Sunday, 31 May 2015

Who Else Does The NPP Owe Money To - And How Does It Intend To Repay Its Debts?

It is instructive that the national organiser of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. John Boadu, was so uncomfortable when the issue of the indebtedness of the NPP to the Prudential Bank, was being discussed on Peace FM's Kokrokoo morning show, hosted by Nana Yaw Kesse, last Friday.

It was obvious that John Boadu did not want Ghanaians to know about his party's indebtedness to the Prudential Bank - as the sources of their party's funding are a top-secret-matter that the John Boadus would rather ordinary people did not take an interest in.

Clearly, if instead of giving blind support to political parties, ordinary Ghanaians took more of an interest in precisely how political parties are funded, perhaps it would eventually help rid our homeland Ghana of high-level corruption.

The opaqueness surrounding the funding of political parties in Ghana is totally unacceptable in this day and age. The Byzantine world of secret party funding is the mother and father of all corruption in Ghana. It is an issue civil society groups like #OccupyGhana ought to take up urgently.

And it is an indictment of the Ghanaian media - a large section of which,  instead of being society's watchdogs in such matters, act instead as guard-dogs for politicians and political parties - that a major political party can be indebted to a bank without any journalist questioning the propriety of banks lending money to political parties "to pay polling station agents" ( to quote the sly John Boadu). It is an intolerable situation.

(One hopes that a similar situation does not exist in the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) too - which has apparently paid a media consultant GHC100,000: as a result of which sundry groups (including farming associations) are busy making statements in the media backing the bank's management. The question is: precisely how many of those farmers have actually ever been given loans by the ADB? And why is President Mahama's government still reluctant to sack the ADB's current managing director and dissolve its board - for the bank's steady decline over the years, and for asset-stripping the bank, and selling its properties cheaply to themselves? One hopes that the National Democratic Congress is not indebted to the ADB. But I digress.)

It is typical of the politics of our country  that it now turns out that those politicians in the NPP, who made such capital out of the  indebtedness of President Mahama's brother,  Ibrahim Mahama, to the Merchant Bank, themselves belong to a political party that is indebted to the Prudential Bank - with interest on the principal piling up: and the party clearly in no hurry to clear the ballooning debt, because it is confident it will win power in 2016. That is amoral. A political party like that does not deserve to rule Ghana.

What hope is there for our nation when the largest opposition party, which many think will come and change Ghana for the better after the 2016 presidential election, is so casual about its debts to banks?

The question the more responsible sections of the Ghanaian media ought to ask is: who else is the NPP indebted to - and exactly how does it intend to find the money to repay those debts?

The NPP must make sure it repays its debt to the Prudential Bank, as soon as practicable. How can its leaders talk about ruling Ghana more responsibly - when their party refuses to repay its debts to banks?

That is amoral - and hypocritical. What do the Dr. Bawumias have to say about that outrage, one wonders? They must bow their heads in shame for their hypocrisy. Let them come and tell Ghanaians who else the NPP owes money to - and precisely how it intends to repay those debts.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Is Trying To Oust Paul Afoko And Kwabena Adjapong Akin To Cutting Off The NPP's Nose To Spite Its Face?

If the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) chairperson, Mr. Paul Afoko, and its general secretary, Mr. Kwabena Adjapong, were malleable individuals who could be easily manipulated, the current crisis in the party would never have occurred.

The opponents of Afoko and Adjapong in the NPP who attempted to oust them from their positions miscalculated badly.

Clearly, with the benefit of hindsight, those seeking to control the machinery of state in a Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo presidency, would never have struck, if they had had the slightest inkling that trying to oust Paul Afoko and Kwabena Adjapong would bring about a crisis of such magnitude - particularly one that threatens what they believed (to a man) until a few days ago was certain victory for the party's presidential candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

Now their dream appears to have been shattered. In addition to their latest error of judgment, in trying to oust Paul Afoko and Kwabena Adjapong, sabotaging the nation-building effort for political gain, in order to win power for the NPP, was never a wise move. How can anyone cause suffering on a massive scale amongst the citizenry and expect that Providence will allow him or her to win power in Ghana? How, daft.

The attempt to force the chairperson and general secretary of a party that claims to be a champion of individual liberties and a bastion of democracy, out of the positions they were freely elected to, is tantamount to cutting off the party's nose to spite its face.

