Friday, 28 September 2012

Ghanaian Voters: Think Before You Cast Your Vote!

"Read the small print" was advice one often heard  growing up. Made in reference to the insurance industry, it was used to illustrate the importance of being cautious in life.

The small print in an insurance policy  often contains the get-out  clauses  enabling  the insurance company not to honour an obligation -  rendering the policy more or less worthless: at precisely the moment when    needed most by the policy-holder.

Ghanaians, a peace-loving people with incredibly short memories, would be wise to decipher  their nation's  political parties' campaign-narratives' equivalent of the insurance industry's small print, in the  speeches they hear at rallies as well as on radio and television.

One of the most visible of the smaller parties, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom's Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), for example,  deserves some praise for giving time-lines for the fulfilment  of the promises it makes - often giving the first  term of its tenure as a time-frame. It is always clear and unambiguous in that regard.

The presidential candidate and chairperson  of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) also chose to be responsible politicians, when they stated  on separate occasions that the transformation of the  Ghanaian economy  will  take a minimum of ten years.

Naturally, there are the cynics amongst us, who will urge  the discerning and independent-minded voter  to sit up and be on the alert - as  that NPP statement amounts to the issuing  of  what is  the political equivalent of an insurance company's get-out clause.

They believe it will be referred to whenever  the NPP fails to deliver any of its many promises at the end of its tenure -  should it return to power again after the December presidential election.

Be that as it may, I do think that both Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo and Jake Obestebi-Lamptey,  deserve to be congratulated, for being so candid about the time-frame needed to transform our country's economy - to the extent that living standards for the generality of the Ghanaian people would have improved dramatically, compared to what they are today.

The question then arises, dear reader, why,  if it will take a minimum of ten years to transform Ghana's national economy,   for it to positively impact the quality of life of all Ghanaians,  significantly, should Ghanaians vote against a party in power  that already has a head-start in that minimum ten-year journey to prosperity?

And therein lies the seeds for President John Mahama's possible triumph in the December presidential polls - if he,  as well as  his hard-of-hearing regime members and  their tone-deaf party,  do what is right for the Ghana of today: instead of  what will directly  benefit the cynics lurking around him,  who President Mills' ill-health and meek nature  allowed to destroy poor humble Mills'   legacy,  with their prevarication and  unfathomable greed.

Against the backdrop of judgement-debt payment-order scandals for example, there is no way President Mahama can win the presidential election, if he and those in his regime (and their spouses) fail to publicly publish their assets. That will put clear blue water between their party and its biggest rival, the NPP.

If that is also accompanied with a return to the cabinet by Martin Amidu as Attorney General, Ghanaians will understand clearly that indeed the regime of President Mahama will eventually retrieve all  judgement-debt payment orders fraudulently obtained.

That gesture must then be followed by  the Economic and Organised  Crime Office (EOCO) asking Interpol to put out international arrest  warrants for Waterville's Tarricone's apprehension in Italy and   CP's Ploetner's arrest in Germany.

When apprehended,  they must both be returned   to Ghana, to face prosecution for allegedly defrauding the Ghanaian nation-state.

There are many independent-minded Ghanaians, who will also say that  a  political party that has laid the foundation for an entrepreneurial culture to spread amongst the underclass of unemployable younger generation Ghanaians  (many with little or no formal education), deserves to be returned to power to continue that noble task.

They will point to the fact that quietly and without much fanfare,  through the grassroots-level  Local Enterprise and  Skills Development Programme (LESDEP) initiative, President Mahama's National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime is in the process of creating a more egalitarian society in Ghana -  as opposed to the elite-dominated  dog-eat-dog society  created by President Kufuor's NPP regime, which  empowered  a powerful and well-connected few, with greedy ambitions,  to exploit our national economy for themselves and their surrogates:  during the sunny days of the golden age of business for Kufuor & Co.

Clearly,  as a democratic  society,  it is urgent that something is done about the large underclass of unemployable Ghanaians churned out annually by Ghana's atrocious educational system.

If nothing is done about it,   what constitutes a societal time-bomb -  the huge disparities in wealth between the fortunate middle classes and the marginalised underclass - will eventually  explode: with dire consequences for every strata of Ghanaian society.

That is why in casting our votes, we must not be oblivious of  the fact that the nature of the society the policies of  political parties have created in the past in Ghana, resulted mostly from the uncritical "My-party-my-tribe-right-or-wrong"  attitude most Ghanaians have adopted in their relationship with political parties.

Corruption is undoubtedly Ghana's number one problem. It is robbing the younger generation of  its future - as billions of taxpayers' cash is siphoned into private pockets. Its eradication must be high on the list of issues influencing how Ghanaians  vote in the December polls.

