Thursday, 27 November 2014

The NPA & GSA Must Prevent Substandard Fuel From Being Imported Into Ghana

It is vital that the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) takes immediate steps, to ensure that the so-called Bulk Oil Distribution Companies (BODC) that import refined petroleum products, including diesel and petrol, do not unwittingly import substandard diesel and petrol into Ghana under any circumstances.

Although the BODCs will deny the allegation that they are actually importing substandard fuel into Ghana, the NPA and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), must undertake rigorous tests on each consignment of fuel shipped into Ghana.

 Imported substandard fuel, when used regularly in vehicles, will eventually damage their engines. Life is unbearable enough financially as it is, for most vehicle owners in Ghana, without their having to deal with the effects of substandard fuel on vehicle engines, which cost the earth to replace.

 Ghana owns an oil refinery. It is unpardonable and intolerable that a few powerful individuals have succeeded in sidelining the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), and  today, we have arrived at a point where private-sector entities are apparently regularly importing substandard fuel into Ghana.

If that is indeed the case, then those greedy and callous businesspeople must be stopped from colluding with companies with a history such as that of Trafigura's, to rip-off Ghanaians, by importing substandard 'fuel' into Ghana. Enough is enough.

All fuel imported into Ghana must conform to the same standards existing in Europe and the US - to protect the motoring public and to ensure good air quality across Ghana.

 There are rumours that the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), which hobnobs with Trafigura,  is importing 'fuel' into Ghana. Is the GNPC being tricked  like Vest Tank was, one wonders?

 It would be tragic if it turned out that the GNPC is importing dangerous coker gasoline residue into Ghana, and storing them in tanks belonging to the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST).

 The government of Ghana needs to open its eyes widely in this matter. The tragedy that befell the people of Slovag and Abidjan must not be allowed to occur in the area where BOST is storing 'fuel' for the GNPC.

To protect Ghanaian motorists from the dangers of imported substandard fuel, TOR must be provided with crude oil by the GNPC to process into fuel and lubricants, etc., for sale to motorists in Ghana.

To make officials of the NPA and GSA aware of the chicanery they could be up against in this matter, and for the benefit of readers of this blog, I have culled two online articles,  for their perusal.

Today's  first culled article is from the online version of BBC News. It shows how from time to time even the UK falls prey to the activities of  criminal syndicates that sell substandard fuel.

The second culled article is from the website of NRK, the Norwegian state broadcaster. It outlines the production process once employed by major fuel trader, Trafigura, to produce substandard fuel.

The 'fuel' Trafigura produced, was apparently so bad that it could not  actually be legally sold in either the US or Europe - yet was shipped to West Africa. Incredibly, it deteriorated when exposed to sunlight.

Trafigura's  substandard 'fuel' production, and its shipment to West Africa for sale, was exposed by investigations carried out by journalists from the BBC, the Guardian newspaper and the Norwegian state broadcaster, NRK.

The BBC story is culled from their online  edition of


Please read on:

Illegal fuel: 48% rise in 'pop-up garages'

A man filling up his car with petrol Illegally-sold fuel is often substandard and can damage vehicle engines

Related Stories

There has been a 48% increase in the detection of illegal fuel sales from so called "pop-up garages" in the UK, HM Revenue and Customs figures show.
The operators sell fuel which has been smuggled or is substandard after being mixed with cheaper chemicals.
They do not pay tax and cost the Exchequer hundreds of millions of pounds a year in what petrol retailers are saying is a "crimewave".
HMRC says its detection is improving and the illegal trade is reducing.
Figures from HMRC show that in the 2012-13 period it made 6,506 visits to sites in the UK.

“Start Quote

We believe that the sales of illicit fuel are on the increase broadly linked to the increase in fuel prices and slump in the economy over the last four to five years”
Edmund King AA president

It detected illicit fuel, mostly diesel, being sold on 388 occasions, compared with 262 detections in 2009-10.

Pat Curtis, of HMRC's specialist investigations unit, believes criminal gangs are feeding off the recession.
"Criminal gangs will take advantage of any tax differential to make money on it," he says.

"They'll take advantage of customers out there who may be feeling the pinch and may be feeling they're getting value for money."

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers' Association (PRA), describes the pop-up garages as a "crimewave" engulfing the market.

"A stagnant economy gives rise to unemployment, especially for younger people, and lowers real wages," he says.

"The inevitable result is that criminal activity becomes an alternative despite the risks."
Tax losses
The fuel being sold is often substandard and can seriously damage car engines. The chemicals used by the gangs and the waste they produce also damage the environment.

No-one knows exactly how much excise fraud costs the government.

The most recent estimates by HMRC are from 2010-11, which calculate that the loss to the Exchequer could be anything between £150m to £700m.

HMRC insist that the trend is downwards, reflecting the success of its strategy to prevent fuel fraud.

But Edmund King, president of the AA, says anecdotal evidence suggests the opposite.

"We believe that the sales of illicit fuel are on the increase broadly linked to the increase in fuel prices and slump in the economy over the last four to five years," he says.

"Geographically it has spread from Northern Ireland, to the north of England and now down to the south east."

That view appears to be backed up by HMRC's own figures.
Testing improvements
In 2009-10, officers detected illegal fuel sales on 150 occasions in Northern Ireland and 112 in the rest of the UK.

“Start Quote

The loss of this revenue affects how government works”
Pat Curtis HM Revenue and Customs

Last year, there were 128 in Northern Ireland and 260 in the rest of the UK.
Brian Madderson, from the PRA, applauds the work HMRC has done in Northern Ireland, but argues it has to change focus.

"It is now time for them to focus their efforts on Great Britain," he says.
"Independent services stations continue to close at the rate of 175 to 200 each year, mostly in challenged rural areas, with loss of jobs and local facilities."

But Mr Curtis suggests the reported rise in sales in England, Scotland and Wales may be down to better testing.

"We were under no illusions that it was happening everywhere," he says.
'Affects everybody'
So just how easy is it to buy illegal fuel?

Our contacts led us to a warehouse on a trading estate in east London.
We asked if they sold "cheap diesel" and were offered fuel for £1.15 per litre - approximately 25p less than at the pumps.

The operator pumped 40 litres into the tank, we paid in cash and were given no receipt.
HMRC says all these are indicators of illicit fuel sales.

When we had the fuel siphoned from the car and tested, it was contaminated and substandard.

Mr Curtis says the criminals who sell, and the motorists who buy, are depriving the government of much-needed funds.

"The loss of this revenue affects how government works," he says.
"It affects everybody in their pocket."

End of culled BBC News story.

Min båt er lastet med...

Vest Tank sweetened coker gasoline

In the Brennpunkt programme “Dirty Cargo”, we expose the operations of Vest Tank in Sløvåg prior to the explosion which spread toxic gases to the Gulen inhabitants.

On May 24 2007, a tank belonging to the enterprise Vest Tank in Sløvåg municipality exploded. The explosion generated an intense sulphurous stench, which has caused illness among the local population ever since.

Brennpunkt started investigating this case immediately after the explosion. We wished to find out what kind of operations led to the accident.

Tonight’s programme will provide you with an insight into the kind of shady business the west coast village found itself involved in.

Through agreements with major foreign operators, the enterprise Vest Tank’s tank facility in Sløvåg became an important link in an international production of, and trade with, extremely low quality gasoline.

The final product was of such poor quality that it was illegal to sell in Europe. Instead, this bad gasoline was shipped to West Africa.

Norwegian authorities proved to be completely unaware of these activities. In the programme, we illustrate how the controlling institutions which could have disclosed and put an end to these operations, actually do not function at all.