Those behind it must not escape censure. It is abominable and unpardonable that  they were callous enough to exploit a heinous crime that resulted in the murder of Alhaji Adams Mahama (may whose soul rest in peace) to achieve the end they have sought since Paul Afoko and Kwabena Adjapong were elected to their respective positions.

It is time that small cabal of insufferable individuals and bad-faith politicians, who think that they have a divine right to rule Ghana, and therefore resort to Machiavellian tactics at every turn with impunity, whenever they do not have their way - including losing elections - were themselves thrown out of the NPP.

Where is tolerance in all this? Democracy is not just about institutions of state and their relationships with each other, as defined by constitutions. It is also a way of life based on tolerance, is it not?

Alas, one gets the unfortunate impression that there are far too many intolerant individuals in the NPP of today. Pity.

As an old  wag I know put it: "Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo is a good man who is blessed with many brilliant family members. His curse is that a few of his blood relatives think that they were born to rule Ghana - and therefore see his quest for the presidency as a family enterprise that will make that happen for them: which they must therefore control."

Is that the elephant in the room that no one in the NPP is willing to talk about openly, one wonders?

If the old wag is right in what he says about Nana Addo's extended family clan, then the aforesaid few blood-relatives of Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo and their allies in the party, must not be allowed to continue causing confusion in the NPP from the shadows.

What they and their party allies seek to do, in trying to engineer the ouster of Paul Afoko and Kwabena Adjapong, by "remote control", amounts to cutting off the party's nose to spite its face. It is the height of madness.

The top echelons of the NPP would be far better off remaining united - with the same national executive council team that was  in place before the passing away of Alhaji Adams Mahama being kept in office: and seeing out their individual mandates. The NPP must not cut off its nose to spite its face.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Yearning For A New Ghana Must Inspire Nkrumah's Followers

It is obvious that many ordinary people in our country are yearning for a new Ghana. They are fed up with the corruption-riddled dog-eat-dog society created by the policies of governments formed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Perhaps in the fullness of time, political observers in Ghana, will come to realise that sea-change occurred in Ghanaian politics, towards the end of President Mahama's tenure - with the emergence of apolitical pressure groups like #OccupyGhana and the use of social media platforms to organise public demonstrations: such as the recent #DumsorMustStop vigil.

It is obvious that many mainstream politicians (and their parties) have failed to recognise  that change of a very fundamental nature is actually occurring in Ghanaian society - with many ordinary citizens, including middle-class professionals, no longer willing to tolerate the negativity of the politics-of-equalisation: and the corruption and incompetence it is used to justify.

Parliament recently considered the Conduct of Public Officers Bill - but the Speaker had to adjourn the debate: for the bill to be sent back to the relevant parliamentary committee to take a second look at the monetary threshold at which gifts will have to be declared by public office holders.

It is instructive that the only politician who publicly published his filed tax returns, and publicly disclosed the sources of funding for the political party he founded (the Progressive People's Party), during the campaign for the 2012 presidential election,  Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, in commenting on the debate in Parliament  on the Conduct of Public Office Holders Bill,  insisted that there should be no threshold ("not even one pesewa") put on the value of gifts that will trigger their disclosure by public office holders.

Nduom's sense of outrage that parliamentarians were seeking to put a threshold on the cash value at which the disclosure of gifts to public office holders  (who he thinks should publicly publish their assets in any case), has to be made, sums up the mood of the nation perfectly.

Clearly, most Ghanaians want their nation to be a well-run and prosperous society, with a government made up of honest, competent and world-class individuals.

And they want to live in a nation in which all who break the law, rich and poor alike, are prosecuted and jailed for their crimes.

For many people it is intolerable that those engaged in petty crime invariably end up in jail, whiles the white-collar criminals who steal huge sums of taxpayers' money, almost always get away with their crimes. Above all, Ghanaians want  to rid their nation of high-level corruption.

That is why many were scandalised that Alfred Agbesi Woyome was not found guilty of defrauding Ghana and jailed - but instead was asked to refund the GHC51millions unlawfully paid out to him as judgement debt without interest.

Ghanaians yearn for a leader who can undertake the kind of rapid development that took place under President Nkrumah - which benefitted ordinary people: who had access to well-designed, well-built  and affordable accommodation, free healthcare and free education from primary to tertiary level, and jobs galore from import-substitution-industrialisation.

