Sunday, 30 August 2015

How Ghanaian Journalists Can Best Honour Samuel Nuamah's Memory

The tragic death of a young and hardworking journalist, who died on 20th September, 2015, in a motor accident whiles returning to base in Accra, to file his news story, after an assigmnent covering a presidential visit to Ho, the capital of the Volta Region, stunned many in the Ghanaian media world.

Samuel Naumah's untimely death has deeply affected his colleagues at the Ghanaian Times - and saddened journalists across the nation.  May he rest in peace.

The death of the offspring of elderly parents, who,  in the ordinary course of events, expect to be buried by their children, who then suddenly predecease them, is always a harrowing experience and traumatic life-event, for such bereaved parents.

That is why many Ghanaians feel the pain of Samuel Nuamah's parents and family - and commiserate with them over their tragic loss of Samuel.

Speaking personally, now aged 62, with adult children and grandchildren, of my own, in Japan and  the UK, his death hit me hard. I shed tears that someone so young and hardworking, with his whole life in front of him - and blessed with a loving young wife, and child, who live overseas - had had his life cut short so tragically.

To ensure that Samuel's death is not in vain, the unanswered questions surrounding the events leading to his death, must be answered by the presidency. Truthfully.

The presidency needs to understand that if there actually is any blame to be apportioned in this matter, no amount of cover-up will stop those culpable from being exposed.

No one's official position at the presidency is worth such egregiuos face-saving chicanery for. President Mahama must spell that out to all of them.

It must be understood clearly by all at the presidency, that the media will not spare anyone who is directly or indirectly responsible for diverting the bus that took Samuel Nuamah and his colleagues to Ho from Accra - particularly if it emerges that it was diverted  for frivolous reasons: such as carrying party supporters to meet the president.

That is why the nation must be told the truth about how it came about that the official bus allocated to the media, when they set off from Accra for the journey to Ho, with the president, was not made available to those selfsame journalists returning to Accra in advance of the president's entourage, to file their news stories.

Where exactly did the official bus allocated to the  presidential press corps, have to be taken to, which necessitated the presidency hiring a replacement bus for the journey back to Accra by Samuel and his colleagues?

That information cannot be treated as a state secret by the presidency - and if anyone in the presidency tries to treat it as such, it will be hard for even fair-minded Ghanaians not to feel that  he or she has something to hide.

The nation also needs to know who (individual or corporate) actually owns the rented minibus that killed Samuel Nuamah. How much did they charge the presidency for hiring out  the bus for the journey to Accra from Ho?

Was the rate charged fair - or,  as is often the case with many businesses providing goods and services to the state, super-rip-off rates were charged: hence the need for a cover-up to hide that fact?

Furthermore, will the presidency ensure that the insurers of the rented minibus pay out compensation for medical treatment that the passengers of the bus they rented out to the presidency, are entitled to, by law?

The insurers of the rented bus should be made to fulfill their legal obligation to do so. If Samuel Naumah's wife and child have to be compensated by being paid a substantial lump sum, let them not wait to be sued in the law courts, before they do so.

And the  media ought to let Ghanaians know that passengers traveling on tro-tros and other public-service buses that are involved in accidents, are each entitled to a certain amount of money, to enable them pay their medical bills.

The media must ensure that the insurance industry informs the travelling public about the availability of such compensation - since premiums are paid on each seat for precisely that purpose.

The general public need to know too, through the media, that if they are involved in an accident, and it turns out the vehicle does not have insurance cover, they should approach the National Insurance Commission, with a police report, for compensation.

Ghanaians must also be told the actual condition that the tyre that burst - and caused the rented minibus to somersault a few times, and eventually end up in a swampy area, and killing Samuel Nuamah - was in.

They must also be shown documentary evidence of the results of any tests carried out to ascertain the actual condition of the burst tyre at the material moment it burst. There should be no dissembling over that.

 No one at the presidency must be heard repeating that pure-nonsense-on-bamboo-stilts suggestion, that a driver said to be driving in reckless fashion at breakneck speed, was a good driver.  Was that said  to prevent the car hire company he worked for, from being sued, on Samuel Nuamah's behalf?

As a  symbolic gesture, to show the importance the nation attaches to the media, as the fourth arm of government, in our democracy, Samuel Nuamah ought to be given a state funeral. That is a must. The Ghanaian media expect nothing less for their fallen colleague - who died in harness serving his nation.

Finally, since many media houses in Ghana are unable to pay the journalists they employ well - as they neither generate sufficient revenues, nor  make decent profits - the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), ought to collaborate with Ghana's print and electronic media owners, to hold discussions with the Dutch media paywall provider, Blendle, so that they work together to replicate the metered paywall for the Dutch media, for the Ghanaian media.

Perhaps if approached, the Dutch government would be happy to pay for such a metered paywall - as its contribution to strengthening the finances of media houses in Ghana and thus assure their independence: and help  deepen the roots of Ghanaian democracy, yet further, that way.

A metered paywall will ensure that anyone wanting to access the Ghanaian media online, pays only for each specific article he or she reads. Perhaps if asked to do so, the mobile phone companies could also find a way for users to make payments for specific articles on their mobile money platforms, to enable Ghanaians pay for accessing Ghanaian media stories online?

Many Ghanaian content providers (such as myself) are fed up with websites that focus on Ghana, and which earn substantial sums from advertising, but refuse to pay for articles that are authors' intellectual properties, that they publish. Was the slave trade not abolished centuries ago, I ask?

Samuel Nuamah's death sparked introspection in journalists in Ghana,  about the risks they face, in their role as the fourth arm of government, as they work hard on a daily basis, to keep the nation informed, educated and entertained.

Will it not be a fitting way to honour Samuel's memory, were a metered paywall to lead to an improvement in the revenues and profits of Ghanaian media houses - and better pay for the journalists they employ?

And if all of us always referred to it,  as the Samuel Nuamah paywall (SNpaywall), in our writing, when such a paywall comes into being, will we not be honouring his memory in creative fashion? Samuel, duea, eni amanehunu. May your gentle soul rest in eternal peace.


Friday, 28 August 2015

A Vertically Integrated GNPC Will Dominate West Africa's Oil Industry's Downstream Sector

Some of those who seek the transfer of national assets  into private hands,  for ideological reasons, have started a subtle campaign, in the Ghanaian media - to enable them acquire shares in the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) through an IPO.

The ADB IPO is said to be their torch-of-convenience. It is  testing the waters for the neo-liberals who are neocolonialism's fifth-columnists in our homeland Ghana.

If Ghanaians accept the ADB IPO wholeheartedly, it will empower yet another group of well-connected self-seekers - who, like the scoundrels allegedly guilty of looting the ADB, by asset-stripping it - have also been entrusted with a state-owned company, built with the blood, sweat and tears of Ghanaian workers: the GNPC.