The agreement
In 2006, Vest Tank entered into an intention agreement with one of the world’s largest commodity traders, Trafigura.

Vest Tank was requested to desulphurize so-called coker gasoline;
a residue product from oil refining.

Trond Emblem - Mr. Trond Emblem
Mr. Trond Emblem
The owner of Vest Tank, Mr. Trond Emblem, claims that no contract was signed.
However, during the autumn of 2006, ships started docking in Sløvåg.
Emblem states that this was no pilot project, but simply a part of the ordinary Vest Tank activities.

The sweetening

Trafigura traded with sulphurous coker gasoline with a low octane level, originating in Mexico. The purpose of the trade was to cleanse this waste product in order to render it saleable as automobile fuel.

In the course of 2006 and 2007, Trafigura dispatched a total of 150.000 tons of coker gasoline, divided into 6 shipments.

Vest Tank pumped coker gasoline into its tanks, where they added caustic soda and water to wash away the sulphur, before the cargo was once more loaded into the ship.

At Vest Tank, large quantities of sulphur encapsuled in caustic soda were left behind.

In addition, coker gasoline residues which were not sufficiently sweetened, remained with the company.

Permission not granted

The enterprise Vest Tank was obliged to apply to the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB) for license to store these substances in their tanks. But at least for one of the tanks, they had no such license.

Seksjonssjef Bjørn Bjørnstad i SFT - Mr. Bjørn Bjørnstad, Norwegian Pollution Control Authority
Mr. Bjørn Bjørnstad, Norwegian Pollution Control Authority
The Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) claim they have never authorized these operations. Vest Tank disputes this; they refer to the fact that they informed SFT about the project. In their opinion, SFT granted them permission by e-mail and over the telephone to carry out their activities.

The mixture

After the sweetening in Sløvåg, five of the six ships headed for the seaport town of Paldiski in Estonia.

In Paldiski, they discharged their cargoes at the terminal of the oil company Alexela, a company partly owned by Trafigura. Incidentally, Alexela bought up Vest Tank in Sløvåg after the explosion.

In Paldiski, the cargo was unloaded, and the Estonian customs service relate that a substance designed to increase the octane level is mixed into the gasoline.

The unusable residue product coker gasoline had now turned into low quality gasoline.

The Estonian customs state that the quality is so low, it renders it illegal to sell in Europe.

The gasoline is reloaded on board a ship, then dispatched to West Africa.

In Europe, the maximum approved sulphur level in gasoline is 50 ppm. In West Africa, 5000 ppm is the approved limit.

The waste

These were the main activities Vest Tank had established in Sløvåg. Consequently, the sweetening of coker gasoline generated a steady flow of hazardous waste, and in addition, the tank facility accepted waste for processing.

In the documentary “Dirty Cargo”, we bring you the story of all in all eight ships arriving in Sløvåg during the year before the facility exploded.

Two of the ships docking in Sløvåg did not sweeten gasoline. The first of these was Probo Emu. She carried the same kind of waste that her sister ship Probo Koala delivered in the Ivory Coast.

Eight ships arrived in Sløvåg

Probo Emu carries this waste in her slop tanks. Slop is wastewater with oil residue left over
after the cleaning of the oil tanks of a large ship. This waste is normally easily handled.

In Vest Tank‘s opinion, they acted in good faith when they accepted this waste. They were assured by Trafigura that this was slop; wastewater from the operation of the ship. It appears that instead this was waste from the sweetening of coker gasoline on board the ship.


The other ship was Ottavia, which loaded cargo in Sløvåg. When she arrived, she was nearly fully loaded with high quality gasoline purchased by Trafigura in England.

In Sløvåg, she collected 5400 tons of waste residue from the process of desulphurization of coker gasoline.
We have seen documents proving that this waste was mixed with the high quality gasoline on board. Subsequently, Ottavia sailed for West Africa.

Beyond control

Throughout a period of nearly a year, these companies carried out their activities right in the face of Norwegian authorities. Neither the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority, the Coastal Administration, the Customs Service, nor the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB) inspected the operations.

On May 24, Tank 3 exploded. The reason was a Vest Tank blunder. They intended to get rid of caustic material and sulphur left at the bottom of the tank.

By pumping in hydrochloric acid, the waste was supposed to be transformed into salt and water. Instead, a carbon filter was ignited, and the tank blew up.

The sulphur contained in all the ship cargoes was released,
causing continuous illness among the local inhabitants.

End of culled NRK story.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Are International Criminal Syndicates Laundering Money By Purchasing Real Estate In Ghana?

It appears that many have forgotten that when he urged those in charge of security at the VIP lounge at Accra's international airport, to search all who went through it thoroughly - himself included - the late President Mills  said at the time that  he was apprehensive that one day, some important person with links to it, might embarrass his regime by attempting to smuggle illicit drugs abroad, using the VIP lounge.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that President Mills knew what he was contending with.  Clearly, he did not trust the crooks-in-high-places at the time - who he knew were prone to act with impunity in their tunnel-visioned pursuit of wealth, regardless of the consequences.

An old wag I know, once remarked that he had often wondered why powerful people of a certain age, "who are fond of consorting with young bimbos, simply don't marry two wives their own age, and stick to them - if they have an overly adventurous nature: where the fairer sex are concerned."

Sound advice, indeed, some might say - if they can find two women willing to share a husband in an open polygamous marriage limited to two women, that is.

Perhaps if the crooks-in-high-places in President Mahama's regime had heeded that advice, and married two wives and stuck with them, they would not have been involved with aluring, pretty-faced female criminal-types, now safe in the custody of UK law enforcement agencies - for allegedly smuggling 12.5 kilos of cocaine into the UK: and spared the Mahama administration's blushes. Such is life.

The trouble about the global illicit drugs industry, is that those involved in what is a deadly enterprise - who often operate from the shadows - are invariably incredibly wealthy and influential individuals. Their enormous wealth enables them to control politicians and highly-placed public officials, and to undermine institutions of state in many developing nations - including Ghana.

The attitude of  President Mahama in all this, should be that if those privileged enough to know him personally, abuse their friendship with him - by dealing in illicit drugs, and were the details of such drug dealing to come to light - they must not expect to be shielded by the president of a nation whose citizens now expect those at the top of society to be accountable and transparent. Always.

In any case, Ghanaians must rest assured: There cannot be a cover-up in the Ms. Nayele Ametefeh Heathrow airport cocaine smuggling case. The world will eventually get to know all the details in that particular matter. All in good time.
What is most unfortunate for Ghanaian society,  in my humble view, is  that so many  in the Ghanaian media world, seem to be completely oblivious of the many bush-telegraph  stories swirling around that international criminal syndicates, are actually laundering cash from illicit drug sales, by purchasing real estate in Ghana.

Whiles the allegations against Ms. Nayele Ametefeh are serious, and damage Ghana's image in the UK somewhat, the real menace to Ghana, comes from international drug syndicates laundering cash from their sales of illicit drugs, by purchasing real estate in Ghana -  if those bush-telegraph stories are true, that is. We must confront this menace head on, as a people, if it is truly  occuring.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Let Us Separate Waste At Source In Ghana - And Turn Plastic Waste Into A valuable Resource

The first National Sanitation Day, which saw Ghanaians from all walks of life taking part in communal cleaning of neighbourhoods across the nation, was a great success.

Making it a monthly exercise - on the first Saturday of each month - was good thinking on the part of the authorities. It was endorsed and welcomed by many - all of whom want it sustained.

To be part of a historic, new and  positve national trend, in keeping the built environment in our towns and cities clean, even a weak  old man like me participated in the Nov. 1, 2014, exercise - and weeded the whole of the space in front of the house I occupy, and picked up discarded "sachet water" plastic waste blown there by the wind, from a nearby eatery, on the fringes of the Jayee University College's carpark.