That yearning for change (and desire for the nation to move in a completely new direction) that is reverberating across our homeland Ghana, should inspire Nkrumah's followers to create a coalition-of-equals: in which each of the Nkrumahist parties maintains its identity, but joins an alliance that selects a common candidate to stand for president in the 2016 presidential election.

A Paa Kwesi Nduom-Samia Yaabah Nkrumah presidential ticket would be  a formidable one - and attract the votes of the many young people yearning for a new Ghana.

Like President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Nduom should serve one term as president  - and hand over the baton of leadership to the next generation, under a President Samia Yaabah Nkrumah: who will lead the transformation of Ghana into an African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia.

Ghana needs a fresh start - as a united and disciplined polity. That is the yearning of millions of young people across the nation. That should inspire today's followers of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Should Political Parties In Ghana Be Encouraged To Help Their Foot-Soldiers To Become Self-Employed?

It is such a pity that some politicians are seeking to turn an idea that has the potential to empower the foot-soldiers of political parties in Ghana financially into a political football.

In a nation with high youth unemployment figures, any political party wise enough to create employment opportunities for its foot-soldiers, ought to be encouraged to do so.

It will help cut down the numbers of unemployed young people - particularly in rural Ghana.

That will lead to a reduction in unlawful activities such as illegal logging and illegal gold mining - which result in the pollution of streams and rivers across Ghana, and the degradation of the natural environment, in vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has made a good move in setting up a committee to help its supporters to either find work or become self-employed.

What is needed is a national conversation on how it can be done ethically and transparently.

Surely, any idea that will help young unemployed Ghanaians either find employment or become self-employed ought to be welcomed - regardless of  where the idea emanates from: and as long as it is done in transparent fashion and within the law?

Alas, such is the toxic nature of the rivalry between the ruling NDC, and the largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), that even an idea that actually has the potential to free political parties from the clutches of the vested interests that corrupt our system - and to which both the NDC and NPP are beholden for most of their funding - has been turned into a political football. Pity.

If tens of thousands of party foot-soldiers who are gainfully employed,  or run their own businesses, can support political parties in Ghana financially with small amounts of cash contributions, will that not lessen the dependence of political parties on the vested interests that want the corrupt system that is slowly destroying our nation to remain in place - because it enriches them so?

The less party foot-soldiers  are dependent financially on individual  politicians and the political parties they support, the better  it will be for the long-term future of Ghanaian democracy. Surely, that is how the idea ought to be viewed?

US President Obama did not have to depend on large cash contributions from big corporations to raise money to campaign for the two presidential elections he won.

It will be good for Mother Ghana if that were the case here too - and those running for president did not also have to depend on big businesses for cash donations to run their election campaigns.

The NPP would be wise to see the NDC's idea as one that it could also adopt to widen the pool of potential donors for its election campaigns - and to enable it free itself from the grip of the vested interests it currently feels obliged to rely on.

It is that reliance on vested interests that makes both the NDC and the NPP opaque entities unwilling to reveal their sources of funding publicly - and has turned our system into a Byzantine one full of corrupt officials.

Politicians from across the spectrum must  find a way to make the idea work for all political parties in Ghana - instead of seeking to  make political capital out of it. All the political parties in Ghana ought to be encouraged to help their foot-soldiers to become self-employed or find employment.

There is nothing wrong with that in the real world. Politicians and political parties have a right to help their own supporters from time to time whenever necessary. The NDC must not allow itself to browbeaten into shelving the idea. The hypocrisy of some of those criticising the idea is nauseating.

If truth be told, individual NPP politicians, and the party itself, already do so for some of the NPP's own supporters too - and that is as it should be.

All the other political parties in Ghana must be encouraged to do so too - if they are not already doing so.

In the long-term it will end up making a pool of well-off potential volunteers available for all the political parties in Ghana to tap into during election campaigns. That is far better than relying on impecunious party foot-soldiers always begging for cash from politicians and political parties. That breeds corruption, alas.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Ghanaian Media Ought To Make Ghanaians Understand Why Private Investors Are Needed In The Power Sector - If Power Outages Are To Become A Thing Of The Past

In the situation we are currently facing, it is vital that those in government who talk about the need for Ghanaians to pay realistic tariffs for electricity, always make the point that since it is private investors in the power sector  that will provide the power Ghana needs in the medium to long term, a tariff regime that is attractive to private investors, is definitely necessary.

