism and neocolonialism in our country, when they eventually came to power.

Fifty-two years after our independence, we have all come round to the conclusion that we made the greatest advances as a people, in developmental terms, during the Nkrumah-era. If he wants ours to become a fairer and more prosperous society, it is important that President Mills remembers his Nkrumaist roots – and that he uses Nkrumah’s vision of an African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia, as a model for his regime to turn our country into a prosperous nation for all strata of society.

To do so, he must be extremely clever in his politics – and speak softly while wielding a big stick (to paraphrase a famous phrase from US politics). The poverty of thought of most of Ghana’s successive leaders after Nkrumah’s overthrow in 1966 has ensured that we have not been the main beneficiaries of the wealth from the exploitation of our country’s natural resources. For example, if we had control over our gold deposits, would we not be benefiting directly from the high prices of gold today?

Unfortunately, under current arrangements, the benefits accrue largely to the fat-cat shareholders of foreign-owned companies and their local lackeys. If we had control over our gold deposits, could we not have concentrated on turning our gold into gold coins and gold bars, as well as developed a world-class jewelry industry, amongst other things, by now – and would investors worldwide not be beating a path to our door to buy Ghanaian jewelry, gold coins, and gold bars as safe investments to protect their wealth (particularly during times of great uncertainty worldwide, such as now)?

If President Mills were to dispatch the finance minister and the minister for trade and industry to London, to visit Baird & Co., the bullion dealers (http://www.goldline.co.uk/investmentBarsPage.page), it will turn out to be a real eye-opener for his regime – as they will begin to see the real potential of the state-owned Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC). That company could partner the best-resourced of the state-owned Chinese gold refineries to set up a gold refinery here – and build on that to produce gold coins and gold bars locally.

Both ministers will return convinced beyond doubt, that those oligarchs who were rewarded with “gongs” by the British establishment, for delivering our gold mining industry to Western interests (when they succeeded in getting the greedy rogues amongst those who used to rule our nation yesterday, to pass that daft mining law), were in actual fact traitors of the very worst kind, who betrayed our country terribly by their selfish actions (dressed up as the creation of an enabling environment to attract foreign direct investment into our economy’s gold mining sector).

The new National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime must use subtle means to regain control over our nation’s resources. Japan, for example, has gone round the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rules by simply using creative regulations to keep foreign imports out, when it has needed to do so. We must also use creative methods to regain control over our oil and natural gas industries – before it is too late and we end up in the same situation in which our gold has ended up benefiting foreigners in the name of “direct foreign investment.”

Perhaps we could also use the “Japanese method” to rebuild our industrial base. For example, we need not ban poultry imports directly – but simply decree that for the sake of the health of Ghanaians no chicken meat containing antibiotics can be imported into Ghana. Since virtually all of the global poultry industry pumps chickens full of antibiotics, that would keep out poultry products from most of the nations we currently import poultry products from. Who could utter a word to complain that we are breaking the WTO rules – when all we are doing is seeking to protect the health of Ghanaians?

To help us regain control over our gold, we could simply adopt a policy of continuing to deny the expatriate executives of gold mining companies work permits. That would keep them out of our country for some time – and frustrate their companies’ sufficiently to make them amenable to our demands for new and better agreements, which will eventually lead to our country becoming a destination for investors looking to buy investment products such as gold bars, and the Ghanaian equivalent of South Africa’s Krugerrand gold coins.

Let us revive the various agro-industries built during the Nkrumah-era, too – by giving that task to the District Assemblies, which can use the private public partnership business model, and work with the South African sustainable livelihoods organisation, Sustainable Villages Africa (SVA). If we partnered with SVA, we could turn rural Ghana into prosperous areas that contribute significantly to our GPD, whiles improving the quality of life of rural people. Through that partnership we could focus on developing “fair trade” export markets for our organic agricultural produce, such as organic tropical fruit, in the EU and UK, for peasant farmers throughout Ghana.

One hopes that the new Mills administration will not be like the previous regime – which never listened to free advice from its many critics because it felt we were enemies of our country for criticizing them. Those of us who have advocated for years, for example, that in order for us to make any headway in the fight against corruption, the assets of our leaders ought to be publicly published, so that the general public can get to know their net worth, before and after leaving office, are pleased that President Mills has taken that on board.

That will be a fine legacy for him to leave behind – and even if he does nothing else during the rest of his tenure, he will be remembered till the very end of time: as the leader who forced Ghanaian politicians to publicly publish their assets. That is a truly great legacy for any leader on the planet Earth to be remembered by. Let him also listen to us on subject of the contribution SVA can make to our development - and quickly get SVA into Ghana to work with the district assemblies to develop rural Ghana into some of the most prosperous parts of our nation. After all, it is free advice from patriots, who aren’t giving him any nightmares, scrambling for posts in his administration. A word to the wise…

PARLIAMENTARIANS MUST REMEMBER THAT ORDINARY GHANAINS ARE A FREE PEOPLE WHO WANT THE GOOD LIFE TOO!

It is amazing just how completely oblivious large sections of Ghana’s wealthy educated urban elites are, to the plight of our country’s burgeoning underclass – the members of which are powerless, voiceless, and mostly feel alienated from society. A typical example of this lack of appreciation of the yawning chasm that exists between the dispossessed in our country, and the relatively-prosperous educated urban elite, is the smugness of some members of parliament – and their unawareness of the fact that as a people we are sitting on a powder-keg of social inequality that could blow up at any time.

The Member of Parliament for the Manhyia constituency recently made a statement to the effect that certain criticisms of parliament by some members of the public, amounted to contempt of parliament. What do some of these highly-educated buffoons think of ordinary people, one wonders? What world do they inhabit? Do they not know that this is a poor developing nation in which hundreds of thousands of citizens die needlessly on a regular basis, because of their straightened personal circumstances in life – and for whose surviving family members the goings-on in parliament are worlds away and completely irrelevant: because life for them is nasty, brutish, and short?

Do those smug and asinine souls amongst our members of parliament, not realise that fifty-two years after gaining our independence, we have sadly ended up becoming a kleptocracy in which the quality of life of ordinary people has steadily deteriorated over the years – in inverse proportion to the fast pace at which the personal net worth of the politically well-connected and powerful oligarchs who control our kleptocracy ascends to stratospheric heights? Surprising though it might be to some of our parliamentarians, ordinary people are aware that our kleptocracy masquerades at various times, as a democracy, when, and as it finds, that ploy useful.

If the parliament of such a nation can act with such impunity that it can even sanction frauds, such as the passage into law of a bill sanctioning a sale and purchase agreement for VALCO, to a non-existent entity, grandly christened International Aluminum Partners, by the powerful rogues who dreamt it up, why should any patriotic Ghanaian not have a low opinion of those parliamentarians, who despite the strenuous public denials of two international metals conglomerates, Norske Hydro and VALE, that they had never agreed to purchase VALCO, still went ahead to pass that bill: because it was politically expedient to do so?

How come they indemnified all those who struck the deal that enabled Vodafone to take over Ghana Telecom (GT), from future prosecution for any acts of criminality arising from the takeover – in spite of the fact that our constitution enjoins all of us to fight corruption? Did they not know that insider-dealing was said to be rife amongst certain of the actors in that drama called “Rip-off in Accra” – and that in other jurisdictions that is sufficient to land even the most powerful of corporate Titans in jail for long stretches? Do they think that if the details of that deal were made available to transparency advocates, Global Witness, by the minister for communications, it would stand up to scrutiny – in terms of meeting EU and US corporate good governance standards?

