Friday, 30 August 2013

Halt Illegal Mining In Thompson Bomu At Akyem Abuakwa Juaso

Author's note: This piece was written on 27/8/2013. It is being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

Not too long ago (Saturday  16th of August, 2013 to be precise),  I took an internationally-acclaimed Burkinabe architect with an architectural  practice in the German capital of Berlin, Mr. Francis Kere, to see part of the P. E. Thompson Estate's freehold 14-square mile upland evergreen rainforest in the Atewa Range.

88 acres of what is one of the most beautiful places on the surface of the planet Earth - and part of an area designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area -  has been set aside for a community-based eco-tourism project.

The planned eco-tourism-as-a-conservation-tool project,  is a partnership between the Chiefs and people of Akyem Juaso, the P. E. Thompson Estate and Greenheart Conservation of Canada.

When completed, the community-based eco-tourism destination  will have a forest canopy walkway; ziplines;  tree-house and ground-level eco-lodges; a visitor-centre and hiking trails as centrepiece attractions.

It is meant to be an example to other large private  landowners in the area,  as a viable alternative to gold mining.

We were shocked to see the destruction going on in the area. The question is: Who owns the three 32-tonne excavators working in the area, and the gold mining accoutrements scattered in that section of the  upland evergreen rainforest  - and who gave the gold miners  permission to enter the area?

I am  appealing to the inter-ministerial anti-gallamsey task-force to act swiftly to arrest all those involved in the illegal activities going on at Thompson Bomu, in the P. E. Thompson Estate's property,  at the  Akyem Abuakwa Juaso section,  of the Atewa Range upland evergreen rainforest.

The P. E. Thompson Estate, which is dedicated to the conservation of its entire  landholding in the Eastern Region, has not authorised any mining activity on its property near  the Akyem Abuakwa cocoa-farming fringe-forest village of Juaso,  near Saamang (off Osino junction).

At a time of global warming, it is important that the inter-ministerial task force on gallamsey activities, clearly  understands  how delicate the nature  of the area's ecology is.

They must also not forget that the area performs vital eco-system services for most of southern urban Ghana - a part of Ghana with a large population that depends on the three major river systems (the Densu, Birim and Ayensu rivers) that take their headwaters from the area,  for its treated drinking-water supply.

The authorities  must also note that 99.6 acres of the P. E. Thompson Estate's landholding in the area -  to which it has officially sanctioned access as an admitted farm, and  intends utilising as a community-based carbon sequestration project - lies inside the official government-owned  Atewa Forest Reserve.

So,  from a practical on-the-ground  standpoint, we actually  understand the gravity of the situation at hand that that ecological tragedy and crime against humanity going on in Thompson Bomu,  represents.

Perhaps  the time has now come for the  Okyehene  to consider asking  the government to hand over the Atewa Forest Reserve to the Chiefs and people of Akyem Abuakwa.

Working  through the Akyem Abuakwa State Council, the Atewa Forest Reserve could be effectively  managed  in a  collaboration between the Akyem Abuakwa State Council and  the Forestry Commission -   with a view  to partnering  environmental NGO's and other conservation organisations that could help implement the recommendations contained in the Conservation International RAP Bulletin No. 47.

If the Dutch government is willing to fund an eco-tourism project to turn the Atewa Forest Reserve into a national park - on condition that the government of Ghana bans all mining and logging in the forest reserve and the surrounding slopes -  why should it not be overseen by the Chiefs and people of Akyem Abuakwa,   with expertise   and guidance from the Forestry Commission and conservation NGO's, on behalf of the whole country?

Finally, the P. E. Thompson Estate appeals  to the inter-ministerial  task force on gallamsey -  which was   set up by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, the Hon. Innusah Fuseini,  to prevent and end  just such egregious examples of the ruthless plundering of the remainder of our nation's natural heritage by a selfish and greedy few - to act immediately  and arrest all those (including  Thompson family members and their assigns: as any such individuals have absolutely no legal rights whatsoever to do so) involved in the illegal gold mining and illegal logging going on at Thompson Bomu and its environs.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Second And Last Chance For President Mahama & The NDC

Author's note: This piece was written on 29/8/2013. It is being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

Now that the Supreme Court has finally delivered  its verdict on the December 2012 presidential election petition, the job of building our country must become  the focus of all Ghanaians.

The dismissal of the presidential election petition represents a second chance for all the parties involved, as well as  our homeland Ghana and all its people.

For now, since he and his party are the ones currently  in power, the spotlight must necessarily  be on the President,  and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

One hopes that President Mahama and the NDC will see the Supreme Court's  verdict  as  a second chance  and an  opportunity to be successful.

Let them use it  to swiftly root out the corrupt elements in their midst. If they fail to do so, they can forget about winning the December 2016 presidential election.

There is no question that the vast majority of Ghanaians now agree that  corruption is killing our nation -  denying Ghana of the much needed resources to fund the expansion and modernisation of our infrastructure.

That is why it cannot be  business as usual - in an overtaxed nation whose people have made sacrifice after sacrifice:  and still see no end to their suffering in sight either.

President Mahama must personally lead the fight against corruption. As a first step, let him ignore all  his advisers,  and publicly publish his assets,  as well as those of his wife.

It will be a symbolic gesture of great significance and value, which will signal the beginning of a new era - and  enable him occupy the  moral high ground in Ghanaian politics:  a must if he is to succeed in neutralising his political opponents and build up a worthwhile legacy.

Above all,  publicly publishing his assets  will enable him deny the most ruthless of his opponents,  the oxygen to keep alive their never-ending  propaganda - specifically designed to frustrate him,  and create disaffection against him and his administration,  in the minds of  ordinary Ghanaians.

The NDC must never forget that after the December 2012 presidential elections, those super-ruthless political opponents of theirs, actively sought, and succeeded, in making Ghana appear rudderless and floundering.

They must not give those nation-wreckers yet another opportunity to destabalise their administration - now that the legitimacy of the Mahama presidency has been confirmed by the Supreme Court.

What some are  describing  as "divine intervention" today,   is actually a second and last chance,   for President Mahama and  the NDC. One hopes they will have the political nous and gumption to seize it. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Electing District Chief Executives Will Help Lessen Tensions In Ghana

Author's note: This piece was written on the 28th of August, 2013. It is being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

The winner-takes-all nature of our system, is a source of tension in Ghanaian society.

Luckily, it appears that many  members of our political class   have now come to the realisation that it is not in the national interest that the political party whose presidential candidate emerges victorious in presidential elections, hogs all the benefits of being in  power in Ghana.

Clearly, a majority of ordinary Ghanaians  have also come to the conclusion that as things currently stand, it is the nation's educated urban elites,  who invariably  benefit from every  expansion of the national economy.

