Thursday, 30 July 2009

Will Ghana's Political Elite Learn Lessons From The Horrific Northern Nigerian Islamic Mass Murderers?

The shocking mass murders committed recently by Islamic fanatics known as Boko Haram (the so-called “Nigerian Taliban”) -  who seem to forget, in their sworn aim of removing every trace of Western influence from Nigerian society, that Islam itself, is also a foreign influence in African society - apparently caught officialdom in Nigeria, both at the state and federal levels, completely by surprise.

For the average pan-Africanist, who cares about the fate of major nations in the continent, such as Nigeria, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Kenya, the constant threat posed to their stability by a variety of divisive forces, is a source of great worry.

The tragic and horrific events in which misguided Islamic fanatics unleashed a reign of terror in coordinated attacks on police stations and other public buildings in a number of northern states, during which hundreds of innocent people were murdered for the most incredible and lunatic of reasons, could never have occurred, if the ruling Nigerian elite had ensured that the massive revenues, which they have misappropriated over the years, were applied to improving the quality of life of all Nigeria’s citizens: thus making it less likely that such an evil organisation would be able to find so many vulnerable young people to influence with such catastrophic consequences.

One can only hope that they will now wake up to the danger posed to the long-term future of their great country, by their continued insistence on siphoning billions of dollars from their national treasury – money that ought to be used instead to develop Nigeria into a more equitable society for the benefit of its teeming and impoverished millions.

In the light of the abominations in northern Nigeria, one could not help but be apprehensive, as one listened to the smugness in the tone of Mr. Mahama Ayariga, the presidential spokesperson, as he blithely mentioned, in passing, during a telephone contribution he made (whiles commenting on a number of points the host of the programme sought his clarification on) to a discussion about strengthening the constitutional bodies mandated to fight corruption in Ghana, such as the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), on Joy FM’s “Super Morning Show” programme, which was broadcast on July 28, 2009. 

According to Mr. Ayariga, the Mills administration would not breach the constitutional provisions, which guarantee privacy for ministers who have declared their assets to Ghana’s Auditor General, as required by the constitution. It made one wonder if Ghana’s obdurate political elite, will ever learn any lessons from tragedies that occur elsewhere in Africa, such as the horrific events that have just occurred in northern Nigeria

Do privileged people in Ghanaian society, such as Mr. Mahama Ayariga, not understand that beneath the patina of a civilized and peaceful nation lies a seething cauldron of disaffection: a potent and toxic mix of anger and hopelessness that could blow up at any time – if this regime, at the very least, does not show by concrete action that it is serious about fighting corruption? 

Why have they not prosecuted Alhaji Muntaka yet, for example? Do the Mahama Ayarigas not understand that instead of the endless platitudes about transparency and accountability, most discerning Ghanaians simply want all those in government, from the president down to the last district chief executive in the land, and their spouses, to publicly declare their assets?

In their view, that is the best way of confirming, by deeds, not mere words, that the Mills administration is serious about fighting high-level corruption in Ghana – so that the good people of this country will be able to keep an eye on any crooks lurking in this regime: who might now be biding their time to rip our country off, by stealth, as they too await their Alhaji-Muntaka-type opportunity: and eagerly look forward to the day when Ghana’s oil and natural gas revenues start coming on stream. 

The demand that the assets of high government officials and their spouses, ought to be publicly published, is a non-negotiable political fact on the ground, in the Ghana of today – and if the government of President Mills does not make that happen soon, they will find some of us becoming their most implacable of foes: who will wage a determined campaign and fight relentlessly to ensure that they are not returned to office again in 2012 (as we did their corrupt and amoral predecessors in office). 

As the many egregious examples of abuse of office, aimed at the amassing of wealth illegally, by some of the most powerful members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime of ex-President Kufuor, begin to come to light, Mr. Mahama Ayariga, and the other members of the regime of which he is such a prominent member, must understand clearly, that there has been a sea-change in Ghanaian politics – and that Ghanaians will simply not tolerate a repeat of the corruption that went on in the past regime under any circumstances. 

It was that fundamental change in Ghanaian politics that ensured the victory of President Mills in the run-off of the December 2008 presidential elections.

He won that election, largely because the real kingmakers of Ghanaian politics, the independent-minded patriots and Ghanaian nationalists, who put the interests of Nkrumah’s Ghana above that of party affiliation and tribal sentiment, in all matters that concern the well-being of our country, and the welfare of its people, believed that he was the candidate most capable of changing Ghana for the better, despite the mostly-corrupt nature of our political class and the opaque system they superintend and exploit for their own ends: because of his honest and fair nature. 

In a very real sense, the opinions of the fanatical party supporters, whose unflinching support the Mahama Ayarigas and their political opponents can always rely on (and often manipulate for their own parochial ends), do not really matter any more, in the politics of today’s Ghana – as they are equally distributed amongst all the political parties in our country. 

Those zillions of “My-party-my-tribe-right-or-wrong” myrmidon-types, are simply too blinkered to see what is wrong with our nation, and too thick to think for themselves (when being bamboozled by “book-long-politicos”)

A quintessential example, are the ethically-challenged and intellectually-challenged pro-New Patriotic Party political-zombies, who call themselves the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) – who seem to have lost sight of the fact that the economic situation of our nation today, is a direct result of the dishonesty and monumental incompetence of their ruling party, especially towards the end of its tenure. 

The leaking roofs of the new presidential palace, after a figure of some US$170 millions had been expended on it, sums up the Kufuor regime perfectly: It was simply a regime dominated by a powerful cabal of hypocritical and greedy world-class incompetents – who simply came to exploit our national economy for their own benefit.

Perhaps it might interest those geniuses in AFAG to know that even oil-rich Angola is having the same problems we are currently experiencing here too. The question is: what alternative solutions do they have to offer that might bring about the paradise they seek for Ghanaians? 

At least the Committee for Joint Action (CJA), which they doubtless model themselves on, invariably offers solutions, whenever it criticizes the government of the day’s policies. But I digress. 

If the Mahama Ayarigas want to continue being successful at election time in this country, going forward, into the future, they must take the views of Ghana’s independent-minded and discerning voters (the so-called “floating voters”), far more seriously, than they currently do. 

The end of their four-year tenure of office, might very well turn out to be the end of the road for their party, as Ghana’s governing political party, if they fail to amend the constitution: so as to make all the relevant public officials who are now required to declare their assets to the Auditor General, henceforth do so publicly: and declare those assets, as well as that of their spouses, openly, for all the good people of Ghana to know the true extent and value of their declared personal net worth, both before and after serving their various tenures of office. 

Let them understand clearly, and without any ambiguities, that that really is a small price to pay to enable their regime restore the credibility of our political class amongst ordinary Ghanaians – a vital prerequisite for the continued survival of Ghanaian democracy: in a nation whose over-pampered political class has, after nearly fifty-two years of independence, still not been able to deliver an equitable and fair society to the good people of Ghana.


Yet, Ghanaians simply yearn for an equitable society in which ordinary people (who are constantly being called upon to make never-ending sacrifices for a better tomorrow for their country: even as politicians insist on obscene ex-gratia payments and overly-generous retirement packages for themselves – and all that, in a nation in which scores of mothers still die during childbirth, because of inadequate health-care facilities nationwide, and in which most homes do not even have potable water regularly, if at all), are able to live happy and fulfilled lives, too: just like their leaders do at hapless taxpayers' expense. 

Surely, that is not asking for too much, is it, dear reader? It is important that the Mahama Ayarigas in our country understand that the growing disparities of wealth in Ghana does indeed pose a real threat to the stability of our nation. 