Whiles collecting the said plastic waste, it struck me that if all households in urban Ghana separated their waste at source,  we would be in a position to turn plastic waste into a valuable resource - around which thousands of jobs could be created, and from which a thriving recycling industry,  could eventually evolve.

A company like Zoomlion Ghana Limited,  could  develop an empowering value-chain for a recycling industry, which benefits thousands of micro-entrepreneurs across the country, who collect and sell plastic waste - if waste is separated at source  nationwide.

Perhaps the Ghanaian media should take it upon itself - as its contribution to the nation-building effort - to promote separating waste at source throughout the nation.
(Incidentally, waste seperation at source, is the practise in our household - with all the organic food waste we generate at home, spread underneath the clumps of plantain we grow, regularly. Doing so, produces the most marvellous plantain for "red-red" dishes, when they ripen. As it happens,  "red-red" is a favourite of this skinny old vegetarian - yours truly. But I digress.)

When separated at source, instead of ending up in landfill sites, plastic waste can be put to many uses. Jewelry made from recycled plastic is very popular amongst the environmentally-conscious in the wealthy nations of the Western world, for example.

Many young unemployed Ghanaians could be trained to make and  sell jewelry made from recycled  plastic waste on online marketplace websites, including eBay.

Plastic waste can also be mixed with bitumen to construct plastic roads, which are more durable than ordinary roads. It is a low-tech and cost-effective way to climate-change-proof roads in Ghana, and enable the nation to develop a road network able to cope with extreme weather resulting from climate change.

Plastic roads cost less to maintain, because they are pothole-free. Being water-resistant also means that they are not washed away by heavy rains - which has been the case in India, which now has an expanding network of plastic roads.

Plastic pellets could also be produced from plastic waste and sold to manufacturers of plastic products such as plastic chairs and tables. Above all, we could save the remainder of our dwindling forests, by utilising plastic waste to produce lumber substitutes.

One hopes that in the days before the next National Sanitation Day clean-up exercise takes place, the Ghanaian media will  encourage Ghanaians to separate  their waste at source, on a regular basis.

It would help the national effort to keep our environment healthy and clean, tremendously, if Media houses in Ghana could offer free advertising to help plastic recycling companies grow their plastic-waste-collection-footprint, as a CSR initiative.

If we are not to be engulfed by plastic waste, separating waste at source in Ghana, is a must.

Let us separate waste at source as a people - and turn plastic waste into a valuable resource that creates wealth and jobs: as thousands of poor people will be able to collect waste on a regular basis to sell to large recycling companies like Zoomlion.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Time Has Come For Nkrumaists To Lead Ghana Again

Despite the decades of propaganda, falsehood and misinformation about Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, today, there is general consensus in the country that as Ghana's first elected leader, Nkrumah provided Ghana with competent, honest and visionary leadership.

Today, many Ghanaians - from across the spectrum - acknowledge Nkrumah's many achievements.

Thus far, in our nation's post-independence history, many consider Nkrumah to be the leader who has achieved the most for ordinary Ghanaians - in terms of promoting their welfare.

Some  of the falsehoods against Nkrumah, spread by the lackeys of imperialism and neocolonialism who  opposed him, have been exposed by available declassified documents, from a number of Western governments and their intelligence agencies, detailing events from that period in world history.

Nkrumah's overthrow was engineered by Western governments, including those of the U.S. and the U.K., and their intelligence agencies - which created the dire economic situation that made Nkrumah's regime unpopular.

They were determined to remove him from power because they realised that as a result of his growing influence in the continent, many Africans were becoming politically conscious, and increasingly aware of the machinations of neocolonialism.

Nkrumah was thus seen as a threat to the West's unfettered access to the continent's valuable natural resources - and had to be eliminated: physically if possible.

 The CIA paid the traitors in Ghana's military and its police service who deposed Nkrumah in February 1966 U.S.$13 millions for his overthrow - promising more if they succeeded in killing him.

Yet, Nkrumah's government improved the living standards of ordinary Ghanaians - for whom his Convention People's Party (CPP) regime provided a far better quality of life than was previously the case under British colonial rule.

He transformed the country he took over from the colonial occupiers of our homeland, into a modern African polity, with an expanding industrial base.

He was a patriot and nationalist who protected the national interest at all material times throughout his tenure -  unlike so many of his successors in office who have constantly sold Mother Ghana short.

Our one-sided oil agreements with foreign oil companies - said to be the worst in the world - are egregious  examples of such betrayal by some of our post-Nkrumah leaders.

Nkrumah's goverment provided ordinary Ghanaians with free healthcare in modern hospitals and clinics, free education and access to affordable and well-built accommodation, in modern housing estates, spread in urban areas across the nation.  Many miles of new tarmac roads were built to link all parts of the country with Accra the nation's modern capital.

That is why  the vast majority of Ghanaians today agree that  Nkrumah was a truly great leader, who fought hard to get into power,  in order to serve his country and its people - diligently and with integrity.

The fact is not lost on many Ghanaians that although Nkrumah died a pauper - leaving neither  money nor properties to his wife, children and extended family clan - yet still, his political opponents accused him of being corrupt,  when he was deposed in February1966.

Ghana's younger generation  - who incidentally are the smartest and best-educated of their particular demographic grouping since Ghana gained its independence from Britain in 1957 - deserve to live in an efficiently-run and prosperous  nation.

That nation must be led by wise and patriotic politicians in the Nkrumah-mould, who share his vision,  and are selfless individuals who genuinely care about improving the lot of all  Ghanaians, and transforming Ghana into an African equivalent of the egaliterian societies of Scandinavia.

The followers of Nkrumah must not tarry any longer in forming an alliance of all the Nkrumaist parties - each of which ought to keep its own identity (to stop them from being bogged down by quarrels about symbols and fights about names in never-ending unity talks).

They must begin the dialogue about Ghana's future, and the need for a new type of politics in our country, with Ghana's younger generation in earnest. Now. Not tomorrow.  Ghana needs to be united in a government of national unity encompassing patriotic individuals from all the nation's political parties.

The old-style politics of ruthless-cynics seeking political  power - with covert financial backing from the very vested interests whose malevolent influence in Ghanaian society and their never-ending corrupt ways  holds back Ghana's rapid  development - must be brought to an end, asap.

It must be permanently discarded - if our nation is to prosper and spread that prosperity to benefit all those in each strata of Ghanaian society.

Unfortunately, for Mother Ghana, that nation-destroying type of politiking, has underpinned all the electoral campaigns, and the entire periods spanning their tenures in office, of  our corruption-ridden NDC/NPP duopoly.

Although it is slowly destroying  Ghanaian democracy, their never-ending divisiveness and egregious tribal politics, are tactics much-beloved of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the largest of the opposition parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

They are incapable of changing their ways, unfortunately - corruption being ingrained in their respective  DNA's.

 Alas, they practice a type of politics that will always produce corrupt regimes, which will excel in hiding the sources of their party's funding (for obvious reasons), and engage in kickbacks galore when in office.

And such ruthless politicians and political parties will always engage in the divvying-up of our nation's wealth amongst themselves and their regime's crony-tycoons, once in power.

Furthermore, when in office, they will eagerly sign one-sided agreement after another, with foreign investors - agreements that are clearly detrimental to our nation's well-being and the welfare of the Ghanaian people: but which are financially  beneficial to members of the political class in power.

Ghana will never progress under such selfish and corrupt politicians and mafia-type political parties.