If ordinary people, especially those living in rural Ghana, are to feel that the system benefits them too, then  a coinciding of interests could help create a fairer political system, were District Chief Executives (DCE) to be elected on a party political basis.

For, if District Chief Executives were elected, the needs of ordinary people, not what benefits those at the centre of power in Accra,  would always be taken into account by the elected District Chief Executives  in charge of districts across the country.

There would be many other  benefits to our nation and its people too,  were grassroots-level democracy to finally emerge in Ghana.

For a start, there would eventually emerge a large pool of experienced elected politicians,  with proven track records of visible achievements on the ground, from which ministerial appointments at the national level, could be made by  serving  Presidents.

District Chief Executives elected by local people in districts nationwide,  would focus exclusively on improving the quality of life of the people who live in those districts - who in turn would finally  have the opportunity to influence those who control their districts' affairs.

Competition amongst District Chief Executives,  from different political parties, will help quicken the pace of development at the local level,  throughout rural Ghana.

Above all, it would enable   political parties in the opposition to show Ghanaians what they are capable of achieving  for the nation, if they  were given the mandate to rule Ghana at the national level.

The argument that from a security standpoint, it would not be prudent to share intelligence and security briefings with a District Chief Executive  belonging to the  opposition, is a curious one.

The question we must ask those who make that argument is: Are District Chief Executives  not Ghanaians too - and are they not capable of being as patriotic as any of their fellow citizens? Love of country does not cease because the political party one supports is not in power.

Belonging to a political party in opposition to the ruling party, does not make one an enemy of the Republic of Ghana. And we must never infer that that is the case.

And, surely,  the security agencies exist solely to protect the national interest -  not  to help hide dirty  secrets that  ruling regimes want hidden from those who elect  them to power?

Electing District Chief Executives will help deepen Ghanaian democracy - and make the opposition parties feel that they also have a stake in Ghana. That would definitely help lessen  tensions considerably in our country.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Ghanaian Media: Protect Nation's Stability When Supreme Court Delivers Judgement

There have been calls from a large section of the media in Ghana for the country’s political parties to ensure that peace and stability in Ghana is maintained. But the days leading up to, and immediately following the 29th August, 2013,    pronouncement of   judgement,    on  the December 2012 presidential election petition,  by the nine Supreme Court judges who heard the matter,  will also test the maturity and  sense of patriotism   of the Ghanaian media.

There are those who say that the media ought to direct their call to politicians to help maintain peace and stability in Ghana to themselves too.

In the view of those who say so, truly patriotic journalists - in what is still a developing nation in which there is a great deal of poverty and suffering - must put aside their personal political preferences, at this critical period in our nation's history:  as Ghana faces an existential moment,   on which hinges the very future of our country.

At such crucial moments, the role of the Ghanaian media is to protect the national interest - which is whatever promotes the welfare of the vast majority of ordinary people in Ghana: as opposed to what will redound to the benefit of a powerful and well-connected few.

That is why when the Supreme Court delivers   its verdict   on 29th August, 2013, the media in Ghana must insist and demand that all parties involved in the matter,  accept the court's decision.

Above all, during the immediate aftermath of the day judgment is pronounced, journalists in Ghana must be guided by the national interest - instead of pandering to political parties and politicians.

They must use their fourth-arm-of-government position in the Ghanaian polity, which casts them in the role of society's watchdog, to save Ghana from the clutches of those who might want to tip it over the precipice.

If the present generation of journalists in Ghana wants to leave a good legacy behind, then at all costs the Ghanaian media must help protect the nation's stability, when the Supreme Court finally delivers its judgment on the December 2012 presidential election.  A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Judiciary Must Stop Irresponsible Politicians From Holding Ghana To Ransom

Author's note: This was written on 14/8/2013. It is being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

Today (14/8/2013), Ghana's judiciary finally served notice,  to all those in our country, who it appears will stop at nothing in their quest for political power.

Justice Atuguba, the president of the 9-member panel of Supreme Court judges,  who have been hearing the December 2012 presidential election petition, spoke so eloquently on behalf of  all the  citizens of Ghana, when Mr. John Owusu-Afriyie and Mr. Hopeson Adoryeh appeared before them, for statements both had made that were deemed to be in contempt of the nation's highest court.

In today's  hearing,  the Supreme Court judges showed  the world,   just how conscious they are,   of the important role the judiciary plays in preserving Ghanaian democracy,   and ensuring the  rule of law in our country.

Justice Atuguba was spot on,  in his observation - made when responding to pleadings by  Mr. Ayeekoi Otoo, a former Attorney General during the tenure  of President Kufuor,  on behalf of  his clients and fellow New Patriotic Party (NPP) members,  Mr. John Owusu-Afriyie and Mr. Hopeson Adoryeh  -  that some of our nation's  politicians  seem oblivious of the possible repercussions of their utterances,  and the danger their irresponsible statements  pose,  to the  stability of our country  and the maintenance of law and order across the nation.

Sadly,  it says a great deal  about the nature of our nation's politics, that,  what,  if it had been  repeated  by a leading politician in any Western democracy,  would have immediately drawn a chorus of demands for his resignation,  from his position as general secretary of his party,    was met instead with    deafening silence in the Ghanaian media -  and hypocritical noises from  his party colleagues,  who instead of condemning their irresponsible utterances, rather chose to mount an overnight vigil and say  prayers for John Owusu-Afriyie and Hopeson Adoryeh.

The time has come to end the impunity enjoyed by our educated urban elites - in a nation in which the rule of law is said to prevail:  and where all are supposed  to be equal before the law.

It has become obvious  to the  discerning in Ghana that the ability of our ruling elites to escape punishment for wrong-doing is gradually ruining our nation.

It is an outrage that whiles prisons across our country are jam-packed with the poor and marginalised in society,  serving long prison sentences  for petty crimes -   such as the theft of mobile phones  and goats -   the rich and powerful,  who regularly steal billions of cedis of taxpayers' money, constantly get away with their nation-wrecking white-collar crimes.

As a people,  we must demand that our country's  politicians,   and  other members of our educated urban elites, behave responsibly at all material times - and insist that those of them who break the law,  are tried and punished,  as prescribed by the laws of our nation.

Justice Atuguba and his colleagues - who tempered justice with mercy in this particular  instance - must be congratulated for their  judgment-of-Solomon,  in  punishing John Owusu-Afriyie and Hopeson Adoryeh, in the most  appropriate of fashions.

The judiciary in Ghana must not relent in its determination to ensure that practical effect is given to the hackneyed phrase "all are equal before the law" - by making sure that the rich and powerful in Ghanaian society,  also pay for their crimes, like the poor have always done.