Do they know that as we speak, far from benefiting from that takeover, some of G T’s “Broadband4U” customers living in McCarthy Hill, who used to be served by their Alvarion system, no longer have that internet service: and that despite several appeals to that arrogant company, Vodafone, nothing has been done about it to restore that service to them, although some of them are even owed money by GT that is sitting in their “Broadband4U” accounts? They can check my own account number 207888 – and ask GT precisely what interaction they have had with a very dissatisfied customer who has posted several complaints online about that atrocious “Vodafone Connect” product they have fobbed some of us off with.

Any parliament, such as the fourth parliament (many of whose members so clearly worshiped fervently at the cult-of-the-mediocre), which sanctions such outrages, most certainly neither deserve the huge ex-gratia payments awarded them, nor the respect of ordinary people – and if the present parliament wants to be respected, its members must show Ghanaians that they are true patriots who put the long-term interests of our nation, above their own parochial interests, and the short-term interests of their political parties. If members of parliament continue to shortchange ordinary people, they will continue to be treated with the contempt such unprincipled self-seeking at our nation’s expense, deserves.

Ordinary Ghanaians want sustainable and well-paid jobs; affordable good quality housing to rent; access to good education for their wards; an abundance of well-equipped healthcare facilities for those who need them; efficient, reliable and affordable broadband internet access for all; and above all, to live secure and fulfilled lives in a competently governed and disciplined nation, which isn’t being engulfed by filth and sundry rogues on government’s payroll – and they want parliament to play its oversight role properly, to ensure that that happens in due course.

They do not want parliamentarians to turn parliament into a theatre of the absurd – but to work hard to ensure that this is a nation that is governed effectively and honestly. One hopes that the Member of Parliament for Manhyia, and his haughty, small-minded, and mealy-mouthed friends, will always bear that in mind, when commenting on the way ordinary people react to the actions and utterances of some parliamentarians – ditto the fact that Ghanaians are a free people who live in a nation ruled by law: not a conquered and cowed society beholden to a political class that thinks it is above the law, because it makes laws. A word to the wise…

Sunday, 22 March 2009

GHANA'S MANY ROAD ACCIDENTS - REDUCE PRICES OF SPARE PARTS AND VEHICLE REPAIR COSTS TO ELIMINATE TWO LEADING CAUSES!

Beneath the patina of modernity ours essentially still remains a superstition-ridden society – full of individuals with mindsets firmly mired in the medieval era. Ghanaians are such an extraordinary people – in the 21st century ICT age, many eyeasem oo! Ghanaians, including even some very well-educated ones, are ascribing the recent spate of fatal road accidents across the country, to “dark spiritual forces.” Hmmm, Ghana – eyeasem oo!

It is a real pity that precious few people in Ghana seem to see the nexus between vehicular accidents and the astronomical cost of new spare parts, the near-impossible cost of servicing and repairing vehicles regularly, as well as the unfortunate lack of standards in our indiscriminate importation of used spare parts (including even used tyres, incredibly) from overseas. Yet, they are all things that society ought to do something about – if we are to halt the unacceptably high rate of road accidents in our country.

There are many companies in Ghana representing the main motor manufacturers of the world in the local market. Since the brands of vehicles that those companies import into the country are supposed to be serviced at regular intervals, the agents of the motor manufacturers in Ghana are required by their agreements with the manufacturers they represent here, to stock sufficient spare parts for those vehicles, and have adequate workshop facilities to service them locally.

Perhaps in trying to discover the various causes of accidents in our country, we should find out just how many vehicle owners in Ghana, regularly service their vehicles in the workshops of the recognized importers of the make of car they drive – and how that impacts those tragic accidents.

We should also try and find out the reasons why so many vehicle owners in Ghana appear to be unable to afford the after sales services’ of the importers of their make of vehicle – and see if something can be done to lower those costs to encourage vehicle owners to service their vehicles regularly.

There are many vehicle owners who feel that it is an outrage that the agents of motor manufacturers in Ghana, charge such astronomical sums for new spare parts, as well as for the servicing and repairing of vehicles in their workshops – and accuse them of wanton profiteering.

Perhaps the time has now come for Ghana to follow the example of the European Union (EU) and ban the signing of exclusive agency agreements for the representation of motor manufacturers in Ghana.

In a sense, it could even be argued that those exclusive agency agreements, which virtually all the Ghanaian vehicle importers enter into with motor manufacturers, amount to monopolies – in what is supposed to be a free market environment. If they are actual monopolies, then why should that be so?

Why are Ghanaian politicians not complaining about the clear abuse by some vehicle importers, of the privilege granted them by the state, to import motor vehicles into Ghana for sale to the general public?

Should the relevant state agencies not act to find out if the importers of vehicles into Ghana are more or less operating as members of a cartel fleecing the vehicle owners whose cars they service – and consequently abusing the privilege allowed them to import vehicles into our country to sell for such vast profits?

Would it not be infinitely more sensible to break their monopoly, and allow other companies in Ghana too to engage in the business of importing cars into our country – with the blessing of the major motor manufacturers? Surely, in so doing, competition in the industry will bring down the unacceptably high cost of new vehicles and spare parts – as well as the servicing and repairing of vehicles in our country?

Perhaps when that time finally comes, it might be possible, for example, for the various road transport unions in Ghana, such as the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), to strike long-term deals with a number of such companies to service and repair the vehicles of their members in their workshops.

It might very well be that with a great deal more well-maintained private cars, commercial buses, and cargo trucks on our roads, God will finally listen to the prayers of religiously-inclined Ghanaians – and all of us will then begin to notice the spate of road accidents in our country abating somewhat (“dark spiritual forces” not withstanding). A word to the wise…

GOVERNMENT APPOINTEES MUST FOLLOW PRESIDENT MILLS' EXAMPLE - AND BE HONEST, FRUGAL, AND HUMBLE!

Recent news that some government functionaries went to the Ivory Coast in an air force plane, just to watch the football match between Ghana and the D.R. Congo, appears to have come as a great surprise and disappointment to most Ghanaians – many of whom apparently thought that the imperious and profligate ways of the past had disappeared with the departure of the Kufuor regime.

Perhaps Messrs. Alex Segbefia and Co. would have saved themselves and the regime they are members of, considerable embarrassment, if they had opted to charter a private plane – rather than looked to a private company to sponsor a trip to Abidjan on an air force plane: just to watch a football match.

Perception, they say, is all, in politics. If the new regime is to maintain the confidence of ordinary Ghanaians, it is crucial that President Mills reminds all his appointees, that they must not behave as if Ghanaians are a conquered people – and that our national assets (including aircraft of the air force) are not spoils of war to be toyed with by government officials who wish to lead sybaritic lifestyles at the expense of the Ghanaian taxpayer. Junketing at public expense by government officials ought to be a thing of the past.

If our air force planes are going to crisscross the skies of West Africa at taxpayers’ expense, let them rather carry our ministers for trade and industry and delegations of Ghanaian manufacturers and businesspeople to find markets for our industries. Rather than seeking to lead the life of Riley at taxpayers’ expense, let our new leaders learn to leverage the abiding and considerable goodwill that exists for Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah across Africa, to expand the footprint of corporate Ghana all over the continent.