Like the politically well-connected rogues at the  ADB, they too see their appointments as opportunities to enrich themselves -  by engaging in, and benefitting personally, from the nation-wrecking phenomenon of asset-stripping state-owned companies, during their tenures.

Their aim, according to some of the GNPC's critcs,  is to get the government to sell shares in the company on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) - ostensibly as a means of raising funds for the company: but in reality to help its management  get round the strict controls imposed on the company by law, by getting their foreign collaboraters to buy a 25% stake in it.

In principle, selling some of the government's shares in state-owned entities, whiles the state still retains significant stakes in them, makes perfect sense in today's Ghana - as it enables them raise interest-free funds to expand their operations. Those shares must be sold to only Ghanaian citizens and wholly-owned Ghanaian companies.

However, the GNPC is different. Ghana's oil and gas deposits, should be regarded  literally as depleting assets that ought to belong to all Ghanaians, and seen as  gifts from Providence, to enable our nation to have the wherewithal to develop and modernise its infrastructure at a faster rate - and provide cash for a portfolio of investments by a sovereign wealth fund for Ghana that will also benefit future generations of our people.

If that collective viewpoint works for Norway, it should work for Ghana too - which is why that particular state-owned entity cannot be transferred into private hands.

What the GNPC actually needs, is vertical integration, not private ownership. That will make it an attractive proposition for companies willing to sign technical services contracts to participate in its projects as its technical services partners who fund exploration and production activities.

From the position of strength, as a vertically integrated oil company, could the GNPC not enable Ghana to replicate its own versions of the technical services agreements governing  Iraq's giant Rumaila oilfields here too, I ask?

 We can then end for good, signing what are said to be some of the world's  worst oil agreements - and finally get better value from our oil and gas deposits.

The GNPC is a truly vital strategic national asset, which should not be privatised, under any circumstances.

And if only the best qualified Ghanaians - instead of the ethically-challenged cronies of the political party in power at any given point in time - are chosen to manage it, that will ensure that corporate good governance principles underpin the entirety of the company's  operations.

As benchmark crude oil prices continue to remain low - and are forecast to remain low for some time, as China's economy slows down, as does the US economy -  would it not benefit our nation, and help it generate more foreign currency, if the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), the Ghana Oil Company Limited (GOIL) and the  Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST),  become  subsidiaries of the GNPC? Naturally, GOIL shares in private hands will be bought back by the company.

If that were to happen, would the prices at which the GNPC's refined products, produced by TOR, are sold across West Africa, in GOIL petrol filling stations in sister nations across the subregion,  not help it boost its profits - and enable Ghana to enhance the value of its oil and gas deposits yet further?

Is vertical integration not therefore a creative form of hedging, for the GNPC, in an era of low oil prices  - since the prices of  refined petroleum products have been holding their own since the oil price collapsed?

And if it focuses on gas production during the downturn, it will be able to ride out the period of low oil prices, and still emerge in robust form when prices pick up again - since the power sector has a voracious appetite for the gas the Ghana National Gas Company Limited (GNGC) produces.

What should concern us, above all, is to ensure that what happened to Petrobras, Brazil's national oil company, does not happen to the GNPC too. We must prevent a culture of high-level corruption from destroying the company.

Petrobras was consistently and systematically looted over the years by Brazil's largest engineering companies - which bribed Petrobras executives and Brazilian politicians to enable them overcharge Petrobras in inflated contracts.

Whiles some of  Brazil's wealthiest and most powerful businessmen have been prosecuted and jailed for overcharging Petrobras, and bribing some of its executives, others are still in the process of being prosecuted too.

We should discourage the GNPC from engaging in activities such as its sponsorship of the Black Stars, Ghana's senior national soccer team - because they breed corruption.

An example being the opaque Tanink Motors 30 Jeep 4x4 SUV deal for the Black Stars - which many in Ghana want an official denial to be issued by the  GNPC to assure Ghanaians that no GNPC cash - not even a pesewa -  was used to pay Tanink Motors for: as 'sponsorship' money for vehicles that Tanink Motors itself had promised the Black Stars, in any case.

The GNPC should restrict itself to sponsoring only exceptionally brilliant students and Chairs of science and technology faculties in Ghana's tertiary institutions as its CSR projects  - and leave sponsorship of the Black Stars to private companies that have money to burn: and feel they need brand enhancement.

Since Kasepreko desires to turn itself into a globally recognised brand, would it not benefit from sponsoring the Black Stars, one wonders? And because it is a company underpinned by corporate good governance principles, Kasepreko would ensure that its sponsorship money actually benefits Ghanaian soccer - not the greedy and sly folk who now run soccer in Ghana,

The GNPC does not need brand enhancement - the madness that leads to the renting of expensive office and residential accommodation, by loss-making state-owned entities, to impress the world, and enrich the cronies of their executives.

Does Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc not operate from a modest suit of offices as its headquarters in an unremarkable building, Kiewit Tower? But does Buffet still not impress the world with his astuteness and sagacity?

The GNPC must remain focused on its core activities and plan for vertical integration - as a hedge against low oil prices and to enable it expand its business (with the help of Ecobank) by selling refined products across West Africa in GOIL petrol stations.

Will that not help Ghana to improve its balance of trade - and help strengthen its much-weakened currency too?

If Chevron's bottom line is benefitting from vertical integration that generates profits from its downstream businesses, in an era of low oil prices, so will it be the case, for a vertically integrated GNPC, too.

Alas, unfortunately, however, such a bold move is unlikely to happen under either a National Democratic Congress or New Patriotic Party government - as they are both beholden to the very vested interests (both local and foreign) that hold our nation back through shady deals that are detrimental to the national interest and the welfare of the Ghanaian people.

However, since Nkrumahists believe passionately in promoting Ghanaian businesses across Africa  (be they publicly-owned or privately-owned),  God willing, under a CPP government, led by a President Paa Kwesi  Nduom and Vice President Samia Yaaba Nkrumah, a vertically integrated GNPC will become a reality - and come to dominate the oil and gas industry's downstream sector across the West African common market. Amen.

The GhanaVeg Initiative Should Increase The Availability Of Organic Vegetables In Ghana

How safe is food sold in Ghana? Healthwise, how well does our system protect consumers of agricultural produce, grown here, from ingesting pesticide residue? And how can we increase the availability of organically produced fruits and vegetables in Ghana?

In May this year, the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA), gave Barnet Council officials permission to destroy 70 bottles of contaminated palm oil, imported into Britain from Ghana, which were discovered in a shop in Watling Avenue, Burnt Oak.

The question is: Who in Ghana is looking out for the interests of consumers here - to stop them being sold such contaminated agro-industry sector products in markets and shops across the country?