Above all, judges in Ghana,  must not allow selfish politicians to destroy our nation,  because they want power at any  cost  - by severely punishing those of them who fan violence in society :  either in pursuit of power or in order to hold on to power.

It is time it was made clear to the leadership of all the political parties in Ghana that they will be  held directly   responsible  for the actions and inaction of the violence-prone amongst  their membership.

The Ghanaian nation-state  must not be allowed to be destroyed,   because of the inordinate and overweening ambitions,   of a small group of ruthless and self-seeking individuals - who do not care one jot about the effect of their actions,  on the lives of millions of their fellow countrymen, in their quest for political power  and its handmaiden - in the Ghanaian context - super-wealth.

The judiciary in Ghana must stop irresponsible politicians from  holding  Ghanaians  to ransom.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Why The NPP's Hardliners Will Not Get Their Wish

For many ordinary  Ghanaians (including myself) Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo has never been a problem. He is essentially a good and decent gentleman.

The problem, in the view of  many in our country, is the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) small band of arrogant extremists surrounding him, who   want to ride to power on his coattails.

The tragedy for the NPP and Ghana, is that those tiresome hardliners,  think they are invincible masters of the universe.

It is instructive  that that  small band of ruthless extremists,   talk endlessly about "justice before peace", yet have deliberately  closed their eyes to the blatant injustice involved  in  seeking to use the Supreme Court,   to cancel  the votes of millions of ordinary people -  who queued up for hours  to cast their votes to elect the candidate of their choice, in the December 2012 presidential  election.

It is  hypocritical  and an  act of  bad faith,  of the most egregious kind,  to   seek  to manipulate Ghana's  legal system,    as a  cynical backdoor-path-to-power  tactical political manoeuvre.

And that act of bad faith,   is not lost on the millions of Ghanaian voters,   whom  the NPP's small band of arrogant extremists,  want  to disenfranchise.

Many  of those voters  will remember that attempt to have their votes cancelled  in the  December 2016 elections.

The question is: Why should  millions of innocent and law-abiding Ghanaian voters,  have their votes cancelled by the Supreme Court, simply because mistakes were made by harried and stressed-out presiding officers - who had no sinister motives,  incidentally - at some polling stations?

What compounds the outrage, is that those mistakes by the Electoral Commission's officials,  were not deliberately made -  as part of some grand conspiracy to rig an election -  but genuinely-made errors   made  in the full glare of millions of eagle-eyed onlookers,   each  determined,     as a result of being constantly  admonished to be watchful by their respective political parties during the December 2012 election campaign,    to ensure that that  particular presidential election was not stolen by anyone, but ended with an outcome that genuinely represented the choice of a majority of the Ghanaians,   who cast their votes in the December 2012 presidential election.

In effect, what that  small band  of arrogant and too-clever-by-half NPP extremists,  whose mantra-of-hypocrisy  is "justice before peace"  have done, is to deliberately close their eyes to the injustice  involved,  in asking the Supreme Court to use the genuinely made errors of hapless  Electoral Commission polling station officials, as justification,  for   cancelling  the  votes cast by millions of their fellow citizens -  so that the NPP's defeated presidential candidate in the December 2012 election   can then come to power:   despite  losing what was the most closely-monitored and closely-fought election in Ghana's history thus far.

That is why those who took the December 2012 presidential election petition to the Supreme Court will  fail in their aim - because what they seek  is  unjust, against natural justice  and unworthy  of politicians  who claim to believe in democracy and the rule of law.

The truth of the matter, is that in effect the NPP's extremists sought to manipulate the legal system - to enable their party obtain political power after losing a free and fair election.

Will those who could be so disenfranchised, were the NPP's extremists to get their wish,  not feel that it would be a travesty of justice of the worst kind,  for the Supreme Court to allow the NPP's extremists  to succeed in their aim?

There are many who feel that cancelling the votes cast by millions of Ghanaians, who  duly exercised  their constitutional right to elect the President of the Republic of Ghana, in the December 2012 presidential election - a right that supersedes the bumbling of not-so-well-trained public officials,  employed on a temporary basis,  to supervise parliamentary and presidential elections in about 26000 polling stations countrywide,  widely deemed around  the world as free and fair - can neither  be right nor just.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Ghanaians Will Not Humour The Men & Women Of Violence - By Giving Them Their Death-Wish

The New Patriotic Party's (NPP) former national youth organiser, Mr. Anthony Karbo,  is reported to have stated (to paraphrase him) that the NPP went  to the Supreme Court not to seek peace,  but did so in their quest for justice  - and that if the "truth"   emerges  in the verdict  delivered by the nine-member panel of judges, then every Ghanaian would happily accept the verdict of the Supreme Court judges hearing the December 2012 presidential election petition.

Hopefully, Mr. Karbo (and those of his ilk in the world of Ghanaian politics -  across the spectrum: as the National Democratic Congress also has its share of extremists) does not equate the "truth"  he makes reference to,  in what he is reported to have said, only with a verdict in favour of those from his  party who petitioned the Supreme Court.

That would amount to hubris - and as sure as day follows night, he and his ilk will be hoisted on their own collective petard.

For the information of the Anthony Karbos of this world, the security agencies will deal ruthlessly  with  all those who will resort to violence,  when the Supreme Court's verdict is announced - because we are a civilised people who have accepted to live in a nation governed by the rule of law,  who will not allow a few selfish and self-seeking politicians to destabalise our nation:  and turn the lives of millions of law-abiding Ghanaians  upside down.

It is cowardly, not brave, to threaten violence if  one's wishes are not met.

No one who genuinely loves Ghana can make such utterances - which is why the Anthony Karbos of our country must watch what they say in public: lest those who hear them  conclude that they  do not love their  country.

No Ghanaian who is patriotic will ever consider resorting to violence, in their quest for justice, under any circumstances.

The irritating thing in all this outrageous pure-nonsense-on-bamboo-
stilts, is that those who  make the veiled threat implied in the coded phrase,  "justice before peace",  will probably be the first to run away from Ghana,  when violence  breaks out  after the Supreme Court's verdict is announced.

However, luckily for the enterprise Ghana, the vast majority of ordinary people have cottoned on to that  - which is why no sane individual  will humour the men and women of violence,  who people  the world of Ghanaian politics:  by giving them their death-wish.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

An Opportunity To Provide Water Security For Ghanaian Households

A few days ago, I wrote and posted an article on Ghanaweb entitled, "Assisting The Ghana Water Company Limited: A CSR Opportunity For Accra's Breweries?"

I received a reply from the CSR partner manager at Lifesaver System's of the UK, which referred to the said  article of mine.