The burgeoning underclass that is increasing in numbers at such a frightening rate (and in inverse proportion to the spectacular rise in the value of the personal fortunes of the politically well-connected lucky few – who have prospered mightily from the dramatic increase in Ghana’s GDP since our large external debt was written off in 2001 ), is a ticking social time-bomb, which is persisting because a large army of disaffected rural youth continue to flock to the urban areas in search of their dream of the good life: access to which they are totally cut off from, in reality. 

The bald and painful truth, is that in terms of their educational backgrounds and qualifications, achieving that goal through honest means, will always be well nigh impossible for the vast majority of them – despite their expectations to the contrary, when they initially set off from their villages to urban Ghana: because they are so inadequately prepared for upward social mobility in the modern 21st century ICT age. 

It is a pity that our not-so-bright political class (well, what else can one call a class of politicians, in which a cabinet minister, rather than be outraged that Vodafone, which would not dare make a similar offer to his British counterpart, because it would be regarded as unethical, had had the nerve to offer to pay for his hotel accommodation at Newbury, when a delegation from Ghana visited the company's UK HQ, instead comes on national television to congratulate himself for refusing an improper and unethical offer, clearly meant to corrupt him, dear reader?) has not yet grasped the fact that a poor developing nation with aspirations, cannot possibly afford not to provide free education up to tertiary level, for all those with the aptitude to do so from underprivileged backgrounds, whose families cannot afford to educate them to that level.


As things now stand, clearly, if nothing is done about it, at some historic point, many of the members of the new underclass will doubtless end up as cannon fodder for the political ambitions of others – to be manipulated by the ruthless demagogues in our midst: who are forever waiting patiently in the wings, ready to strike to end our experiment in democratic governance, when the opportunity to do so presents itself to them. 

The availability of oil and natural gas revenues, is bound to make that possibility a reality in the end, if our political elite chooses to follow in the footsteps of Nigeria’s political elite. 

Whatever they do, they must not siphon off those revenues, which we are all counting on to help transform our country into Africa’s equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia, into their bank accounts, to enable them send their personal net worth into the stratosphere as Ghanaian politicians are wont to – despite their protestations to the contrary: because they invariably end up exploiting our national economy for their personal enrichment, as well as that of the members of their family clans and their cronies. 

If President Mills is serious about fighting corruption in Ghana, he must make sure that the constitution is changed, to make the public declaration of the assets of government members, and that of their spouses, a reality as soon as it is practicable for that to be done by Parliament. 

Ghana’s political elite must learn the lessons inherent in the tragic events in northern Nigeria – and quickly change their ways, and make transparency their watchword in governance: and ensure above all, that all aspects of our public life are underpinned by an ethical ethos. That is a sure-fire way for President Mills to ensure a long-lasting legacy for his regime. 








Saturday, 25 July 2009

DID EX-PRESIDENT KUFUOR TELL POISONOUS LIES TO THE WORLD?

A friend who listened to some of the comments by investigators in recent news reports about the culmination of a ten-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) into corruption in the American state of New Jersey, said that whiles listening to those comments, for one brief moment, he saw in his mind’s eye, the final unmasking, of what he described as one of the most amoral and corrupt of regimes, ever elected into power in our country. To quote him: “In a flash, I saw the final exposure of the countless sins of that government-of-many-rogues – which is precisely what the 8-year tenure (underpinned by unfathomable greed) of our ex-Hypocrite-in-Chief, that sly gentleman, former President J.A. Kufuor, represented.” In my friend’s view, much like the crooked goings-on in New Jersey’s apparently corruption-riddled political circles, behind the carefully crafted image of democratic respectability, which was sold so successfully to the world by Kufuor and Co.’s propagandist praise-singing cronies in the Ghanaian media (and paid agents from elsewhere), was a regime that grabbed every opportunity to exploit our national economy for the personal benefit of its members: which is why they ended up selling scores of government-owned properties to themselves and those in their inner circles, with such abandon.



To my friend, the Kufuor regime was in fact nothing more than “a nest of vipers that paid its praise-singing cronies in the Ghanaian media (and mercenary agents elsewhere), to hide the reality behind the fa├žade of good governance: a regime afflicted by moral decadence, and jam-packed with grown-up liars extraordinaire; delectable-bimbo-loving philanderers supreme; and ruthless tribal-supremacists of the most rabid kind”: who abused their power to such an extent that they ended up destroying the cohesion of our country, in furtherance of the daft, treasonable, and overweening ambitions of their “tunnel-visioned” tribal Chief – “who apparently thinks his mission on this earth is to restore the sovereign power of his pre-colonial feudal predecessors, by any means necessary.” Strong words some might say – but brave of him to say so, nonetheless, in a nation full of fence-sitting moral cowards, and in which none dare mention the unpleasant truth when it concerns the powerful in society, for fear of its repercussions. Personally, I miss the wisdom and humility of the gentleman whom many, who know about such things, consider to be greatest of the modern-day Asantehenes: Otumfuo Opoku-Ware 11 (may his soul rest in peace) – who understood that, paradoxically, a modern-day Asantehene, by definition must be humble, always keep a low profile, and shun publicity, in a nation of diverse ethnicity: because of the weight of history behind the Golden Stool. But I digress. It is significant (because it says a great deal about the negativity of their vindictive and vicious natures) that ex-President Kufuor & Co. chose to begin a propaganda offensive shortly before the visit to Ghana by US President Barrack Obama.



Clearly, he and the fraudsters in his regime (well, what else can one call those who, incredibly, railroaded the VALCO sale and purchase agreement through Parliament, and sanctioned same, to a non-existent international consortium – said to be made up of two international metal conglomerates, Norske Hydro and VALE: which both denied ever agreeing to purchase VALCO, dear reader?) think that their hour has now come. It is obvious that despite widespread public disapproval, they are determined to get their pound of flesh: and obtain those overly-generous retirement packages, at the expense of the hard-pressed Ghanaian taxpayers (whom ex-President Kufuor amazingly once labeled “lazy” – forgetting that they were at the bottom of the heap in society, only because they did not have the same kind of opportunities, which his Kokofu-football brand of crony-capitalism opened up for the members of his family clan, and his cronies, during his confounded “era-of-the-blessed-golden-thieves that he thinks was the Ghanaian Renaissance” to quote my friend). His critics say that that is the sole reason why our former president pulled strings so furiously in his network of contacts built up during his tenure, in order to be made a “UN Hunger Ambassador.” They also go on to say that it is characteristic of one of the most insincere of men on the surface of the planet Earth, that he is ruthlessly exploiting a convention used by the UN system to raise awareness of various issues globally, by making prominent people (most often international celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment) “UN Ambassadors” – and that in the hands of an insincere man, today, it has become a useful building-block in the not-so-subtle behind the scenes campaign he has embarked on, to ensure above all, that somehow he realizes his dream of obtaining the million-dollar “seed-money” to set up a foundation: which was the centerpiece of the overly-generous retirement package he got the Chinnery-Hesse committee to recommend he be given.