The poorly-resourced Ghana Food and Drugs Authority needs to be better resourced. If it was, those 70 bottles of Ghanaian palm oil, which were seized in the UK, would have been seized and destroyed here, before they got to the UK.

When tested, the 70 bottles of Ghanaian palm oil seized in Burn Oak, contained high levels of the red dye, SudanIV, which is used in polishes, waxes and petrol - and is carcinogenic when used in cooking food.

Alas, those 70 bottles of contaminated Ghanaian palm oil seized in Burnt Oak, in the UK, represent the tip of the iceberg, in a huge food contamination scandal here - that over the long-term will probably end up resulting in the deaths of thousands in Ghana, if not tackled robustly.

The quest for healthy food has led to an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables in Ghana.

That is a good development that helps improve public health in Ghana.  However, the dilemma for many, is the risk to health posed by high levels of pesticide residue and other contaminants, such as carbide, found on many fruits and vegetables in markets across Ghana.

It is for that reason that one welcomes and supports the GhanaVeg initiative - which seeks to professionalise the entire value chain of the vegetable sector in  Ghana: and make it world-class.

Hopefully, that will lead to an increase in organic vegetable farms in Ghana - and create thousands of greenhouse vegetable farming jobs for young people in rural Ghana: as the production of high-value vegetables for both local and export markets increases in leaps and bounds.

GhanaVeg also links Ghanaian vegetable farmers with Dutch vegetable growers and importers, for business partnerships, at matchmaking events that it organises  from time to time, in Ghana.

The next two such matchmaking events, will take place at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Kumasi, on the 7th of September, 2015, and on the 10th of September, 2015, at La Palm Royal Hotel in Labadi, Accra.

Hopefully, it will lead to win-win partnerships, between those Ghanaian vegetable farmers who for ethical reasons are against GMO's -  but want to produce export-grade vegetables  and are therefore interested in converting to organic vegetable farming -  and organic Dutch vegetable famers, who share the same ethical code and business goals.

That should  eventually lead, one hopes, to an increase in the availability of pesticide-free vegetables in markets across Ghana. And that cannot come soon enough for many vegetarians (including me!) in Ghana.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Ghana's Politicians And Political Parties Are Failing Mother Ghana And Ordinary Ghanaians Terribly

Both  President Mahama's National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime, and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo's opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), are failing ordinary Ghanaians, by not working together to get their parliamentarians to rush a bill through Parliament, which  bans all public-sector employees from embarking on strike action, which denies the general public, the goods and services that public-sector entities provide the nation with.

If that is done, would  it not stop public-sector employees from holding our nation to ransom, and making the lives of the very taxpayers whose taxes are used to pay them, such a  complete misery?

Why should ordinary people die because public-sector medical doctors, who are relatively better off than most Ghanaians, want more pay and the value of sundry allowances given them increased? Do such preventable deaths not constitute crimes against humanity, I ask?

We must bring such abominations to an end in Ghana. Now, not tomorrow.

Is it also not the height of irresponsibility, for politicians and political parties in a highly-indebted developing nation that uses a huge chunk of its tax revenues to pay about 600,000 public-sector employees, to pretend that the state can continue increasing compensation packages of public-sector employees, without cutting down their numbers significantly - and demanding increased productivity levels from the remaining public-sector employees in return?

The question we must ask is: Why have both President Mahama and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo (and the leaders of the other political parties in our country) not been honest and bold enough, to tell public-sector medical doctors (and other public-sector professionals demanding more pay), that they must be reasonable -  because they are better off than most ordinary Ghanaians (who struggle daily to survive), as it is: and that their demands for increased pay, simply cannot be met, any time soon?

Furthermore, most Ghanaian politicians are aware of the fact that medical doctors in Greece, for example, had as much as 40% slashed from their salaries in 2013, because of the need to cut Greece's public expenditure levels; and that  junior doctors in Ireland too, had as much as €10,000 cut from their €60,000 annual salaries in 2014, because of the Irish government's efforts at rebalancing Ireland's public finances.

Has that painful but necessary policy of cuts in public spending not yielded results in both nations - enabling them to resume growing economically again? Should we not be following the example of nations that got themselves into massive debt, and cut public spending in order to resume economic growth and the creation of jobs by resurgent private  businesses - such as Ireland, Iceland, Poland and the UK?

Instead of destroying private-sector businesses, by overburdening them with tax upon tax, is it not much more sensible to encourage growth in the economy, by sacking the legions of bribe-taking lazybones who work in government offices across Ghana; and  that small army of parasitic square-pegs-in-round-holes at the presidency (starting with Stan Dogbe); and prevent greedy, arrogant and callous public-sector doctors-without-conscience, and other public-sector professionals, from bankrupting Ghana - by refusing to pay them the money they are demanding from taxpayers: at a time of severe economic difficulties for our country?

 So why have members of our political class not asked Ghana's public-sector employees to face facts: and accept that Ghana is currently broke and struggling to stay afloat, and therefore simply cannot afford an increased public-sector wage bill?

Is this not a time in our history that demands that all Ghanaians make the much-needed sacrifices that will enable our country to begin growing significantly again? Is it therefore not curious that our  nation's politicians and political parties are failing to tell Ghanaians that they ought to make the needed sacrifices if they want their country's GDP to grow again - and create jobs for young people in the process?

And worst of all, why, when both the NDC and NPP, are aware of the fact that they will have an opportunity to help clean the voters register, when it is exhibited publicly for that purpose,  are they creating unnecessary tension amongst Ghanaians - by accusing each other of  bloating the voters register: by their past rigging activities during the registration of voters in the Volta Region and the Ashanti Region to compile the register for the 2012  elections?

Whiles President Mahama and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo are doubtless both decent and honourable men, who will never do anything to intentionally harm our nation,  it is obvious that small ruthless cabals exist within their parties, which  wield tremendous power and influence, and are dedicated to scorched-earth politics - and thus are prepared to sabotage the nation-building effort whenever their parties are in the political wilderness.

The tragedy for our nation is that those ruthless politicians are prepared to see our nation destroyed if need be - if that will enable them  either hold on to power or win it. Unspeakable - and such abominable callousness.

The Bernard Antwi-Boasiakos are classic examples of this breed of politician  -  and the fact that they are influential in the NPP speaks volumes. Verbally-aggressive individuals like that would never be allowed into any political party in the civilised world.

Ghanaians who can think for themselves, and are discerning enough, can see clearly the writing on the wall for the December 2016 elections, in the current jousting over the electoral process, between the NDC and NPP.

Clearly, whichever of the two parties loses the December 2016 presidential election, will resort to violence, on a scale never seen before, in our history.

However, Providence, will ensure, that they both fail to win the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2016 - so that Ghana continues to remain a peaceful and stable African nation.