I am publishing that email below, so that interested NGO's and businesses in Ghana (such as large water users like: Guineas Ghana Limited; Accra Breweries; Kasapreko; Fan Milk; Pepsi Cola; as well as  the Precious Minerals Marketing Company and the small-scale gold mining companies, which together buy most of the illegally mined gold in Ghana that is responsible for the pollution of rivers and the underground water table across vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside),  can contact Lifesaver Systems directly, and work with them to help alleviate water poverty in both rural and urban Ghana, as well as  provide  water security to the poor in Ghanaian society. Please read on:

"Good Afternoon Kofi,

My name is Theresa Adams and I am CSR Partner Manager for a company called LIFESAVER Systems Ltd.

I have just read your very interesting article (Ghana Web) regarding Breweries and Ghana Water Company Ltd and immediately saw the synergy with what we are trying to achieve. Our main aim is to ‘break the Development Trap by providing personal water security’. The LIFESAVER solution takes disease and bacteria ridden water that would otherwise be unsafe to use and sterilises it at source for safe consumption.

The additional benefits include;

Improved maternal health and decreased child mortality due to malaria and cholera reduction

Improved Hygiene helping lower illness rates related to dirty hands or bathing

The provision of sterile water and improved health increases children’s school attendance

Sustainable solution, this is a long term, low maintenance solution that re-uses this precious resource

Environmentally we reduce the Carbon Footprint compared to plastic, land fill

Considers climate change by negating the need to boil water and thus reduces deforestation

Energy reduction in fuel for boiling water and the transport needed for other methods

We have a product family of four products that share the same ground breaking technology, as an example the Jerrycan is perfect as a home solution and will service a family of 5 for more than 2 ½  years with each member using 3.5 Litres per day. We also have a C2 (Tank) which produces 2,000,000 litres and can serve an entire community for 8 years. After the 2,000,000 litres there are filters to allow the same production again. Michael Pritchard MBE, is the LIFESAVER Systems founder and inventor was recently honoured by HRH the Queen for his technology and its use all around the world over the last 6-7 years.

As an example of some of the work we have done most recently, we are in the process of finishing a Community based project in Malaysia where we worked very closely with the Government to provide 1,500 C2 (Tanks) and have already bought over 1,000,000 people out of water poverty here alone.

As part of our new CSR / Sustainability programme we are looking to partner with an NGO and other Corporates to help us reach as many of the 1.1 Billion people still experiencing Water Poverty throughout the world. Our scheme is to basically match donations like for like, so as an example:

COMMUNITY USE - The C2 (Tank) which produces 2,000,000 litres. 1 Litre costs 0.75 pence and for every 1 Litre donated we will match each Litre, bringing the cost for each Litre down to 0.375 pence

HOUSEHOLD USE - The Jerrycan which produces 15,000 litres. 1 Litre costs 0.81 pence and for every 1 Litre donated we will match each Litre, bringing the cost for each Litre down to 0.405 pence

How we could see this working is that in the case of Ghana Water Company Ltd and Guiness, Ghana Water Company Ltd partner with an NGO, the NGO puts our C2 and Jerrycan on their website and invite donations. They approach Guiness and explain that for every donation made by them or anyone else, LIFESAVER will match litre for litre and donate our products to the most needy.  The illustration above shows a Litre in a Jerrycan is .81 pence (4/5 of a penny) and for the C2 (tank) .75 pence (3/4 of a penny). The impact of this is huge as it doubles the number of beneficiaries!

We are looking to do some work in Ghana in the near future and appreciate some of the issues the country faces, it would be a pleasure to assist with this and perhaps with another Corporate involved (Guiness) we could help resolve an increasing issue.

I wondered if you would be kind enough to initially give me your thoughts on our approach and secondly if you think this is worthwhile, perhaps you could point me in the right direction for a contact at Ghana Water Company so I can make further enquiries?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Theresa Adams

Partner Manager

Lifesaver Systems Ltd

Friday, 9 August 2013

To Ghana's Trade & Industry Ministerial Team

Author's note: This piece was written on 8th August, 2013. It is being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

If Ghana's young and hard-working trade and industry ministerial team were to think outside the box -  and in this particular instance, ignore the "hide-bound senior civil servants who advise our leaders,  and many of whom  secretly  wish that the present regime  fails", to quote an acquaintance of mine  - they  could  revolutionalise Ghana's light industrial sector.

The garment industry has the potential to rapidly grow Ghana's light industrial sector's contribution to the country's GDP. It could  also provide employment for many young people in Ghana.

On the basis that no foreign investor  who visits our country can fail to be impressed by Ghana and its people, my humble suggestion to the ministerial team at the trade and industry ministry, is that they should  invite Mr. William Fung, Mr. Victor Fung and Mr Bruce Rockowitz,  of the Fung Group,  to Ghana - and show them what the Ghana Free Zones Board has to offer investors in the garment industry.

The Fung Group could work with the government - which should rely on advice from the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) in this particular instance, instead of relying on the senior civil servants who usually advise them -  to grow Ghana's garment industry, and turn it into a leading source of garments for retailers in the US and the EU.

There are other areas the Fung Group could be persuaded to  invest in, if the ministerial team at the ministry of trade and industry and the Association of Ghana Industries were to  invite Mr. William Fung, Mr. Victor Fung and Mr Bruce Rockowitz to visit Ghana.

The Fung Group, which is headquartered in Hong Kong,   could help turn Ghana into a leading exporter of garments to the developed world.

Perhaps Ghana's ambassador to China could be asked to extend the invitation to the Fung Group on the government's behalf. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Assisting The Ghana Water Company Limited: A CSR Opportunity For Accra's Breweries?

Author's note: This piece was written on the 7th of August 2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

Reports in the Ghanaian media have it that  as a  result of difficulties being experienced by the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL),  in supplying treated water to the Achimota factory of Guineas Ghana Limited,  and the Graphic Road factory  of Accra Brewery Limited,   the GWCL is having to limit supplies of treated water to households and other non-industrial users  in parts of Accra.

Yet, for public health reasons, it is vital that treated water is made available across the country,  to as many households and other non-industrial users as is possible, and on a regular basis.

It is unfortunate that 56 years after independence, the supply of treated water has become problematic - and has not kept pace with population growth and rapid urbanisation in Ghana.

Perhaps it might be in the collective interest of the affected breweries, which make large profits here,   to support the GWCL,  by contributing  funds to the company,  to enable it speedily resolve the operational emergency, which has led to its  inability to supply them with treated water on a regular basis.

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. If the affected breweries  take a long-term view, perhaps it will enable them   see the GWCL's present difficulties in supplying them with treated water, as a fortuitous  CSR opportunity.