The time has now come for a new type of politics in Ghana. Ghana needs leaders who are achievers who have openly demonstrated their ability to create jobs and wealth - and who can form and run disciplined and efficient national administrations. We do not need "professional politicians" out to feather their own nests and divide our people.

That is why Nkrumaists must take power on 7th January,  2017,  to rescue Ghana from the self-seeking hypocrites  in the present two biggest political parties in our country  -  who are forever sabotaging the nation-building effort when in opposition.

Why should  politicians who want to see the nation going downhill rapidly when they are in the political wilderness  - so that they will be quickly voted back into power again after losing elections - be allowed to rule our homeland Ghana ever again?

This is the time for Nkrumaists to step in, take power again, and resume the task of transforming our homeland Ghana - using a modern and up-to-date version of Nkrumah's transformational economic and governance blueprint. They can strike a Marshall Plan-type of developmental-assistance deal with either Japan or China - based on a win-win,  build-operate-and-transfer PPP model.

Let us begin that herculean nation-building task, by forming an alliance of Nkrumaist parties, and prepare for government. The best bet of Nkrumaists, is to select Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom as their 2016 presidential candidate - with Samia Nkrumah as his running mate.

 He has the capacity to fund all the four Nkrumaist political parties currently in existence: the Convention People's Party, the People's National Convention, the Great Consolidated People's Party and the Progressive People's Party - ensuring that they each have a transparent funding source: unlike the opaque and secretive sources of funding for the corrupt and mafia-like NDC/NPP duopoly.

Like President Mandela of the Republic of South Africa, Nduom must serve for only one term, and hand over the baton of leadership to the younger generation, led by Samia Nkrumah - who should be selected to run as their presidential candidate in the 2020 presidential election.

They must then find a younger person with a solid track record of private-sector wealth-creation and creating jobs, comparable to Nduom's stellar record in that regard, to be Samia Nkrumah's running mate, in the 2020 presidential election.

In terms of demonstrable ability to create jobs and wealth, Nduom is a towering figure in Ghanaian politics.  He will be the first truly world-class figure to assume the presidency, since the overthrow of the polymath Nkrumah - who, thank God, was the first world-class individual previleged to hold that august position in our nation's history.

 Luckily for our nation, Providence made sure that a true patriot and genuine  nationalist like Nkrumah, not one of the lackeys of imperialism and neocolonialism who opposed him, led Ghana initially.

The strategy of the Nkrumaist alliance, must simply be to point out to ordinary people in Ghana,  how detrimental to the nation's development,  the type of obsolete politics of "equalisation" and never-ending propaganda,  practiced by the NDC/NPP duopoly is, and has been, for Mother Ghana - and hammer that home at every opportunity that presents itself to them.

The time for Nkrumaists to lead Ghana again,  has finally come. Let us seize that opportunity, Comrades. Mother Ghana most definitely deserves better than has been the case, to date,  since the restoration of constitutional rule in our country, in 1992.

The Power Outages Will Have A Catastrophic Effect On The Economy If Things Continue As They Are

The frustration of not being able to work because of power outages has led to incidents of violent protest by rampaging mobs, in which equipment and property belonging to the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), have been damaged in parts of the country.

Such actions are counter-productive and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Violence of any kind can never be justified under any circumstances. We cannot have mob-rule in our country.

Having said that, it ought to be pointed out that power outages do have a  negative effect on productivity. And it will be extremely difficult for many companies to maintain their labour force numbers, if they are unable to operate regularly - as a result of power outages.

Some businesses have actually had to be shut down because of the unavailability of electricity. Many no longer find it economic to purchase fuel for their generators to provide electricity to sustain their operations during power outages.

That is why it so important that players in the power sector find creative ways to enable businesses to operate for reasonable periods during daylight hours.

In that regard, perhaps a second look ought to be taken at the suggestion by some that for the greater good of society, at a time such as the one we are currently going through, the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (Valco) should be temporarily shut down - as it will make more power available in the system during daylight hours.

Others have also suggested that it would be better to schedule power outages for residential areas during the night (say between  9pm and 9am)  if that is technically feasible. Many factories in industrial areas across the country, including Valco, could then have  night shift work to enable them to manufacture their products, if that were technically feasible.

Although that might not be feasible for now, clearly, the suggestion that some account ought to be taken of the need to ensure that regardless of the situation, as much as possible, businesses that need to, should be able to operate during daylight hours, makes sense. That ought to be the goal of the power companies in Ghana.

In the long-term, we cannot afford to continue to hamstring solar power companies in the country, which have an important energy-saving role to play, in ensuring that Ghana has an energy-mix, which generates sufficient power that is used efficiently to enable it to grow and prosper.

With the advances in storage technologies, for examople, off-grid energy independence is now possible - and a potential solution for communities,  households, businesses and instituions across Ghana. The solar power sector also has the potential to create thousands of jobs for Ghana's younger generation.

Above all, the solar power sub-sector offers entrepreneurial opportunities for business-minded  young people, nationwide.

The time has come to empower Ghana's renewable energy industry by making its entire value chain tax free. If that were the case, power outages at night would not be so irritating - as many homes would have light because their owners could afford to purchase solar power systems.

The availability of solar power to light buildings, and enable people to charge the batteries of their mobile devices, as well as watch television programmes during  power outages at night, for example, will be appreciated by many families, sundry businesses and students in educational institutions that have boarding facilities, right across the country.

Be that as it may, for now, the power companies must ensure that businesses across the nation, can operate for a minimum period during daylight hours - regardless of the situation currently faced by Ghana's power sector. The needs of the business community ought to be paramount during this crisis.  It will be catastrophic for the national economy if the current power crisis persists  - and power outages continue unabated in the same unscheduled and haphazard fashion.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Administer Ghana For The Good Of The Ghanaian People

"As long as our government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures for us the rights of persons and of property, liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending."

-- Andrew Jackson, seventh U.S. president.

One often wonders whether members of our nation's political class ever consider the possibility that the ordinary people of our nation will not fight to defend Ghanaian democracy, were it to face an existential threat - if they continue to be denied their fair share of the "democracy dividend".

If they want to remain relevant, our ruling elites must ensure that Ghana is well administered - and that the direction the nation takes at any given point in time, is determined by the will of the people.

They must be guided in that regard, by the wise words of the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson, quoted above.

Our leaders must work hard to root out high-level corruption in Ghana - and ensure that good governance principles (in both the public and private sectors) underpin Ghana's development.

A people whose ruling elites give them the distinct impression that they are not remotely interested in protecting the nation's resources, and ensuring that the exploitation of those resources will actually benefit both the people and the nation, are unlikely to fight to protect their country's democratic system, when it is threatened.

That is why it is so important that Ghana's leaders only sign win-win agreements with foreign (and local) investors, to exploit our nation's natural resources. That should prevail in the oil industry in particular, incidentally.

Poverty and democracy do not make good bedfellows. Ghanaian democracy will not survive if there is widespread poverty -  and the younger generation are unable to find fulfilling work and feel overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness.

Ghana's younger generation cannot be asked to continue to  make sacrifice upon sacrifice without seeing an improvement in their personal circumstances.

Let us create an entrepreneurial culture in Ghana by pursuing the right policies - meaning policies designed with an input from targeted beneficiaries from start to finish -  so that each young person in the nation who wants  to, can take his or her destiny in their own hands.

During the celebration of Global Entrepreneurial Week (Nov.17-23, 2014), one hopes that our leaders will think of the plight of Ghana's young entrepreneurs. Ghana's future depends on their success as business owners.

Let's find older generation entrepreneurs who have been successful to mentor the brightest and the best young Ghanaian  entrepreneurs.

