Thursday, 30 July 2015

Have We Entered A New And Dangerous Phase In Ghanaian Politics?

Does the aborted attempt to assassinate President Mahama, mark a new and dangerous phase, in our nation's politics?

Perchance, has the demonisation of leading political figures that results from the intense rivalry between the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the biggest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), created a miasma that is now enveloping Ghanaian society - in a massive and toxic fog-of-pure-hatred?

Not too long ago, that massive and toxic fog-of-pure-hatred, killed the NPP's Upper East regional chairperson, Alhaji Adams Mahama - and it now seeks to forcibly end the political careers of that selfsame party's  national chairperson, Paul Afoko, and its  general secretary, Kwabena Adjapong.

The question that patriotic and independent-minded Ghanaians  (particularly the younger generation) ought to pose is: Would ordinary Ghanaians not be better off rejecting candidates of both the NDC and NPP, in the December 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections - to prevent their rivalry from eventually destroying Ghana?

Perhaps we must not be surprised that the scorched-earth-politics practised by the small cabals - made up of violence-prone and amoral party hardliners - that dominate the NDC and NPP, from the shadows, has created the atmosphere of intolerance that has resulted in an apparently deranged man undertaking a solo mission to assassinate President Mahama.

Today, it is Charles Antwi seeking to kill Ghana's President. Tomorrow, it might be the NDC's Azorka Boys, and the NPP's Action Troopers, as well as its Invisible Forces and Bolga Bulldogs, devouring their own paymasters - at the behest of terrorist groups: such as  the Boko Harams of this world.

What ends do those funding some of the many strikes and public demonstrations across the country seek, one wonders?

Why destabilise a nation you want to govern one day, if you claim to believe in constitutional democracy, one wonders? And why is a political party that says it is a bastion of individual liberty and free speech,  seeking to sideline its duly-elected party chairperson and its general secretary?

For years, some of us have repeatedly said that the silent majority of decent and fair-minded party members in Ghana's two biggest political parties, need to stop looking the other way - as a violent few ride roughshod over dissenters.

We have also said that if the silent majority in the two parties fail to drive out members of the cabals-of-violence that do their parties' dirty work for them, from their midst, their parties will eventually be devoured by the Frankenstein monsters they have allowed to amass such power within their ranks.

Fair-minded and nationalistic party members and supporters,  who make up a silent majority in all the political parties in our country, need to understand that the cabals-of-violence in Ghana's two biggest political parties, actually pose a long-term threat to Ghana's stability.

That is why it is vital that our nation's  security agencies, carry out a thorough investigation into the failed attempt to assassinate President Mahama, by Charles Antwi - to establish that it was not a conspiracy by shadowy figures in our nation's politics.

We must not dismiss out of hand, the suspicions of those who say that perhaps Charles Antwi was used by conspirators as a perfect patsy,  to enable them physically eliminate President Mahama by remote control - and get away with it successfully.

Was the firearm Charles Antwi was arrested with registered in his name? If not, whose name was it registered in - and who gave it to him? And when exactly did he receive it - and precisely what purpose was it intended to be used for by Charles Antwi?

The authorities must ensure that Charles Antwi does not end up being murdered to silence him - like Lee Harvey Oswald, US President Kennedy's alleged assassin was, by Jack Ruby.

Perhaps it would be prudent to hold him in the cells at the Bureau of National Investigations' (BNI) headquarters building whiles investigations are carried out to ascertain whether or not there was a conspiracy by persons unkown to kill President Mahama.

Perhaps those veritable cowards,  having realised just how delusional Charles Antwi was, simply used him -  in order to enable them escape detection. Charles Antwi can have all the psychiatric care he needs whiles in protective custody at the BNI headquarters.

Clearly, the personal safety of our nation's present crop of politicians (from across the spectrum) must no longer be taken for granted. Neither must we take the stability of the Republic for granted.

The security agencies must now routinely offer round-the-clock protection for all the leading political figures (including all parliamentarians) in Ghana - both in the governing party and the opposition parties.