Let them seize that enlightened-self-interest-opportunity, and use it   to demonstrate their commitment to Ghana,  by assisting the GWCL to overcome the emergency that it currently faces, and which has led to the present situation in which it is forced to cut supplies to households and other  non-industrial users, in order  to supply treated water to the breweries in Accra.

That will be seen by many Ghanaians, including even some of those who don't approve of alcohol,   as  evidence of Guineas Ghana Limited and Accra Brewery being good corporate citizens of Ghana - a development that will doubtless redound to their benefit:  by enhancing the value of their brands in Ghana yet further.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Free Advice For Zoomlion's Head Of Compliance

Author's note: This piece was written on  the 5th of August, 2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

Not too long ago, I listened to a gentleman who said he was in charge of compliance at Zoomlion, in a conversation with Peace FM's morning show host, Kwame Sefa Kayi.

I was shocked by the complacency  displayed by the gentleman - described by an acquaintance of mine who listened to him too,  as "a smug beneficiary of crony-capitalism", who seemed oblivious of the fact that the Ghana Youth  Employment and  Entrepreneurial  Development Agency (GYEEDA)  scandal,  is not something that anyone involved in - no matter how powerful and well-connected he or she might be today -   can get away with permanently.

I could not help feeling  sorry for Mr. Adjapong,  who employs him - and pays him well:  but who he is letting down terribly,  in what without a shadow of doubt is a real crisis for the business.

That  interview with Kwame Sefa Kayi was a mistake and a PR disaster. In case it escapes Zoomlion's head of compliance, there has been a sea-change in public attitudes about high-level corruption in Ghana.

An over-taxed people,  who have come to the sudden realisation that their nation deserves better - as a result of the billions of cedis looted from the national treasury,  in the  create-loot-and-share monstrosity  of  fraudulently obtained judgement-debt payment court orders -  are no longer prepared to allow trillions of cedis of  taxpayers' money to be dissipated and frittered away,  through the deliberate carelessness of  those at the helm of affairs in Ghana,  and the public officials who advise them.

Those in charge of compliance in private-sector entities in Ghana had better sit up. Jail awaits those of them who close their eyes to illegality in all forms,  in the operations of the entities they advise, when those entities rip Mother Ghana off.

They must ensure that the companies they advise on compliance issues,  do not engage in profiteering   in public  procurement contracts; do not bribe public officials to obtain unfair advantage over their competitors; do not engage in insider dealing and the use of insider information; do not evade taxes; etc., etc.

Alas,  today, the only way private-sector entities and those responsible for their day-to-day running,  as well as members of their supervisory boards,  can avoid being fined or going to jail for failing in their fiduciary duties,  in the Republic of Ghana, is to ensure that corporate good governance principles,   underpin whatever  they and the companies they are associated with do at all material times.

With respect, for Zoomlion's head of compliance to say,    in defence of a company accused of defrauding the Republic of Ghana, that that company is owed even yet more of the allegedly fraudulently obtained money,   by the very government it is accused of ripping-off, is pure nonsense on bamboo stilts.

What Zoomlion's compliance department ought to do, is to prepare for the day when it will have to justify -  in detailed breakdowns -   all the sums paid to subsidiaries of the holding company headed by the hard-working and brilliant Mr. Adjapong that stand accused of profiteering at Ghana's expense, and which are alleged to have fraudulently obtained money from GYEEDA.

Let those in charge of compliance at Zoomlion be guided by the wise old Ghanaian saying "No condition is permanent", as they prepare their defence against the allegations of fraud made against the Better Ghana Management Services Limited.

In today's political climate,  the GYEEDA scandal is not something that even President Mahama can wriggle out, if it touches him in any way.

And neither can Mr. P. V.  Obeng find a way out,  for any of those implicated in that tsunami-of-a-scandal,  in any attempted whitewash, in reviewing the GYEEDA committee's report.

For Zoomlion's smug and well-paid compliance department's head's information, the Local Enterprise and Skills Development Programme (LESDEP) will also come under scrutiny too, at some point, one day in the not too  distant future.

One hopes he  will not be complacent over that too,  when that day comes -  but will be well-prepared  for it, instead. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

GYEEDA Report: A Fresh-Start Opportunity For President Mahama & The NDC

Much  controversy has been  generated across the country,  by the leaked Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) report, which  was submitted recently to President Mahama,  by the minister for youth and sports, Mr. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah.

The Hon. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah,  who set up the committee to investigate allegations of corruption at GYEEDA, deserves to be commended for setting up the committee to investigate  alleged corruption at GYEEDA.

If,  as alleged, it is true that a government  initiative such as GYEEDA, meant  to provide opportunities for marginalised Ghanaians, was  hijacked by a powerful and well-connected few, to enable them  siphon off millions of cedis of taxpayers' money, then all those found culpable in this shabby affair, must be prosecuted and jailed, for those egregious crimes against Mother Ghana.

All sums of taxpayers' money stolen by them must be recovered - by the Attorney General applying to the law courts for court orders to seize their bank accounts and sell their assets if need be.

We must start making white-collar crime to rip Mother Ghana off, an unprofitable enterprise, for those who engage in it.

Contrary to what those who have latched on to the leaked GYEEDA report,  to try and score political points at the present government's expense,  think, instead of being a disaster for the ruling regime, the GYEEDA report  is rather an opportunity for the National Democratic Congress (NDC),  and the administration of President Mahama,  to renew both the party and the government - and seize the moral high ground in Ghanaian politics.

Rather than seek to protect those involved in criminal activities at GYEEDA,  as is being alleged by their political opponents, President Mahama and the NDC should seize the opportunity to distance themselves from those corrupt individuals,  who were given the opportunity to serve Mother Ghana, and   change the lives of millions of marginalised people in Ghanaian society, by empowering them to become self-employed, but chose instead to conspire to steal public funds earmarked for that noble purpose.

If the President and his administration adopt the attitude that no matter how valuable their past   contributions to the NDC might have been,  at all material times, the onus was squarely  on those individuals found culpable of  engaging  in corruption at GYEEDA,   to ensure that they did not fall foul of the laws of the Republic of Ghana, in running the various GYEEDA modules, the Mahama administration will find that it  will come out of the controversy surrounding the GYEEDA report, much stronger politically - and gain the trust of many  ordinary people in Ghana on top of that.

Incidentally, I have been laughed at in the past,  as a fool,  for not personally exploiting the idea of using public funds to empower poor people in Ghana to become self-employed, by some of those who leveraged the gem of my  idea to use public funds in micro-entrepreneurial initiatives,  to empower young and marginalised Ghanaians, for their personal benefit.