His critics accuse him of hiding behind his lackey, his so-called spokesperson, Frank Adjekum, to direct the fight to enable him to win the battle of empowerment – and obtain his full ex-gratia retirement package, come hell or high water. It is all so sad and needless – especially as President Mills is such a God-fearing and fair individual who will not countenance any of them being persecuted in any way. Can they not see that he is an honest gentleman (probably the most honest of the post-Nkrumah rulers we have had, thus far) whom they must cooperate with, so as to isolate the hawks in his National Democratic Congress (NDC) party – who wish for the trials of all those in the Kufuor regime who took part in the gang-rape of Mother Ghana to be speeded up: so that he might be predisposed to pardoning those of them who will end up in jail for willfully causing financial loss to Ghana, midway through their jail terms? In response to his latest criticisms of the present regime, former President Kufuor’s harshest critics say that they are not in the least bit surprised, that a selfish and nepotistic leader, who did not care one jot about the unlucky and the hard-up in society whiles in power, now talks endlessly about feeding school children on BBC programmes: because it suits his purpose. Those same critics also say that they hope that now that the scales have been finally removed from the eyes of the “born-again” Christians in the present regime (as a result of ex-President Kufuor’s vituperative “Focus on Africa” interview-of-many-lies broadcast on July 22, 2009 by the African Service of the BBC World Service), the government of President Mills will finally see him for what he really is: an ace hypocrite and a very dangerous man – who should not be given the benefit of the doubt under any circumstances by the current regime: because he is undeserving of it. Incidentally, I must admit that that selfsame thought did strike one: as one heard his self-serving nonsense-on-bamboo-stilts during the BBC African Service “Focus on Africa” interview.



I was speechless as I listened to his fantasizing about his many “achievements” and how others were now vilifying him (and acting as if there had been a military coup), simply to focus attention on their regime, and away from him, with Ghanaians. Does he not know that as a result of the many kickbacks that he and his cronies received from the road construction sector (amongst other sectors), most of the drains and roads that he boasts about were so shoddily constructed, that they have almost all been washed away by the recent floods? How true to form, that the dissemblers in Kufuor & Co. as usual think that they are being terribly clever – and appear to believe that they have chosen their moment well: hence their new-found boldness in giving that dissimulating BBC African Service “Focus on Africa” interview. It is also interesting that that selfsame BBC interview followed closely on the heels of a similar self-serving Voice of America (VOA) African Service interview, with the host of its “Straight Talk Africa” (the VOA’s current affairs programme on Africa) programme, Shaka Ssali. What, dear reader, does one say about someone, whose critics say that whiles serving as a sitting president, turned the shady business of receiving kickbacks at the seat of government, into an art form (and whose own dreadful example of unfathomable greed, unmatched abuse of power, and unbridled nepotism, set the tone for his corrupt and amoral regime) – and gave free-reign to the very worst natures of his coterie of shameless sycophants: as they embarked on their gang-rape of Mother Ghana, to enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary Ghanaians and their country? How can he then have the gall, to turn around, upon leaving office, to describe himself as an exemplary leader who served his country well, in a BBC African Service radio interview?



The Mills administration must remember that when President Kufuor was asked, at the inception of his tenure, how he would treat his immediate predecessor, ex-President Rawlings, he gave a very clever answer that he never actually ever meant a word of – and said that he would treat him as he wanted to be treated when he left office. Yet, his regime then set about promptly demonizing former President Rawlings and rubbishing his regime, at every turn. Clearly, ex-President Kufuor will do everything he can to try and hide the terrible things his regime did whiles in office – which really is what this current bout of dissimulation is about. For the sake of the stability of our country, one hopes that the pacifists in the present regime (who preach what in effect amounts to the appeasement of crooks, in wanting to be accommodating, to the powerful rogues in the previous regime), will understand that our former president is a man, whom, in order to protect the image of his regime and stop the truth about its corrupt practices from leaking out, was even prepared to allow others to label Dr. K.A. Busia’s highly intelligent and sane daughter, Nana Fremaa Busia, who made serious allegations against him and some of the leading members of his regime, as a lunatic – just so as to destroy her credibility: in the hope that the world would ignore the embarrassing criticisms of a regime-insider, who knew at first-hand, a great deal about the corruption, nepotism, and abuse of power, which was going on in his regime. The current administration would be wise to heed the advice of those of Mr. Kufuor’s critics, who say that the current regime must end its naivete in wanting to please the whole world and be loved by all in it: and must now deal ruthlessly with the former president and all the members of his regime who took our nation for such a ride.



Perhaps they must not also forget, above all, that he is a politician, whom upon his election to office, promptly set about hijacking the entire machinery of state, to further the treasonable ambitions of his tribal Chief – and did not particularly care about the fact that he had been elected as president of the unitary Republic of Ghana (that also happens to be a nation of diverse-ethnicity), and had also sworn an oath to defend its constitution, but was prepared to actively help in its Balkanization too: in furtherance of the tribal-supremacist agenda that motivates him; his tribal Chiefs ; and the ruthless and greedy cabal who controlled the presidency, throughout his years in power as president of Nkrumah’s Ghana. They must also not forget that there are indeed many patriots and nationalists in this country, who see Mr. Kufuor as a traitor and a devious man, whose goal is the fulfillment of the Akan tribal-supremacist agenda of Dr. J. B. Danquah: and whom the new government must always be wary of. They also go on to say further that the government must expose him and his cronies to the world for what they think they really are: amoral philanderers and world-class liars of the worst sort – who turned the seat of government into a trading-floor for receiving kickbacks, yet have the effrontery to tell the world they were exemplary leaders. If his harshest critics are right in what they say about him, then the new administration must not treat ex-President Kufuor with kid gloves in the slightest after the web of lies he spun during his BBC African Service radio interview. They hope that the Mills administration will let him “smell pepper” (which are the exact words he used when he thought that his immediate predecessor, ex-President Rawlings, was attempting to destabilize his regime and overthrow it) if he continues along the path he has apparently now chosen to protect himself. A word to the wise…



Telephone (Powered by Tigo – the mobile telephone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0)27 745 3109 & +233 (0) 21 976238.





Monday, 20 July 2009

CAN WE TRANSFORM GHANA INTO AN AFRICAN EQUIVALENT OF SCANDINAVIA’S EGALITARIAN SOCIETIES?


Listening to the breathtaking arrogance of Guinea’s military ruler, as he recently railed against civil society groups, and threatened media houses with closure for incurring his wrath, and to the antediluvian pigheaded pure-nonsense-on-bamboo-stilts from Niger’s minister of communications, as he airily dismissed calls by the opposition and other civil society groups, for President Mamadou Tanandjer to respect his country’s constitution and adhere to the term-limits placed on his tenure, one could not help but recall, and be grateful, for the past heroism of Ghanaian patriots like the late Tommy Thompson, Kwesi Pratt, Kweku Baako, and Kabral Blay-Amihere. Those four patriotic journalists fought bravely and suffered imprisonment, in the struggle against the military dictatorship that ruled Ghana, between 1981 and1991. Sadly, the more elderly Tommy Thompson eventually died from the effects of the harsh regime, which they were kept under, during their imprisonment. It was the resolve of such patriots (amongst other equally brave patriots such as Akoto Ampaw, Nana Akufo-Addo and others too numerous to mention here) during those dark days, which was largely responsible for finally ending tyranny in our country – and enabled the good people of Ghana to regain their freedom, in 1992, from the anti-democrats in our midst: who stole sovereign power from Ghanaians, by force of arms, at dawn on December 31, 1981.


The bravery and selflessness of those nationalists will doubtless be remembered by human rights activists, who fight for social justice in every generation of Ghanaians, till the very end of time. The question is: How can we, as a people, ensure that we never again allow the creation of the conditions, which enable the demagogues who are forever lurking in the shadows, and biding their time, to overthrow democratically-elected constitutional regimes in our country (and hold on to that power), to strike again in our homeland Ghana – and rob us of our freedoms by force of arms whiles claiming that they have come to end corruption: but invariably end up eventually enslaving us, and enriching themselves, by stealth, at the same time, in the process? Clearly, we cannot possibly countenance a return of those days of infamy, when that most tyrannical of military regimes, the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), succeeded in creating such fear amongst Ghanaians, that ordinary people sought safety sheltering in a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, say-no-evil personal philosophy: to ensure their basic survival and preserve their sanity. That was what led to the phenomenon that became known as the “culture of silence” in which no one dared speak out against the tyrants into whose ruthless and murderous hands Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana had fallen. Today, although a majority of Ghanaians have come to understand clearly that democracy is not a perfect form of government, because it is ponderous, slow, and often contentious, they are also smart enough to realise that it is far better than any other system of government known to humankind: and are determined to stick to it, so that every four years, they can have the opportunity to decide for themselves, whether or not to remove their current leaders from office, depending on their verdict as to the effectiveness and quality of leadership, shown by those leaders, during their tenure.