Luckily, there is general consensus in Ghana that to prosper, our nation must create an environment in which entrepreneurs  can thrive and create jobs. Business thrives in free societies in which taxes are low, and bureaucrats do not fetter the efforts of entrepreneurs with endless red tape.

Above all, Ghana must be administered for the good of the ordinary people of our nation.

That good governance principle, and the nation's leaders always taking the will of the people into account, in all their actions, must guide those who rule our nation, if democracy is to survive - and a prosperous society is to evolve over time in Ghana. Our ruling elites must always administer Ghana for the good of the Ghanaian people.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Lonrho's Atuabo Freeport Project: An Egregious Example Of The The Misappropriation Of Public Resources To Private Interests

As a case study of the misappropriation  of public resources to private interests, it will be difficult to find a more egregious example of the dark art of swindling Mother Ghana, than the rip-off oil agreements surrendering Ghana's oil deposits to foreign oil companies.

Now those selfsame foreign oil companies are seeking to deny Ghana from benefiting from the provision of specialised port services to its oil industry and earn tax revenues in the process - and are doubtless looking to benefit from cash-strapped Lonrho's brazen  attempt to inveigle our rulers into granting it permission to build a freeport at Atuabo.

Seldom will one find a more obnoxious example, of the socialisation of private risk, than the outrageous and unlawful decision to grant a monopoly to Lonrho - giving it an exclusive right to build a port at Atuabo to  service Ghana's oil industry: in clear contravention of PNDC Law 160 of 1968.

Incredibly, as we speak, Lonrho has neither the expertise nor the money for the project. Where in the world but Ghana, would such a scheme be considered, let alone approved - especially when it so clearly contravenes the nation's laws?

This is a project that will only benefit Lonrho and a few politically well-connected Ghanaians. The national interest is yet again being sacrificed - by conscience-selling elites determined to prosper at Mother Ghana's expense.

Having literally conspired with foreign oil companies to dupe our nation out of the ownership of oil deposits that our country sits atop of - worth at least some US$160 billions and out of which Ghana will only receive a paltry US$20 billions over a 30-year period - our rapacious ruling elites are now adding insult to injury.

By their actions, it appears that the greediest amongst our ruling elites are now effectively sworn enemies of the Ghanaian people - engaging in sundry rip-off deals: each one of which is detrimental to the national interest.

How can any patriotic Ghanaian who is a nationalist, justify a decision by the government of Ghana that denies  our country the opportunity to earn additional revenues from servicing the oil industry - by preventing the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) from using Takoradi port for that lucrative undertaking: even though it has already spent millions of Ghana cedis in furtherance of that objective?

The question then is:  just where do those backing this outrage expect the Republic of Ghana to find additional tax revenues from,  to pay for the development of the nation, and improve the living standards of the ordinary people of our country?

It is instructive that the honest President Mills - a tax expert who once refused to be bribed by foreign oil company executives who called on him at the Osu Castle - stopped this pure nonsense on bamboo stilts in its tracks, when it was brought to his attention.

The GPHA, not greedy and short-sighted politicians forever selling our country short,  ought to be in sole charge of deciding who builds ports and harbours in Ghana.

This illegality must not be allowed to take place under any circumstances.

Why should the Ghanaian nation-state give Lonrho and a few politically well-connected Ghanaians a sovereign guarantee that will enable them seek funding for a project that will deny the nation the opportunity to benefit from generating additional tax revenues from its oil and gas industry?

Nothing can justify this neocolonialist rip-off dressed up as a public private partnership project at a time when Ghana desperaterly needs to find new sources from which it can raise additional tax revenues.

Is this not a clear-cut case of causing financial loss to Ghana? The selfsame foreign oil companies that use devious Alice-in-wonderland tax-avoidance schemes, centred in nations like Luxembourg,  to deny nations like ours tax revenues from the massive profits they make here, now seek to import every item used in their operations here free from Ghanaian taxes.

For their information the days when foreign carpetbaggers could come to our shores to exchange worthless bric-a-brac for valuable gold are long gone. They might be able to get around the geniuses who rule us, but civil society in Ghana is now wide awake. This particular rip-off of Mother Ghana will not fly. Period.

 President Mahama must always remember that his closest friends,  and his favourites amongst his blood relations, owe an obligation to him never to embarrass him - and they must also understand clearly that when they mess up they must not expect Ghana's elected president to 'rescue' them.

This project is inimical to our nation's financial well-being - no matter how it is dressed up. President Mahama must not allow a powerful few with greedy ambitions to ruin his legacy with such nation-destroying deals so clearly detrimental to the well-being of our nation and the overall welfare of its people.

President Mahama must prevent this egregious example of the socialisation of private risk, which illustrates perfectly the abominable phenomenon of selfish and corrupt individuals amongst Ghana's ruling elites engaging in the misappropriation of public resources, to private interests. It is slowly destroying Ghana.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Ghana's Government Must Look Into Allegations Of Substandard Gasoline Being Exported To West Africa - As Ghanaian Companies Could Be Unwittingly Purchasing Some

When the Norwegian company Vest Tank's storage  tanks,  which were storing coker gasoline for Trafigura,  exploded at Slovag, in the Gulen municipality on 24th May, 2007, the Norwegian state broadcaster, 'NRK', carried out an investigation into the incident. The said tanks were numbered T3 and T4.

The NRK investigation revealed that Trafigura was producing substandard gasoline using facilities in Norway and Estonia - and according to other sources aboard large tankers on the high seas.

The resulting product was said to be so bad in terms of its quality, it apparently deteriorated once exposed to sunlight. For that reason the gasoline could not lawfully be offered for sale in Europe and the US. Despite that, it was exported to west Africa.

Trafigura's response at the time, was that like all leading global oil traders it produced different specifications of gasoline to suit the needs of different markets around the world - to paraphrase Trafigura's Neil Cameron at the time.

It is rumoured that the export of poor quality gasoline to west Africa still goes on. The question then is: is it still actually happening, and if it is, should Ghana - a nation that owns an oil refinery - not ban the importation of all finished petroleum products that cannot lawfully be sold in Europe and the US because they are substandard?

The fact that a leading global oil trader with the kind of company culture revealed in the internal emails between its employees, in the culled  Guardian article I am reproducing below, referred to  "subcontractors" in denying the accusation that it was involved in the export of poor quality gasoline to west Africa, ought to make Ghana's National Petroleum Authority (NPA) sit up.

Surely, we have not allowed the private sector to import finished petroleum products into the country, just to enable them engage in fraud and profiteering by buying substandard gasoline, to offload into the system to the detriment of motorists in Ghana?

In view of its association with Trafigura, if the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has indeed imported gasoline and stored it in tanks belonging to the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST), as alleged by workers of the Tema Oil Refinery, should the NPA not make sure that the tragedy that befell Gulen in Norway, does not occur here too - by taking steps to inspect it, and, as a prudent safety measure, immediately ban the importation of coker gasoline into Ghana, and make its storage and processing anywhere in the  country unlawful?

Ghana has close ties with Norway. The government must contact the Norwegian authorities for the results of the police enquiry into the incident at Vest Tank's facilities and the role of Trafigura in the incident - and contact the Norwegian state broadcaster, 'NRK' for information about  the role the facility played in Trafigura's  scheme to export a coker gasoline derivative that is illegal to sell in Europe to west Africa.

The culled Guardian article below is to show the authorities in Ghana how Trafigura responded to a toxic waste scandal when it came to light that it had dumped toxic waste with very high levels of hydrogen sulphide in it in the Ivory Coast - by resorting to dissimulation.