And they must be more professional in their intelligence-gathering activities. It must be devoid of partisanship going forward into the distant future.

Alas, the age of innocence in our national life, is gone for good. Henceforth, Ghanaians must be vigilant at all material times - lest violent individuals destroy the peace and stability our nation enjoys. We have now entered a new and dangerous phase in Ghanaian politics.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Ghana Needs Honest Leaders With Business Nous - A Prime Example Being Paa Kwesi Nduom

For over twenty years now, some of us have advocated for Ghanaian politicians to publicly publish their assets, as well as those of their spouses, before assuming office,  and immediately after their tenures end.

We have done so consistently for so long because publicly publishing the assets of our leaders is a powerful antidote against high-level corruption. The present asset delaration law is clearly not fit for purpose - which is why our nation's politics attracts so many undesirable types presently.

It was with that in mind that when a  young university student, whom I engaged in a conversation with, recently, asked me which politician I thought it would best serve the interests of young Ghanaians, to vote for to become president in 2016, I mentioned Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom and made a number of observations.

I told my young student friend that in my view, any politician who could win the  fight against high-level corruption, would make an excellent president for Ghana - as it would result in the release of hundreds of millions of cedis annually, into the system, which could be used to modernise and expand Ghana's infrastructure, support agriculture, as well as fund public housing, education and healthcare in Ghana.

He also agreed with me that any Ghanaian politician who commits to publicly publishing his or her assets (as well as that of their spouse), before assuming office, and immediately after his or her tenure ends, as well as publicly publishing the sources of funding for the party he or she leads, is more likely to have the political will to fight high-level corruption, when in power.

It is unfortunate that it seems to escape many Ghanaians that  Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom actually publicly published his filed tax returns, and publicly published the sources of funding for his party, the Progressive People's Party (PPP), during the campaign for the 2012 elections.

Neither President Mahama nor Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo did so in 2012, and one doubts very much - given the opaque natures of the corruption-riddled parties they lead - that they will follow Nduom's example during the campaign for the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.

If they both fail that litmus test of transparency, in the run-up to the 2016 elections, then clearly, neither of them deserves to be elected to serve as President of the Republic of Ghana.

To illustrate why Nduom is tailor-made for leading a modern 21st century Ghana, I gave that young university student I had the conversation with, examples of how as a result of his business accumen, Nduom was likely to deal with the multinational companies that rip Ghana off so callously.

A world-class entrepreneur, as president, Nduom is unlikely to exhibit  President Mahama's helplessness, conveyed in a speech he once gave at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, during which he complained that multinational gold mining companies in Ghana were refusing to agree to pay taxes on the windfall profits they made in 2010, when gold prices reached historic heights.

I also pointed out that Nduom, unlike Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, would never have caved in to Societe General in 2001, when it was obvious to many discerning minds who knew the facts of the matter, that Ghana stood a very good chance of winning the case the French bank brought against the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), in a London  law court.

Traditionally, Ghanaian politicians, such as  President Mahama and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, have always accepted perfidious behavior by powerful multinational companies, as facts of life, which emerging nations like Ghana must learn to live with, if we want to attract investors.

In both instances mentioned above, involving President Mahama and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, Nduom, because of his business nous, would have taken a creative approach to protecting the national interest - by getting on the phone to BlackRock's head of global corporate governance,  Ms. Michelle Edkins, for example, and persuading her to demand that the mining companies pay up.

Knowing the power and influence BlackRock wields, the multinational gold mining companies would have rushed to pay those windfall taxes pronto.

With the exception of Nduom, one doubts very much if making that move would have ever occured to any of those seeking the presidency, in the 2012 election.

Yet, BlackRock, which manages funds worth $4.8 trillion, is a global power in asset management - and owns significant stakes in virtually all the biggest listed companies in stock markets in the national economies of the West.

Ghana needs honest and incorruptible leaders, who are world-class individuals that can deal with the complexities of a globalised world, and successfully navigate the  choppy waters of the world's economy.