To talk about realistic electricity tariffs without mentioning its pull-factor for private investors in the power sector is suicidal - in an overtaxed nation whose long-suffering people have clearly had enough of having to make endless sacrifices that yield no long-term benefits.

The question then is: how much should Ghanaians expect to pay for electricity if tariffs that will make Ghana attractive for private power producers are set?

Perhaps the Energy Commission should develop charts showing Ghanaians how much different types of randomly selected properties are paying today for electricity, and how much those same properties will have to pay (all things being equal) if tariffs that are attractive to private sector power generating companies,  are set.

 A conversion chart to enable all electricity consumers do same would be helpful and appreciated nationwide.

Such a move by the Energy Commission would help all stakeholders adjust psychologically to a future of realistic tariffs that will enable Ghanaians to enjoy reliable round-the-clock electricity supply.

The more responsible sections of the media in Ghana, ought to see educating Ghanaians about the need for setting realistic tariffs that will attract private-sector power-generating companies to Ghana, as an important national-interest-issue that they must take up - as their contribution to the nation-building effort.

The plain truth, is that in the Ghana of today, no government can provide the public-sector power-generating companies with the money they need to build and operate more thermal power generating plants.

That is why we must make Ghana an attractive place for independent power producers to invest in. The Ghanaian-Chinese joint-venture,  Sunon-Asogli Power  Company (Ghana) Limited, should be the partnership model for all such private power investors.

Only a tariff regime that will enable independent power producers to make reasonable  profits will bring them to our shores in numbers sufficient to enable Ghanaians enjoy round-the-clock  electricity supply - and for their nation to become a net exporter of electricity to the rest of west Africa.

That is a reality we cannot and must not run away from - if we want the enterprise Ghana to prosper.

It is for that reason that patriotic and discerning Ghanaians must not allow the power crisis to be turned into a political football by irresponsible politicians. Civil society initiatives like the #DumsorMustStop campaign ought to be supported to ensure that that does not happen.

The more responsible sections of the media in Ghana have a moral obligation to make Ghanaians understand the painful reality that tariffs must go up in order to attract more private power producers - and  that that is the only way power outages in Ghana will become a thing of the past in the medium to long term.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Ghana's Minister For Power Must Form Alliances With Dumsor Critics

It would help our present crop of politicians a great deal if they  saw their critics as potential allies - instead of viewing them with suspicion: and constantly berating those who criticise them.

Those in power now need to understand the potential the power crisis has to destabilise our country - and give measured and reasonable responses to those who complain about its effect on the national economy and on society generally.

Far better to have disenchanted citizens criticising their country's rulers openly, and  organising peaceful public  demonstrations in Ghana to vent their frustrations over power outages, than resorting to the kind of violence that led to the overthrow of the Blaise Campoares, the Maummar  Gaddafis and the Hosni Mubaraks.

Public demonstrations are a safety valve to ease the pressures that build up from time to time  in democracies due to public anger over unpopular policies. Politicians in Ghana need to understand that - and find creative ways to deal with disaffected sections of society at such times.

Electricity underpins modern civilisation. Without it modern life as we know it will grind to a halt. Indeed modern life cannot be sustained without round-the-clock electricity supply. That should be a no-brainer for our political class.

(That is why some of us urge the minister for power to ask his Bahamian counterpart to let him have copies of the proposals submitted over the years by companies wanting to enter the Bahamian power sector. Some of those companies  could make a huge difference to Ghana's power sector if they were invited here to partner with  Ghanaian companies. But I digress.)

The minister for power must find  time to meet with the organisers of the #DumsorMustStop campaign. Their impact on the nation should not be underestimated.

It would be an expensive folly on the part of President Mahama's administration were it to be dismissive of the impact of the #DumsorMustStop campaign on society generally.

The question is: why does the minister for power not  ask his senior officials to meet with, and explain to the #DumsorMustStop campaign organisers, how a lack of investment in the power sector over the decades - because it was not attractive to private investors - has led to our present predicament?

The organisers of the #DumsorMustStop campaign could play a critical role in preventing the power crisis from being turned into a political football by cynical scorched-earth politicians desperate to get to power by any means necessary.