The question is: To save Ghana from such a dreadful fate in December 2016, should the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), the People's National Convention (PNC),  and the Progressive People's Party (PPP), not be dissolved now - by  reversing into the Convention People's Party (CPP), and unite to fight the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections?

Nkrumahists of today ought to unite,  to form a new Convention People's Party, to offer Ghanaians a chance to unite again as a people - and work together, irrespective of party affiliation, to transform Ghanaian society into an African equivalent, of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia.

Ghana definitely needs a new kind of politics, and a new breed of politician, if our nation is to become a meritocracy, in which only the best-qualified individuals are appointed to positions in the public-sector - whatever their political affiliation is and irresective of their ethnic heritage as Ghanaians.

It is instructive that spokespersons for the NPP - a political party unable to manage its own finances (being indebted to banks and unable and  unwilling to repay those debts), but which wants to be given the opportunity to manage our nation's finances nonetheless -  never once  tell Ghanaians what alternative policies their party will use to resolve the economic difficulties that they criticise the current NDC government for. Talk about taking a whole nation for granted.

Yet, despite that deplorable failing,  the NPP's leading lights still expect their party  to be voted into power  in the December 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections -  no doubt for their government to spend  its energies heaping the blame for the plight of ordinary people,  on the NDC, when Ghanaians still continue to struggle to survive under an NPP regime too, after January 7th, 2017. And struggle they will - as sure as day follows night, if the NPP comes to power again, after December 2016.

Finally, those blinkered souls in Ghana, who continue to support the NDC and NPP blindly, must pause to ponder why those two parties, are so secretive about their sources of funding - and why their leading lights are so reluctant to publicly publish their assets, and those of their spouses, before assuming office,  and immediately after leaving office. Food for thought, indeed.

Ghanaians must take note of the fact that Freddie Blay, a vice-chairperson of the NPP, has made it absolutely clear that publicly publishing the assets of NPP appointees, will never happen when the party comes to power again, after the December 2016 presidential election. Discerning Ghanaians should draw their own conclusions from his frankness on the subject - and revise their notes accordingly.

Clearly, the NPP is as beholden to the vested interests slowly destroying our country by corrupting politicians and public servants, as the NDC is - and will be equally corrupt when in power: regardless of what its leaders say to the contrary.

Alas, as things currently stand, Ghana's politicians and political parties, are failing Mother Ghana and ordinary Ghanaians, terribly. Ghana certainly deserves better.




Monday, 17 August 2015

Let Us Protect Vulnerable Women In Ghana From Well-Connected Predatory Males

I was saddened to learn a few days ago, that Mr. Ernest Frimpong-Manso, who is a popular broadcast journalist in Ghana, had inferred that those who had not been supportive of a fellow Ghanaian journalist, when he faced trial for alleged rape, were somehow envious of a man once described by a wag I know, as a narcissistic dandy, obsessed with his appearance.

Some call such characters egoistic. And for the information of the Ernest Frimpong-Mansos,  the origin of that species of African dandy, is the two Congos: the Sapeurs. There is nothing original about their friend - who dazzles many here because garishness is mistaken for good taste, by some Ghanaians. Chi-chi,  good taste? Please.

I humbly suggest that Mr. Frimpong-Manso looks up the 28 May 2014 online edition of the UK  newspaper, the Daily Mail - which reported that publicist Max Clifford had been found guilty of 8 counts of indecent assault.

There was a copy of a painting in the style of Banksy, on the wall of a building on York Road,  Battersea, in that particular edition of the Daily Mail, which depicts Max Clifford with his pants down -  with the caption: "I Can Make You Famous". It sums up his friend, perfectly.

Perhaps one also ought to point out to the Ernest Frimpong-Mansos,  the similarities between the way the BBC's unspeakable and abominable Jimmy Saville (said to have indecently assualted or raped up to as many as 1000 boys and girls), exploited his demi-god status in the UK throughout his career, and how their  hypocritical friend also exploits his celebrity status to prey on young women.

If any journalist in Ghana, other than Mr. Frimpong-Manso, had been reported as implying envy in those who felt that a journalist described by some as a sexual predator (who allegedly preyed on young females, serially), who should not be allowed to get away with what are very serious crimes, one would have been predisposed to overlook their ignorance. And one would have pitied the unfortunate lack of a moral compass, in them, too.

However, it is inexcusable for Ernest Frimpong- Manso, who is a highly-intelligent gentleman, who has also lived in the UK before, and is said to have even trained as a lawyer there, to disparage those who are against women in Ghana, being disrespected by predatory males.

We must never forget that this a nation full of misogynists, in which philandering men in high places, in society, frequently harrass and assault women sexually - and invariably get away with their crimes.

That impunity must be brought to an end - and responsible journalists of both sexes must help secure the human rights of all women who face such situations in Ghana: who have a right to their dignity and a right not to have their bodies violated by evil men against their will.

One hopes that instead of merely expressing their disappointment, when the trials of predatory and well-connected males,  who are accused of indecently assaulting or raping women, are halted, the Honourable Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the member of Parliament for Ablekuma, and other female parliamentarians, will take practical steps to ensure that the impunity enjoyed by such philandering males finally ends in Ghana.

The Ursula Owusus, can, for instance, lobby the British high commissioner to Ghana, and seek his help in obtaining Metropolitan Police trainers, who are experts  in the investigation and prosecution of cases of historic allegations of rape and indecent assault, to come to Ghana, to train officers of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit, of the Ghana Police Service.

The Ernest Frimpong-Mansos know perfectly well that the halting of the prosecution of their friend, was for the selfsame reason that the prosecutions of Nayele Ametefeh's accomplices here were dropped: the manipulation of a corrupt system to protect well-connected individuals who would  definitely have been tried and jailed, if the offences they had been accused of, here, had been committed in the UK.

The Ernest Frimping-Mansos also know perfectly well that if media celebreties in the UK, such as David Lee Travis (convicted of indecent assault on 23 September, 2014), Rolf Harris (convicted of indecent assault on January 30 2014) and Max Clifford (convicted of indecent assault on May 2 2014), who were investigated during the Metropolitan Police's Operation Yewtree, and tried and jailed, had faced trial here, those charges would have  been dropped, and their prosecutions halted, by a corrupt system.

But since the UK isn't Ghana, the Ernest Frimpong-Mansos must pray hard, that none of the female victims of their friend,  currently lives in the UK - lest she gathers courage one day and suddenly surfaces to accuse him openly of an alleged incident of  historic rape or indecent assault.

And who knows when a #SisterReportRapeBySoAndSo will trend on twitter?

The Ernest Frimpong-Mansos must not think that having a Machiavellian philosophy in life,  provides an invincible protective shield that enables one escape the reach of the long arm of the law - and prevents those whom one has indecently assaulted in the past from seeking justice  in the law courts.