The government of Ghana must act to protect motorists - if substandard gasoline is indeed being exported to west Africa: and purchased from large tankers anchored offshore into smaller tankers by bulk oil distributing companies here for sale to unsuspecting motorists, through Ghana's network of petrol filling stations.

That would be intolerable if true - as the engines of millions of vehicles across west Africa, including those of motor vehicles in Ghana, will eventually be damaged by the substandard gasoline being apparently palmed off the sub-region's  bulk oil distributors, by those behind this egregious fraud.

Please read on:

 "How UK oil company Trafigura tried to cover up African pollution disaster

• Trafigura offers payout to 31,000 victims of toxic dumping
• Secret email trail exposes truth behind £100m legal battle
Read the emails here
Waste removal experts in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Waste removal experts clear hazardous material from a site in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in November 2006. Photograph: AP

The Guardian can reveal evidence today of a massive cover-up by the British oil trader Trafigura, in one of the worst pollution disasters in recent history.

Internal emails show that Trafigura, which yesterday suddenly announced an offer to pay compensation to 31,000 west African victims, was fully aware that its waste dumped in Ivory Coast was so toxic that it was banned in Europe.

Thousands of west Africans besieged local hospitals in 2006, and a number died, after the dumping of hundreds of tonnes of highly toxic oil waste around the country's capital, Abidjan. Official local autopsy reports on 12 alleged victims appeared to show fatal levels of the poisonous gas hydrogen sulphide, one of the waste's lethal byproducts.

Trafigura has been publicly insisting for three years that its waste was routine and harmless. It claims it was "absolutely not dangerous".
David Leigh: 'They claimed the injuries were all imaginary' Link to this audio
It has until now denied compensation claims, and its lawyers repeatedly threatened anyone worldwide who sought to contradict its version. It launched a libel case against BBC Newsnight, forced an alleged correction from the Times, demanded the Guardian delete articles, and yesterday tried to gag journalists in the Netherlands and Norway with legal threats.

But the dozens of damning internal Trafigura emails which have now come to light reveal how traders were told in advance that their planned chemical operation, a cheap and dirty process called "caustic washing", generated such dangerous wastes that it was widely outlawed in the west.

The documents reveal that the London-based traders hoped to make profits of $7m a time by buying up what they called "bloody cheap" cargoes of sulphur-contaminated Mexican gasoline. They decided to try to process the fuel on board a tanker anchored offshore, creating toxic waste they called "slops".

One trader wrote on 10 March 2006: "I don't know how we dispose of the slops and I don't imply we would dump them, but for sure, there must be some way to pay someone to take them." The resulting black, stinking, slurry was eventually dumped around landfills in Abidjan, after Trafigura paid an unqualified local man to take it away in tanker trucks at a cheap rate.

Trafigura's libel lawyers, Carter-Ruck, recently demanded the Guardian deleted published articles, saying it was "gravely defamatory" and "untrue" to say Trafigura's waste had been dumped cheaply and could have caused deaths and serious injuries. The Dutch paper Volkskrant and Norwegian TV said they were yesterday also threatened with gagging actionsTrafigura also launched a libel action against the BBC's Newsnight, complaining it had been wrongly accused of causing deaths, disfigurement and miscarriages, and had "suffered serious damage to their reputation". The BBC filed a fighting defence this week, accusing Trafigura of knowing its chemicals were "highly toxic, potentially lethal and posed a serious risk to public health". The broadcaster also alleged a cover-up, saying Trafigura's denials "lack credibility and candour".

The UN human rights special rapporteur, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, criticised Trafigura for potentially "stifling independent reporting and public criticism" in a report the oil trader tried and failed to prevent being published in Geneva this week.

He wrote: "According to official estimates, there were 15 deaths, 69 persons hospitalised and more than 108,000 medical consultations … there seems to be strong prima facie evidence that the reported deaths and adverse health consequences are related to the dumping."

Trafigura's lobbyists, Bell Pottinger, claimed to be "appalled" by the report, saying it was "premature", "inaccurate", "potentially damaging", "poorly researched", and "deeply flawed".

Yesterday Greenpeace launched a legal action in Amsterdam calling for the oil firm to be prosecuted there for homicide or grievous bodily harm. It said: "This intentional pollution … has caused many people to suffer serious injuries and has even led to death."

Trafigura said it "utterly rejected" claims of a cover-up. "Every statement that has been made … has been made in good faith". The firm said the autopsy reports were unreliable and that hydrogen sulphide in the waste was only there in "potential" form. It had never actually been released. It said the emails contained "crude and distasteful" language, but had been taken "out of context" and should "not be taken literally".

It repeated denials that the slops could have caused death or serious injury, and were highly toxic. It denied lying about the composition of the slops.

A sudden public announcement about the settlement offer in the compensation case followed legal attempts yesterday to prevent publication of Trafigura documents. The compensation deal is likely to be confirmed imminently, according to Martyn Day, a senior partner at the British law firm Leigh Day, which has brought one of the biggest group actions in legal history, seeking damages of £100m.

He said today in Abidjan, where he has been negotiating the settlement: "The claimants are very pleased."
Trafigura said the deal – for an undisclosed amount – was likely to be acceptable to most if not all of the claimants. It was based on an acceptance that the company had no liability for the most serious deaths and injuries alleged in the dumping scandal. Trafigura says it is the world's third-biggest private oil trader, and declared a $440m profit last year. Its 200 traders are reported to receive annual bonuses of up to $1m each."

 End of culled Guardian article by David Leigh.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Ghana's Parliament Must Reject Clause 23 Of The Plant Breeders Bill

Included in Ghana's Parliament's parliamentary business statement for the second week ending Friday, 14, November, 2014, is the controversial Plant Breeders Bill.

No bill has been laid before any Parliament, thus far, since Ghana gained its independence from Britain in 1957, which could have graver consequences for the future of the Ghanaian economy's  agricultural sector - were Parliament to make the mistake of  passing that confounded bill as it currently stands.

In the light of recent events in Burkina Faso, under no circumstances must Ghana's MPs sacrifice the national interest in this instance. The pursuit of self-interest - induced by the 'benevolence' of carpetbagger-lobbyists working for vested interests - at such times can be counter-productive. And, extremely dangerous.

 As the NGO Food Sovereignty Ghana, and a host of concerned individuals and civil society organisations have suggested,  Parliament must amend Clause 23 of the Plant Breeders Bill to read thus: "23 Measures regulating commerce.
A plant breeder right shall be subject to any measure taken by the Republic to regulate within Ghana the production, certification and marketing of material of a variety or the importation or exportation of the material." What is so difficult about doing so, I ask?

Future generations of our people will applaud Ghana's MPs for making that eleventh-hour change to Clause 23 of the Plant Breeders Bill as it currently stands - before passing it into law.

The right of the Republic to regulate every human activity that has the potential to have an impact on public health in Ghana ought to be non-negotiable - as the emergency measures needed to deal with the outbreak of the Ebola fever virus elsewhere have shown so clearly. Who ever thought there would ever be an Ebola outbreak of such apocalyptic proportions in west Africa?

That is why it is so important that Ghana's Parliamentarians do not take the business-as-usual approach in dealing with the Plant Breeders Bill - and accede to the wishes of selfish lobbyists by surrendering the power of the Republic to regulate the activities of plant breeders (including foreign seed-producing multinationals) within the sovereign territory of Ghana.

Having seen the destructive power of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever virus, no Ghanaian who is a patriot and cares about the welfare of Ghanaians, should contemplate removing the power to regulate all activities inside our nation's borders  that have the potential to impact public health negatively  - including that of plant breeders - from the Republic.

For that reason, Ghana's Parliament must reject Clause 23 of the Plant Breeders Bill, as it currently stands. They must not let Ghanaians down this time. We have had enough of perfidious elites who are conscience-sellers always selling Mother Ghana short.