Luckily for the Ghanaian polity, even little primary school children have today come to the conclusion, that since men (and women) are not angels, it is in the interest of the ordinary people of Ghana, that their country has a system of government, which has checks and balances built in it, to prevent Ghanaians ending up with rulers who wield unfettered power: that enables them to eventually enslave the citizenry. It is often said that democracy does not thrive in conditions of extreme poverty. That is an apposite statement – that makes it clear, that it therefore follows, a priori, that if the quality of life and the living standards of ordinary people in our country, continue to deteriorate in inverse proportion to the stratospheric rise in the personal net worth of our ruling elite, the members of their family clans, and their cronies, Ghanaian democracy will definitely not survive for very long. Looking around the world today, one can safely conclude that the people of Scandinavia live in the most equitable and prosperous of societies on the surface of the planet Earth – and that if we are to protect Ghanaian democracy from its most powerful enemies (amongst whom are the narrow-minded tribal-supremacist progeny of the pre-colonial feudal era ruling elites in our midst – who exist in all the ten regions of our country: and see its Balkanization as being in their long-term interest: and therefore fan tribalism in our country by engaging in Kokofu-football politricks whenever in power), then we must transform our society into an African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia. To do so, we must make smarter choices in the way we deploy the power and resources of the Ghanaian nation-state. Our leaders must be as creative and as visionary as Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was – and use the power of the Ghanaian nation-state appropriately: so as to create a caring and sharing society, in which every citizen has the opportunity to realise his or her full potential, and lead happy and fulfilled lives, no matter their place in the various strata of society.


Whiles we all agree that our country needs to have a mixed economy, with a flourishing and vibrant private sector, we must nonetheless stop our unthinking and often knee-jerk resort, to handing over to foreigners and their local collaborators (those confounded quislings in our country) valuable state assets, which have been built at great cost: with the blood, sweat, and tears, of Ghanaian workers. Instead of selling state-owned commercial entities at the behest of self-seeking foreign ‘do-gooders’ and carpetbaggers, let us simply restructure them to make them more effective and profitable entities, and make them play strategic roles in our national economy, to enable us achieve certain social-good objectives: to improve the quality of life of all Ghanaians. Take the case of Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), for example. Why do we simply not restructure it – by merging it with the National Investment Bank (NIB) and Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), and give a 20 per cent shareholding of the enlarged bank to a trust fund for its staff and management, with the government holding on to a 40 per cent stake, so that some of the profits will go to the government’s consolidated fund? After the restructuring takes place, there is no earthly reason why we cannot approach what many, who know about such things, regard as one of the world’s best-run and most profitable banks, which is also underpinned by the highest of ethical standards, currently existing in global banking – the Hong-Kong and Shanghai Bank Corporation (HSBC), led by that paragon of virtue, Steven Green, and invite it to become a joint-venture partner, for the newly-enlarged state-owned banking group. Surely, we can take advantage of the present economic crisis, and seize the opportunity to restructure the essential nature of our oil and natural gas industries too, can we not, dear reader (in a world in which everyone agrees and understands that the old economic rules no longer apply and in which we have seen even the government of the world’s leading capitalist nation, the United States of America, amongst other such nations, now owning major stakes in private American financial institutions and in automobile manufacturing firms such as General Motors: after bailing them out financially in what amount to partial-nationalizations)?


Let us revive useful defunct entities such as the Workers Brigade and the State Farms using the same principle – and invite Zambia’s biggest private farming enterprise to partner them in joint ventures to turn the Accra Plains into our breadbasket. In an uncertain world, in which our oil and natural gas deposits have become strategically important for the West, surely, the foreign oil companies must understand that no government in Ghana will survive, if it retains the unsatisfactory agreements the previous government signed with them? Ghana must maximize the returns from this finite gift of Providence – as the Ghanaian people will have to largely depend on the revenues from that sector of our economy to transform our society into Africa’s equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia. The foreign oil companies have a choice – to join the people of Ghana, going forward into the future, in the transformation of our society: by being more reasonable and less greedy, about the size of their share of the profits, or depart from our shores henceforth if they feel that our country is no longer attractive to them: because we refuse to allow ourselves to be ripped off by foreigners, in which case they can depart on our terms, and get compensated with Ghana’s sovereign bonds, not cash (and receive the coupon contingent upon future receipts of revenue from the sector, as they wait to eventually redeem the principal). They will quickly come to realise, when the political climate for the present government changes (as it will in due course, no doubt), because it is unable to improve the overall condition of our country and its people satisfactorily within a four-year tenure, that the need for renegotiating the terms of our agreements with them, is a non-negotiable issue in reality – as in very real and practical terms, no democratically-elected Ghanaian government can survive today, without eventually doing so: so as to maximize revenue from a finite natural resource that we are relying on to fund the process of the radical transformation of our society.


Let them take a long-term view of things, and lower their expectations too – as the days of foreigners ripping off Mother Ghana successfully are gone forever. We will never again elect any stooges for neocolonialism and corrupt lackeys of Western commercial interests (such as the previous regime that was dominated by the most self-seeking and corrupt leaders ever elected into office in our nation’s chequered history), to power in this country again any time soon – so they had better pay heed to good advice and not “play hard-ball” (as some Americans are wont to say in such circumstances). Since China now leads the world in the fabrication of cutting-edge wind-power electricity generating plants, that also presents us with an opportunity to restructure and refocus the Volta River Authority (VRA). Let us merge the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) the VRA, and the body set up by President Kufuor to oversee the generation of power from the Bui Dam hydropower project – and invite the best-resourced of the Chinese state-owned operators and builders of giant wind-power generating plants, to set up a joint-venture to build wind-power energy-farms all along our coastline, for the newly-restructured energy giant to operate: and make our country a leader in renewable energy production in Africa. We must use such a new formula for all our state-owned entities: They must all have 20 per cent staff and management shareholding (held on their behalf by a trust fund set up for that purpose) to boost productivity, with the government retaining 40 per cent to ensure that they are always run with our national goals in mind, and 40 per cent going to a strategic investor that must always be world-class and class-leading in its particular sector. Using that formula, we can also restructure the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), by merging it with the state-owned petroleum products distributor, Ghana Oil Company Limited (GIOL), the bulk oil storage company (BOST) and the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), give its workers a 20 percent shareholding in the enlarged group, government keeps a 40 per cent stake, and then we can invite the best-resourced of the state-owned Chinese oil and natural gas companies to partner it in a joint-venture that makes us Africa’s leading oil refiners, and eventually take it right across West Africa as a regional integrated energy giant.