The question the Ernest Frimpong-Mansos must ponder over is: If even the legendary Max Clifford, could not organise an assault on the reputations of those he abused, in the UK media, what chance does their hypocritical friend have, in the UK, of successfully repeating the disgraceful media manipulation organised in Ghana on his behalf,  to trash his alleged Ghanaian victim's reputation,  if faced with a trending #SisterReportRapeBySoAndSo, emanating from the UK, from a past victim?

For the information of the Ernest Frimpong-Mansos, the truth, has a nasty habit of popping up when least expectd,  in such cases.

Speaking of which,  one ought to make the point that there was nothing sinister, in what is said to have taken place, at the Police Station where the matter was initially reported to the police. Their clever friend cannot seek solace in that.

It was entirely consistent with the mental state and behaviour of many traumatised rape victims in the immediate aftermath of a rape - who sometimes confide in their closest friends, but are averse to their 'secret' getting out, into the open.

 That is why the victim would have insisted - if the reported events there were true - that nothing untoward had occurred,  and apparently asked why her friends were forcing her to  report the matter.

Her friends, on the other hand, were obviously determined to seek justice for her, because they cared about her welfare, and were rightly outraged that someone rich and  famous, had violated their friend.

It was, and is, abominable, to assign base motives to the victim's friends, for their reporting the rape of someone they cared about - and then proceed to ridicule a close male friend of the victim in the media, to intimidate him and shut him up.

Finally, in light of all the above, has the time not now come for the media in Ghana (of which Ernest Frimpong-Manso is such an important member), to use its undoubted power in Ghanaian society, to mount a campaign to protect vulnerable females in Ghana, from predatory-males-in-high-places, across  our nation - by exposing them?




Sunday, 16 August 2015

Should Ghanaians Not Voluntarily Contribute To A Special Fund For Public-Sector Healthcare Professionals - To Prevent Them From Embarking On Future Strike Action?

Creative and original thinking, will always enable our homeland Ghana to forge ahead, after every crisis it experiences.

How, for example, can our nation and its people, turn the crisis caused by the strike embarked on by public-sector medical doctors, into an opportunity to improve the lot of all public-sector healthcare professionals: without burdening the state in so doing?

Despite the insufferable arrogance displayed by some of the leadership of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), over the last few days - and in spite of the fact that in pursuit of their demands they have made it abundantly clear that they are prepared to abandon the sick and dying, in government hospitals and polyclinics, to their fate -  should ordinary people in Ghana not create a fund which will be used to pay for the upkeep of public-sector healthcare professionals, who contract life-threatening infections, from the patients they treat?

Surely, as a people, if we sacrificed some of the billions of cedis we waste on funerals in this country, and some of the vast sums we also spend entertaining ourselves (with most of us overeating and drinking alcohol excessively to the detriment of our health) during weekends, and paid such monies into a special fund for the upkeep of public-sector healthcare professionals, who contract dangerous infections from patients attending government hospitals,  would we not be contributing to their welfare?

If such a special fund existed, what healthcare professional in Ghana, would ever think of embarking on strike action, which denies treatment to innocent people who fall ill and risk dying if left unattended by  medical doctors, and other public-sector healthcare professionals, I ask?

For the common weal, should entities in the Ghanaian business world, their employees, market women, artisans, students and Ghanaians in the Diaspora, etc., etc., all not contribute their widow's mite to such a special fund for public-sector healthcare professionals?

And as their contribution, could the best companies in Ghana's financial services sector, not work together to handle the investnent of some of the cash from the fund pro bono - as a joint CSR project: so that it will grow steadily over time?

And instead of pocketing the cash held in dormant accounts that have remained unclaimed for decades, what stops all the banks in Ghana from transferring those monies to such a fund, I ask?

Since they already have a track record of receiving and dispensing public donations into a special fund, in  transparent fashion, perhaps Osei Kwame Despite and his Best Point Savings and Loans Company Limited, could handle the creation of such a  fund?

Will such a gesture from ordinary Ghanaians not earn the eternal gratitude of public-sector healthcare professionals?

And will it not make them abandon the use of strike action - that ends up making victims of innocent people in Ghana, who need treatment when they fall ill, and those who  risk dying in medical emergencies  - in fighting for better compensation packages from their employer, the Ghana Health Service? Food for thought.

Post Script

In light of the untold suffering caused to sick people, by the callous refusal of striking public-sector medical doctors to treat the sick and dying, would it not be wise for all Ghanaians to also agree to contribute 5 cedis, to grow the internally generated funds of government hospitals and clinics across Ghana, each time they access such public-sector healthcare facilities?

 Would that not help improve conditions in government hospitals and clinics across Ghana - a nation with a cash-strapped government that is also indebted to the tune of tens of billions of cedis?

In so doing would ordinary people not be helping to improve the various local  government hospitals and clinics that they attend when they fall ill - without having to rely on a government that seldom has the money to improve such healthcare facilities, in the first place, to do so?


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Should Callous, Unreasonable And Disrespectful Doctors Be Working In Government Hospitals In Ghana?

It is unfortunate that many members of the leadership of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), are becoming increasingly strident in their public utterances.

They are also flailing and striking out in all directions against those they think are somehow unsupportive of the strike action they have embarked upon - because such individuals and organisations, either speak out against it, or urge the GMA to call it off.

The GMA's leadership's disrespectful attitude towards their critics, is most unfortunate - and smacks of arrogance of the worst sort: in a society that accords medical doctors such great respect. Why attack the National Peace Council's chairperson, for example? Monstrous.

What do they gain by insulting the Catholic Health Service - and by extension the Catholic Church: which are of the view that human life is sacrosant, and that the needy must be helped, and suffering in society, abated?

The question discerning minds ought to ponder over is: Will the sharp tongues of the current leadership of the  GMA  be able to stop posterity from judging them? Definitely not - and history will find them wanting for abandoning sick people to die. Doctors trading insults with the public, really is sickening.

The GMA cannot hold our nation to ransom -  and must not be allowed to do so.

Having said that, it is also important to make the point that it is wrong for anyone to say that the GMA's leadership, is being manipulated by the New Patriotic Party (NPP). That is patently slanderous - and we must condemn all  those who make such statements. It insults the intelligence of the GMA's leadership - and that cannot be right.

They are very clever people - and dangerous because they are prepared to allow innocent people to die: in order to achieve the ends they seek. No one should underrate them.

That is why we must not dismiss out of hand, the suggestion by some that the intransigence of the GMA's leadership, is political zealotry dressed up as concern for the future of young doctors - by jaundiced and highly-politicised medical doctors who are fanatical supporters of the NPP: obsessed with helping to remove the current government from power.

Furthermore, neither should we  be skeptical of those  who insist that the GMA's leadership are pursuing  a hidden agenda: helping to create a Ghanaian equivalent of Britain's winter of discontent, in which endless public-sector strikes by labour unions, led to the defeat of Prime Minister James Callaghan's Labour government in the 1979 election - and the election of Margaret Thatcher as the UK's first woman prime minister: by a weary and much-traumatised electorate in Britain.