 Post Script

If our ruling elites want to know the real nature of the rapacious foreign multinational companies they are always so eager to bend over backwards to assist, let them google and read the UK newspaper,  the Guardian's, online edition of 15th September, 2009 - and digest the article entitled, "How UK oil company Trafigura tried to cover up African pollution disaster", written by David Leigh.

It is interesting and instructive that that genius currently in charge of the Ghana National Petroleum Company is today hobnobbing with Trafigura. "Oh Ghana - what have Ghanaians done to deserve such genuises as leaders?", to quote an old wag I know.

Incidentally, if Trafigura ever wants to takeover the Tema Oil Refinery and the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company, the government must demand at least US$10 billions for the two companies. Nothing less will do - for that is the intrinsic value of their incredibly valuable physical assets.

One hopes that all Ghana's MPs, and every patriotic Ghanaian who is also a nationalist, will google and read that horrific  Guardian article about Trafigura - and understand just how ruthless the foreign multinationals our leaders fawn over so, really are.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Ghana Must Adopt India's Plastic Road Technology

Ghana's vice president, Mr. Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, recently visited India. The two nations have a long history of close cooperation - and India has been a leading source of foreign direct investment in the Ghanaian economy since our nation gained its independence from Britain in 1957.

Now that he has established close ties with Indian government officials, and owners of businesses from the Indian economy's private-sector, one hopes that Vice President Amissah-Arthur will ask for a briefing from India's Central Road Research Council, and the Centre for Plastics in the Environment, outlining the impact of India's plastic road technology on the budgets of the states and municipalities that have embraced it.

To ensure that roads in Ghana can last longer than they presently do, and remain pothole-free throughout their lifespan, Ghana ought to adopt India's plastic road technology. It will lower road maintenance costs considerably.

It is low-tech, and road contractors here can be quickly trained to use it. It has excellent load-bearing qualities and because  the plastic  binds to the bitumen it makes plastic roads impermeable to water - ensuring that they are not washed away by torrential rain.

Its adoption in Ghana will mean that some positive use will finally be found for some of the plastic waste generated across the nation - and prevent our cities and towns from being engulfed by it, going forward into the future.

To set the ball rolling, perhaps it would be wise to send officials of the Building and Road Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research,  Highways Authority, Feeder Roads Department and the Department of Urban Roads to India, to inspect some of India's plastic roads - with a view to its adoption here.

At a time of global warming,  it is  a perfect way to climate-change-proof Ghana's road network, at relatively little cost to taxpayers.

It is an inexpensive and  environmentally-friendly approach to modernising and expanding our national road network - and a prudent cost-saving measure  for a cash-strappped nation that needs to rehabilitate many existing roads and build new ones. One hopes that  the powers that be will take this up as soon as practicable.

Friday, 7 November 2014

If He Fails To Tackle Corruption President Mahama Will Face Defeat In 2016 - Even If He Turns Ghana Into A Paradise

It is important that all the members of President Mahama's administration understand one thing clearly, if they want to leave a good legacy behind, and be returned to power again, on the strength of that.

As things currently stand, even if they turn Ghana into an African paradise, and improve the living standards of all Ghanians, they will still be voted out of power in 2016 - if they do not kill the widespread perception that theirs is the most corrupt regime in Ghana's history.

It does not make any difference that the reality is that President Mahama is far from being the most corrupt Ghanaian leader in history - but is rather a leader actually striving to fight corruption, who has in fact taken a number of measures, which no other  leader of Ghana since President Nkrumah, has taken, to protect our nation's assets.

 For example, to prevent the egregious asset-stripping of Ghana, undertaken during the days of the golden age of business for the greed-filled Kufuor & Co, President Mahama has ensured that going forward, no president of Ghana, will be able to sell government properties cheaply to his or her cronies.

It will be recalled that that was the case in the unconscionable asset-stripping of the defunct Ghana Airways,  and the outrageous sale of expensive government-owned houses and plots of valuable land across the nation, to a host of well-connected individuals, during the Kufuor-era.

 Who can ever forget the infamy of the sale of a super-expensive government-owned house, at Ridge, in Accra, to Jake Obestebi-Lamptey - for small change: and the bush-telegraph innuendo (which I find hard to believe, incidentally) alluding to a story that he subsequently sold it for over U.S.1 million after a court ruling in his favour that the sale of the state-owned property to him was legitimate.

 Yet another example, is the astonishing story of how two individuals fronting for the most powerful people at the time, and who did not even pay a pesewa upfront, came to acquire shares in blocs in oilfields off our shores, which netted them some U.S.$350 millions when they sold out to Tullow Oil. It is symbolic of the shameful abuse of power and high-level corruption of the Kufuor-era.

The above two examples, and the incredible story of how the sale and purchase agreement for the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO), to a company that did not exist, International Aluminium Partners (IAP), was railroaded through Parliament, illustrate perfectly, the beyond-the-pale crookedness prevailing during the days of the golden age of business, for the amoral and ruthless  Kufuor & Co. 

What saved the day for Ghana, in that particular instance recounted above, was that the Brazilian company VALE, and Norske Hydro of Norway, resisted being sucked into the same kind of deal struck by the Crook-in-Chief at the time,  in the case of Kosmos Energy, by vehemently denying that they had ever agreed to purchase VALCO in a joint-venture deal. Incredible, but true.

So much for the absurd notion held by the gullible amongst us, that  somehow the NPP is going to usher in rule by saints, after January 7th,  2017. Pure, fantasy.

To kill the widespread perception that the Mahama administration is the most corrupt regime in Ghana's history - which it definitely is not - President Mahama must take a raft of measures.

To begin with, he and  his wife must publicly publish their  assets - showing Ghanaians what they had before he became vice president and declared at the time, and what they own now.

President Mahama must also get all his appointees to do same, too. All those unwilling to do so must be made to resign from their positions. In any case, the day of reckoning, when they will be forced to do so anyway, will come, when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime of President Mahama is finally turfed out of office.

The president must also remove the current head of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), and order a forensic audit of the company immediately - and make public its findings.

If nothing untoward is found, the current head of the company, can then be reinstated.

Any CEO of the GNPC who hangs out with Trafigura, and recommends the privatisation of the state-owned Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), which he talks derisively about, and then goes on to import finished petroleum products, which the GNPC stores in tank farms belonging to the state-owned  Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST), needs careful monitoring, in my book.

The Republic of  Ghana is not a plaything to be toyed with by the ruthless asset-strippers amongst our ruling elites. Period.

Forensic audits must also be carried out at all the other state-owned companies and public-sector organisations that generate revenue - and he can start with the National Youth Authority (NYA), whose acting head must be made to step aside immediately. He can be reinstated if nothing untoward is uncovered by the forensic audit. All the forensic audit reports must be made public.

It is only when a new reality-on-the-ground narrative is made possible - once the president and his appointees and their spouses publicly declare their assets, and the forensic audits of public-sector revenue-generating entities are carried out and made public - that President Mahama and his party can dream about being returned to power again in January 2017.

What the president and his party must grasp, if it has not yet dawned on them, is that their opponents in the New Patriotic Party (NPP), whose government in reality constituted the most corrupt regime in Ghana's history thus far, from 2001 to 2009,  have succeeded in making Ghanaians forget that fact.

They have done a brilliant job at successfully making the perception stick in the minds of millions of ordinary people in Ghana that it is rather the Mahama administration that is the most corrupt in our nation's history.

If the Mahama administration does not kill that widespread perception amongst Ghanaians  by taking the measures outlined above, amongst others, they will be routed in the December 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections - as sure as day follows night.