Simply put, Ghana needs honest leaders with business nous. Paa Kwesi Nduom is a prime example.

One hopes that when it is finally formed, a New Convention People's Party (New CPP) - in light of the inability of any of the Nkrumahist parties to win the Talensi constituency by-election - will unite the old CPP, the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), the People's National Convention (PNC), and the Progressive People's Party (PPP), will select Nduom as its presidential candidate for the 2016 election, with Samia Yaaba Nkrumah as his running mate.

Friday, 17 July 2015

It Is Ridiculous For MPs To Call For Ghana's Interior Minister To be Sacked - For Using The Phrase "Violence Begets Violence"

I was saddened to hear that Major Derrick Oduro, a member of the Committee on Defence and  Interior, of Ghana's Parliament, has asked President Mahama to sack the minister of the interior, the Hon. Mark Woyongo - over remarks the minister made during the recent (7th July, 2015) Talensi constituency by-election.

The Hon. Derrick Oduro, a retired military officer, knows perfectly well that Mark Woyongo was briefed by those in charge of security for that by-election - and reacted to questions from the media about violent clashes between youths from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), on the basis of what he knew from intelligence reports that day.

One can understand, and forgive, the inability of journalists who have failed to master the basic tool of their profession, the English language, to comprehend the meaning of the phrase "violence begets violence", which was used by Mark Woyongo during his interview with a Kumasi-based reporter, for that city's Ultimate FM radio station - who unfortunately read his own meaning into the phrase.

(A typical example of the affectatious English language broadcast journalists in Ghana, who affect foreign accents - his being a mish-mash of accents of indeterminate provenance - my humble advice to him is to read more widely, and always be himself. Over time, perhaps it will help him avoid hurrying to read his own meaning into what he hears when conducting  interviews - and avoid lines of questioning that could trigger unhelpful controversies: such as the Mark Wayongo  "violence begets violence" controversy. But I digress.)

Whiles one can forgive ignorant media types,  it is unpardonable for members of Parliament to misconstrue the fact that in using that phrase on the day of the Talensi constituency by-election,  Mark Woyongo was simply admonishing violence-prone youths in society, to desist from acts of violence - as it only leads to a never-ending spiral of revenge attacks. What is wrong with that, one wonders?

It is unfortunate that  a simple biblical phrase used by responsible leaders from around the globe - including the late Martin Luther King, who used it  frequently, to appeal for tolerance between the races in America  - to admonish the violence-prone in society, to desist from acts of violence, should cause such widespread consternation in Ghana.

Perhaps an old acquintance of mine is right, in saying that it speaks volumes about the abysmal depths, to which the standard of English has sunk in Ghana, that Mark Woyongo is being pilloried for using a phrase used to admonish violence-prone individuals, not to resort to acts of voilence, by responsible people in societies around the world. 

It is a pity that it was amplified by the FM radio stations that replayed the  tape-recording of the interview in which Mark Woyongo used that particular phrase.

Incidentally, I listened carefully to the entirety of that interview, when it was replayed by Peace FM, and can say with confidence that (speaking hypothetically, that is),  if there had been violent clashes between extreme right-wing English youths, and young Britons of Asian and Afro-Caribbean heritage, during a by-election in a constituency in the northern English city of Bradford, and the British Home Secretary, Theresa May, had repeated the entirety of Mark Woyongo's response in that interview, word for word, no one in the UK would have condemned her response - because it would have been understood by all that she was merely admonishing violence-prone youths to desist from acts of violence.

It is ridiculous for MPs in Ghana, who make laws that require precision of language, and therefore ought to know better, to demand the sacking of Mark Woyongo for using the phrase "violence begets violence".

With respect, Ghana's MPs must spend their precious time, on more important matters of state. President Mahama would be wise to ignore calls for Mark Woyongo's dismissal for using the phrase "violence begets violence".

Violence does indeed beget violence - which is why all Ghanaians must eschew acts of violence: if we want our nation to remain stable and become prosperous.