Ordinary people in Ghana must understand that they will continue to suffer if high-level corruption persists. How a political party deals with that issue ought to be an important consideration in how Ghanaians decide to vote.

And above all, ordinary Ghanaians must understand clearly that following a political party blindly,  and voting for it without thinking of the consequences of it gaining power, can result in a life akin to hell on earth for the average voter, during the entirety of its tenure.

It is for that reason that on polling day, December 7th,  2012,   Ghanaian voters  must think  before casting their  vote!  A word to the wise...

When Will The Ghanaian Nation-state Start Dealing Seriously With The Armed-robbery Menace?

One is so grateful that when he was robbed at gunpoint a few days ago, the Hon. Kan Dapaah was not harmed by the cheeky and cowardly individuals,  who carried out that despicable crime.

As it happens, dear reader, the Hon. Kan Dapaah is one of the few politicians in Ghana - from across the spectrum - that I actually   respect. And I am really glad that Providence spared him from being harmed  during that  robbery.

The trauma that the Hon. Kan Dapaah no doubt experienced,  during the armed robbery   in his Dansoman residence, is  sadly  one that many families in Ghana have already experienced.

And it highlights a growing problem, that as a people we must force our ruling elites to deal with. The authorities need to put measures in place to deal effectively with that societal menace.

If nothing drastic is done about it, with armed robberies now taking place even on our nation's highways,  it will soon  get out of hand - and begin to affect our nation's international reputation as  a haven  of peace and stability in sub-Saharan Africa.

And what serious investor would want to invest in a nation that cannot ensure the  personal security of its citizens, and that of other nationals who reside  in it, I ask, dear reader?

Surely, the authorities   must not wait for  a string of violent and daring armed robberies, which  target the families of "big people" (both Ghanaian  and foreign)  to take place,  before draconian measures are  taken to halt this collective nightmare?

One can understand the humanitarian concerns of those who are against the death sentence. However, if Ghana has now ended up becoming the mecca of the West African sub-region's criminals, then,   surely,   the  time has  now come  for Parliament to pass a law that makes armed robbery a crime punishable by a mandatory death sentence (and the carrying out of same,  strictly time-bound,  to be an effective deterrent)?

Those who carry out armed robberies do so largely because they know that the worst that can happen to them,  when apprehended,  is a stint in  prison - from whence  their  criminal associates on the outside  can eventually buy their freedom.

Perhaps the question we must pose to those who rule us,  is: When exactly will the Ghanaian nation-state start  dealing  seriously with the armed-robbery menace society now faces?

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Monday, 24 September 2012

Kwame Nkrumah Is In The Pantheon of 20th Century Greats - Because He Was On The Right Side Of History

The late President Mills will always be remembered for making 21st September -   the birthday of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah -  Founder's Day in Ghana.

No politician in the Ghana of today,   worth his or her salt,   ought either to encourage  or  countenance   the  intellectually dishonest attempt,  to make it appear that Nkrumah's conservative opponents,   during  the struggle to free our nation from its  occupation by British colonialists,   were somehow his equal.

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah towered above all of them and deserves his place in the Pantheon of 20th century greats.

Unlike his conservative opponents -  such as Dr. J. B. Danquah who sought narrow elite class interest -  Nkrumah always sought what was in the overall interest of his nation and all its people - and above all fought  hard to build a modern and  egalitarian African society:  in which there was equality of opportunity for all.

It is unfortunate  that so many of those engaged in the shabby attempt to denigrate Nkrumah,  and turn Danquah the quisling  into a hero, lack the intellectual depth to understand that the verdict of history   cannot be secured  by endless spin;  cynical  propaganda;  revisionist sophistry and  pure fantasy.

No amount of dissimulation by today's progeny of yesteryear's colonial-era tribal-supremacist and elitist politicians, can belittle Nkrumah's achievements.

And neither will they succeed in  turning  Danquah - who incidentally despised ordinary people: and was tribalistic on top of all that  - into a nationalist hero and icon of  20th century Africa.

Nationalist heroes do not collaborate with foreign powers that seek to subjugate Africa and its peoples.

And for good measure,  dear reader, let those who say Nkrumah was a dictator  also tell us what exactly  President Kufuor,  for example,   would have done,   had there been as many assassination attempts on him as there were on Nkrumah,  during his tenure.

Let them also ponder why  since September 11th  2001,   the established democracies of the West,  such as the U.S.A., the U.K. and Australia,  have all passed laws to deal with acts of terrorism and terrorist suspects, which  are even more draconian than Nkrumah's Preventive Detention Act (PDA) ever was.