Instead of scorning them, President Mahama's government would be wise to  enlist the help of the #DumsorMustStop campaign's organisers - in educating the public about the need to conserve electricity:  and for Ghanaians to accept that those who invest in power plants need to make profits that enable them pay back the loans they take to build power plants here.

For their part, honest and law-abiding Ghanaians, should not  expect to see the power situation improving any time soon, if those who steal electricity with impunity continue to do so.  That is why individuals and businesses that steal electricity ought to be reported to the relevant authorities.

Neither should honest and law-abiding citizens expect the power situation to improve if most Ghanaians continue to resist paying realistic tariffs. Above all, we all need to revise our notes - and see the situation for what it actually is: a collective failing we should all accept blame for.

If consumers are careful in their usage of electricity, they will never have large monthly bills to pay, no matter how high tariffs get. That is a fact. We waste electricity needlessly in Ghana, if truth be told.

We can have a vibrant power sector that provides stable and reliable electricity all year round, only if the power companies are profitable businesses. There is no disputing that, either.

We must all accept that a tariff regime that ensures a fair return-on-investment is vital if we are to attract investors to build power plants in Ghana.

That is a message the #DumsorMustStop campaign organisers can take across Ghana - if the government accepts them as allies in sensitising Ghanaians on what needs to be done to provide Ghana with reliable electricity supply all year round.

The minister for power must form alliances with his critics - and get them to see the power crisis from the right perspective: a problem that can only be solved if power companies can make decent profits after investing in Ghana.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Kwesi Brenyah, Dua Eni Amanehunu!

If the size of the throngs of people who assemble to pay homage to the memory of an individual who has just  passed away, is a measure of the standing in society of that individual whiles alive, then judging by the masses that attended the tradirional Ghanaian ceremony to commemorate the first week after the death of the Despite Media Group's general manager, then the late Mr. Kwesi Brenyah was indeed a giant amongst men, in Ghana.

That traditional ceremony held a week after a death to deliberate on and choose  a burial date for the  deceased that is part of Ghanaian culture, which was held at East Legon's  Lizzie sports complex last Sunday, was indeed one fit for a king. The family settled on 26-28 June, 2016, for the funeral and burial of Mr. Kwesi Brenyah.

The traditional Ghanaian ceremony to mark the first week after the demise of Mr. Brenyah, was held at the Lizzie sports complex, and showed the power and influence, of the Despite Media Group.

Virtually everybody who is someone in Ghana came to pay their respects to Mr. Brenyah, and commiserate with owners and employees of the company he helped build into such a potent force in the Ghanaian media world.

In a sense, the happy family atmosphere that prevails amongst the staff of the Despite Media Group - which is so palpable on the airwaves of the company's  television and radio stations - is a reflection of the character of Mr. Kwesi Brenyah.

That positive company culture within the Despite Media Group evolved because Mr. Brenyah was a soft-spoken gentleman who had a welcoming and all-embracing nature. His gentle nature was the ethos that underpinned his management style.

That family atmosphere amongst the staff of the company,  is a reflection of  the loyalty inspired amongst the company's staff by the owners of the Despite Group of Companies  - Mr. Osei Kwame Despite and and his brother Mr. Ernest Ofori Sarpong.

That Osei Kwame Despite has captured the imagination of Ghanaians is beyond dispute.

Indeed many who came to the Lizzie sports complex last Sunday, came in solidarity with Osei Kwame Despite  and his younger brother Ernest Ofori Sarpong  - to commiserate with them on the loss of a trusted right-hand man: who was with them from the very early days of their business lives.

The story of Osei Kwame Despite's rise from humble beginings - trading from a table-top, to immense wealth owning and running a flourishing conglomerate, which  aside from the multimedia company also includes companies ranging from those producing iodated salt to powdered fufu and powdered milk chocolate -  is one that resonates with millions of hardworking Ghanaians: who see him as a role model whose example they can also emulate.

The well-organised and well-attended traditional ceremony held following the death of Mr. Kwesi Brenyah was a portrayal of  the capabilities of a part of Ghana that is world-class and actually works - despite the many challenges it faces.

Many hardworking and prosperous individuals from the private-sector who have built solid  and successful businesses of their own came in their expensive vehicles to the privately-owned (by the former French footballl star Marcels Dessailley) Lizzie sports complex to commiserate with Mr Brenyah's  family and pay their respects to the memory of a hardworking man who was full of humility.