Again, that formula can also be used to revive the State Construction Corporation (SCC) and merge it with the State Housing Company Limited (SHCL), and seek the best-resourced Chinese state-owned road construction and house-building companies, which are world-class and class-leading in their sectors to become joint-venture partners – and build better-quality roads nationwide, build and operate a world-class canal from Akosombo to the border with Burkina Faso to transport goods cheaply and safely by barges, as well as five hundred thousand affordable houses and flats in each of the ten regions of Ghana, to rent out to ordinary Ghanaians at reasonable rental rates. We can also revive our sugar factories; extend the railway network to all the ten regional capitals; build domestic flight airports at every regional capital: and let the Ghana Air Force own and run them efficiently to make money for itself; set up a gold refinery; revive the jute bag factory; develop an integrated salt industry; revive the State Fishing Corporation; etc. etc. that way too. All that can be paid for with our sovereign bonds issued to China as “payment insurance” with long grace periods, as we breathe new life into, and give new meaning, to the special relationship between Ghana and China that Nkrumah established all those years ago. We must stop thinking that state-owned entities can never be profit-making undertakings. We must see them as strategic undertakings run efficiently and profitably to enable our country achieve certain social-good ends that assure a good quality of life for all the citizens of Ghana. It is important to point out, that China has a lot of world-class businesses that are class-leading, in their sectors – and that we must not base our understanding of the nature of Chinese industry merely on the strength of the evidence we see around us of the atrocious quality of the cheap counterfeit products, which some unscrupulous Ghanaian and Chinese businesspeople import from China to dump here, because our counterfeit surveillance systems are weak (as that irritating “Chuck” Kofi Wayo erroneously does constantly, in the Walter-Mitty fantasizing that his Vibe FM radio programme, in which he is forever spinning tales about his ’exploits’ in America and elsewhere around the globe, and insulting the intelligence of the good people of Ghana, represents). If we are to succeed in transforming our country into Africa’s equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia, we must think like Nkrumah did – and believe that we are capable of achieving that goal through our own ingenuity and hard work.


That is the historic opportunity Providence has given to President Mills – and he will not achieve it if he allows those who still refuse to come out of the shadow of conventional economic thinking, when even the capitalist nations of the West are doing so to ensure the survival of their national economies, to block us from breaking out of the terrible trap of under-achievement that we are caught in: because we refuse to believe in ourselves and to think creatively. Above all, he must send the minister of defence and our military’s leaders to Egypt immediately to study how the Egyptian military is playing a crucial role in the Egyptian economy – so as to prepare the Ghana Navy and the Ghana Air Force to play crucial roles in our oil and natural gas industries, and enable them to earn some decent money to help fund some of their operations (and be less of a burden on taxpayers). We must make the Ghana Navy the sole transporters of all oil produced in Ghana. If we even have to get the South Korean government to loan us money to buy the appropriate numbers of oil tankers and train our navy personnel to man them effectively, let us give them our sovereign bonds as “payment insurance” for those tankers. The Ghana Navy must also be given the type of large hovercraft ferries that are used by UK and EU ferry companies, which ply the English Channel between English ports and continental European ports ferrying vehicles and passengers to and fro, safely, daily – so that they can also ferry goods and passengers safely on the Volta Lake and along the entire West African coastline, and act as our Atlantic Ocean eyes and ears in the process, to forestall the kind of criminality that has brought the Nigerian oil industry almost to its knees.


We must also provide the Ghana Air Force with the best military transport helicopters in the world, and in sufficient numbers, to give them the capability to monopolize (by law) effectively the job of ferrying men and equipment to all the offshore oil production rigs operating in the waters in our continental shelf, at prevailing international industry commercial rates for such services. That will also enable us to effectively monitor activities on those rigs and get an accurate picture of production figures, on a daily basis. Finally, if the government also gets the Ghana Air Force to start a new national flag carrier (that will operate as a civilian carrier with all the appropriate insurance cover, licenses, international certification, etc. etc.), we can then invite that dynamic low-cost carrier, EasyJet, to partner it in a 50/50 joint-venture – to make it the most profitable airline in Africa: that will fly all the now-defunct Ghana Airways’ old routes and more: after the government has liquidated that airline equivalent of a Dodo, Ghana International Airlines (GIA). One hopes that President Mills will emulate the brilliant and dynamic Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and take such visionary ideas on board – to enable us transform Ghanaian society into a caring and sharing one: as far removed, as it is humanly possible to do so, from that dreadful culture of dog-eat-dog selfishness, which his selfish, greedy, and hypocritical predecessor introduced into our social fabric. He must seize the opportunity that Providence has given him, to be included in the Pantheon of great African leaders in the Nkrumah-mould, and change our country for the better – and leave a legacy that will make future generations of Ghanaians remember him till the very end of time. He must be bold and believe that he can lead us to achieve what many think is an impossibility – the transformation of our homeland Ghana into Africa’s equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia: for, indeed, he truly can, and should. A word to the wise…


Telephone (powered by Tigo – the network that actually works!): + 233 (0)27 745 3109 & + 233 (0) 21 976238.








8.

Friday, 17 July 2009

WESTERN GOVERNMENTS & MULTINATIONALS MUST BEHAVE ETHICALLY IN AFRICA!

The corruption scandal involving the British construction firm, Mabey & Johnson, which recently admitted it had bribed politicians in Ghana during the 1990’s, in order to win contracts here, illustrates perfectly, the double standards of a majority of the Establishments in the nations of the West, when it comes to their dealings with Africa. How else can African leaders, such as some of the rulers of nations like: Equatorial Guinea; Nigeria; Gabon; Angola; Rwanda; Congo Brazzaville; DR Congo; Kenya; Eritrea; etc. etc. (many of whom are amongst the wealthiest individuals in the world, although their official salaries cannot possibly be the source of their incredible wealth), continue to keep their money and assets safely in the West – although the secret services and the governments of all the Western nations are aware of the origins of that wealth? Are the rulers of Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo Brazzaville owners of some of the most profitable businesses in the world, for example? Certainly not – they are simply dishonest politicians who steal money belonging to their people: and who can continue brutally gang-raping Mother Africa with such impunity, because of the hypocrisy of those Western nations, which provide safe havens for their stolen wealth.


If that were not the case, why then do the authorities in places like Switzerland, France, Lichtenstein, the UK’s Channel Islands and in North America, not act to freeze those funds that Africa’s corrupt leaders keep in financial institutions (as well as confiscate landed properties and other assets they hold) in the West – and take active steps to trace their origins: especially when they have money-laundering laws in place, and at a time when cutting off the sources of funding for international terrorist groups, has made access to bank accounts in the West that much easier, for their tax authorities and secret services? According to “bush-telegraph” sources, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown apparently invited Ghana’s new president to London, not too long ago, for the sole purpose of pleading on behalf of Vodafone – a company that once bribed Kenyan politicians in the privatization of the state-owned Kenya Telecom. Yet, Mr. Brown and the leader of the biggest of the parties that sit on the opposition benches in the British Parliament, the Tory leader, Mr. David Cameron (as well as other leading British politicians), never cease expressing their sense of outrage about the widespread unethical business practices in the financial services sectors of the economies of the West, which led to the financial crisis the whole world now faces. The question is: Why do they not rail against similar unethical corporate governance practices when they occur in Africa: as a direct result of the actions and inactions of Western multinationals operating in the continent – actions and inactions that fuel the widespread corruption that daily impoverishes millions of Africans (and even indirectly kills hundreds of thousands of them annually)?


Perhaps one of the most effective ways that Western nations can help ease the burden on ordinary Westerners, whose tax dollars get sent by their governments as aid money to nations in Africa (but which often ends up in the offshore bank accounts of corrupt African leaders), is to end direct aid to governments in Africa – and instead channel such funds to NGO’s working at the grassroots level in the continent, to improve the quality of life of poor Africans. If the nations of the West are sincere about helping to make poverty history in Africa, then they must help end corruption in Africa – because it is the major cause of poverty in the continent. They can start by passing legislation that makes it illegal for banks, financial institutions, as well as professional advisors in the West, to provide safe havens and professional advice that enables crooked African politicians to launder the vast fortunes, which they siphon from their national treasuries. Surely, the Western democracies ought to be creative enough, to understand that it really is possible to stop sending their tax dollars to Africa, as direct aid to the regimes of nations in the continent in which corruption is endemic? Surely, if they can find a legitimate way of seizing all the stolen wealth from corrupt African leaders sitting in offshore bank accounts in the West (as they do with alacrity, funds in Western banking systems belonging to front organisations, in the business of channeling money and resources covertly, to the Osama bin Ladens of this world), and set up a special fund into which such sums can be deposited and wisely invested (together with some of the huge sums in “dormant accounts” in Western banks – whose legitimate owners or heirs can no longer be traced after say twelve years), to support good causes in Africa? Could such a fund not be drawn on, for example, to create regional revolving poverty-alleviation funds – out of which micro-loans can be made available to outstanding micro-entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs operating in poor rural communities, right across Africa?