No amount of PR mendacity  today,  will make heroes of those clever  and tribalistic self-seekers,  who opposed Nkrumah during the struggle for Ghana's  independence.

The plain truth, dear reader,  is that many of them only  sought to replace the British colonialists - then subjugating  our people -   with what effectively would have been a system, which  was in effect a   plutocracy in which they,  a privileged elite, would    hold permanent sway.

They most certainly were not Nkrumah's equals. In the dark recesses of their minds,  imperialism and neocolonialism  had  conditioned  them to believe the big lie that Africans were somehow inferior to white people.

It is instructive that they chose to  work hand in glove with the British colonialists who had occupied our country - and that they felt it somehow   made them a class apart:  superior beings born to lord it over the ordinary people of the Gold Coast,   whom they held in utter contempt.

Nkrumah   on the other hand was steadfast in standing  with the ordinary people of the Gold Coast against the British occupiers of their country.

And it was not for nothing that Nkrumah's  conservative opponents worked incredibly  hard to accommodate   the colonial regime -  whiles Nkrumah fought  them with mass boycotts and nationwide strikes, for example.

The pay-off for the collaboration of Nkrumah's conservative opponents  with the British colonialists,   was  a deal that would have enabled them replace the departing British  colonialists as our rulers upon Ghana  gaining its independence.

The quid pro quo for the  UK, was that in return for the Gold Coast's conservative politicians  being handed the Gold Coast to rule till the very end of time after it became independent,  they would    continue keeping  our nation in Britain's   sphere of influence permanently.

And best of all, British commercial  entities  would continue to have  unfettered access to our natural resources, and monopolise  our local markets for their nation's  manufactured goods.

In spite of the unrelenting propaganda to foist Danquah on Ghanaians as a national hero,  Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah  will continue being an icon for the black race till the very end of time.

It is his reward for being on the right side of history - all the time  voicing,  in articulate fashion,  the aspirations of  ordinary people during the struggle to  free the Gold Coast,  and the rest of  black Africa,  from colonial  rule.

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame  Nkrumah's equal has not yet been born - and he will forever remain  a hero to the entire black race.

Put simply, dear reader, Kwame Nkrumah is in the Pantheon of 20th century greats - because he was on the right side of history.

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Friday, 21 September 2012

Ghanaian Politicians: Protect What Is Left Of Ghana's Natural Heritage

It is instructive that Ghana's political parties and its educated urban elites seldom talk about the two most pressing problems that our nation must grapple with and resolve if it is to have a long-term future.

One is yet to hear, dear reader,   any of the members of the so-called communications teams of political parties, outlining party policy designed to combat the impact on Ghana's agricultural sector of global climate change - and to halt  the destruction of what is left of our nation's  natural heritage.

Yet, across our nation,  we are witnessing an unprecedented drop in crop yields resulting from global climate change, as well as  the poisoning of  soils and the  water-table, on an almost  apocalyptic scale.

And it is  being done  with impunity by selfish and lawless elements engaged in illegal activities,  such as  surface gold mining without official permits.

If not halted, those  destructive activities  will make it virtually impossible  to put    vast swathes of once-fertile land in the  Ghanaian countryside    to any productive use for decades to come -  in what is still a nation with a largely agrarian rural economy.

Then there is also the unspeakable crime being committed against future generations, by those engaged in illegal logging -  both illegal chainsaw operators and legally registered timber firms abusing their permits by over-harvesting.

The tragedy, is that  those forests could be the basis for low-carbon growth that powers a new flourishing green economy for the forest belt. And green growth does indeed hold, dear reader.

Our forests could actually earn Ghana billions of new Ghana cedis in low-carbon development deals with Scandinavian nations such as Norway. Could we not create wealth for much of rural Ghana that way, I ask?

Perhaps the new generation of politicians with a knowledge of economics, such as Dr. Bawumiah,   can educate themselves  on the subject,  and make their  parties aware of the incalculable value of the   vital ecosystem services provided by the remainder of our nation's forests.

Hopefully,  that will end in a  solemn promise by their  parties  to Ghanaians,  that if their parties' candidates   for the December presidential election were to emerge victorious in the December presidential election, they  will take swift action to  protect the remainder of those all-important  forests.

(Incidentally, a wag I know says that Dr. Bawumiah, whose party says he's the last word in economics,  "appears to have  neither  the nous nor gumption,     in a nation of   high interest rates that are    crippling  Ghana businesses,   to recommend replacing expensive bank loans with local and foreign private equity financing,  for Ghana's private sector to fund  vital projects and expansion plans."