If they are clever enough to negotiate bilateral free-trade deals with our sister countries individually (whiles we wait, for example, for the ponderous Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to become a practical and down-to-earth idea, which actually benefits grassroots people materially), business delegations can then travel on our air force planes to attend trade fairs organized by our diplomatic missions up and down the continent to promote the products of Ghanaian industry: and create jobs for ordinary people, that way.

The members of the new National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime must never forget what led to their party being voted out of power in December 2000. Have some of them forgotten so soon that one of the major factors in their defeat, then, was the widespread public perception that the NDC had become arrogant, corrupt and hard-of-hearing?

Those in the new NDC administration who think that Ghanaians will put up with high government officials acting as if they were Arabian potentates for whom taxpayers’ properties and money are synonymous with personal wealth: the use of which they are accountable to no one for, had better revise their notes quickly – if they want their party to remain in power after 2012. It was that negative attitude that characterized the Kufuor administration, which lost the New Patriotic Party the December 2008 presidential election.

After our painful experience in the recent past when taxpayers’ money regularly vanished down the financial equivalent of celestial black-holes (known as “Golden Jubilee House” and “National Security”), no politicians in this country can be allowed to have direct access to our national treasury to play fast and lose with again. It costs money to fuel air force airplanes – and they must be used for productive purposes that benefit our nation only.

Since we are told that that particular trip to the Ivory Coast was “sponsored” by a private company, the public must be told which company sponsored the trip, and why – as that cannot possibly be a state secret in an era of transparency.

It is precisely such “sponsorship” that breeds corruption in the area of public procurement. Obviously the sponsor is not Father Christmas – and will definitely want the favour returned somehow: especially as it is saving the blushes of a new regime that condemns its predecessor’s profligacy and accuses it of being corrupt.

Will we eventually come to discover, that like the infamous “phantom-farmer” wheeled out to save the blushes of the previous regime (when there was controversy over public funds being used to improve security at the former president’s principal private residence at Airport West), no such “sponsor” actually exists, in reality, one wonders?

Well, if it turns out that we were fed a pack of lies (as is usual with some members of our political class), and that no such “sponsor” does exist, then all those who went on that trip just to watch a football match, must be surcharged – and made to pay the air force the going rate for return trips by commercial aircraft to Abidjan from Accra. In any case our air force planes are not meant to be at the disposal of government officials just to have fun with. Surely, the era of freebies is over, is it not, dear reader? Hmmm, Ghana – eyeasem oo!!
Some of us recall newspaper reports that the previous NDC regime under President Rawlings, had apparently become so generous with public money, that it was said to have left office in January 2001, with zillions of old cedis in unpaid telephone bills at the Osu Castle – and that throughout its tenure scores of party hangers-on were being put up in state properties: who had no right to be in those state properties.

If he wants to leave a good legacy when he finally leaves office, then President Mills must make sure that the bad old NDC ways don’t return. His party will definitely not be returned to power in 2012 if those unethical and shameful practices of the past are allowed to reappear in our national life, at any point, during his tenure.

President Mills must make it absolutely clear to all his appointees that he will not tolerate them abusing their positions in any way – and that he expects all of them to always be frugal with public money, as well as be humble at all times, in their interactions with the ordinary people of Ghana: whom he appointed them to office to serve, not lord over.

Above all, he must work hard to ensure that by the time his tenure is over, all public officials in Ghana, from the president down to the last district chief executive (and their spouses), are required by law, to publicly publish their assets – both upon entering office and at the end of their tenure in office.

That will be his greatest legacy – for, it will be of tremendous help in the fight against corruption in our public life. As a people, our abiding problem, from the very beginning of our independence, to date, has been the fact that we have not been blessed with very honest leaders.

President Mills must seize the historic opportunity Providence has provided him with, and strive to leave a legacy as one of the most honest leaders Ghana has ever had, thus far (in addition to the great Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah), in its 52-year history. The added bonus for him is that such a reputation will make him unassailable in Ghanaian politics – and assure him of a second term in office as president. A word to the wise…

Review Of Ex-Gratia Payments: Council Of State Must Side With Ordinary Ghanaians!

As they review the ex-gratia payments to be made to a number of retired high public officials, the deliberations of the members of the Council of State ought to be informed by the outrage caused across America, by the huge bonus payments made to some employees of ailing insurance giant, American Insurance Group (AIG).

It is commonly known that America is the land of litigation – yet, even the U.S. Congress has been quick to try and find a way to ensure that legally-binding “retention bonuses” paid to AIG employees are returned. Attempts are being by some members of the US Congress to impose a 90 per cent tax rate on those bonuses, in order to claw them back.

That same determination by the U.S. Congress, to right an egregious wrong done to American society because of corporate greed, is precisely the attitude the Council of State ought to adopt, in its approach to the review of those obscene ex-gratia payments – for they also amount to a wrong against Ghanaian society by some of its largely selfish and greedy elite.

It is an outrage that in what is still a poor developing country, in which millions of citizens often go to bed on empty stomachs, and hundreds of thousands of children are unable to continue their education because they come from poor families, a number of retired high government officials, who really did nothing much to ameliorate the plight of the poor and improve the overall situation of our nation during their tenure, still want huge sums paid them in ex-gratia retirement settlement packages.

Was it not the perfidy, whiles in office, of some of those selfsame officials, which is the cause of many of the difficulties of our country today? It is generally accepted that greed was the main factor in the many dodgy financial-engineering schemes that eventually led to the financial crisis in America and elsewhere in the Western world.

Greed amongst some highly placed public officials in our country, too, is what fueled the unprecedented levels of corruption, which we saw under the previous regime (levels of corruption that will appall and shock many ordinary Ghanaians when they finally get to hear about them).

The family clans of a few powerful and well-connected oligarchs, prospered mightily using their political connections to acquire asset after asset – in a determined drive to send their individual net worth into the stratosphere:  at the expense of our nation.

PIt is that same unfathomable greed that made them lead our country into the piranha-infested capital markets of the West, as Ghana piled up debt after debt.

The move into the capital markets of the West to pile up that mountain of debt, which we are now saddled with (and interest payments on which are crippling our country so badly today), was driven largely by those unprincipled oligarchs’ compulsive need for kickbacks.

Why should taxpayers now pay some of them massive amounts in ex-gratia payments for their irresponsible actions whiles in office – even as our country continues to suffer from the consequences of their greed?

Did they think of our nation’s well-being, when they saw, and seized, what they felt was a golden opportunity to finally make some serious money (and graduate from clueless African politicos looking for easy money to “develop” Ghana with – and take a 10 per cent cut for themselves – from Chinese hairdressing salons in the seedy backstreets of London, to the City of London itself), when they issued sovereign bonds in some of the financial capitals of the West? Where has that landed our nation, today?

At a point in time during their tenure in office, did some of them not even railroad a bill through Parliament, amending the law that banned the importation of right-hand drive vehicles, to permit the importation of right-hand drive vehicles, into what is a nation with one of the highest vehicular accident rates in the world – just so that a few powerful people could make money from the importation of ancient right-hand drive double-decker buses into Ghana from the UK?

To cap their perfidy, did they not also even railroad a bill through parliament, which sanctioned a sale and purchase agreement for VALCO, to a non-existent consortium grandly named International Aluminum Partners: said to be made up of two multinational metals conglomerates, Norske Hydro and VALE – both of which strenuously denied ever agreeing to purchase VALCO?

What has happened to the politically well-connected and super-wealthy rogues who perpetrated that fraud? Has anyone in parliament tried to find out who those crooks were fronting for? Why should we reward those who superintended such shenanigans, which amounted to partaking in the gang-rape of mother Ghana, with massive ex-gratia payments?