Given the chaotic and violent circumstances prevailing on the ground, in parts of the Talensi constituency that day, it is unreasonable and unfair for  anyone to demand that President Mahama should sack Mark Woyongo, for using the phrase "violence begets violence" to admonish young people from engaging in acts of violence.

Those hypocritical politicians (such as the Major Derrick Oduros), seeking to put a positive spin, on the appalling and unjustifiable behaviour of a number of their own party's youthful supporters up north, during the Talensi constituency by-election, must bow their heads in shame for their double standards.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Lessons For Nkrumahists From Yesterday's Talensi Constituency By-Election

Both the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the biggest opposition party, the  New Patriotic Party (NPP), made it plain to Ghanaians that they regarded yesterday's Talensi constituency by-election, as a dry run, for the 2016 elections.

In a sense they were both right to hold that conviction.

Alas, the violence perpetrated by rival gangs of thugish youths from the NDC and NPP, at Talensi yesterday, is a harbinger of possible widespread violence to come, whichever of those two parties emerges victorious in the 2016 presidential election.

That is why ordinary Ghanaians must reject both parties in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections - and avoid the violence and chaos associated with those two bitter political rivals during elections in our country.

The sad and painful truth, is that both the NDC and the NPP,  are controlled from the shadows,  by powerful and violence-prone cabals - whose Machiavellian political philosophy is to sell Ghana to the highest bidder: to enable them bankroll party activities across the country, when in power.

Judging by their respective  records whiles in power, Ghana will never be transformed, if either of those two opaque parties wins the 2016 presidential election - as the vested interests to which they are both beholden are only interested in milking Mother Ghana dry: not improving the quality of life of ordinary people in our country.

Egregious examples of the rip-off of Mother Ghana under both NDC and NPP regimes, include: tolerating the creative accounting used by the so-called bulk oil distributing companies, which import dodgy finished petroleum products into a nation blessed with large deposits of oil and gas that also has an oil refinery; and the persistence of the super-ruthless destination inspection companies that do work that can and should be done by the Customs, Excise and Preventative Service, of the Ghana Revenue Authority.

And this outrage, goes on daily in a nation, which is desperate to harness taxes to fund infrastructural projects - but whose selfish leaders prefer instead to (to paraphrase an old acquaintance) fritter taxes away on dissembling bulk oil distributing companies and parasitical destination inspection companies: in return for kickbacks to fund party activities when in power, in order to perpetuate themselves in office.

The question patriotic and nationalistic Ghanaians must pose is: how can Nkrumahists end the continued dominance of the two largest political parties in Ghana, the ruling NDC, and the biggest of the opposition parties, the NPP, in our nation's politics?

Ghana today desperately needs transparent and accountable leaders - dedicated to transforming Ghana for the benefit of all its people.

Unfortunately, it is obvious that most ordinary people still don't see any of the Nkrumahist parties as  credible alternatives, to the NDC/NPP duopoly - which have ruled Ghana in turns since the 4th Republic came into being.

That must change if Nkrumahists are to capture the presidency in the 2016 election.

How then can Nkrumaists change that negative perception about their parties amongst ordinary people in Ghana - and gain their trust sufficiently to win their votes in the numbers needed to enable Nkrumahist candidates emerge victorious in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections?

From yesterday's Talensi constituency by-election results, it is now clear that nothing short of a full merger of all the Nkrumahist parties, will change the negative perception amongst ordinary people that the Nkrumahist parties, are not  credible alternatives to the NDC/NPP duopoly.

In light of that reality, clearly, there is only one course of action left for today's political progeny of Ghana's first president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, to take now.

If the Nkrumahist parties really care about the plight of ordinary people in  Ghana -  and feel scandalised by the fact that under the NDC/NPP duopoly, we have become a dog-eat-dog society, in which the national interest is permanently subsumed under that of vested interests - then they must put aside petty parochialism, and end the pipe-dream that any of the small Nkrumahist parties can ever win a presidential election on its own: and, drawing lessons from the result of the Talensi constituency by-election, move swiftly to unite under the banner of the original party of Nkrumah, the Convention People's Party (CPP).