"Not too surprising" says the  wag further  -  "as he is credited with our daft foray into the piranha-infested capital markets of Europe, which  raised  US$750 millions in a sovereign bond issue with impossible coupon rates that was then subsequently  misapplied by the selfsame party whose presidential candidate he is now partnering." But I digress - so back to topic,  dear reader.)

To ensure a good quality of life for our people today and tomorrow, what is left of our nation's natural heritage, particularly the unique Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest - an area designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA)  and choking with yet-to-be-discovered medicinal plants worth billions of dollars and potentially without compare in Ghana as a world-class eco-tourism destination -  needs to be protected from the greedy and wealthy criminal syndicates,  as well as the  rich and well-connected crooks   plundering them with the connivance of part of officialdom. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Monday, 17 September 2012

To Protect The Public Purse Ghanaian Politicians Standing In Presidential & Parliamentary Elections & Their Spouses Must Publicly Publish Their Assets

The unfortunate example of President Mills - an honest and decent gentleman held hostage in the Osu Castle by ruthless and amoral self-seekers -   is proof positive that as long as we have an opaque and byzantine  system,  no matter how honest the President of the Republic of Ghana is  personally, high-level corruption will persist and  continue to rob our nation of its future.

And if that opaque system remains in place, high-level  corruption will continue to impoverish the most vulnerable of our people too,     as sure as day follows night -  regardless of who happens to be in power at any given point in time in our history.

Who would have thought, dear reader,  that with a man of integrity such as President Mills at the helm,  and an honest and principled gentleman in the person of Dr. Kwabena Duffuor,  as his minister of finance and economic planning, we would still end up with an administration embroiled in judgement-debt payment-order scandals galore -  such as  Woyomegate and  that of Construction Pioneers?

And as it is commonly  acknowledged,  the processes leading to those payments  were mostly facilitated by some of the Mills regime's "greedy bastards" - to quote former President Rawlings,  the NDC's founder's pithy  description of the regime-crooks surrounding the late President Mills.

Although no mortal being is perfect,  for the sake of argument, let us  assume that all the December 2012 presidential candidates are as honest as it is humanly possible to be.

Let us also  assume, dear reader,  that we can depend on the one  amongst them who emerges victorious in  the December presidential election,    not  to end  up doing  secret deals  with corrupt foreign oil company executives to the detriment of our nation, when he  becomes  Ghana's president.

Will that   mean in practice, dear reader,  that  what  once occurred during the tenure of a previous Ghanaian president, will not recur  during the tenure of the next president - and  we can all therefore rest assured that no   private Ghanaian citizens, unable to  pay even a pesewa upfront,  will ever be in a  position   to end up owning   part of Ghana's patrimony - stakes in oil blocks in our  offshore oilfields -    that will indeed dwarf the totality of  the value of judgment-debt payment orders paid thus far:   as sweat equity?

Alas, the fact of the matter, sadly, is that whiles we can rely on each of  the presidential candidates  to continue being honest individually,   whichever of them wins the presidential election,   we cannot however be so   sure that sundry lobbyists and self-seeking business tycoons   will not quickly end up corrupting  those officials around that next president of Ghana - as they seek direct access to him through them.

Whichever political party's candidate  wins the presidential elections in December, with     temptation dangled in front of their noses daily, those surrounding that  next president of Ghana may very well  eventually come to see their positions as  wealth-creation avenues  par excellence -  enabling  them  transform themselves  into high net worth individuals by stealth.

Perhaps it is then, dear reader,  that the   business of laundering   the contents of the big   brown envelopes  regularly received by such officials from lobbyists and sundry tycoons -   through   the agency of the clever  men and women who specialise in fronting for  presidential aides and appointees,  using  special purpose offshore entities - will become  a fine art for them: completely destroying  any sense of  idealism that might have inspired  them to enter politics, in the first place.

It is the same phenomenon that was  responsible for  Woyomegate -   that egregious  example of high-level corruption  at the very heart of  the National Democratic Congress administration of the late President Mills.

It is also the selfsame reason why  we were once confronted with that  extraordinary example of  white collar crime never once seen before in the annals of Ghana's history -    the purported sale of  the Volta Aluminum Company Limited  (VALCO) to a non-existent company, International Aluminum Partners, which  occurred during the tenure of  the New Patriotic Party regime that was  in power between  January 2001 and  January 2009.

They it was,  dear reader, who were tasked by the powers that be at the time, to inveigle VALE and Norske Hydro into agreeing to a joint-venture  partnership deal -  specifically  designed to enable the powerful and greedy rogues in that regime to get away with asset-stripping  VALCO with perfect legal covering.