If that is true, then it behoves the government of the day, to act to protect those Ghanaians who are too poor, to afford to attend hospitals in the private healthcare sector, when they fall ill - and could die if left unattended by public-sector doctors.

For that reason, the government has a moral obligation, to  take the GMA on - in order to save the lives of those too poor to access hospitals in the private healthcare sector.

Since it is now obvious that the GMA's leadership is not prepared to compromise, the time has now come for the government to act swiftly, to end the impasse - by giving striking public-sector doctors an altimatum: to either return to work or be sacked from their jobs.

The government can then set its own conditions for employing those of them who want to reapply to work in government hospitals again - and it should include an undertaking never to embark on strike action: if it will deny patients from receiving treatment in government hospitals.

The government must take a cue from the Catholic Health Service - and take steps to protect the human rights of innocent people in Ghana who become sick and could die if left unattended by doctors. All human life is of equal value. Like the rich in society who fall ill, poor sick people too, have a right to life.

The government must act to protect the lives of all such Ghanaians across the nation - by ensuring that doctors in the public-sector can never again embark on strike action that endangers lives and denies the sick treatment.

Enough is enough. No one in this country must be allowed to toy with the lives of Ghanaians. Callous,  unreasonable and disrespectful medical doctors (with overblown ideas about themserlves, and playing party politics, under cover), should not be working in government hospitals, anywhere in Ghana. Some of us have had enough of this egregious and abominable callousness, and the insufferable arrogance, being displyed by doctors paid from a much-shrunken public purse. Period.





Sunday, 9 August 2015

Ghana's Educated Urban Elites Must Also Make Sacrifices For The Common Weal

Dr. Justice Yankson, is reported to have said a few days ago, that he did not take a vow of poverty or servitude - in response to those who say that the Hippocratic Oath medical doctors take, should have precluded strike action, in their fight to improve their remuneration and obtain better conditions of service, from the Ghana Health Service, their employer.

The many strikes by professionals employed in the public-sector, for better pay and  more suitable conditions of service, and that flippant statement by the deputy general secretary of the Ghana Medical Association,  Dr. Justice Yankson, illustrate perfectly, just how so many of the members of Ghana's educated urban elite seem to live in a world of their own.

Many of them are completely out of touch with the realities of the current situation in our homeland Ghana. The plain truth, is that Mother Ghana, is flat broke.

When it comes to the pay, allowances and perks, that go with their public-sector jobs, it appears that they want to be as well paid, and live as comfortably, as their counterparts in the developed world.

How can that be, when our homeland Ghana, is in such dire straits?

This is still a very poor developing country - despite what members of our nation's political class say to the contrary.

A trip to the Ghanaian countryside will soon disabuse the minds of those who only see the poshest parts of urban Ghana - and therefore think that we have become a prosperous society.

To become a prosperous society, we must be a  more disciplined people - and be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices needed to ensure a better tomorrow for all Ghanaians.

Our educated urban elites need to understand that they too must make sacrifices for the common weal - for a better tomorrow for our nation and all its people.

President Mahama must set the example - by sacking that small army of so-called "presidential staffers" at the Flagstaff House.  There are far too many square-pegs-in-round-holes amongst them, for comfort.

What value do geniuses like the Stan Dogbes bring to our national life, in an era of austerity, I ask?

Let them publicly publish their pay, the value and nature of allowances they receive,  and the perks they enjoy - and then resign and go and find proper work in the real world, for a change. At least, they will then be contributing to the growth of Ghana's GDP, too. But I digress.

 If our educated urban elites continue to insist on always taking the biggest share of the national cake - in overly-generous pay rates, ever-bountiful allowances, and sundry perks - in a poor nation in which there is such poverty, and in which  huge disparities in wealth exist, they should  not be surprised if marginalised people in the bottom strata of society, finally snap, and rebel.

Should that come to pass (God forbid), it is the flippant  Dr. Justice Yanksons, and the smug Stan Dogbes, of our country, who will inevitably suffer terribly - in the chaos and violence that will follow such a rebellion: as sure as day follows night.

The signs are there, all over the nation, for those with eyes to see, to take note of  - and moderate their demands on the public purse.

Poor people aren't stupid - they realise that the dog-eat-dog society, which we have ended up with, under both National Democratic Congress and New Patriotic Party regimes, mostly benefits those on whose shoulders the burden of making sacrifices in the national interest,  falls the lightest.

The lot of the poor in Ghana is a life of utter misery that consists of never-ending belt-tightening, a struggle to survive that is unending, and untold suffering for families.

The plain truth is that the huge disparities in wealth in Ghana, actually poses a threat to the stability of our nation. Poor people cannot be expected to willingly continue paying taxes that benefit only a few public-sector employees - whiles the funding of other societal needs that will help improve their lot, is done in piecemeal fashion.

What is needed in Ghana is a more equitable distribution of the national cake.

The  Dr. Justice Yanksons, and other professional people employed in the public-sector, who have gone on strike for more pay and better conditions of service, must look at the difference in living standards between themselves and the less well-off in society - who pay  most of the taxes  they are paid with: yet are now being victimised by unwarranted strike action.

The Dr. Justice Yanksons need to be told plainly that it is  amoral and unjustifiable to deny ordinary people treatment when they fall ill or face imminent death if left untreated by medical doctors.

What harm have ordinary Ghanaians done to public-sector health professionals - such that medical doctors are refusing them treatment: in order to pressurise government negotiators?

Are those patients in hospitals across the country, whose conditions are worsening, and those who face imminent death, if left untreated, not the very taxpayers who pay the taxes public-sector doctors are paid from?

Let no Ghanaian medical doctor seek to justify such egregious callousness and unreasonableness - that uses ordinary people who become sick and face possible  death as pawns in a game they are not players in by any stretch of the imagination.

In the same vein, the Stan Dogbes need to be told to the face, that they are a massive drain on the public purse. Let them keep their traps shut - and not further aggravate the crisis situation our nation faces.

Above all, the Dr. Justice Yanksons must understand that they, like other professional people employed in the public-sector, who are members of Ghana's educated urban elite, must also learn to make sacrifices for the common weal: Indeed, it is in their own interest to do so - which is why  they must be moderate in the demands they make on the  public purse.











Thursday, 6 August 2015

Should Forests In Ghana Not Be Handed Over To Fringe Forest Communities To Protect?

It never ceases to amaze me that members of our political class have not yet realised the security implications of the impunity with which the wealthy criminal syndicates  behind illegal logging in our forests, and illegal gold mining in sites across the country, continue to operate.

