Years ago, I remember laughing heartily, when I learnt of The Jam’s Paul Weller’s contemptuous reply, when he heard that his group’s song “Eton Rifles” was one of British Tory Leader David Cameron’s favourite tunes: "Is he thick? He probably thinks 'Eton Rifles' is a song about him and his mates." That was years ago. Today, it does appear that David Cameron might eventually become Britain’s next prime minister – if the opinion polls in the UK media are to be believed. Amongst the many things he has said the Tories will do when they form the next government, is that they will cut British aid to Russia and China – and give more to poor developing nations.
Although I might risk being called presumptuous (not that I care particularly: having become inured to insults for my bluntness – in a nation full of fence-sitting moral cowards!) I certainly do hope that the well-heeled Mr. Cameron, will demand, when his party comes to power, that UK companies investing in Africa are underpinned by the same corporate good governance principles expected of them in the UK. Above all, he must never do what Prime Minister Gordon Brown did – when he dragged our president to London to plead on behalf of the perfidious Vodafone. That company corrupted some of our leaders when it took over the state-owned Ghana Telecom – acting in much the same crooked fashion it did when it took over the state-owned Kenya Telecom: and corrupted some of Kenya’s greedy elite in the process.
Perhaps the Tories should ask the UK’s secret services (MI6) to take a close look at the antics of Vodafone’s expatriate staff in Ghana when they win power in the next UK general elections – and when he next speaks at any Institute of Director’s (IOD) meeting as British premier, make them an example of how expatriate staff of UK companies’ investing in Africa ought not to behave, when abroad. He must plead with corporate Britain that UK companies operating in developing nations such as Ghana, be mindful of how their expatriate staff are compensated, above all. He will be horrified to learn that whiles he and other British politicians are expressing their disgust at the obscene compensation levels corporate Britain (particularly the financial services sector!) insists on paying its top brass, Vodafone’s expatriate staff in Ghana are living like Arabian oil sheiks: at our expense.
He must also not be so naive and say that UK taxpayers are under pressure and that British aid will only go to poor developing nations. Does he not know that most of the leaders of poor developing nations are clever rogues who invariably set up special purpose offshore vehicles so as to enable them siphon donated aid money deposited in the treasuries of the nations they lead: in one crooked transaction after another? Ordinary Africans across the continent plead with him (and other British politicians!) to make sure that British aid goes to only nations in the continent whose leaders publicly publish their assets and that of their spouses (before and after their tenure!). Most of Africa’s leaders are simply not to be trusted – and if he can help it, he must please make sure that all UK and EU aid for climate change mitigation projects in the forestry sector of the Ghanaian economy go directly to NGO’s such as Rain Forest Alliance - Ghana and the World Wildlife for Nature - Ghana (WWF- Ghana), and not to the Forestry Service of the Forestry Commission of Ghana? He can ask the German development organization GTZ to give him their dossier on that sector of our economy.
To understand why I say so, I plead with him to send MI6 officers to the Ghanaian village of Akim Abaukwa Juaso in Ghana’s Eastern Region – straight to the P. E. Thompson family’s 14 square mile property in the Atiwa Range upland evergreen rain forest (both inside the official government reserve and the off-reserve forest). There, they will see the horrific sight of illegal chainsaw lumber being carted away in frightening quantities on the heads of scores of porters, and at a rate that will soon decimate what has been designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) at a time of global climate change, if nothing is done by the authorities to halt that outrage. Sadly, the forest there has been left by the Forestry Service of the Forestry Commission of Ghana, to the mercy of criminal syndicates controlled by wealthy, powerful, and well-connected individuals: who do not give a toss about the laws of the Ghanaian nation-state, and do not care one jot about the harm their activities cause the natural environment or their fellow human beings.
Finally, to see an egregious example of how British taxpayers’ money went down the financial equivalent of a black hole in Ghana, let him ask the Ghanaian authorities, to get the Department of Parks and Gardens, to show the MI6 officers he sends here, the results of the zillions of pounds sterling that was poured into a medicinal plants project (which the Royal Botanic Gardens and Ghana’s Department of Parks and Gardens collaborated to implement in the 1990’s). It is a classic example of how not to use hard-pressed British taxpayers’ money overseas, in poor developing nations, worldwide. Will he also get the UK, the EU, the US, and the other major wealthy developed nations, to make sure that no tax haven accepts money from African leaders and their families, under any circumstances? That is one of the most effect ways of halting corruption in the continent - and making sure that British aid money does not end up in the offshore bank accounts of the crooks amongst those who rule Africa! A word to the wise…
Tel: (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartphone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.