The audacity of their fraud only came to light,   when both companies strenuously denied ever agreeing to purchase  VALCO,  and vehemently denied forming a joint-venture partnership known as International Aluminium Partners (IAP) for the purpose.

Incidentally, that outrageous and gargantuan fraud, the sale and purchase agreement for VALCO,   was actually railroaded through Parliament  on the say-so of the well-connected crooks at the time,  who did business deals for the top people of that era,  and  basked in glorious  sunshine during the  halcyon  days of  the golden age of business for Kufuor & Co.

Alas, today,  in a nation whose people are famous for their short memories, and  in which many ordinary people constantly delude themselves into thinking that their living standards will improve dramatically overnight,  were they to  turf out a serving regime and vote a new party into office,  the party  those greedy and canny  hypocrites of the past belong to,  the New Patriotic Party, is actually on the cusp of returning to power again. Amazing.

One wonders what the vociferous and self-righteous Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, now the Minority Leader in Parliament -  and at the time the Majority Leader in Parliament -   has to say in his defence today for masterminding the passage in Parliament of that fraudulent document. Hmm, Ghana - eyeasem o.

Clearly, what that will result in,  is that they will never  be prosecuted for that gigantic fraud against Mother Ghana that that sale and purchase agreement for the divestiture of VALCO represents. Pity.

The truth of the matter, dear reader, is that the fight against high-level corruption in Ghana will never make any  headway, if we continue to elect candidates for the presidency and parliament - without first  making it a legal requirement  that they   publicly publish the assets of both themselves and their spouses,  well before polling day,  and immediately after exiting from office.

We must also ensure  that all those they subsequently appoint to positions in the public sector,  when they win power, do same too before assuming office - and immediately after exiting office.

(Then there is of course  the  murky world of financing the activities  of political parties and the politicians who make up the inner core of their membership, to deal with. But that is  a whole article in itself, dear reader  - and  a  digression in this instance. So back to topic.)

For the sake of Mother Ghana, and to protect the public purse,  politicians standing in presidential and   parliamentary elections in Ghana - and their spouses -  must be legally required to publicly publish their assets. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Those Who Rule Ghana Must Not Continue To Take Its Citizens For Granted

A few days ago,   I visited an LP gas selling point just before the bridge across the Densu River, as one heads towards Panbros. I simply  couldn't resist  the urge  to  observe and interact  with some of those waiting to be served there.

With their  LP gas cylinders in a queue of cylinders all waiting to be filled up, what struck me most, was the patience of their owners - and their stoical acceptance of the situation.

Lucky to find a supply point that still had LP gas available for sale,  they    waited patiently for their  cylinders to be filled up - just like the drivers queuing in their  taxis and mini pick-ups:  all awaiting  their turn to be served.

With  a people full of such forbearance to rule,  it is no wonder that despite their inability to make our nation prosperous for all its citizens,   over the decades since President Nkrumah's overthrow,   successive batches of Ghana's  ruling elites have been tolerated by  ordinary Ghanaians,  for so long.

In many an African nation-state, such as Nigeria, for example, the frequent power outages we are now experiencing, in tandem with the nationwide  shortage of LP gas -  though both emergency situations are not the actual fault of the regime  now in power in Ghana,  one admits -  might probably trigger riots.

That is why those who lead our nation - at any given point in time - must ensure that the public are always kept appraised of the facts, when emergency situations conspire to make life unbearable for the  ordinary people of Ghana.

Take the current power crisis for example, dear reader. How many Ghanaians are aware that damage caused by a dropped ship anchor,  halted the flow of gas from Nigeria  through the  West African gas pipeline -  on which most of Ghana's thermal power plants depend on to produce electricity?

Our leaders must always ensure that such situations are explained clearly and promptly to the citizenry. Yes, Ghanaians are indeed a patient lot -  but those who rule them must not continue to take them for granted. There is only so much people in any given society  can tolerate.

Was that not  the selfsame  mistake the Zine El Abidine Ben Alis, Hosni Mubaraks and Muammar  Gaddafis of a bygone age in North Africa made, I ask, dear reader?  A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Why Not End The Creation of More Parliamentary Constituencies Altogether?

Under  present laws, the fact that it is incumbent on the Electoral Commission (EC) to create  needed  new constituencies,  once new Districts come into being,  is not disputed by any of our nation's political parties.

Yet,  somehow,  the decision by the EC to create 45 new constituencies following the creation of new Districts,  has  wrought  really strong emotions across Ghana. That EC decision,  results from  the legal requirement that constituency borders should not lie outside those of Districts whose jurisdiction they fall under.