I actually always felt sorry for those cynical and greedy individuals  - as they did not seem to understand that the truly altruistic,  find happiness,  not in exclusively  seeking  their own selfish ends at the expense of the rest of society, but rather  find fulfilment in helping in their own small way,  to create a fairer society in which all who can , and are able and willing to work, can find opportunities to rise from poverty.

Hopefully,  those too-clever-by-half individuals,  will now finally come to see that the Kofi Thompsons of this world,   are indeed not fools for nothing.

Personal integrity matters a great deal in life. On our individual deathbeds, it is not the wealth we accumulated that we will ponder over, as we look back on our lives, but how honest we were,  in our dealings with others, during our lifetime. Honesty is the best policy in life - and it does actually pay  in the end. But I digress.

If the administration of President Mahama thinks  creatively -  instead of allowing fear that the exposure of corrupt and criminal activities  at GYEEDA will destroy their regime, to paralyse them,  and stop them from doing what is right by ordinary Ghanaians and in the national interest - they will find that far from being a political disaster, once those implicated in the report give their side of the ''GYEEDA-story'' to the P. V. Obeng committee, implementing the recommendations of the committee that investigated alleged corruption at GYEEDA,  actually represents  a fresh-start-opportunity for the President and the NDC. A word to the wise...

Vodafone Ghana's Snail-Paced Resolution Of Customer Grievances

I had to fight an  exhausting battle,  to get my Blackberry service activation completed  by Vodafone Ghana, to enable me receive and send emails, as well as browse the internet on my phone again.

Having purchased a prepaid  broadband wireless data bundle on 24/7/2013 (well in time before the old one's expiry date, incidentally), but still unable to access the web,  as well as send and receive emails  almost a week  after renewing it, I wondered why,   as a  customer of what is  a leading  telecommunications company with a global footprint, I was not receiving  the same standard of service, which Vodafone provides its customers across the markets it competes in,  around the world.

In the end, to resolve the problem, after a pointless trip to the Dansoman Vodafone Ghana retail outlet, and  many   fruitless phone calls to the company's Blackberry service call-centre,  I had to top up my account yet again, to get me back online - although I had  hardly done any browsing before it became impossible to  access the internet,  and send and receive emails,  after selecting and paying for my Blackberry  data bundle on 24/7/2013.

Such is life for consumers  in Ghana - who are often taken for granted by sundry service providers: including those whose corporate marketing ethos elsewhere,  is underpinned by the reassuring phrase,   "the customer is always right".

The question is: do Vodafone's customers in Ghana,  not have a right to expect the same high standards its customers in the UK take for granted, for example,  when they sign up for  Vodafone's wireless broadband data and  voice services?

Vodafone Ghana's top-heavy structure,  is said to cost a small fortune,  in terms of the compensation packages its expatriate staff receive monthly.

The time has come for Vodafone Ghana to  justify the Arabian-oil-Sheik-lifestyles its expatriate staff  enjoy in Ghana - in an age of global austerity,  when even Arabian oil Sheiks are abandoning their previously  extravagant lifestyles in droves.

They must ensure  that Vodafone's  hapless Ghanaian customers don't have to experience the  frustration of being forced  offline for days - that I have had to endure  in the struggle  to get my Blackberry internet service activation completed to enable me receive and send emails as well as browse the internet again.

To paraphrase  another aggrieved Vodafone Ghana customer I met at the company's  Dansoman retail outlet:  apart from the  tasteful minimalist  decor one sees in Vodafone's smart  air-conditioned retail outlets, and the huge sums paid to its expatriate staff as monthly salaries and allowances, not much seems to have changed in the entity that Ghana Telecom morphed into after its fire-sale  - in terms of the quick and satisfactory resolution of customer grievances.

Perhaps that criticism might be said to be  a tad harsh, as in many respects the transformation wrought by Vodafone,  at the defunct Ghana Telecom it bought for a song, has been  world-class and cutting-edge.

However,  going by  my own personal experience of Vodafone Ghana's resolution of a particular  customer complaint - my incomplete Blackberry internet bundle activation procedure -  I can confirm that its complaint resolution process  really is snail-paced and incredibly frustrating.

Post Script:

Finally, my Blackberry internet connection was restored about 20 minutes ago.

It is now 15:00 hours GMT, and today is 2/8/2013.

A global telecommunications giant  like Vodafone can do better  -  and should. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Ban Mining In The Whole Of The Atewa Range Upland Evergreen Rainforest

 When those running a loss-making state enterprise, such as the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO),   ignore the  environmental consequences of the corporate decisions they make, those who question their sense of judgement,  for that reason,  should not be accused of being  unfair critics.

VALCO was conceived at a time when the importance of preserving the earth's  biodiversity,  and the benefits of the ecosystem services provided by forests,  were  not as well understood  as they currently are.

If Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had known what the world's  scientific  community now knows about global climate change,  preserving biodiversity  and the importance of forests,  at the time the idea for VALCO was conceived,  he would definitely  have asked its promoters to look elsewhere,   not to the Atewa Range,   for  bauxite supplies,  in their long-term planning - and made sure that the Atewa Range upland evergreen rainforest, including the Atewa Forest Reserve, was preserved for the benefit of future generations of the Ghanaian people (and  the rest of  humankind).

President Nkrumah  would have probably turned the Atewa Range  into a national park,  and  promoted tourism there,  to provide  the area with a sustainable  local economy - and ensured  that all mining, logging and hunting was banned completely from the area.

It is an outrage that in 21st century Ghana,  on their own, the unelected and  over-paid  management  of a state-owned entity that is a financial basket-case,  can take far-reaching decisions, which could cause irreparable harm to the natural environment -  and negatively impact the quality of life of millions of Ghanaians for decades to come.

At a time when global climate change is negatively impacting our nation, the strange decision by the management of VALCO,  to borrow money  to build a coal-fired power plant  dependent on imported coal from South Africa, is hard to fathom.

Are they not aware of the fact that no matter how advanced and sophisticated the filters deployed to remove pollutants from the smoke coming out of  the chimneys of  coal-fired  power plants   might be, by their very nature,   such power plants will always be major polluters wherever in the world  they are sited?

The question is: are VALCO's managers  not aware of the harm that coal-fired power plants in newly  industrialised nations such as China,  are causing to the quality of air in cities like Beijing, one wonders?

If they insist on building their own power plant,  why do VALCO's management   not opt to use a relatively cleaner fuel,  such as natural gas from Ghana's offshore oilfields,   to power their proposed thermal power plant -  instead of importing coal from South Africa for that  purpose?

The truth of the matter,  is that whatever VALCO manufactures in its Tema factory, price-wise, those products  can never be competitive globally.