Have Ghanaian politicians forgotten so soon that the civil wars in DR Congo,  Liberia and Sierra Leone, were a perfect cover to enable greedy warlords loot diamonds, gold and timber in those three nations, with impunity?

The same thing could easily happen here too - given the power and influence of the super-ruthless criminal syndicates behind illegal logging and illegal gold mining in Ghana.

Perhaps the question we ought to ask is: Has the time not now come to hand over forests in Ghana to fringe forest communities - if the long-term survival of Ghana's remaining forest cover is to be guaranteed?

The Forestry Commission could partner such communities - by putting its expertise at their disposal.

Speaking as someone whose family owns 14 square miles of upland evergreen rainforest, on a freehold basis, in the Atewa upland evergreen  rainforest, I can see the effect of the powerlessness of the poorly-resourced Forestry Commission to halt illegal logging in our country.

(Incidentally, we have owned land at Akyem Juaso since 1921. 99.6 acres of our land actually lies inside the Atewa Forest Reserve.  We see ourselves as mere stewards of some of the most beautiful forestland in the world - and want an area designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) preserved for humankind.  For decades now, some of us have risked our lives fighting the wealthy criminals engaged in illegal logging and illegal gold mining, in the area. At age 62, we now want to make sure the authorities deal effectively with the illegal loggers and illegal gold miners destroying the Atewa forest, before we die. But I digress.)

One  can also see clearly, how the wealthy criminals who sponsor the production of illegal chainsaw lumber, are corrupting  some of the poorly-paid Forestry Commission officials sent to arrest chainsaw operators felling trees illegally - who apparently alert chainsaw operators of planned raids before they are carried out.

Naturally, those Forestry Commission officials, are keenly aware that they could easily be murdered by those they are sent to arrest - so think it prudent to accept such inducements to avoid raising their ire.

In light of that debilitating institutional paralysis, should the job of halting the rape of our remaining forests,  therefore not be given to the Ghana Armed Foreces' Army and Air Force Special Forces units?

If the two armed services' special forces regularly patrol the Atewa upland evergreen rainforest by helicopter - accompanied by the relevant Forestry Commission officials - during daylight hours, for example, they could then take on the illegal chainsaw gangs that operate at night, using night-vision and thermal-imaging equipment. They could do same for other forest reserves in Ghana, too.

If that is too expensive to be done on a regular basis, the government could approach the satellite video streaming company, Urthecast, to provide streaming video of forests in Ghana - so that those who engage in illegal logging and illegally mine gold in forests in Ghana can be identified, arrested, prosecuted and jailed.

The question the minister of lands and natural resources, and the top brass of the Forestry Commission, should ponder, is: How is it possible for illegal chainsaw lumber to be transported from Akyem Juaso, and other areas in the forest belt, to Accra and other urban centres, on a regular basis?

Yet, if the protection of the Atewa upland evergreen rainforest - and other forests in Ghana - is put into the hands of fringe forest communities, such as Akyem Juaso, and a deal is struck with the government of Norway, to pay them the same millions of dollars it has paid to the government of Guyana over the years, to protect Guyana's forests, why would fringe forest communities in Ghana also not ensure the protection of the Atewa forest and other forests in our country?

The time has come to hand over forests in Ghana to fringe forest communities to protect those forests - and strike low carbon development deals with nations like Norway to pay money directly to such communities for protecting the forests they border.

And the job of halting the activities of illegal loggers and illegal gold miners, should be handed over to the Ghana Armed Forces' Army and Air Force special forces - if the criminal syndicates that sponsor illegal logging and illegal gold mining are not to evolve into terrorist organisations fueling rebellions across Ghana.

Finally, as  punishment for their crimes against humanity, which organising the egregious  gang-rape of the Atewa forest amounts to,  the military authorities can start their work protecting forests in Ghana, by getting the Military Police to monitor, arrest, and hand over to the Ghana Police Service - for their prosecution and jailing - Obaa Yaa (Tel: 0231743659) and Kwesi/Kweku (Tel: 0272267763 & 0244802763), the leader of her chainsaw gang (whose name I am not too sure of).

They operate with unprecedented ruthlessness, in the area within the Atewa forest's forestry boundary pillars 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97 and 98, at Akyem Juaso,  known locally as "Thompson" and "Fran├žois".















Wednesday, 5 August 2015

A few Things President Mahama's Regime Could Do Before December 2016 - That Could Also Be Continued After January 2017 By Its Successor-Regime

I have often wondered why it never occurs to our present rulers to issue long-term government paper, to the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) - to which government bodies owe nearly some US$1.2 billion or thereabouts - to settle government's indebtedness to the state-owned  power distributor.

Since there are boutique firms in Ghana's financial services sector, which can buy the long-term government paper from the ECG, at a discount, for cash, surely, that is a creative way for the present government to resolve the ECG's major problem: lack of cash to modernise its creaky infrastructure?

Another problem that the government of President Mahama could help resolve, is ending the havoc caused by potholes in many of the roads in Ghana's road network - which have caused countless fatal accidents, as the drivers of vehicles have manoeuvred to avoid them, and have ruined, and continue to ruin, the shock absorbers of millions of vehicles plying roads in the country - by promoting the simple technology of mixing melted plastic waste with bitumen to build plastic roads.

Plastic roads last longer than ordinary roads, carry heavier loads, remain pothole-free throughout their lifespan, and, because plastic is impermeable to water, won't get washed away by flash floods, during the rainy season. We could also climate-change-proof roads in Ghana by using that simple and cost-effective technology.

For that reason, why does the government of President Mahama not dispatch scientists from the Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI), of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), to India, to inspect plastic roads built by Jusco, a Tata subsidiary in the Tata steel city of Jamshedpur, and bring the technology to Ghana - so that road contractors can leverage it and build plastic roads throughout Ghana?

The BRRI could also collaborate with the Dutch company, VolkerWessel's road building subsidiary, KWS Infra, which is focusing on developing a hollow type of plastic road for the city of Rotterdam - and adopt it for constructing pavements and urban roads in Ghana. Because they are hollow and come in sections, that will enable utility companies to lay their cables and pipes, without ruining pavements.

And why does President Mahama's government not ask the State Housing Company (SHC),  to collaborate with the UK company, Precast Concrete Products Limited - to build well-designed prefabricated concrete classroom blocks, dormitories and staff housing for public-sector educational institutions, in record numbers and in record time, before December 2016, as legacy projects?

Could truly affordable housing not also be provided for ordinary people throughout Ghana using prefabricated building engineering systems?

And instead of allowing Indians and other nationals to come here to buy gold directly from illegal gold miners across the country, without paying any taxes to the government, why does Parliament not pass new draconian laws preventing that nation-wrecking pratice?

Instead of complaining about those Indian gold buyers breaking the law by buying gold from the countryside, could the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) not set up a website to sell gold online directly to buyers from around the globe - who would pay for any gold bought online from the PMMC to be sent to them by courier firms such as DHL?