The question is: Should we not do some lateral thinking,  in trying to diffuse the tension resulting from the EC's decision to create those new constituencies - and fashion a more sensible arrangement to ensure that every Ghanaian citizen resident in a District  has a representative in our nation's Parliament?

Why continue piling  on more costs on already overburdened taxpayers -  by adding yet more members of Parliament to the existing 230?

As it is, ordinary Ghanaians  get virtually no  value from the vast sums expended on our ruling elites - who deliver precious little  in return for  their endless perks and huge retirement packages.

Perhaps as a nation,  we ought to  seize the opportunity this storm-in-a-tea-cup of a  mini-crisis  presents us, to come to a national consensus  that a cap should be put on the number of Parliamentarians the  Republic of  Ghana has.

Why  not simply withdraw electoral boundaries inside constituencies as and when needed -  if warranted by either the creation of a new district, or occasioned by  population density changes,  in each constituency,  after the results of a national population census are released and published?

An excessive number of Parliamentarians will only end up costing hapless taxpayers yet more money - an intolerable and unfair burden to pile on hard-working individuals in an overtaxed society.

Rather than the endless confrontation  and questioning the motives of the EC, members of  our political class and the media must rather  focus on  bringing about a change in the law that will bring an end to the creation of more parliamentary constituencies altogether.

Perhaps if we focused on that, we will then come to realise just how pointless not setting a cap on the number of Parliamentarians Ghana has, actually is.

Put simply, dear reader, the time has come  for us  to  consider ending  the creation of more parliamentary constituencies in Ghana, altogether. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Friday, 7 September 2012

President Mahama: Sack Yaw Boateng Djan Now!

For independent-minded and patriotic Ghanaians, it is always  sad when cynical individuals amongst our political class,  resort to tactics that  are effectively criminal in nature -  in ruthless pursuit of their party's power-winning strategic objectives.

It will be recalled that a secretly recorded conversation - contained in  a  tape-recording broadcast by Radio Gold FM's "Election Forensics"  programme -  revealed that  as his party fought to retain power during the December 2008 polls, Maxwell Kofi Juma promised some thugs  (who had been apparently recruited to snatch ballot boxes and generally cause mayhem in a number of polling stations around the country)  that he would arrange for them to be freed, if they were arrested whiles impersonating police and military personal,  whose uniforms they wore,   whiles on their abominable and criminal mission on his party's behalf.

Today, in what is a case of déjà vu,  a similar recording has now emerged,  in which the National Democratic Congress' (NDC) national organiser, Yaw Boateng Gyan,  is apparently up to more or less the same tricks employed by Maxwell Kofi Jumah & Co.,  during the height of the battle to remove the New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime of President Kufuor from power,  in December 2008.

Incidentally, at one stage, during the outing of the shameful secret of Maxwell Kofi Jumah & Co.,  it took the clever and politically-savvy Jake Obestebi-Lamptey,  to alert Maxwell Kofi Jumah,  that what he thought was a secret phone  conversation with a member of a group of  "macho men"  recruited by elements in their party, nicknamed Blackie, was indeed being broadcast live on Accra's Radio Gold FM.

When leading politicians resort to such negative activities, which are clearly criminal in nature, they  debase Ghanaian democracy, and make ordinary people  become cynical about politicians.

President Mahama must take immediate steps to have Yaw Boateng Djan  suspended from the NDC, and also ask the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service,   to investigate his perfidious activities,  and  if need be,  charge both Yaw Boateng Djan and Maxwell Kofi Jumah, for their unacceptable and irresponsible conduct.

We must not allow cynical behaviour by such unprincipled individuals amongst our political class to tarnish our nation's image - and dent  the worldwide reputation Ghanaian democracy now has as Africa's  beacon of hope.

Above all, for the sake of Mother Ghana - and as an example of principled   leadership to the  younger generation of Ghanaians -  President Mahama must sack Yaw Boateng Djan from his official position in the presidency now! A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


How To Fund Free Education From Kindergarten To Tertiary Level?

For those of us who for decades have insisted that a poor developing nation with aspirations,  cannot afford not to give free education  from kindergarten to tertiary level to its citizens, it comes as a source of immense satisfaction   that finally Ghanaian politicians are falling over themselves,  to offer free secondary education to the younger generation of Ghanaians.

For families with young offspring, the  education of their wards is a matter of the utmost importance - which is why many parents make enormous sacrifices:  in order  to  give their children a good education.