Can the interest from such a fund also not be used to support the work of reputable local NGO’s and international NGO’s working to make a difference for ordinary Africans at the grassroots level, who are forced by circumstances beyond their control to live an existence akin to hell on earth, as a direct result of the corruption and incompetence of their leaders – instead of ordinary Westerners being taxed to the hilt by their governments for that not-so-sensible purpose, which the pouring of money down what is the financial equivalent of a black-hole, that giving aid to certain governments on the continent, actually does represent? Do the international NGO’s helping millions of internally displaced Africans in places like Darfur and Eastern DR Congo, such as Medicines san Frontieres, Save the Children, and Oxfam, not deserve to be supported in their humanitarian work on the continent – by making it possible for them to leverage such funds, too? Corruption in Africa will end, when corrupt African politicians (such as those members of Rwanda’s clever and ruthless ruling elite, who are prospering mightily, from their access to DR Congo’s vast mineral wealth – made possible as a direct result of the instability their proxies have created in Eastern DR Congo: and actively fuel for that purpose), are not only unable to find hiding places in the West to stash their stolen wealth, but are also denied access, through the imposition of sanctions, to the overseas markets in which some of them even sell purloined mineral resources from African conflict zones, for their personal enrichment, and with such complete impunity, too.


Why do the governments of the West not get the UN to ask the EU and other trading blocs around the world to sign and ratify a UN convention, which will make it illegal for companies domiciled in their countries from dealing in minerals from conflict zones in Africa (such as the DR Congo), which do not pass through official export channels and customs border posts, for example? Clearly, one of the most effective means of helping Africa to eradicate poverty will be for the West to end its double standards – and use existing laws to prosecute Western multinationals that behave unethically in Africa and operate in a manner that break laws in their home countries: with the same vigour that they deal with fraudsters like the Conrad Blacks and Bernie Maddoxes, and errant companies like the now-defunct WorldComs and Enrons of the Western world. An example is the payment of bribes by such companies to corrupt African leaders in order to win contracts. Yet another example of the hypocrisy of members of Western Establishments in Africa, is their turning a blind eye to unethical practices by Western multinationals in Africa – such as the disgraceful evasion of its responsibilities to laid-off workers (whom it had exploited for years to make vast profits), at a plant it recently closed down in Ghana’s Ashanti Region, by Guinness Ghana Limited.


That respectable multinational then tried to protect its public image (and pull wool over the eyes of Ghanaians), by giving those workers (whom it had used and dumped so callously without paying any redundancy payments to), what its spokesperson, with tongue firmly in cheek, called an “appreciation package.” Incredibly, Guinness Ghana Limited, had all along apparently “outsourced” ultimate responsibility for the welfare of those poor laid-off Ghanaian workers: whose hard work ensured the vast profits that Guinness Ghana Limited made from that defunct Ahensen plant in Kumasi, Ghana’s second city, to a “private contractor” (code for colluding with a privileged member of Ghana’s greedy and politically well-connected educated elite – an over-pampered group in society famous for its selfishness and lack of fellow-feeling for the less privileged in Ghana). They were thus able to niftily sidestep having to pay those laid-off workers their full redundancy entitlements mandatory under Ghanaian labour laws – through that clever and shabby ruse. Are we to assume that its experienced and competent expatriate management are not aware that that is no way for a socially responsible multinational with a world-famous brand-name like Guinness to proceed in a poor developing nation it has invested in ostensibly to create jobs for local people (in addition to its profit-making objective) – and are they also unaware of the fact that foreign direct investors like their company are welcomed and given generous terms to invest in Ghana, by the government of Ghana, principally because it is hoped that they will create well-paid employment with decent and above-average working conditions for Ghanaians?


The questions is: In this instance, were they not acting in a manner clearly at variance with the spirit of the premise upon which they were welcomed to our shores, when they elected to effectively wash their hands off those whose hard work they relied on to make their stellar profits, by “outsourcing” their recruitment to a private company – specifically contracted for that unethical, cost-cutting, bottom-line-seeking, robber-baron-type capitalist philosophical end? Clearly, Guinness Ghana Limited went to great lengths to ensure that no nosey-parker anti-globalization activist group or NGO in the EU, North America, and elsewhere in the developed world that it operates in, got wind of this outrageous and ruthless exploitation of poor Africans workers, in order to increase its bottom line – by giving the workers they had made redundant the impression that they were being benevolent to them, in giving them the so-called “appreciation package” when what they were in fact doing, was literally robbing them in a most shabby manner: whiles at the same time enriching an influential member of Ghana’s greedy and politically well-connected elite at the expense of those workers. How can that be? Where is the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of Ghana that is supposed to protect the interests of Ghanaian workers in all this? Why have the deafening silence from them, in the face of this egregious example of the worst aspects of the crony-capitalism, which President Kufuor & Co. introduced to our country – so as to assure the coming to pass of their dream of a golden age of business for themselves whiles in office; and for their family clans; their cronies; and the sundry young bimbos whom they just could not keep their designer trousers up for, and on whom they showered expensive gifts such as, Hollywood-style homes, luxury four-wheel drive vehicles, and mega-zillion cedi bank accounts? Are we to conclude, dear reader, that the TUC has been emasculated – and have become powerless to act to protect Ghanaian workers, from being abused by foreign direct investors: because the stooges for neocolonialism in Ghana (President Kufour & Co.) passed laws, which ensure the virtual enslavement of Ghanaian workers by foreign companies operating here, such as Guinness Ghana Limited?


The new government of Ghana, under the able, honest, and fair leadership of President Mills, must step in immediately – and insist that Guinness Ghana Limited pays the laid-off Ahensen workers the full entitlements due them: as if they had employed them directly – and not hide behind the innocuous sounding “we outsourced their recruitment to a private contractor” nonsense on bamboo stilts. The question is: Will Guinness dare sink to such depths in the EU or the USA in order to maximize its profits – and if not, then why should it act so callously here: especially when the return on its investment in African nations like Ghana, definitely yields far higher returns than it does in the Western capitalist world? Ordinary Africans are sick and tired of the hypocrisy of Western leaders and multinational companies in their dealings with the continent – and demand that Western multinationals operating in Africa are held to the same ethical standards expected of them in their home countries. Since their embassies in Africa do not hesitate to speak to the local authorities on behalf of those multinationals, let them also talk to companies like Guinness Ghana Limited, and ask them to treat their workers in Africa the same way they treat their workers in their home countries. Above all, let our own leaders wake up to their responsibilities to ordinary Africans – and ensure that they do not become the victims of globalization: but can rather gain from the cornucopia of benefits it has undoubtedly brought in its wake to humankind, as it has swept across the whole of the surface of the planet Earth, like a juggernaut. A word to the wise…


Telephone (powered by Tigo – the network that actually works!): + 233 (0)27 745 3109 & + 233 (0) 21 976238.


Wednesday, 15 July 2009

BOOSTING TOURISM – CLEAN UP GHANA’S CITIES, TOWNS, & WHITE-SANDED BEACHES FIRST!