Products from ALCOA's aluminium plant in Iceland,  for example, will always be cheaper than VALCO's products -  because of the availability of  cheap hydro-power for its  Icelandic aluminium plant.

At a time of global climate change, those who want Ghana to have an integrated aluminium industry,  for strategic reasons, ought to rather think in terms of an integrated  sub-regional aluminium industry for West Africa.

In that business model,  Guinea could partner Ghana, and  supply bauxite for refining and smelting,  by a VALCO that has  its own gas-fired power plant.

Had current scientific knowledge about climate change been available to him in the 1960's, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah would never have countenanced the destruction of the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest, to mine its low-grade bauxite deposits.

That is why no one should use President Nkrumah's original vision of an integrated aluminium industry for  Ghana, as an excuse to use as a cloak for the destruction of  the Atewa Range upland evergreen rainforest, by mining bauxite in it.

Any Ghanaian who is  sincere,  farsighted and thinks  deeply enough,  cannot,  but come to the conclusion that today, for basic survival and quality-of-life reasons, any plans for an integrated aluminium industry in Ghana, cannot possibly  include bauxite mining (or mining of any sort for that matter) in the Atewa Range.

VALCO's management must be more environmentally and socially responsible in this instance.

At a time of global warming, destroying  the source of the headwaters of three important river systems - the Densu, Birim and Ayensu - on which a large part of southern urban Ghana, including Accra,  the national capital, depends for its drinking-water supply  to mine bauxite, is  untenable and unthinkable.

It is a crime against humanity, in an age of global climate change, to  propose  the destruction of  one of only two upland evergreen rainforests in our nation, which has been designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA),  and is  the source of the  headwaters of three major river systems that supply water for domestic and industrial use,  in scores of  towns and cities across southern Ghana -  just to mine  deposits of low-grade bauxite, which  will be exhausted in 50 years:  and all for a mere US$17.5 billions over the  period (the amount Ghana would apparently earn from mining the area's bauxite deposits itself  -  according to media reports attributed to VALCO's deputy CEO).

It is inconceivable that anyone concerned about the survival of future generations, would contemplate the destruction of  an upland evergreen rainforest,  designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area,  which has evolved over millions of years,  and could  be the basis of   a thriving and sustainable eco-tourism industry,  and the source of both known and yet-to-be-discovered medicinal plants,  yielding  trillions of dollars in revenues till the very end of time.

At all costs, VALCO's management must be prevented from embarking on a course of action, which  will end up condemning future generations of Ghanaians  to eking out a miserable living in  an apocalyptic landscape -   akin to a hell-on-earth existence in a barren and moonscape-like natural environment -  were the Atewa Range to be destroyed by bauxite mining.

For the sake of future generations, in addition to a complete ban on hunting and logging in the area, no mining of any sort  must be allowed in the whole of the Atewa Range upland evergreen rainforest. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Bravo To Those Who Helped Retain The Name Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium

Author's note: This piece was written on on 27/7/2013. Iti si being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

Peace FM's Kwame Sefa Kayi's 25 July 2013 Kokrokoo morning show  interview,  with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly's (AMA) Chief Executive, Dr. Okoh Vanderpuije,  in which he tried to elicit from the AMA boss, the  reason for  the change of name of the national hockey stadium, from the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium  to the John Atta Mills Hockey Stadium, will forever remain a classic example of sycophancy gone mad,  in the world of Ghanaian politics.

The AMA  Chief Executive, Dr.  Okoh Vanderpuije's forked-tongue  attempt to justify something that would have horrified the late President Mills,  had he been alive,  was a study in justification of the unjustifiable and the mendacity of some politicians.

Seldom has such a  breakfast show PR disaster been aired live,  in real time, since radio broadcasting was liberalised in Ghana, after the promulgation of the 1992 constitution.

President Mahama deserves to be commended for acting swiftly,  to end an injustice done to a genuine Ghanaian heroine in her nineties - and   who designed Ghana's national flag, incidentally  - that the late President Mills would never have countenanced.

Whiles we are at it, why don't the authorities also act to  correct the injustice done to the late Mr. Ohene Djan -  after whom the refurbished  national sports stadium in Accra was named:  but whose memory was also bismirched  and suffered the same fate Theodosia Okoh suffered for a few hours yesterday?

Thank goodness that Theodosia Okoh's  pain at having the honour bestowed upon her,    cruelly snatched from her,  by the high-handedness of the AMA,    was fortunately   relieved after a few hours,    by the swift intervention of President Mahama. Kudos to the President.

And bravo to  all those fair-minded and patriotic individuals across Ghana, whose sense of fairness and outrage,  at the needless injustice done to Mrs. Theodosia Salome Okoh,  made them act to ensure that  the  name Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium  was retained -   to honour a genuine Ghanaian heroine and old Achimotan.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Ghana's Supreme Court Will Deliver An Impartial Verdict - Based On The Law & Evidence

Author's note: This piece was written on 25/7/2013. It is being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

Despite the pervasive cynicism about state institutions, there are many Ghanaians who believe that the Supreme Court will deliver a fair and impartial verdict -    based on the law and the evidence,  in the December 2012 presidential election petition  brought before it   by the New Patriotic Party's presidential candidate,  his running mate and the party's chairperson.

Today,  I am reproducing a culled article from the UK newspaper, 'The Guardian', because I feel that some of the  remarks made by  Jeff Blackett,  the judge advocate general,   in the retrial of a member of the British Army's Special Air Service, Sergeant Danny Nightingale,  whiles delivering judgement,  ought to  be reflected on by some of those who felt that the Supreme Court judges hearing the December 2012 presidential election petition,  were attacking freedom of expression in Ghana, in jailing the managing editor of the 'Searchlight' newspaper, Mr. Ken Kuranchie (and Mr. Stephen Atubiga),  for contempt.

There are some Ghanaians (including myself) who felt that Ken Kuranchie's unfortunate remarks were undermining of the judiciary -  and had the potential to  erode public confidence in the ability of the judges to arrive at  a fair and impartial verdict:  in an all-important  case,   on the outcome of which   hinges the very future of our nation  as a peaceful and stable democracy.

Ken Kuranchie's not-so-subtle attempt to ridicule and belittle the judges, should be frowned on by all Ghanaians who believe in the rule of law - and prefer to live in a nation with a  democratic system of government: with an effective  and independent judiciary.

One wonders what Ken Kuranchie's supporters will make of the fact that the family of the SAS Sergeant Nightingale told journalists that he  had been ordered not to speak out again in public about the case – and would face a charge if he did.

And that is in a centuries-old democracy that is home to  the Mother of Parliaments, the United Kingdom - not President Putin's repressive Russia.