Kwesi Brenyah played an important part in building a Ghanaian company that has a well-deserved reputation for being a business underpinned by corporate good governance principles that is owned by hardworking and honest individuals  who see giving back to society - by supporting the needy and disadvanted in Ghana - as a moral obligation.

He will forever be remembered in the annals of the history of the Despite Media Group - some of the shares of which one hopes Osei Kwame Despite will float on the alternative market of the Ghana Stock Exchange as a response to the emerging challenges on the media landscape in Ghana: with some of the shares going to staff and management of the company (with dividends always being shared amongst staff on its payroll).

That will be a fitting memorial to Kwesi Brenyah's long and honest stewardship. Hopefully, his wife and children will be allocated his complement of the company's shares - should that idea ever be taken up by Osei Kwame  Despite.

Our hearts and prayers go out to Kwesi Brenyah's wife, children and members of his extended family clan. He was a good and decent man who impacted the lives of many positively. May his soul rest in peace. Kwesi Brenyah, demerifa dua - dua eni amanehunu!

Friday, 8 May 2015

To The Organisers Of The #DumsorMustStop Vigil

Dear #DumsorMustStop vigil organisers,

I shall go straight to the point. After keeping your forthcoming nightly vigil, one hopes that you will be inspired by President Kennedy's advice to young Americans - whom he admonished not to ask what their country could do for them, but to rather search their souls' and  ask themselves what they could do for their country (to paraphrase the late US president).

Speaking as a cantankerous old fogey, most of whose generation's greed and dishonesty  ended up destroying the moral fabric of our dear nation, my humble advice to you, is that as creative types, there is a lot you can use your imagination to do, to help change our country for the better.

To start with, request that President Mahama's government makes the entire renewable energy sector's value-chain tax free - so that roof-top solar power systems will become affordable for many ordinary Ghanaians.

You can, for example, also contact the UK organisation, Practical Action - and suggest to them that they could build micro and mini hydropower plants in Ghana on a build-operate-and-transfer basis, in partnership with reputable Ghanaian companies, such as Genelec Holdings Limited.

The feed-in tariff regime in Ghana, is quite generous to independent renewable power companies, one gathers.

Solar power offers a doable short-term off-grid solution - whiles we wait for the minimum two-years it will probably take to actually resolve the power crisis in Ghana permanently.

And because micro and mini hydropower plants use the kinetic energy of the flow of rivers and streams to produce electricity, there is no need to build super-expensive dams for power generation in their case. Perfect.

Perhaps your two  industry associations - for  film and music - could also partner Practical Action: and fund some of your own film and musical projects from your share of the profits from such a renewable energy joint-venture? Why don't you speak to the British high commissioner to Ghana, about this?

(Contact for Practical Action - Email: enquiries@practical Tel: +441926634400.)

You could also encourage President Mahama's government to invite SolarCity of the US, and M-Kopa of Kenya, to Ghana - with a view to getting them to replicate their roof-top solar power business models here, with Ghanaian partners.

You should also ask President Mahama's administration to ask the government of the Bahamas to give them copies of the proposals for providing power to that nation, which it received from a number of international consortia. The Caribbean Power Company, for instance,  submitted a proposal to the Bahamian government.

And some of those consortia included US companies willing to fund the provision of power barges themselves and also fund the restructuring of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, the Bahamian equivalent of our Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). SGI Global Holdings is one such consortium.

They were also willing to sell the power generated by the barges to the Bahamian government, for relatively better-value-for-money sums per kilowatt-hour than we will be paying for the electricity from the Karpowership Company of Ghana, set up by Karedeniz Holdings for their Ghanaian operations. The question is: why the fixation with Karadeniz Holdings?

Some  of us have contacted our hard-of-hearing leaders with this information to offer it to them free of charge  - but as usual it also fell on deaf ears. Pity. Perhaps they will listen to important stars like you, however. One hopes so for Mother Ghana's sake.

If truth be told, dumsor is a collective failure, on the part of all Ghanaians.

For example, millions of Ghanaians failed to join those of us who advised our New Patriotic Party (NPP) rulers at the time, not to go ahead with building the Bui dam and its hydropower plant.