After the Talensi by-election, the idea of an Nkrumahist alliance-of-equals, in which each Nkrumahist party keeps its identity, but joins a coalition that selects a common presidential candidate for the 2016 presidential election,  is no longer a viable option. It must now be discarded.

It is only a New CPP that unites the present CPP, the People's National Convention, the Great Consolidated Popular Party and the Progressive People's Party, which can legitimately  campaign on Nkrumah's record of achievements - and use his transformational Ghana-first-agenda that focuses on import-substitution-industrialisation, for the development of the national economy, to transform our nation into west Africa's manufacturing powerhouse.

This is the time for all the leading Nkrumahist politicians to be selfless, and demonstrate their unalloyed love for Mother Ghana - by merging all the Nkrumahist political parties into a New CPP. Now. Not tomorrow. That is the biggest lesson the Nkrumahist parties must learn from the results of yesterday's Talensi constituency by-election.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

A Ministerial Committee Must Investigate Cause Of Partial Collapse Of The Bunso Arboretum's Forest Canopy Walkway

It is important that the ministry of tourism, culture and creative arts sets up a committee, to investigate the 1st July, 2016,  Republic Day holiday accident, which occured at the Bunso arboretum - when part of the forest canopy walkway there apparently collapsed.

It is said to have led to a number of visitors being injured. We must be thankful that no fatalities were recorded at the arboretum that day.

From reports in the media, it appears that over-exuberant visitors rocking it whiles traversing the canopy walkway, might have had a bearing on that unfortunate accident.

It is important, from a public safety standpoint, that the committee establishes the actual cause of the partial collapse of the Bunso canopy walkway.

Most of all, the ministerial committee should make recommendations, which will prevent such a tragedy from recurring anywhere in Ghana, again.

As someone who is personally involved in a planned project to build the world's longest forest canopy walkway, at Akyem Juaso, one would welcome such a public enquiry.

Forest canopy walkways are a vital in-situ logistics resource providing a unique living laboratory platform for biodiversity researchers - and are an important educational tool for inculcating a love of nature amongst young people.

Private individuals who invest in them ought to be encouraged - and supported financially. One way to do so, will be to grant them exemption from paying duty and taxes, on all the imported materials needed for constructing forest canopy walkways.

Preserving what remains of our nation's natural heritage will succeed only when young people treasure our forests - and actively seek to conserve them. Traversing forest canopy walkways develops a lifelong love of nature amongst many young people.

The Bunso arboretum's forest canopy walkway has definitely had a positive impact on many - who have come to appreciate the importance of preserving Ghana's forests: as a result of visiting the arboretum to traverse the Bunso canopy walkway.

This, no doubt, is a trying time for the Bunso arboretum's canopy walkway's owners - but they must not be discouraged: as out of this tragedy will no doubt emerge a unique eco-tourism attraction, whose entire operations will be underpinned by an ethos of professionalism - and guided at all material times by the highest global safety standards.

That is why a ministerial committee to establish the cause of the partial collapse of the Bunso forest canopy walkway is a must - as the committee's report is bound to include recommendations on ensuring the safety of all forest canopy walkaways in Ghana.

Above all, from the perspective of visitors, they must all be adequately insured. Since no insurance company will insure a canopy walkway that is not properly maintained, and safe, that can only be good for the general public who traverse Ghana's forest canopy walkways. 

That will help restore public confidence in a niche market in Ghana's  eco-tourism industry that is beginning to attract private investors. We must not forget that tourism makes a significant contribution to Ghana's GDP.

And, in an age of global climate change, Ghana' forest canopy walkways are important conservation-through-ecotourism attractions, which help conserve our forests. They ought to be safe for visitors - and setting up a ministerial committee to investigate what caused the partial collapse of the Bunso arboretum's canopy walkway will help ensure that.