I said a prayer to thank Providence for two different reasons, as I watched Cable News Network (CNN), in the early hours of July 15, 2009.

The first reason, was that in his “AC- 360” programme, in which he interviewed US President Barrack Obama inside Cape Coast Castle, Andersen Cooper, did what some of the innocents abroad now running our country (and into whose hands Nkrumah’s Ghana has now fallen), will definitely make a complete hash of – if they go ahead with their madcap idea, of, as one little-big-wig in the ministry of tourism put it (if I remember the quotation correctly, i.e.): “…seriously marketing Ghana to wealthy African-Americans…”

That cloud-cuckoo-land idea, by one of the more clued-on princes amongst the many pampered princes in Clueless Inc. (all of whom have been given cushy sinecures in the new administration), will end up sending hapless taxpayers’ money down the financial equivalent of a black-hole, as sure as day follows night: in an Alhaji Munkata-style junketing trip across America at our expense – with eager officials (of the type blessed with provincial Antoa-Nyame mindsets) traipsing round America “seriously marketing Ghana to wealthy African-Americans” at vast expense to Ghana’s hapless taxpayers.


Incidentally, our new rulers have now earned themselves the designation “Clueless Inc.” a thousand times over – for not learning their bitter lesson from the past: and rushing right back into the smothering embrace of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), instead of making the Chinese our development partners – in the real sense of the word (used to describe partnerships of equals) – using the joint-venture business model: in which the best-resourced Chinese state-owned companies in the appropriate fields, partner their Ghanaian state-owned counterpart companies, such as the State Housing Company Limited and the Ghana Railways Company Limited, for example.

Surely, we can leverage Ghana’s sovereign bonds - which we can issue to the Chinese government as a form of a collateralized future receipts-type insurance - for example, and get the Chinese to accept them in exchange for bankrolling the building of 500, 000 affordable houses in each region of Ghana, which ordinary Ghanaians can then rent at fair rates; and also create a nationwide railway network for Ghana too (perhaps the Chinese can build, operate the rail network for say twenty years using the joint-venture business model, and then eventually transfer the completed rail network to the Ghana Railway Company Limited?).

That way, we can develop our country on our own terms: without being manipulated by others: so as to fit into the hidden agendas of sundry neocolonialists, can we not, dear reader? 

Will that not see railway lines being extended to all Ghana’s regional capitals painlessly (from the point of view of taxpayers), for example? Why did the new Mills administration have to rush into such a political cul-de-sac by opting to work with those interfering neo-liberal free-market Shylocks in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, instead of working with the ever-helpful Chinese, one wonders? Hmmm, Ghana – eyeasem oo: asem ebaba debi ankasa.  But I digress.

Let those in charge of tourism in our country, as well as all those who prattle on endlessly about what Ghana can gain from President Barrack Obama’s trip to Ghana (in terms of its global media coverage boosting our tourism industry, i.e.), understand one thing clearly: The foundation-work that has to be done in order to grow the tourism sector in a sustainable manner, must be done right here in Ghana not abroad – and it most definitely does not include wasting money advertising on CNN “like Nigeria and Angola have done” either, to quote one of the many geniuses and bright sparks who appear on the radio and TV current affairs programmes in our country, and who also double as social commentator-cum-sages, whom I heard in a TV Africa current affairs discussion programme (if I remember correctly) a few days ago.

Why pay for overseas advertising, when we can get free coverage from them, by doing some creative thinking?

Is it not the case, dear reader, that perhaps all that might be needed to be done to get Ghana on the radar screens of eco-tour companies in the US, and elsewhere in the Western world, would be to get President Mills to invite American celebrities,  who the US and global media follow assiduously, such as: the pop superstar Madona, and her small cross-cultural tribe of multi-racial children; yesteryear’s right-wing Queen-Bee, clueless Sarah Palin, and her family (well, if for nothing, just so that that empty-headed woman, whom Senator John McCain, yesteryear’s “that-man” conservative-superman, incredibly believes can lead America – when one would even have to worry if she ever became the president of our tiny country, Ghana, let alone the world’s only remaining superpower – gets some experience of the Africa that she apparently thinks is one country); Oprah Winfrey; Will Smith; the basketball trioka-of-greats: Kobe Bryant, “Magic” Johnson, and Mr. Jordan; and the African-American poet, M. Angelou, to visit Ghana with their families, as guests of the government and people of Ghana? 

They could all be honoured by Oguaman at a ceremony in a colourful durbar: so that the government can make up to those Chiefs and people of Ogua and Edina, who, sadly, were unable to meet President Barrack Obama – because his security detail apparently worried about his attending the durbar that Oguaman had arranged to honor him: and cancelled it at the last minute.

Those celebrity guests of our country could take a trip along the entire slave-route from the north (taking in Mole National Park, and calling to pay their respects to the successor of the great and greatly-missed Otumfuo Opoku Ware11 (may his kindly soul rest in peace), at the Manyhia Palace, in Kumasi, on their way to the Cape Coast and Elmina castles on the coast.

Above all, the new administration must put into place an effective and sustainable plan, which will enable their regime to adequately resource all the district administrations in Ghana, so that they can clean our country, and rid our cities and towns of the filth we are slowly being engulfed by: and keep them clean permanently, going forward, into the future.

A clean Ghana is really key to growing our tourism industry – and if Ghana continues to remain as dirty a nation as it currently is, then we might as well forget about tourism ever becoming a truly significant foreign currency earner. That is why some of us are beginning to grow a little sick and tired of having to read and listen to all that fanciful and endless talk about “how we can package Ghana for investment after President Obama’s visit” that now dominates Ghana’s intellectually-barren media landscape. 

Incidentally, can anyone beat President Kufuor’s astonishing statement to Jim Clancey, who conducted an interview with him in CNN’s “Inside Africa” programme – which directly followed Andersen Cooper’s “AC 360” that morning – that President Obama had come to “liberate us mentally”? 

Liberate who mentally, one wonders – the many corrupt Busia-Danquah super-lackeys of Western commercial interests amongst our political class, perhaps? Why doesn’t that infernal Godfather of the Busia-Danquah stooges for neocolonialism speak for himself: if he is going to say such negative things about the proud citizens of a nation in which there are many Nkrumaists and pan-Africanists: who have abundant self-belief: and don’t need to be mentally liberated by President Barrack Obama or anyone else? Heavens, how pathetic can one get, I ask, dear reader? But I digress.

For the benefit of that pampered prince of Clueless Inc. (ensconced in one of the ministerial offices renovated for zillion-cedi sums by the clever sister-in law of one of our previous ruling Clueless Inc.’s most prominent and vocal princes, Mr. Asamoah Boateng), who wants to embark on a trip to market Ghana to wealthy African-Americans, I shall narrate the experiences of a real live American citizen who actually came to visit Ghana, last February – and went back home not very impressed by our country: and who will not be returning to Ghana any time soon, and will most definitely not be recommending it to any of her circle of friends who all love to travel abroad regularly. She is currently on her second holiday this year – in Iceland, not Ghana.

Why, so, you might wonder, dear reader? Well, that dear friend from Scranton, in Pennsylvania, was put off by: the unbelievable filth she saw everywhere she went; the shocking sight of grown-up men and women defecating on beautiful white-sanded beaches right across our coastline; being caught up in Accra’s endless traffic – and forced to breath in polluted air from poorly-maintained vehicles, which ought to be off our roads in the first place, if those who are paid to conduct roadworthy tests on vehicles, actually did their jobs well : and which belch lung-destroying smoke; the lack of infrastructure countrywide; and the endemic poverty that one sees everywhere one turns in Ghana.