Has the unfathomable greed that made them grab kickbacks from virtually every conceivable business opportunity in the land, whiles in office, for themselves, their family clans, and their cronies, not impoverished our country? So just where do they expect us to find the money to pay for the life of Riley they want to live, at the expense of the hard-pressed Ghanaian taxpayer, in their retirement years, from?

The new Council of State has a moral obligation to ensure that those ex-gratia payments are revised – and drastically reduce the huge sums that have been recommended for payment.

Ghana simply cannot afford such profligacy. Let them take a cue from America – and do exactly what members of the U.S. Congress have done in the AIG bonus scandal: make sure that we quickly find a legal way to right a wrong done to our nation and its people.

Whatever they do, they must definitely scrap that million-dollar nonsense on bamboo stilts, which the “seed money” for a presidential foundation represents. For my two-pesewas, Ex-President Kufuor can either go and teach government in any of the Ivy League universities in America, or go on the lecture-tour circuit dispensing wisdom as a free-market ex-African leader, to Americans sick and tired of the downside of free markets – and easily raise his own million dollars that way: to set up a presidential foundation to ease his “withdrawal” pangs.

With respect, there are right-wing foundations galore in the U.S. that cater to the whims of the stooges for Western imperialism and lackeys of neocolonialism in our part of the world, which he can also approach with his begging-bowl, if need be.

His pals George Bush and Dick Cheney will doubtless recommend him highly to those bastions of imperialism.

After all, his regime served their interests here very well when he led our country, did it not? Since he is also afflicted with the wanderlust bug (in addition to being addicted to – the abuse of? – power and travelling the world at other people’s expense), travelling across the US at their expense will also be a real balm for him!

Let the members of the new Council of State prove that unlike many in our country, they are not moral cowards – and do the right thing for mother Ghana. Above all, let them recommend that henceforth, we make the whole process of deciding ex-gratia payments to retired high public officials transparent – from start to finish.

Let us place it in the hands of an independent presidential commission made up of widely-respected Ghanaian patriots.

As a people, we must resolve never again to allow our country to be ambushed by such unethical methods, used by crafty and greedy politicians to enable them manipulate the system with legal technicalities, to bleed Ghana dry.

In future, a presidential commission must sit for a few days each, in all the regional capitals to take the opinions of civil society into account, before reaching a decision about the ex-gratia payments they recommend be paid to retired presidents and other high public officials.

They must also publicly publish those recommendations for all Ghanaians to read – at exactly the same time they are presented to the incumbent president.

Since it is taxpayers’ money being recommended to be doled out to the high and mighty, why should it be kept a state secret and hidden from ordinary people who pay those taxes – and only come to light when it is way too late for them to act to halt any reckless dissipation of public funds?

After all, we are supposed to be in an era of transparency now, are we not, dear reader? Surely, our homeland Ghana belongs to all of us, too, does it not?

To give the impression, as some cynics are wont to do, that since the Chinery-Hesse Committee recommended cars and an office for former President Kufuor, retrieving the three BMW cars from him, as well as reallocating a new office building to him, amounts to varying his retirement package to his disadvantage, is rather unfortunate.

With respect, even an ignoramus like Kofi Thompson, who has no formal education and has never read law, knows that the government of the day has to balance the basic needs of tens of millions of poverty-stricken Ghanaians, against that of the creature comforts of a handful of retired high government officials.

Consequently, if in its view, it can save Ghana the huge sums needed to purchase three additional bullet-proof BMW’s, by withdrawing those that President Kufuor took home with him when he left office, and replacing them with three luxurious Chrysler cars, surely, the government cannot possibly be said to have varied the privileges of Mr. Kufuor?

Not to have given him any vehicles at all after withdrawing those BMW cars, and not reallocating any office space to him at all, if the state decides that it is prudent not to go ahead and give him the one he moved into on his own accord (and had earmarked for himself three years ago and spent God knows how much of the hard-pressed Ghanaian taxpayers’ money, renovating and furnishing!), is what would have amounted to varying his privileges.

Obviously, the needs of the state override those of all our former presidents – and it is the government of the day that must always decide which particular state property to allocate to former presidents, at any given point in time, during its tenure: in the light of the prevailing financial circumstances of our nation at the particular time it makes such an allocation.

To allocate a building to himself (or herself) three years prior to leaving office, would clearly amount to abuse of his or her office by any incumbent president – as such an allocation whiles in office, is by definition, a clear conflict of interest situation that any sitting president, whose every action whiles in office is based on ethical principles, would definitely avoid.

Obviously in that particular instance, the ever-grasping Mr. Kufuor did not allow irritating trifles, such as principles, as well as the ethics of avoiding conflict of interest situations whiles in office, to stop him from acting yet again, as if he owned Ghana.

The question we must ask the cynics amongst us is: What if in future some committee (hypothetically made up entirely of sycophants as well as yes-men and women) beholden to a super-ruthless sitting president, decides to recommend that to lessen anticipated presidential-power withdrawal pangs, the very seat of government itself, be made available to a departing president, to use as an office upon his or her retirement – and a rubber-stamp parliament, petrified of that super-ruthless president, then quickly approves that lunacy: at the eleventh hour, and without even examining the details of the committee’s recommendations?

Would the cynics amongst us still insist then, that the state (the stewardship of which, having finally passed out of the hands of the ruthless megalomaniac, into the hands of a decent and principled successor president, and his or her law-abiding administration, thank God!), could not decide which other building to allocate to the hypothetical retired megalomaniac – who whiles in office, coveted the very seat of government itself to use as an office upon his or her retirement, and went ahead and “allocated” it to himself or herself, three solid years prior to leaving office: because he or she had enjoyed working in it tremendously, and wanted to continue using it in his or her years of retirement – and that reallocating another state property to him or her would therefore amount to the government of the day, varying the terms of his or her retirement settlement? Please!

Let our political leaders learn to always put the interests of our country and its people first – and be prepared to make personal sacrifices for mother Ghana’s sake, whenever, and wherever, the need to do so, arises, too. A word to the wise…

GHANA MUST STEP OUT OF THE SHADOW OF CONVENTIONAL ECONOMIC THINKING!

The recent meeting in Tanzania of finance ministers from Africa, which was sponsored by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), generated a great deal of media coverage across the continent, and the rest of the world. Many Africans were hoping that some new thinking about the economic future of our continent would emerge from that meeting.

Critics of the IMF and World Bank, say that the global recession appears to be seen by the two multi-lateral organisations, as a golden opportunity to get African nations under their sway, yet again. However, it is important that those nations that do fall into the arms of the two institutions resist some of the “conditionalities” that are attached to their loans: such as selling profit-making state-owned assets – whiles many Western nations are busy pumping public cash into private companies in partial-nationalizations.

Clearly, the two multilateral institutions offer nations like Ghana a better alternative to our nation’s daft and shortsighted forays into the piranha-infested capital markets of the (pre-recession) Western world. Those senseless and expensive forays only benefitted the fat-cats in our financial services sector, and the crooks amongst our previous rulers.

Incidentally, we could have borrowed the same amounts from China for far less, than issuing sovereign bonds at idiotic rates of interest to canny Western investors – just to benefit the craving for kickbacks by the powerful crooks in the previous regime: whose cronies in our financial services sector earned huge fees from the issuance of those bonds for doing absolutely nothing.