It was our humble view that  as a result of the impact of global climate change on wheather patterns here, the proposed Bui hydropower plant would never be able to produce enough power - because of low water levels the dam would constantly have to grapple with: as a  result of  frequent and prolonged drought periods we would be experiencing in an era of global warming.

The money used to build the Bui hydropower plant could have built a thermal plant instead. All our pleas to the then government, made through our writing, fell on deaf ears, alas. Pity.

And neither did many Ghanaians join those of us who criticised the then government for allowing some of the family members and friends of President Kufuor to engage in egregious profiteering at the expense of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) - in the contracts to supply the ECG with meters that were handed out to them like confetti.

That rip-off did not help improve the company culture of the ECG - as it encouraged the company's staff members to also engage in rip-off schemes of their own: to milk the company dry.

And as we speak, to date, ECG staff rip-off schemes still persist in the company. What are our secret services for, one wonders? Their inaction has meant that today we have dumsor to contend with. Corruption inside the ECG and other public-sector power industry entities has been a contributory factor to the power crisis.

(That is why we must show the National Democratic Congress/New Patriotic Party duopoly the red card in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections. Voting for a Paa Kwesi Nduom-Samiah Yaabah Nkrumah ticket is what will rescue Ghana from the doldrums in 2016. But I digress.)

How many Ghanaians report those who steal electricity, for example, I ask? Only heaven knows how many megawatts of lost electricity and revenues that that illegal activity amounts to. We must have a national conversation about this.

Perhaps you could start a media campaign to get Ghanaians to report individuals and companies that steal electricity around the country? Ditto mount a media campaign for energy conservation in homes and sundry buildings that house private businesses and public organisations countrywide?

Finally, not too long ago, it was reported that a Ghanaian living in the US, Sigismund Segbefia, had duped a South Korean steel manufacturer, Dosko  Limited, which was apparently looking to diversify its business, by branching out into the entertainment industry, of US$375,000 - by leading them to think that he could arrange for the US rapper Pharrel, to stage a concert in South Korea.

We must find a way for our nation  to apologise to Dosko Limited's CEO, Mr. Sungdae Cho, and his son David Cho, for Sigismund Segbefia's abominable and unspeakable behaviour - and at the same time seize the opportunity to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between Ghanaian musicians and Dosko Limited.

Why do you not approach the minister of tourism and the creative arts - and suggest that she  asks the South Korean ambassador to Ghana to invite Dosko's executives to Ghana, to meet with Ghanaian musicians:  with a view to collaborating with them to stage concerts in South Korea?

They could wow South Korea's younger generation with their hiplife  dance music - and make azonto popular in that country too.

That would create a new revenue stream for some Ghanaian musicians, would it not  - and help improve our country's balance of payments position? Ditto if Ghanaian filmmakers collaborated with their Diasporan counterparts in the UK, US and  EU? The UK's Abbeam Productions comes readily to mind.

Millions of ordinary people in Ghana are one with you in your #DumsorMustStop campaign. You must take it to another level after the vigil - by campaigning for an end to the theft of electricity: and for Ghanaians to learn to conserve electricity, above all.

Do ignore those shallow-minded and sychophantic types that heap abuse on you for deciding to get off the fence, and pressurise the government into fixing the dumsor destroying businesses and lives in Ghana.

Ghanaians thank all of you for your courageous stand. Peace and blessings to all of you. You are genuine patriots (as far as one can tell, that is).

Good luck with the vigil. #DumsorMustStop!

Yours in the service of Mother Ghana,


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Ordinary Ghanaians Are Fed Up With The Greed Of Corrupt Public Officials - Which Is Why President Mahama's Government Must Probe ADB Now

Reading news reports about the recent upheavals in the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), one could not help wondering why the bank's staff members - who have been agitating for the removal of the current managing director, and dissolution of the bank's board of directors - don't seize the opportunity offered by the proposed floatation of part of the ADB's shares on the stock market: and counter that proposal with a buyout proposal of their own (in partnership with sections of organised labour) to the government.

They could leverage their pensions for that purpose, could they not - if they are passionate and feel  so strongly about the ADB's well-being and future? Much better striving to own the bank themselves - and prospering  from the hard work they put in to securing  its future.

One  also wonders why the ADB's managing director, Mr. Stephen Kpordzih, is bent on asset-stripping the bank - if that particular accusation by the bank's staff members is true, that is. It appears that on all counts he fails the if-it-were-your-own-business-would-you-proceed-like-that test miserably.