Indeed, virtually every  ordinary  citizen in Ghana understands clearly, that education is the one sure  route to social mobility -  particularly for poor families that  aspire to join our country's comfortable middle classes.

Sadly, in an nation lumbered with a political class that seldom thinks creatively, it is not surprising that the one source of funding that could free up precious  resources -  currently wasted on a daft policy that is enriching only criminal syndicates, such as those  smuggling  fuel across our borders -  has escaped the politicians who are now resorting to Kweku-Anase-economics,  to prove that they can actually  fund free secondary education: if elected to power in the December presidential  and parliamentary polls.

The question is: Why do all our nation's political parties not simply reach a consensus-decision  that in order to fund free education in our homeland Ghana,  from kindergarten to tertiary level (for those with aptitude to study), they will agree to the removal  of every market-distorting subsidy, which is not benefiting targeted beneficiaries,  but is rather  enriching  wealthy criminal syndicates - and fund education through the resulting savings?

The sister nations that border our country,  pay far more for petroleum products than we do in Ghana, for example - but their national economies have still not yet collapsed. As far as we can tell.

So  what makes those who insist, for example,  on subsidising petroleum products  in Ghana,   think that somehow our national economy would collapse,   were we to  pay  realistic  prices  for  petroleum products?

Will it not rather lead to the efficient use of petroleum products by those who purchase  them - and lead to a switch to fuel-efficient vehicles eventually, I ask, dear reader?

Why does  a nation full of such intelligent Africans,  insist on indirectly subsidising the consumption of fuel by  some of those who live in the nations that border Ghana  -   by  continuing to allow our country to serve  as a source of cheap fuel for their national economies:  through the nation-wrecking activities of petrol  smugglers?

Surely, free-trade capitalist dynamos  like the Hong Kongs of this  world,  have not prospered by resorting to the economic equivalent of burying their heads in sand -  which continuing to maintain   poorly-targeted subsidies,  represent?

As a nation, we are reportedly   forking out as much as some Ghc60 millions every month, to subsidise the consumption of petroleum products. Is that not scandalous and  crazy, dear reader - and an expensive  folly that can only lead to the ruination of the enterprise Ghana?

If politicians want to know how to fund free education from kindergarten to tertiary level, let them confront the madness that  the maintenance of   ineffective  subsidies -   in a democratic nation that wants to have  an efficient  market economy in order to become a prosperous  society -   represents.  A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

President Mahama Must Make Morality Important In Public Life In Ghana - For The Sake Of Ghana's Younger Generation

To drive home the point that  in his humble view President Mahama ought to put morality at the heart of all his administration's actions, for the sake of Ghana's younger generation (and in order  to retain power in the December polls, naturally), by way of illustration,  an old   wag I know made a number of observations about the negative results  of some of the actions of  Ghanaian politicians,  over the years since we gained independence from Great Britain,  in 1957.

He made the observation  that Ghana  has some of the worst oil agreements in the world, simply because the clever politicians  who entered into them on the nation's behalf, struck the best possible deals they could for themselves as private individuals: in order to increase their net worth to stratospheric heights through what he described as special purpose offshore  entities nominally owned by their   "legal fronts-men".

Today our nation receives a fraction of what it should,  from the exploitation of our oil deposits.

And according to him, the same could  also be said of the disposal of  many state-owned  assets,  over the years since the overthrow of President Nkrumah in 1966.

The divestiture of state assets law-defying sale of a 70 percent shareholding in what was cleverly described by those who oversaw it,   as an "enlarged Ghana Telecom" to Vodafone, being a classic example of the short-changing of our nation in such deals.

That same wag also pointed out the example of the saga of Jake Obestebi-Lamptey's purchase of the official ministerial residence allocated to him when he was a cabinet minister in President Kufuor's New Patriotic Party regime.

He said Mr Obestebi-Lamptey  deliberately refused to vacate the said official ministerial residence,  and continued to live in it, despite resigning to fight  an election for the  selection of  a presidential candidate for his party. Alas, subsequent events were to prove that he had a wealth-creation agenda all of his own,  up his voluminous sleeve.

In the old wag's view,  in no other nation in the world, would a politician who had acted in the self-seeking manner  Mr. Jake Obestebi-Lamptey  did, be leading a  campaign for  his party to return to power again in any election.

He did not also  see how a properly constituted court of law in any civilised nation in which truth was sacrosanct,  and morality important in public life, could ignore the larger interests  of society in general,  and find in favour of  a politician taken to court for the abuse of power by his ruling party's regime, which   had enabled  him purchase an official  ministerial residence -   a property incidentally never advertised to enable the state get maximum value from its sale and for other Ghanaian citizens to avail themselves of the opportunity to bid to  purchase same too.