Perhaps the time has come for the new government to find out precisely who and who bought those Ghanaian sovereign bonds that were issued abroad – and to make sure that there is no “Kweku-Ananse” money-laundering, of the (to quote some of Ghana’s cynics) “Eland-NIB-Ali-Baba-magic” variety, which sees our nation paying zillions of dollars in regular interest payments to legal fronts for international crooks.

But I digress. It is important that in dealing with the World Bank and the IMF, Ghana makes it absolutely clear to both institutions that it cannot, and will not, sell profit-making state-owned assets in our financial services sector, under any circumstances – as such a retrograde step is untenable and would be politically suicidal for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime of President Mills.

For those Ghanaians who think creatively, far from it being a gloomy period, this current global recession offers nations like Ghana a rare opportunity to take a fresh look at their developmental processes. For example, why should our present leaders repeat the same mistake today, which African leaders made in the 1960’s, when they failed to seize the opportunity to buy into Nkrumah’s vision of an African common-market – because it came together with what they saw as his near-impossible dream of a continental government for a United States of Africa?

We need not seek a continental government just yet, but if we had an African common market today, dear reader, would factories across Africa not be able to add value to the continent’s many natural resources and successfully sell them across Africa? Would that not have kept the recession at bay somewhat, today – and saved those now being thrown out of work, as export orders from outside the continent shrink and dry up: thus leading to the closure of many factories?

Ghana’s leaders must seize the opportunity that the existing goodwill for Nkrumah’s Ghana all over the Africa of today, offers them, and act quickly to strike bilateral free-trade deals with all the nations of Africa – and leverage that goodwill to spread the footprint of corporate Ghana (both state-owned and private), across Africa. Would our many industries not be able to take advantage of the economies of scale offered by expanded markets to compete effectively all over Africa, and take on more workers in the process?

Above all, our leaders must stop begging visiting foreign dignitaries “to come to our aid” in order to improve our agricultural sector. They must rather think creatively themselves to improve the productivity of our agricultural sector. At a time of global climate change, we need not waste precious time reinventing the wheel to improve our agricultural sector.

Ghana’s leaders must simply be creative and take a good look at the developmental-template offered by the South African sustainable livelihoods organisation, Sustainable Villages Africa (SVA). If they have the political will to do so, they can replicate that developmental-model here with SVA’s help to transform rural Ghana into thriving farming areas, with prosperous rural populations – in public private partnerships (PPP) between district assemblies, SVA, and farmer-groups.

Tallow Oil is apparently building a mini oil refinery in Uganda. Since China still regards Ghana as a special friend in Africa, because of the goodwill that remains from Nkrumah’s close friendship with Chinese leaders, we must take advantage of that goodwill to help us grow the energy sector of our economy rapidly: the global recession notwithstanding.

What stops us from approaching China and proposing that we issue sovereign bonds to them in exchange for their funding the building of oil refineries and natural gas plants here, for example? Will the two nations not mutually benefit if they could collaborate to build such plants – to export petroleum products to Africa and beyond: in joint-ventures between the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and the best-resourced of China’s state-owned energy companies?

Rather than twiddle their fingers fretting about the lack of credit worldwide, our leaders must see this recession as an opportunity to strengthen our ties with China. If they did that, could we not leverage our relationship with China to empower the state-owned housing delivery companies in Ghana, to partner their Chinese equivalents: to build hundreds of thousands of good quality affordable housing using the PPP model in all the districts in Ghana?

Could those houses not be rented out by the district assemblies to Ghanaians who cannot afford to own their own homes, presently? Will the building of those affordable houses not create scores of jobs nationwide, as well as provide all the district assemblies in Ghana with a new and sustainable revenue-source: their own housing-stock?

At a time of global climate-change, rather than begging high government officials from France and Germany to “come to our aid,” why do our leaders not ask those foreign dignitaries to link up the Forestry Division of the Forestry Commission (as well as private Ghanaian tree-planting companies accessing the new teak-growing initiative being started by the government), with corporate clients of carbon-offsetting organisations in Germany and France, wishing to fund tree-growing projects overseas, to neutralize some of their corporate carbon-footprint?

Will such collaboration not provide money to Ghana’s teak growers and provide our nation with precious foreign exchange too – thus improving Ghana’s GDP growth rates in a sustainable and green fashion? Is that not a far more sensible way to proceed, than resorting to the kind of humiliating begging-bowl diplomacy we see some of our leaders engaging in ad nauseam, on our television screens? Ditto exploring the possibility of designating the teak-growing initiative as projects under Ghana’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), in any successor climate-change agreement, to the Kyoto treaty?

The change promised by the NDC isn’t going to happen if our new leaders don’t think creatively and opt to stick to conventional economic thinking, instead – particularly at a time when the world is in the grip of such a severe recession. This is precisely the time to think creatively and lower tax rates for corporate Ghana, by bringing it down to less than 10 per cent, whiles passing tough new laws to deal with tax evaders. That will automatically widen the tax net and encourage payment. Will that not immediately put our nation on the world map – as the nation with the lowest corporate tax rate in the world? And will that not spur some investment here even at a difficult time like this?

Whiles such a review of the tax regime is seen to by the new NDC regime, perhaps the new government could also put money directly into the pockets of all Ghanaian workers and encourage them to work even harder – by being bold and finally abolishing personal income-tax in our country (fulfilling a campaign promise without stoking up inflation!). Surely, that will make Ghana a truly attractive gateway to Africa, and make this the destination of choice for all wishing to do business in Africa?

And if they permit all Ghanaian workers to retire on their salaries, as well as provide a social pension to all Ghanaians over 65, regardless of whether they contributed to one or not, will that not help create a fairer and more civilized society in Ghana? Is that not infinitely better than widening the gap between the well-off and the rest of society, by paying huge sums in ex-gratia payments to over-pampered politicians – most of whom were in reality corrupt and self-seeking individuals who never toiled to improve the quality of life of ordinary Ghanaians whiles in office: although showered with perks worth zillions during their tenure?

I share the view of those who posit that the less ”awoof” money we have available for politicians to waste (in ostentatious lifestyles), and rogue public servants to steal, the better off our nation will be. In my humble opinion, having less money ‘sloshing’ about the system, is the perfect way to have “lean government” – and end the ruthless dog-eat-dog kleptocracy, which our democracy has sadly evolved into. A word to the wise…

GHANA MUST NOT SUPPORT AU'S POSITION ON PRESIDENT BASHIR'S ICC INDICTMENT

Like the murderous President Saddam Hussein before him, the dictator of Sudan, President Omar Bashir, can also muster a large crowd of placard-bearing sycophants to publicly demonstrate their support for him, at any time he deems it convenient to show the world that he has the backing of the citizens of the police-state he presides over. In the end, Omar Bashir, like Saddam Hussein, will also pay for his crimes against humanity – as sure as day follows night.

Those who take part in those public demonstrations organized by the Sudanese government, have no choice when they are ordered to hit the streets in Omar Bashir’s support – for they live under a ruthless and brutal tyranny. However, since Ghana is not a vassal of Sudan, the members of the government of Ghana, particularly its foreign minister, do not have to live in fear of President Bashir.

One does not know the reason for the recent statement attributed to Ghana‘s foreign minister, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, that Ghana supports the position of the African Union (AU), on the issue of the indictment of President Bashir, by the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, it is important that on all such occasions he follows the dictum: “Silence is golden.” Ghana is a civilized nation that must never give succour to regimes that abuse the human rights of their citizens – no matter where in the globe they are to be found.

Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni would have been far wiser refraining from answering any question requiring a direct answer on the subject – and should have rather taken advantage of the opportunity offered by the interview, to stress the importance that Ghana attaches to the international community finding an outcome to the Darfur tragedy, which sees an immediate halt to the suffering of the people of Darfur. That must be Ghana’s position.

There are no overriding strategic reasons why Ghana ought to feel that it has an obligation to remain on friendly terms with the Sudanese regime. Sudan, after all, is an AU member that deliberately destabilizes its neighbour Uganda, so as to discourage it from supporting the people of Southern Sudan – to whom Bashir and Co. have made promises they have no intention of keeping (a ruse that has enabled them end the civil war in Southern Sudan more or less on their terms: and ensured that the oil in that region of Sudan is exploited largely for Khartoum’s benefit).

Why, does Ghana’s foreign minister not know that the war in Southern Sudan will eventually be restarted – as soon as the Southern Sudanese vote to secede from Khartoum in the scheduled independence referendum? Will he and the regime he represents support Omar Bashir and Co. then, too? It is important that in all situations where there are widespread abuses of the human rights of our fellow Africans by their governments, the government of Nkrumah’s Ghana, strongly condemns all such human rights abuses.

We must gain that reputation in Africa – just as Botswana has gained a reputation as nation that has a moral foreign policy that makes them speak out boldly against injustice by oppressive regimes in their part of Africa. What is going on in Western Sudan cannot be justified under any circumstances. It is an affront to all black Africans – as the regime of Omar Bashir is carrying out a policy of ethnic-cleansing in Darfur solely for racist reasons.

The irony, is that although Omar Bashir and Co. are regarded as black African Muslims in the Arab world, they themselves consider themselves as ”Arabs” and regard the blacks in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan, as inferior beings, on account of their darker hues. That is intolerable, and the nation Nkrumah founded must never tolerate racial prejudice on African soil – particularly prejudice that leads to the carrying out of a pogrom anywhere in the continent: to wipe out its black African inhabitants.

What benefit is there in Ghana ruining its international reputation so needlessly, by supporting the untenable position of the AU – and giving comfort to a mass-murderer who is busy killing our fellow black Africans? Do we not pride ourselves as a democratic nation with solid pan-Africanist credentials, whose citizens live in a free society, in which the rule of law prevails – and in which sovereignty resides in the people? Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, and the regime he is such a prominent member of, must understand clearly, that Ghanaians did not vote them into office to give succour to African dictators, who brutalize and kill scores of their own people.

Yes, it may very well be true that Ghana’s politicians can always rely on the support of the “My-party-my-tribe-right-or-wrong” myrmidon-types, who wear blinkers permanently and are too blind to see what is wrong in our country – and too thick to think independently. Sadly, it is their blind support that eventually ruins political parties when they finally attain power. Our political class must always remember that it is the small minority of discerning Ghanaians, those independent and fair-minded Ghanaians (often referred to by the media as “floating voters”), whose opinions result in regime-change in Ghanaian elections, today.

President Mills and the regime he leads must know that a majority of those independent-minded Ghanaians are outraged to hear Ghana’s foreign minister reiterating the AU’s disgraceful position on the indictment by the ICC of Sudan’s President Omar Bashir. It is shameful that a nation such as Ghana supports an African regime that looks down on our fellow Africans and is also busy carrying out ethnic-cleansing to rid Darfur of its black African inhabitants (so that their land is usurped by their so-called ”Arab” neighbours).

Speaking as an independent-minded Ghanaian, in my view, making common cause with Omar Bashir, will definitely make me refrain from voting for President Mills’ regime in 2012 – even if it succeeds in turning Ghana into paradise by then. For, in supporting the AU’s disgraceful position, they would have helped an African ruler, who is guilty of the mass-murder of fellow Africans. On the issue of the indictment of President Omar Bashir by the ICC, the Mills administration had better revise its notes very quickly – for it is a non-negotiable issue over which a majority of Ghana’s “floating-voters” will never compromise. A word to the wise…

THE 31ST DECEMBER WOMEN’S MOVEMENT MUST REMODEL ITSELF – AND SHED ITS POLITICAL AMBITIONS!

For years Ghanaian women have held their families together through sheer perseverance, love, dedication, and made great sacrifices to ensure the education of their children. Any organisation dedicated to ensuring the empowerment of women in our nation therefore deserves support from society.

It is this recognition of the important role women play in our society that makes many fair-minded Ghanaians reluctant to publicly criticise women’s organisations such as the 31st December Women’s Movement (DWM). Without a shadow of doubt, it has helped many marginalized Ghanaian women, to improve their lives – and the sincerity of its leaders to the cause of women’s empowerment cannot be gainsaid.

However, it is important that its leaders take a fresh look at the way they have run the organisation in the past. A non-governmental organisation engaged in charitable work, by definition, ought to be one that is part of civil society, and is completely separate from the government of the day. Ideally, it ought not to involve itself actively in partisan politics – as it should exist to serve all sections of society irrespective of their political affiliation.

In a multi-party democracy such ours, the women’s wings of political parties, cannot, and must not be allowed, to masquerade as non-governmental organisations – and it cannot be right that they are given the legal status of one. That clearly is an abuse of the law, and, it can be argued further, fraudulent.

We must be honest and bold enough, to admit that there are many independent-minded and fair-minded Ghanaians, in whose view; the DWM is anything other than an opaque affiliate, of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Some of the DMW’s critics have long accused its leaders of riding on the backs of district assemblies and ruthlessly exploiting the machinery of government to grow their organisation, during the tenure of the last NDC administration.

There is a germ of truth in those criticisms. For, I clearly remember that in the late 1990’s, I spotted a plaque on a door of one of the offices of the Ga District Assembly at Amassaman, which read: “31st December Women’s Movement.” I also remember being told to contact the district assembly in my area, when I once made a telephone enquiry (to its Accra HQ offices) about the feasibility of women in Akim Abuakwa Juaso benefiting from one of the 31st December Women’s Movement’s many women’s empowerment projects.

If the 31st December Women’s Movement is to continue to exist, and not be a source of embarrassment to the present NDC regime of President Mills, it is important that it sheds its political ambitions. It is also important that its leaders do not seek to use it as a vehicle to further their own personal political ambitions. They must not adopt the same negative past strategy of exploiting the machinery of state to grow their organisation.

The DWM must also give real ownership of its projects to the women of the communities they work in – and not legally own those projects itself as if they were franchise-type investments they have made countrywide: in order to make a return on those investments and turn itself into a super-wealthy organisation. That cannot, and will never, be morally right.

No reputable charitable organisation can simply exist in order to enrich itself as an entity, and seek wealth as an end, in itself: through the clever strategy of building up an investment portfolio solely for that purpose and by enrolling millions of (card-bearing and dues-paying?) members. A non-governmental organisation must exist for the sole benefit of its target group: which in the case of the DWM, one presumes, are all marginalized Ghanaian women, in particular – and vulnerable women from other strata of society, generally, one hopes.

Perhaps the DWM ought to take a good look at the “business-models” and organizational ethos underpinning reputable international NGO’s such as: Oxfam; Medicines Sans Frontieres; Fearless Planet; etc. etc. – all of which give ownership of the projects they seek funding for, to the target communities they work with. Surely, that is a far better way to proceed than to continue with the bad old “Alice-in-Wonderland-smoke-and mirrors” ways that led the DMW into so much trouble when there was regime-change in January 2001? A word to the wise…

Friday, 6 March 2009

PRESIDENT MILLS IS RIGHT TO PROCLAIM NKRUMAH AS GHANA’S FOUNDING FATHER!