That is the reality of our country.  And those who lead our country must make sure - if they want our country to attract responsible tourists who will recommend Ghana to others, when they finally return to their home countries - that we always have the following available on a daily basis: treated water from mains water pipelines available daily in properties nationwide; reliable electricity available round the clock nationwide; and, above all, that defecating along our beaches is outlawed immediately – and that the law against it is vigorously enforced.

If we have all that in place, then Ghana will definitely be ready to welcome millions of responsible tourists from around the globe (not only from America) – that is, if in addition to all the abovementioned prerequisites for growing our national economy’s tourism sector, our leaders also take a keen interest in the task of making our cities and towns clean.

One hopes our current leaders will think of “packaging Ghana” along those lines – and that Ghanaians will stop going on and on, so: about the so-called benefits accruing to Ghana from President Obama’s one day trip, here. A word to the wise

Telephone: (powered by Tigo – the network that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109.



Sunday, 12 July 2009

Will President Barrack Obama's Speech On Africa Resonate With Ghana's Obdurate Elite?

US President Barrack Obama’s plain-speaking message to the leaders and people of Africa, which was contained in the heartfelt speech he gave in Ghana’s Parliament (on July 11, 2009), clearly resonated with most Africans who heard or read it – as evidenced by Prime Minister Odinga of Kenya’s positive reaction to the contents of the speech.

Once-stable Kenya, as we all know, is the home country of President Obama’s late father – which was unfortunately torn apart by controversial elections last year. Sadly, post-independence Kenya has ended up becoming a nation, whose society is dominated by a ruthless and notorious ruling elite – which, unfortunately, is one of the most corrupt, anywhere on the surface of the planet Earth.

For those Nkrumaists and pan-Africanists, who over the years have been saying most of the things that President Obama said in his July 11, 2009 speech, our one hope, is that it will embolden the honest politicians within the various political parties, across the spectrum in Ghana (and elsewhere in Africa, too, one hopes) – and give them the courage and determination to finally prise their parties from the iron-grip of the greedy and powerful crooks, who dominate those parties.

The many sins of those shameless rogues against our country, include the ruthless exploitation of tribal sentiment for political gain to ensure their continued stay in office – and the consolidation of kickbacks (from major infrastructural projects and the privatization of state-owned entities), into a specialized high-yielding investment product: specifically designed to guarantee the ascent of their personal net worth (and that of their family clans and cronies), into the stratosphere permanently.

Now that President Obama and his young family have come to pay our trailblazing nation their personal respects, and departed, the question we must ask the gentleman who now leads our country, President Mills, is: Will he now ensure that preparation for the prosecution of Alhaji Munkata for willfully causing financial loss to Ghana, is fast-tracked to take precedence over that of those in the previous regime who also abused their positions whiles in office, and willfully caused financial loss to our country?

Alhaji Muntaka  ought to b tried by a court of competent jurisdiction for his misdeeds, and must eventually be jailed to serve as an example to those who are of a similar bent and are now lurking in the Mills regime - and sre awaiting their opportunity to amass sudden wealth, when it comes their way, too).

Hopefully, such an outcome in any trial of Alhaji Muntaka will make other politicians refrain from stealing public funds and worsening the already dire situation of our nation, and the desperate plight of its people, yet further. In the matter of prosecuting corrupt politicians, the honest President Mills must be guided by the words of President Obama: "No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves.”

One also hopes that those hypocritical politicians in Ghana’s current ruling party, who once held power for as long as some nineteen odd years, and still have the audacity to say today, that democracy is not suitable for Africa, and clearly don’t understand that the yearning for freedom beats no less strongly in the hearts of black Africans, than it does in that of people from other races, will also take note of these frank words of President Obama: “No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end…Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions."

It is important that politicians of that ilk understand clearly that they do not fool true Nkrumaists and pan-Africanists one bit – for we know their psychological make-up only too well. In reality, they are mere racist power-junkies who think that being half-castes, means that they were born to rule our nation of full-blooded black Ghanaians: and thus seek unfettered power for themselves, because they see Ghanaians as a malleable and sycophantic people, who are moral cowards whose serf-mentality and lack of self-belief makes them toady to lighter-hued people.

Being black Africans who are proud of our colour and race, and who posses abundant self-belief, true Nkrumaists, deplore the miasma that men like ex-President J. J. Rawlings’ malevolent hold on the gullible in our country, represents, and wish to see it end immediately.

My last quotation from President Obama’s speech goes to those in the previous regime, whose unfathomable greed created a culture of dog-eat-dog selfishness, and brought about such indiscipline in our society – those once-powerful Akan tribal-supremacists who dominated the New Patriotic Party (NPP) so completely, in all the eight years that that party was in power for, and who made Kokofu-football politricks their stock-in-trade in our politics.

Let those hypocrites, who incredibly, actually sought to impose their tribal Chief on Nkrumah’s Ghana as its de facto monarch (yes, our unitary Republic that is a nation of diverse-ethnicity: and which that great pan-Africanist and thinker Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah succeeded, against great odds, in moulding into a united people with a common destiny), pay heed to these courageous words of President Obama: “Africa is not the crude caricature of a continent at war…But for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. There are wars over land and wars over resources. And it is still far too easy for those without conscience to manipulate whole communities into fighting among faiths and tribes… These conflicts are a millstone around Africa's neck.”

Clearly, the time has now come for the principled and de-tribalised Akans who believe in the enterprise Ghana in the NPP, to join hands with the honest members of their party, to wrestle control of that party from those Akan tribal-supremacists who are without conscience (and seek the Balkanization of our country for the benefit of the progeny of the pre-colonial feudal ruling elites). It was their greed and selfishness that lost them the trust of the Ghanaian people – and led to the NPP’s defeat in the December 2008 presidential election. Such politicians must understand that Kokofu-football politricks has no place in Nkrumah’s Ghana of today.

For the sake of our country and its people, one certainly hopes that all the honest members of our political class, will stop their cowardly fence-sitting: and let the abovementioned words quoted from the historic speech to the people of Africa, by US President Barrack Obama, galvanize them into speaking out boldly against corruption and injustice in Ghana, henceforth. The P. C. Appiah-Oforis in our nation's political class ought to expose those of their colleagues who shortchange our country and its people.

Hopefully, those for whom this particular cap fits (who are now said to be sulking in our second city because President Obama was not inveigled into coming there: as would have been the case, hitherto: had they been in power) will apologise to President Mills for seeking to embarrass him during President Obama’s visit, by conveniently forgetting that they rejected three Chrysler cars, when they told the world they had still not been given any cars for their retirement years, yet (they, who once told us, when they were seeking power in December 2000, that they had already made their personal fortunes – and were only coming to serve Ghanaians).

Does the hypocrisy of former President Kufuor know no bounds? What have the people of Ghana got to do with his grandchildren – when, after spending zillions renovating the Osu Castle, he says that he could not move in there on their account: as there was no room there for them? Why did they have to live with him in the Osu Castle – when they have responsible parents of their own who are not short of a pesewa or two?

When he and the sycophants whose endless praise-singing turned him into a megalomaniac, say that the so-called Golden Jubilee House (shouldn’t that confounded building be known as Flagstaff House, by the way, dear reader?) was necessary: because it will be there for “a hundred years”, do they ever stop to think that a more visionary leader, would have spent the colossal sum we wasted on that monstrosity rather improving health-care facilities nationwide, instead – because such a leader, would have had the vision to rather commission plans for a future new capital city: to be built at a point in time, when our country can actually afford it – and bang in the centre of Ghana too?

Surely, that will enable the filthy conurbation that now serves as our “capital eyesore” to be “decongested” naturally and painlessly, will it not? With respect, our former presidents must belt up if they have no meaningful contribution to make to public discourse. Let them ponder over President Obama’s blunt speech – and advice their unprincipled parties to pay heed to it.