It was disappointing, the old wag said, that despite all the above, the said law court firmly closed its eyes to what was a shabby tale of unfathomable  greed,  blatant abuse of office by his party colleagues -  and the manipulation-of-power-for-self at the people's expense: which  his action and those of his colleagues in government  actually represented.

The old wag said he did not for a moment  imagine judges in the UK - where morality in public life still counts  for something, for example - ignoring the glaring need for those with the  power to do so (the judiciary,  that is),   failing to  act to  safeguard and preserve their  nation's  stock  of official ministerial residences, by not denying political office holders and leading politicians  the opportunity to use their party's being in power  to acquire such government properties for themselves - using  a bad law deliberately passed for  selfish reasons by a powerful and greedy few:  as personal-body-armour to protect themselves from the people's wrath.

In the light of all the above, he was sure that no judge in the UK would have found in favour of Jake Obestebi-Lamptey in a  judgement,  under any  circumstances if that matter  appeared before any of them.

Not when it was clear to all but the deliberately blind that Mr. Obestebi-Lamptey   obviously decided to seize  the  opportunity that his  party being in power presented him, to  purchase (grab would probably be the most appropriate word,  said the old wag) his official ministerial residence - going forward -  whiles still in office as a cabinet minister: for which reason he had consequently insisted that the renovation of that selfsame property, carried out at great expense to the taxpayer, be redone again to suit his exact and demanding  tastes.

And to add insult  to injury, said the old wag, had retorted, when condemned for being amoral and avaricious,    for so doing - when his party had finally been  voted out of power and he had gone on to win the  legal  case filed against him by two of his political opponents who subsequently themselves became deputy ministers in the  successor-regime to Mr. Obestebi-Lamptey's defeated ruling party -  that morality did not come into it. Incredible.

(No wonder we are where we are today, dear reader  - a nation full of fence-sitting hypocrites and super-religious moral cowards,  afraid to speak out against society's ills. But I digress.)

Yet, in the old wag's view, morality had everything to do with the matter, particularly when the only reason that  he was able to continue staying in the said property,  after resigning from office as a cabinet minister - the position which entitled him to stay in the said property - to campaign to be selected as his party's candidate for the 2008 presidential election, was just   because he was  so powerful and influential in the ruling party that empowered him to continue living in what he once described as a Ghanaian equivalent of a  UK grace-and-favour crown property (homes in the crown's property portfolio usually given out mostly to retired royal retainers and  senior public servants).

There are those who say that it says a great deal about the ethos of greed  that underpinned  most of  the actions of the top tier of his party's leadership,   when it was in power from January 2001 to January 2009 ,   that despite the widespread public disapproval of politicians selling state properties cheaply to themselves,  Jake Obestebi-Lamptey is still clearly  indispensable to his party, and such an important voice in the scheme of things in its bid to  return to power again.

Since all regimes (including the one led by President Mills that came to power in January 2009) that have ruled our nation  since we gained our independence have included  members who were guilty of such abuse of power for self-enrichment,  President Mahama would be wise, in the old wag's view, to make morality in public life -  in as far as it concerns the protection of the public purse and national assets - the heart of all his administration's actions.

He can make a fresh start for  Ghanaian politics and the good people of Ghana, by setting a precedent to  help establish the convention of political office holders in Ghana   publicly publishing their assets immediately before and after their tenure, by publicly publishing    the assets of both himself and those of his wife,  and asking  all those who wish to continue to serve in his administration (and their spouses),  to do same too.

And if he were to top that by appointing  Martin Amidu to the position of Attorney General again, to deal ruthlessly with those in their regime whose greed led to the judgment-debt payment order scandals, he would be  putting  clear blue water between his party and the party that Jake Obestebi-Lamptey's undoubted genius might in all probability help bring back to power again,  if he fails to do so. Since time is not on his side, he must act swiftly.

Above all, he must bring an end to  the destructive, divisive  and pervasive  influence  of the  "greedy bastards" (to quote his party's founder former President Rawlings)  who wielded such power when the terminally ill  President Mills was alive -  and being held hostage by those selfsame individuals -  in the Osu Castle.

It is true that no mortal being is without blemish. But in a nation in which poverty is endemic, politicians ought to  be as  honest as it is humanly possible to be, in matters to do with the protection of the public purse and their stewardship of the resources of our nation.

For the sake of Ghana's younger generation, perhaps President Mahama could set us on a course towards real change, and   make a fresh start for our nation, by  putting  morality at the heart of his administration. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.