That is why it is crucial that President Mahama deals firmly with all those whose conduct has turned the issue of corruption into the number one concern of millions of Ghanaians, and must be seen to be doing so - or face certain defeat in 2016: even if he succeeds in turning Ghana into a paradise before then.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

President Mahama Must Ask The NPRA To Address Issue Of Interest Earned On Funds In TPFA

President Mahama must ask the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA),  to immediately disclose to agitating public-sector workers, worried that their pensions are at risk, exactly how much interest has been earned on the treasury bills bought with funds in the Temporary Pension Fund Account (TPFA) - once the auditing by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is completed.

The NPRA must also be made to tell those selfsame workers when exactly the treasury bills were purchased - and what rates of interest have been earned on them. Nothing short of that will do. Hopefully, the PwC audit will make that information available, too.

The question of the quantum of interest earned is germane to the issue. The secrecy surrounding it, is the main reason why there is such widespread suspicion amongst workers that part of it has been siphoned off - and is the driving force behind public-sector workers' agitation over the tier-2 pension scheme.

Full disclosure of all pertinent facts, and proof of the TPFA's ecosystem's transparency, will see a quick resolution of that heart-of-the-matter issue, once and for all - and calm the nerves and assuage the fears of public-sector workers that somehow their pensions are at risk under the current regime.

The attitude of President Mahama in all this, must be that there will be no cover-up, and that if there has been any wrongdoing, no one, no matter how powerful and influential, will be shielded by his regime.

The powerful and influential individuals who are important in the system, have a moral obligation not to embarrass the president - and if they do,  must not expect to be 'rescued' by Ghana's President. That is not what Ghanaians elected him into office for.

On his part, President Mahama must be under no illusion - this TPFA  palaver could derail his presidency: if any attempt to hide any wrongdoing is made and it is traced back to the presidency.

President Mahama must make it absolutely clear to those powerful individuals in his inner circle, and within the National Democratic Congress, who habour greedy ambitions, that the days of impunity-for-the wealthy-and-powerful are over for good, in today's Ghana. He cannot protect them if they get into trouble - without getting into trouble himself. And it will be terminal: U.S. President Nixon-style.

Those currently in power in Ghana must let the fate that befell Blaise Campaore guide all their actions going forward.

If he cares about his legacy, and the judgement of history on his tenure as president, President Mahama must ask the NPRA to tell Ghanaians how much has been earned in interest from the TPFA funds used to purchase treasury bills - and when exactly those purchases began.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

What Lessons Can Ghanaian Politicians Learn From Blaise Campaore's Fate?

What lessons, if any, can members of Ghana's political class learn,  from the fate that has just befallen Burkina Faso's former president,  Blaise Campaore?

The first lesson Ghanaian politicians must learn from the uprising that swept Blaise Campaore from power, is that they must stop taking the ordinary people of the Ghana of today, for granted.

In that sense, they are drinking in the Last Chance Saloon - in case it escapes them. Let them ponder the apathy displayed across the nation by so many who refused to check their names when the voters register was opened recently for that purpose.

All of those interviewed by journalists said they would not be voting in the 2016 elections -  as they did not see the point of voting when even changes of government after elections did not see an improvement in their personal circumstances.

It is a damning indictment of the two major political parties, the governing National Democratic Congress, and the largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party. No democracy can survive in the face of such widespread apathy.

As it happens, instead of contributing positively to the public discourse whiles out of power, the New Patriotic Party's ruthless power-hungry hardliners (mercifully few in number - but influential in the party nonetheless), are busy sabotaging the nation-building effort - in the hope that their party will ride to power on the wave of popular disenchantment with the regime of President Mahama. But I digress.

Clearly, if Blaise Campaore had had the slightest inkling, that his ill-fated attempt to railroad a constituitional amendment through the Burkinabe Parliament, enabling him to stand for yet another term in office as president,  would eventually end in his enforced resignation, he would not have persisted with the idea - but would rather have chosen to simply serve out the rest of his final tenure: and leave office with his legacy (such as it is) intact.

Ghanaian politicians who serve as legislators in Parliament, would be wise to end their curious habit of sometimes passing controversial bills into laws, which are so glaringly inimical to the well-being of our country, and detrimental to the welfare of the ordinary people of Ghana.

 A classic example, is their illogical insistence on doing the bidding of multinational seed companies such as Monsanto, by attempting to pass the Plant Breeders' bill into a law, which will  permit the sale and planting of GMO seeds, in Ghana.

No matter how cleverly it is dressed up to hide the fact, it will, in effect, hand over control of Ghana's agricultural sector to foreign seed multinationals, if passed into law with clause 23 of the bill intact - and impoverish and enslave Ghana's smallholder farmers permanently.

If they pass such a bill into law, it will serve the interests of foreign companies, at Mother Ghana's expense - by ultimately rendering the Ghanaian nation-state powerless to control the activities of such companies inside what is supposed to be our sovereign territory. How can that be?

Why do they not simply tell those who attempt to buy them off to pass such one-sided laws that are so clearly not in the national interest - particularly the foreign oil companies that rip-off Mother Ghana under the world's worst oil agreements sanctioned by Parliament - that they will not survive politically, if they passed any inimical law, in today's Ghana?

Being obdurate in the face of widespread public disapproval of the attempt to railroad such a  daft and shortsighted bill through Parliament - in the case of the Plant Breeders Bill - could end in Ghana's present corrupt system being suddenly swept away,  in a popular uprising, similar to that which finally forced Blaise Campaore to resign as Burkina Faso's president,  and flee into exile in the Ivory Coast.

As a patriot and nationalist, one's prayer, is that Ghana's current crop of politicians will learn one vital lesson from Blaise Campaore's costly miscalculation - and its terrible consequences for him: They toy with the welfare of the ordinary people of Ghana, and the well-being of our homeland Ghana, at their own collective peril. A word to the wise...

ECOWAS Must Demand Immediate Restoration Of Constitutional Rule In Burkina Faso

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) must quickly dispatch a delegation of retired heads of state, to demand that the Burkina Faso military hands over power to the president of the Senate, the constitutionally mandated successor  to President Blaise Campaore, who has just resigned his position as president.

There can no compromise with the ECOWAS policy of zero tolerance for military coups against democratically elected governments in the west African sub-region.

We must not be oblivious of the fact that a number of protesters were shot dead during the uprising that swept Campaore from power. Their deaths must not be in vain. Burkina Faso's constitutional democracy must be protected.

The ordinary people of Burkina Faso did not risk their lives to resist the attempt by their ruling elites to change the constitution to allow the departed President Campaore to serve yet another term, just to enable the military to snatch power again after 27 years,  in the midst of the crisis created by the departed Campaore's foolish miscalculation.

The resignation of Campaore should trigger the succession plan outlined in the current constitution of Burkina Faso. That should be the message carried to Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida and the military high command by the ECOWAS delegation of retired heads of state.

 It must be made absolutely clear to them that an economic blockade will be immediately imposed to stop the flow of the country's exports and imports - unless and until power is handed over to the designated constitutional successor to former President Blaise Campaore. New elections should be held within the stipulated 60-90 days during the transition period under the president of the Senate.

One hopes that the ECOWAS delegation will be made up of former Nigerian  presidents General Abubakar and General Obasanjo and Ghana's Flight Lieutenant Rawlings.

A deadline of 14 days must be set for the military to  restore constitutional rule in Burkina Faso. It must also be made clear to Lieiutenant Colonel Zida and  the military high command that the position of ECOWAS is that Burkina Faso's present constitution still underpins the country's democracy: and should guide the processes leading up to the next presidential and parliamentary elections.