What an extraordinary people we are – rooting for people who were not only elitists and Akan tribal-supremacists, but were also quislings who worked hard as stooges for neocolonialism and were lackeys of Western interests in our nation. What primary schoolchild in the Ghana of today does not know that Dr. J.B. Danquah was on the payroll of America’s C.I.A.?

It shows the orientation and caliber of some of the members of our political class that they can even accept that those quislings, who wanted our nation to be handed over to them after independence, so that the progeny of the ruling elites of our pre-colonial feudal past would succeed in dominating Ghanaian society and our country till kingdom come, should share the honour of being regarded as Ghana’s founding-fathers, with Nkrumah. What perfidy!

Who in Ghana does not know that the phrase a “property-owning democracy” encapsulated perfectly the elitist mindset of the J.B.Danquah’s – who coined it when they wanted to create a nation in which only property-owners and those who earned a regular salary would have the right to vote in elections?

Was it not the far-sighted Nkrumah who insisted that all Ghanaians, irrespective of their station in life, ought to have the right to vote in elections in our country? Hopefully, at least the Alban Bagbins of this world will acknowledge that it is thanks to Nkrumah, that we have universal adult suffrage underpinning our electoral system - something that has lasted to this very era, incidentally: and which we all take for granted now.

Perhaps the Honourable Bagbin and Co. do not also know that Dr. Danquah (ditto most of his acolytes) so despised northerners and non-Akans that he airily dismissed Nkrumah’s CPP regime as a regime made up of “Ntafuo” and “Veranda boys”? Do they know how he and Nana Ofori Atta1 tyrannized non-Akans living in Akim Abuakwa – and were dictatorial in their attitude, generally, within the Akim Abaukwa area?

Did they not see how in the eight short years President Kufuor, a political descendant of Dr. J.B. Danquah, and an Akan tribal-supremacist par excellence himself, wielded power in Ghana, he worked extremely hard (in alliance with some of his megalomaniac tribal-supremacist traditional rulers) to divide our nation along ethnic lines as never before in our nation’s 52-year history?

It is an indisputable fact that Dr. Nkrumah was the founding father of our nation and a man who above all, sought to unite a people of diverse-ethnicity into a united and modern African nation-state – and President Mills is perfectly right to designate his birthday as Founder’s Day. Period. Who ever heard of any nation with a colonial past and a proud people (with abundant self-belief as pan-Africanists), honouring the stooges for neocolonialism and eager lackeys of Western imperialism from their country’s early history of its struggle against colonialism as national heroes and heroines?

We must end this nonsense on bamboo stilts argument and give Nkrumah his due. Nkrumah dwarfed all his contemporaries, and towered above them as a major historical figure. That is why he is included by all historians in the Pantheon of the 20th Century’s greatest historical figures.

He was on the right side of history – and understood (unlike the J.B.Danquahs) clearly that our national interest did not coincide with that of the neocolonialist and imperialist powers – and that it never would throughout our history, going forward.

That is why he will be remembered till the very end of time by every generation of black Africans worldwide – as the man of vision who founded Ghana, the star of Africa: long after the Alban Bagbins of this world have sunk into oblivion and been forgotten. Kwame Nkrumah’s equal has not yet been born. Period.

U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL MUST IGNORE THE AFRICAN UNION’S PLEAS ON BEHALF OF INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL, SUDANESE PRESIDENT OMAR BASHIR!

Across the continent of Africa, millions of ordinary Africans suffer silently, daily, from untold hardship and misery – the direct result of the terrible yoke, which the curse of a forced existence under the jackboots of some of the modern world’s cruelest and most despotic of rulers, represents.

To such Africans, forced to endure the tyranny of barbaric, corrupt and mostly-incompetent rulers (who are in effect accountable to no one, and maim and kill at will, regularly, with total impunity), news of the indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC), of one of the cruelest of Africa’s many present-day Adolf Hitlers, Sudanese President Omar Bashir, is nothing short of miraculous.

They are overjoyed that at long last the international community is serving notice to cruel and despotic rulers across the African continent – by making it absolutely clear to such leaders that they will no longer be allowed to get away with crimes against humanity.

For years, the people of Darfur have suffered greatly, as the international community has looked on helplessly, unable to halt their suffering and protect them from their cruel and despotic rulers.

Over that period, Sudan’s ruthless and crafty rulers have strung the world along, with one blatant lie after another, and topped their perfidy with a series of broken promises – so as to buy themselves sufficient time for the end-game of their grand strategy: the rolling pogrom taking place in Darfur.

Despite widespread international condemnation of their barbaric actions, Sudan’s leaders have ignored all pleas to cease fighting the horrendous war they are prosecuting in Western Sudan. Rather, they have obstinately pursued their ethnic-cleansing agenda in Darfur, regardless – often using their proxies, the cruel and brutish myrmidons known as the Janjaweed: remorseless killers who are recruited, trained and armed by Omar Bashir and the brutish regime he leads.

It is a simple and effective strategy that has enabled Sudanese leaders to carry out their evil agenda in Western Sudan without any interruption – whiles blithely cocking a snook at the world: by loudly proclaiming their innocence. Orchestrating this crime against humanity has been the freshly-indicted war criminal, Sudanese President Omar Bashir.

It is such an outrage and an affront to humankind that black African leaders, who themselves, ironically (on account of their dark hues), would have been at the receiving end of Omar Bashir’s unspeakable and abominable acts of cruelty, if they had had the misfortune of being born in Darfur, are now pleading with the U.N. Security Council that Bashir’s indictment by the ICC be suspended for a year.

Why does the African Union not rather elect to expend its energies persuading the indicted war criminal, Omar Bashir, to rescind his decision to boot out a number of humanitarian organisations operating in his country to save countless human lives – and on which nearly five million Sudanese citizens depend for their daily sustenance?

The question that concerned and freedom-loving Africans across the continent would like the African Union to answer is: Why should the international community, through the ICC, not come to the aid of Africans, who are being brutalized and murdered in droves, on a daily basis, from Darfur, through Eastern D.R .Congo, to Zimbabwe, and elsewhere on the continent?

Are those unfortunate millions not their compatriots too – who happen to be helpless victims of African despots whom the African Union as a continental body appears so powerless (or unwilling) to assist and protect?

The absurd notion that somehow the indictment of African leaders by the ICC, for their crimes against humanity, is part of a grand conspiracy by neocolonialists, who are apparently out to get progressive and anti-imperialist African leaders, in order to enable them re-colonize Africa, is an insult to all freedom-loving Africans.

The world must put political correctness aside and see that nonsense on bamboo stilts for what it truly is – a cynical attempt by the racist Omar Bashir, a black African of a lighter hue than most black Africans, who sadly deludes himself that he is an “Arab” (although most in the Arab world despise fellow-Muslims of his colour, if truth be told) to play on the sensibilities of black Africans: by exploiting memories of past humiliations that European colonial domination of their continent, represents, for most Africans.

Colonial domination is a thing of the past and no outsiders will ever be able to dominate our continent in the same way that Europeans did in the past. So let those in the continent who make such spurious arguments understand that their fellow Africans, unfortunate victims, who are being brutalized and murdered by African leaders of Omar Bashir’s ilk, are no less deserving of freedom than Frenchmen, Englishmen, Americans, Germans, Japanese or Scandinavians.