If the managing director of any bank in the UK, sold its headquarters building for a piddling sum far below its real value, and then went on to give out valuable land belonging to the bank to a developer to put up a building on, for the sole purpose of renting it  out to that selfsame bank for a million pounds a month, to serve as its new head office building, he or she would be fired from the position of managing director, by the board of directors, and the case handed over to the police to investigate.

And prosecution would  follow swiftly if a case of negligence of fiduciary duty occassioned by conflict of interest was established against the said managing director - and if found guilty, jailed and barred from being a company director, for life.

Mr. Kpordzih must be prevailed upon by the government of President Mahama to tell the nation who the developer who was given the bank's land to build on and rent that same new building to the bank to serve as its head office is - and divulge the terms under which the land was given out.

It is also important to establish that Mr. Kpordzih did not benefit personally from that particular deal.

He must also be made to produce a list of all those who have bought properties belonging to the ADB since he assumed office as managing director - and precisely how  much  they each paid for those properties: and where exactly they are located.

That list must include the name of the Ghanaian company to which the headquarters building of the ADB along the Independence Avenue was 'sold', but which apparently failed to pay for the building - for which reason the sale will now no longer go ahead. Apparently.

Hopefully, the aforementioned property deals were all ethical transactions, and devoid of any conflict of interest undertones. If the management of public-sector entities are going to sell state assets entrusted to them, at least let them get the actual market values, for such asset disposals.

Incidentally, the ADB must also publish the names of all individuals and entities on its unrecoverable assets list - and find a reputable specialist debt recovery company to collect those oustanding debts owed it by those it provided loans to in the past.

It must take a leaf from the book of the UT Bank, in that regard. Aggression is the name of the game where recovering money from defaulters is concerned. If it has to take a haircut in paying a loan recovery company to collect money owed it, that is far better than letting debtors get away with not paying back loans.

It is outrageous that the management of state-owned  companies in Ghana can engage in asset-stripping  - and have the gall to dispose off valuable assets of the companies they have been entrusted with by government: which no private-sector entity would ever contemplate selling off if they owned them.

The government must stop the management of state-owned  entities from renting luxury office and residential accommodation for the companies they run - and ban them from paying out the Ghana cedi equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars as rent advance to private landlords.

 In the most egregious cases, politically well-connected landlords have been known to simply use the rent advance paid them by state-owned  entities, to quickly build and rent properties to those very same state-owned  entities paying them huge  sums, as rent advance.

Surely, paying rent advance for a non-existent building amounts to fraud, does it not? Does it not amount to providing  a private developer with a grant to put up a building - and then paying that same property developer astronomical sums as rent advance at regular intervals for years to come? Some, wheeze.

Ordinary Ghanaians are sick and tired of the greed of corrupt and selfish public officials that is impoverishing our homeland Ghana.

It is monstrous and intolerable that publicly-owned entities in Ghana that are financially challenged, provide compensation packages and perks to their senior management,  which enable them to live like Arabian oil sheiks - in a nation in which millions struggle daily to make ends meet.

Yet, today, even the genuine article in the Middle East now bows to austere times - occassioned by low global oil prices - and watch their spending carefully. In an era when even Arab oil Sheiks have become frugal, why tolerate reckless spending, by state-owned  entities?

This is not a matter for mediation between parties by a government minister. If the government of President Mahama does not want to have yet another major scandal on its hands, it must put Mr. Stephen Kpordzih's stewardship of the ADB, thus far, under the microscope.

And if the government wants any probe into the affairs of the ADB, under Mr. Kpordzih's leadership to be credible, he must be made to step aside. Now. Not tomorrow.

If he is a wolf in sheep's clothing, using the ADB as a vehicle to increase his own net worth, he must be exposed and prosecuted.

If he steps aside now, he can be reinstated if the charges against him are proven to be false. And he can then also  sue all  those whom it would have turned out have slandered him - if he so desires. Then it will be case closed for all involved in this shabby affair.

Ghanaians are indeed thoroughly fed up with the unparalleled greed of selfish and corrupt public officials, and their crooked private-sector collaborators - who gang up to rip-off Mother Ghana. President Mahama's government must probe the ADB, now.