Foreign buyers purchasing gold directly from the PMMC  could also visit Ghana personally to collect their gold.

And one envisions wealthy Chinese and other Asian nationals coming to visit Ghana to buy and take away gold - meaning that tour companies here could develop a lucrative niche serving high-spending tourists from  Asia: who could combine gold purchasing trips to Ghana, with elephant-watching safari trips to Mole National Park, traversing the forest canopy walkways in Kakuum and Bunso, and sitting atop crocodiles at Paga.

And come to think of it,  the Bank of Ghana could make billions of cedis selling gold coins with Adinkra symbols online, too - as well off Ghanaians pile into them as a hedge against inflation and as a veritable store of value in a nation with a pepertually weakening currency.

The Bank of Ghana and the PMMC can take inspiration from websites such as BullionVault.com and GoldSilver.com.

There is no reason why when the gold refinery starts operating, Ghana cannot become a global centre, for purchasing credit-card-sized gold bars. The sale of Adinkra gold coins and gold bars to foreign buyers will also help improve our balance of trade considerably - and help strengthen our weak currency more sustainably.

We will then end an iniquitous and monstrous system - in which foreign gold companies come to Ghana to mine gold, take away vast profits, and leave society to deal with degraded forests, poisoned soils and rivers.

And what stops the Volta River Authority (VRA) from collaborating with PracticalAction, the UK non-profit that builds mini and micro hydro power plants - to ensure that the mini hydro power projects Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's Convention People's Party  government planned to build before it was overthrown in the 1966 military coup, are finally built?
  
Finally, at a time when global warming is impacting our country negatively, should Ghana not be establishing industrial hemp (not to be confused with Cannibis Sativa, marijuana) plantations on marginal land, and on land reclaimed by small-scale gold miners? Industrial hemp can provide raw material for textile factories, produce biofuels, and be used as feedstock for biomass power plants, to mention just three of the many uses to which industrial hemp can be put. Incidentally, as many as 25,000 products are said to be made from industrial hemp.

Over time, it may very well be that dividends from the PMMC, reinvigorated by its online gold selling  business, could pay for some of the projects above.













Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Does The Hippocratic Oath Still Hold Any Meaning For The Medical Profession In Ghana?

It is unlikely to become superannuated. It serves as a powerful reminder  and declaration that we are all a part of something infinitely larger, older, and more important than a particular specialty or institution....The need for physicians to make a formal warrant of diligent, moral, and ethical conduct in the service of their patients may be stronger than ever.
                                                            -  Dr. Howard Markel.

The quotation above is Dr. Howard Markel's viewpoint on the relevance of the Hippocratic Oath. He is a George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of The History of  Medicine at the University of Michigan and Director of the University of Michigan's Centre for the History of Medicine. He is also professor of  Psychiatry, Health Management, History, and Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases.

As is commonly known, it takes years of study and training, to become a medical doctor. And when they finally graduate from medical school, and start work, a medical doctor's working day, seeing and treating patients, is often full of stress.

It is also a fact that medical doctors all over the world are highly-respected members of society. And quite right too - for healthcare professionals ensure the health of the citizens of nations the world over. And health, it is said, is wealth.

That is why all Ghanaians ought to be concerned when there is agitation by healthcare professionals over pay and working conditions.

It is a pity that 91 medical doctors - who had apparently not been paid for as long as  11 months - had to besiege the head office building of the Controller and Accountant General's Department, in Accra, before they were paid. Why were they not paid all those months?

The government ought to ensure that it provides doctors (and other healthcare professionals) in government hospitals with conditions of service that are fair and take account of the peculiar and demanding nature of their work - as demanded by the Ghana Medical Association (GMA).

Having said that, it is also important to make the point that the medical profession is not one for mercenary individuals. Those of them who want to live the lifestyles of tycoons, at taxpayers' expense, should set up their own hospitals - and resign from the employment of the Ghana Health Service.

Doctors employed in government hospitals must be reasonable in the demands they make on the public purse. Despite what members of our political class say, Ghana is still a poor developing nation - one only has to travel around the countryside to realise that.

Perhaps to set the right tone, the government itself must get rid of the small army of "special assistants" and "presidential aides" at the presidency - to send a clear message to all public-sector workers that we are indeed in austere times.

Doctors and other public-sector healthcare professionals in Ghana must understand that their salaries are paid from the taxes collected from hardpressed Ghanaians, such as  truck-pushers, watchmen, market women and kayayie - who have to struggle daily to survive. Why deny such vulnerable people medical care when they need it? That is intolerable.

The public purse in Ghana is not a bottomless one. Elsewhere, doctors have had to take pay cuts. Junior doctors in Ireland, for example, had their annual salaries cut from €60,000 to €50,000 last year, because of the difficulties faced by the Irish economy. The same goes for doctors in Greece - some of whom have had as much as 40% slashed from their salaries.

Relatively speaking, Ghanaian doctors are better paid than many professionals, in the public-sector.

Whatever be the case, no one in Ghana should seek to justify strike action by public-sector medical doctors. We must never forget that strike action by doctors always results in avoidable and preventable deaths.

And when the Dr. Frank Serebours of the GMA speak in public, they must remember that no matter the provocation, as medical doctors, they must always be measured in what they say to their critics. Why call someone an "idiot" whiles speaking on live radio, when "genius" would be a far better word to express their feelings towards those critics?

It is morally untenable for doctors to deny treatment to those who go to government healthcare facilities when they fall sick - because professionals who took a solemn oath to treat the sick at all material times have chosen to ignore that solemn oath and gone on strike. That is totally unacceptable. Public-sector doctors owe it to ordinary Ghanaians never to go on strike.

The question is: How can those who take the Hippocratic Oath in good conscience refuse to serve those whose taxes pay their salaries and allowances?

Does the Hippocratic Oath no longer hold any meaning for public-sector medical doctors in Ghana? It would be shameful if that indeed were the case.

The Professor Easmons, Professor Dodus, Professor Laings, Professor Quarteys, Professor Oduros, Professor Baidoes, Professor Bensti-Enchills, and the rest of that generation of exceptional Ghanaian medical doctors, must be turning in their graves. Pity.

Public-sector workers of all categories and grades are employed to serve the ordinary people of Ghana. A law should be passed to ban all public-sector employees  from ever going on strike. The work they do, and the services they render the general public,  are essential prerequisites for life as we know it, in today's Ghana. Period.

Above all, the Hippocratic Oath ought to have some meaning for medical doctors employed in Ghana's public-sector healthcare facilities. Food for thought for the hardliners amongst the  GMA's leadership - who appear hell-bent on embarking on strikes at every opportunity that comes their way. Unspeakable and abominable behaviour, for medical doctors.