Enslavement of fellow Africans by the Omar Bashirs of today is as unacceptable as the enslavement of Africans by the colonial powers of yesteryear was. Freedom-loving Africans across the continent, who care about the many victims of Omar Bashir’s cruelty in Darfur, consequently urge the U.N. Security Council to ignore pleas by the African Union, that Bashir’s indictment by the ICC be suspended for a year.

On the contrary, the U.N. Security Council must rather speak out unequivocally, and act boldly, by calling on all the member-nations of the United Nations to endeavour to have Omar Bashir arrested immediately – and sent to appear before the ICC in The Hague: to stand trial for the many crimes against humanity, which he and the members of the regime that he leads have been committing in Darfur.

Now that Omar Bashir has finally got his come-uppance and received his just desserts, let all the other African “mini-Adolf Hitlers” also busy at work brutalizing, pillaging and murdering with impunity in places such as: Eastern and Northern D.R. Congo; Zimbabwe; Central African Republic; Chad; Kenya, and elsewhere in Africa, take note of the times we now live in. A word to the wise…

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

MR. CHINA VENTURES INTO AFRICA – A SHORT STORY WITH A MORAL IN IT FOR CLUELESS GHANAIAN POLITICIANS: A WORK OF FICTION BY KOFI THOMPSON

When Liam Casey, the swashbuckling Irish businessman who built PCH International into the Western world’s foremost holder of data on China, with an unrivalled knowledge of the Chinese business world, walked into his office in the morning of the 6th of March 2010, little did he know that his fortunes were about to change dramatically.

When he sat down to read his emails that morning, there was one from an unfamiliar name, Shegelegebangoshe, who it turned out was an African internet-blogger and journalist. It made the point that in spite of the global economic recession most educated Africans still yearned for an African Renaissance.

This yearning presented PCH International with an opportunity to extend its corporate footprint across Africa – where opportunities for it to expand abounded. According to Shegelegebangoshe, the opportunity for PCH International arose from the African continent’s desperate need to add value to its raw materials. It also needed to improve its infrastructure by bringing them up to world-class standards. An example, he pointed out, was its power-generating capacity.

Shegelegebangoshe also pointed out that in view of its unfortunate and painful past experience of European colonial domination and exploitation, coupled with the fact that most Western nations still unconsciously had the colonialist-mindset in their dealings with the continent, the perfect way to actualize Africa’s economic regeneration was for nations in the continent to partner the best-resourced Chinese companies to help their modernization drive. PCH International could be the perfect facilitator for such partnerships across the continent.

In his email, Shegelegebangoshe stressed the fact that because of its unrivalled knowledge of the Chinese business world, PCH International had the perfect business model to facilitate joint-ventures in which African governments would partner world-class Chinese companies in projects designed to upgrade the continent’s infrastructure and add value to Africa’s abundant natural resources.

That way, its huge deposits of valuable minerals such as gold, bauxite, manganese, and iron ore, could all be processed locally, in order to create jobs and generate wealth for the nations and peoples of Africa. Liam Casey felt intrigued by the vision outlined in the email. He had never really thought about Africa as a place of opportunity before.

In his mind’s eye it had always been a continent of famine and wars that went back as far back as he could remember. However, there was no denying the fact that facilitating projects that entailed partnerships between reformist-minded and democratically-elected regimes in the continent and leading Chinese companies, both state-owned and private-sector ones, would fit into PCH International’s business model perfectly.

He immediately thought he had to find suitable Africans whom he could work with. Shegelegebangoshe had mentioned Mr. Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General and Mrs. Gracia Mandela, former South African President Nelson Mandela’s wife, as key figures that could help him get PCH International into Africa in a "turbulence-free" manner. The more he thought about it the more exciting he found the prospect of PCH International venturing into Africa.

Here was a unique opportunity for an Irishman to make a buck whiles providing the means for Africa to escape from the clutches of imperialism and neocolonialism. The idea of making that happen appealed to him enormously. In its own turbulent past history had his native Ireland not also suffered as a victim of British colonialism and imperialism too?

He had to start boning-up on the continent’s economic outlook and find out as much as he could about the key nations on the continent. He definitely had to make a start by contacting the ambassadors of those key nations in Africa. Shegelegebangoshe had mentioned Ghana as the perfect place to begin his African odyssey from.

It was politically stable, had a government run by a former university professor, President John Evans Atta Mills, whom everyone agreed was an honest man. “That definitely must be a breed of homo sapiens rare in African politics,” he chuckled to himself. Ghana needed power plants that it could use its huge deposits of natural gas to run. It could generate considerable foreign exchange exporting power to its neighbours.

In addition to building state-of-the-art oil refineries to process its oil deposits into petroleum products to export to its neighbours, it could also build natural gas liquefaction plants. That could enable it to freeze its natural gas, stick that unto ships, and export it to an energy-hungry Europe, desperate to find alternative sources of energy, to enable it lessen its dependence on the unreliable Russian bear.

Yet another idea that Shegelegebangoshe had brought to his attention was an interesting invention by a Colonel Kofi Abaka Jackson, said to be a retired Ghanaian air force officer and former member of one of Ghana’s past military regimes.

Colonel Jackson’s genius was to invent a system to harness the flow of rivers to produce hydro-power without the need to build expensive hydro-power dams. Such a power-generating plant could definitely enable a nation like the D.R. Congo to harness the flow of the giant Congo River to produce power for a large swathe of the continent. His own native Ghana itself could harness its many rivers using his power-generating invention to produce power too.

Then there was the country’s good quality cocoa beans. They were famous the world over amongst major chocolate producers. If it could process all of its cocoa production, Ghana could generate tens of thousands of jobs, in cocoa processing plants, spread across the country’s cocoa-growing regions.

It could do same with its Shea-nut crop. That could also be processed locally into various products for export. It also had suitable land too for Ghana-Chinese joint-ventures to grow and process rice both for local consumption and to export to the nations in the West African sub-region.

To finance such deals Liam Casey thought that the suggestion by Shegelegebangoshe that creatively utilizing Ghana’s sovereign bonds could be a useful way to fund Ghana-Chinese joint-venture projects. It was an idea that the Chinese government would probably accept in principle. The Chinese government would give bank guarantees for such projects with the sovereign bonds of reformist-minded and politically stable regimes in Africa as insurance.

It was an idea that needed fine-tuning; but it certainly made a great deal of sense to him. Ghana had oil and natural gas in abundance. If it issued US$20 billions worth of sovereign bonds to China, that sum could easily fund its development plan and turn it into a developed nation within a maximum seven-year period – the global recession notwithstanding.

Liam Casey rose from his desk and stretched out his hands. He had to think carefully about this intriguing idea. He was an adventurer: and this was some adventure indeed. It could benefit all concerned. If he could help Africa to break free from its dependence on the charity of other nations by becoming prosperous economically, as well as help his beloved China to profit from such joint-ventures, whiles PCH International itself grew and made vast profits too in the process, why not, he smiled to himself?

Coincidentally, he noted, Ghana’s independence anniversary was today, 6th March, 2010. He thought that that had to be a good omen. Apparently, under the regime of Ghana’s founding father, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the country had also been a special friend of China’s in Africa. He would make sure the goodwill that existed between the two nations from that era was revived again to benefit both nations. He had to get cracking. He had to buy himself a very light jet (VLJ) pronto. He could imagine the newspaper headlines: “Mr. China ventures into Africa!”