When the Supreme Court panel of nine judges sought to prevent prejudicial comments being made about a presidential election petition that was sub judice, they were  ensuring that public confidence in the judiciary,  as an independent arbiter of disputes in Ghanaian society -  between individuals  and between individuals and the state -  and as a countervailing power amongst the three arms of government in our democracy, was not undermined.

There was no other motive for jailing Ken Kuranchie - and to suggest otherwise is most unfair. Journalists in Ghana aren't above the law - and they must never forget that in our democracy.

When the time comes, Ghana's Supreme Court will deliver an impartial verdict - based on the law and the  tendered evidence in the December 2012 presidential election petition.

To those supporters of Ken Kuranchie who criticise the Supreme Court judges for jailing him for contempt, let me quote the judge advocate general in Sergeant Nightingale's trial:

"We understand how difficult these proceedings have been for you and your family. However, you have brought much of that anguish upon yourself and your public assertions that you are a scapegoat or the victim of some wider political agenda is absolute nonsense". Food for thought perhaps? Please read on:

"Thursday 25 July 2013 14.15 BST

Danny Nightingale avoids jail over possession of pistol and ammunition

Ex-SAS sniper gets two-year suspended sentence for illegally possessing Glock 9mm and 300 rounds

[By] Steven Morris

The former SAS sniper Danny Nightingale has been sentenced to two years' military detention suspended for 12 months after being found guilty of illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition.

Nightingale, 38, who has served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan, was convicted of the offences at a court martial in Wiltshire earlier this month.

He was originally sentenced to 18 months in detention last year but freed after a high-profile campaign. His conviction was quashed because of the way the initial hearing was handled and a retrial ordered.

The judge advocate general, Jeff Blackett, told Nightingale that his account of how the pistol came to be in his room lacked credibility and the evidence against him was overwhelming.

But he said there were circumstances that allowed the court to suspend the sentence "because of your exceptional character".

The judge also said that "criticism of the prosecution and the army is unmerited and totally without foundation".

"We understand how difficult these proceedings have been for you and your family. However, you have brought much of that anguish upon yourself and your public assertions that you are a scapegoat or the victim of some wider political agenda is absolute nonsense," he said.

"You are simply someone against whom there was a strong prima facie case of serious wrongdoing and, given the dangers to society caused by illegal firearms and their misuse, it was in the public interest to prosecute you.

"You have now had a fair trial before a civilian judge and an independent and impartial board. All of the issues you wished to raise and all the submissions you wished to make have been fully considered and verdicts properly given.

"It would have made no difference had you been tried before a civilian jury – the evidence against you was overwhelming and I have no doubt the verdicts would have been the same."

The judge also criticised commentators and MPs who had criticised the prosecution. "I trust that those who have been so critical of the service prosecuting authority and the court martial process – particularly those who made unfounded and uninformed remarks under the cloak of parliamentary privilege – now realise how inappropriate and wrong their criticisms were."

Blackett, who sat with a five-person board, said if it had not been for a previous court of appeal decision that reduced the original custodial sentence, Nightingale would be going to prison.

"In our opinion, the seriousness of this case does merit an immediate custodial sentence but we feel constrained by the decision of their lordships. In those circumstances, we have decided that the sentences passed should both be suspended for a period of 12 months."

Outside court, Nightingale's wife, Sally, said: "We are disappointed with the sentencing but pleased that Danny will be coming home tonight."

She said they would take advice from their legal team before deciding whether to fight on. "We have got to sit down as a family to discuss the whole issue."

But she said she did not regret fighting the case as they had learned so much about Nightingale's brain injury, sustained when he was taken ill during a jungle challenge.

Nightingale's father, Humphrey, said he was very upset at the judge's criticism of the campaign for the soldier and said it was clear the judge had wanted to give him an immediate custodial sentence. Mr Nightingale continued to insist the gun had not belonged to his son.

The family said Nightingale had been ordered not to speak out again in public about the case – and would face a charge if he did.

The end of the case, for now at least, will come as a huge relief for army prosecutors who have been criticised by Nightingale's supporters for continuing to pursue the former soldier.

It will also be a relief to the SAS, which has been horrified at the glimpses the case has given into its secret workings. Some members have viewed the saga as an attempt by military top brass to rein the regiment in.

The sentence is a bitter blow for the soldier and father-of-two, who faces having to sell his family home to help pay legal costs.

The court martial at Bulford camp had heard that a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition were found in Nightingale's bedroom in a house shared with a friend and SAS colleague.

Nightingale was brought back to the UK from Afghanistan where he was serving and told civilian police the pistol had been a present from Iraqis he had worked with in 2007. He said he had carelessly stockpiled the ammunition while he worked as a range instructor for the SAS.

At his first court martial last year Nightingale said he could not actually remember being given the pistol, explaining that he had suffered memory loss following a serious illness during an Amazonian jungle challenge. But when it was suggested by the court that he could face five years in prison if he fought the charges he pleaded guilty – and was then shocked when he was handed 18 months in military detention rather than the expected suspended sentence.

His wife, Sally, and legal team launched a campaign to free him. The sentence was reduced and eventually quashed. However, the military prosecutors decided to order a fresh court martial even though Nightingale is being medically discharged early next year.

During the latest hearing, Nightingale claimed the pistol and ammunition must have belonged to his colleague and housemate, who could be identified only as Soldier N. His explanation about how he came by the gun and ammunition was put down to "confabulation" – an unconscious trick of the mind in which gaps are filled in with false memories.

A court martial board took less than five hours to find him guilty of the two charges.

Following his conviction, Nightingale compared his battle with the military authorities to the fight between David and Goliath.

He said his family was close to "financial ruin" because of the case but insisted he did not regret contesting the allegations even if he ended up behind bars. "If I didn't have such a strong family we'd be broken. But I never regret fighting it, not for one second." The court was told that the case had cost Nightingale and his family £120,000.

He refused to comment on whether he believed the military authorities had pursued him because it had been embarrassed by the Nightingale campaign.

Nightingale said he was still proud of his career in the SAS, which he joined in 2001. "This won't taint my military memory. The last few years aren't really part of my military."

After his conviction, Sally Nightingale added: "Continue to support us because he's not guilty and he's not a criminal. He never brought a weapon into the country, he never had a weapon in his possession. We know the truth, the family knows the truth, we know most of the public knows the truth."

The prosecution made it clear during the trial that there were no special exemptions to the SAS when it came to possession of weaponry or ammunition.

"No soldier, no matter what his experience or what unit he is attached to, is above the law," prosecutor Timothy Cray told the court."

End of culled Guardian article by Steven Morris.

Tel:027 745 3109.