Sunday, 31 January 2016

On Whose Behalf In Ghana Did Four U.S. Senators Write That Outrageous Blackmailing Letter?

If it is not a gigantic hoax, then that outrageous letter apparently written to the chairpersons of two key congressional committees, by four U.S. senators who are members of the Republican Party, raises  a number of issues that ought to be explained to Ghanaians.

The Hon. Mathew Opoku Prempeh is reported in sections of the Ghanaian media, to have alleged that President Mahama apparently agreed to take in, as many as 15  ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees.

Yet, the letter said to have been written by the four Republican U.S. Senate members, states clearly that only two freed ex-detainees from the Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison, were accepted to be taken in by the authorities in Ghana.

With respect, on what basis do the Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempehs, who are members of Parliament, and therefore very important members of Ghanaian society, by virtue of that fact, make their very serious allegations?

One hopes that those who say that patriotic Ghanaians ought not to  rule out the possibility that some politicians in Ghana used their contacts in the U.S. to lobby the four U.S. senators to write that letter, are wrong in what they say - for that would amount to treasonable conduct that slights our nation and invites the ridicule of right-wing politicians who are  probably even contemptuous of black people.

Do those who brought the existence of that letter to the attention of Ghanaians, perhaps want the general public  to infer from its contents, that Ghana is being paid  U.S.$10 million for each of the two ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees - and by extension the same amount for any others that might also be accepted into Ghana, just to score political points, as a result  of that inference?

Reading between the lines, and judging by its tone and contents, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that the letter purportedly written by the four Republican Party U.S. senators, to the chairperson of a key Senate Committee, and chairperson of one of its subcommittees, was most probably written at the behest of registered U.S. lobbyists covertly acting on behalf of Ghanaian  politicians.

Apparently, the four Republican U.S. senators, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Steve Daines of Montana and James Lankford of Oklahoma, believe that aside from the Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison, no other prison anywhere else in the world, including even the U.S. itself, can hold any of the terrorist suspects apprehended by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq securely.

Yet they demand that Ghana should somehow guarantee that the two ex-detainees who were incarcerated for fourteen long years without any charges being preferred against them, and without  being tried in a court of law by the U.S., will not escape from Ghana and harm the U.S. and its citizens (God forbid)  - and they also imply that the spokesperson of the U.S. Embassy in Ghana misinformed  Ghanaians about the terms and conditions of the agreement that led to Ghana accepting those two ex-detainees from the Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison.

The question Ghanaians must ponder over is:  Why would U.S. senators Mark Kirk, Roy Blunt, Steve Daines and James Lankford, single out Ghana, from the long list of nations that have accepted to take in ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees - and write that outrageous letter that patronises our nation so, to the chairperson of the U.S. Senate's Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programmes, Lindsay Graham, and the chairperson of the U.S. Senate's Appropriations Committee, Thad Cochran? Who put them up to it, one wonders?

Why are some Ghanaian politicians still so quick to stab the very nation they want to rule  in the back - just like their political forebears did yesterday by collaborating with imperialists and colonialists who exploited our nation's resources and people so ruthlessly during the colonial era - even though they claim to be democrats who believe in the rule of law?

Did those traitors ask their right-wing contacts in the U.S. to lobby the four Republican U.S. senators on their behalf, in order to elicit that letter - so that they could ratchet up the raging controversy in Ghana over the Mahama administration accepting to take in two ex-Guantanamo US. military prison detainees a notch higher: and score political points that way?

Why are such politicians still so treacherous - after nearly  59 years since Ghana gained its independence? It appears they will never change. Most nations that face the threat of terrorism, unite to fight them. Must we allow short-sighted,  foolhardy and self-seeking politicians to divide us at a time when terrorists are attacking sister nations of ours in West Africa?

Perhaps it would be wise for discerning young generation Ghanaians to be guided by the past when listening to and evaluating such extremist politicians - some of  whom have unfortunately seized control  of their party from a cowed, silent majority of fair-minded and tolerant moderates - when considering who to cast votes for during election campaigns.

It ought to be pointed out to Ghana's young generation that in 1958 Ghana was a parliamentary democracy. The nation was then governed by Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah's democratically-elected Convention People's Party (CPP) government.

Yet, a few individuals in society at the time, Modesto Apaloo, R. R. Amponsah, who was the general secretary of the National Liberation Movement, and later of the merged opposition, United Party,  and Captain Awhaitey, the commandant of the Giffard Camp, known today as Burma Camp, conspired to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Ghana - despite the fact that it had the support of an overwhelming majority of ordinary people in the country.

It was an intelligence report that Dr. J. B. Daquah was overhead at a diplomatic party telling a foreign diplomat that Nkrumah would be overthrown soon, which led to the plot being discovered. The objective of their coup plot was to assassinate Nkrumah as he left for a trip to India. The Granville Sharp Commission report contains details of that coup plot.

There was yet another plot to overthrow Nkrumah in 1961. In that instance, it was the death of Brigadier Michel, one of the conspirators, in a plane  crash, on 13th August 1961, which eventually scuttled their planned military coup.

The question is: Why were Dr. Danquah and Co, who said they believed in the rule of law, prepared to use such unconstitutional means to get to power?

The simple answer, is that from the very beginning, when the idea to form a new organisation that would lead the fight to rid our people of the British occupiers of our country, was mooted - by one of the wealthiest Africans then, the highly-successful self-made timber merchant, George Alfred Grant (aka Paa Grant) - J. B. Danquah and Co saw it as an opportunity for the progeny of the precolonial fuedal ruling elites, to replace the Britsh occupiers of our country.

That new nationalist organisation, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), established on 4th August, 1947, and which was bankrolled by Paa Grant, was the perfect vehicle to help Danquah  and Co to achieve the end they sought for themselves.

When Nkrumah broke away from the UGCC to form the CPP, on 12 June, 1949, and went on to win the elections of 1951, 1954 and 1956, it put paid to Danquah and Co's long-held dream that the progeny of the precolonial feudal ruling elites would replace the British colonial regime, as the new rulers of Ghana.

They resorted to sabotaging the nation-building effort with the aim of bringing about the CPP government's downfall.

In fact physically eliminating Nkrumah became an obsession with Danquah and Co. After countless acts of terrorism (mostly exploding powerful dynamite in crowded venues) they finally succeeded in overthrowing Nkrumah in 1966 - after military and police traitors were paid U.S.$13 million by the U.S. according to declassified National Security Council (NSC) documents from the Johnson Presidential Library.

Ironically, U.S. officials, in private - according to released Johnson-era  National Security Council documents - were contemptuous of the leaders of the new military regime that replaced the CPP government of Nkrumah in 1966, for toadying up to the West. Capital.

The determination of Danquah and Co to do everything possible to remove Nkrumah's CPP from power, was because in their view, a government made up of 'veranda boys with some Ntafuo in it' (to quote Dr. J. B. Danquah himself) had no business running the Ghana that they had a  God-given right to dominate and rule, till the very end of time.

Alas, nothing has changed - and many of today's political progeny of Danquah and Co still feel that because they labour under the illusion that somehow they have a God-given right to rule Ghana, they are justified in  whatever means they employ to enable them secure the ends they seek.

That is why like their political forebears, some of the political progeny of Dr. Danquah and Co are today busy sabotaging the nation-building effort. Today, there are  extremist politicians busy undermining a government of the day - by keeping their promise to make Ghana ungovernable - to ensure that it leads to a return to power for their political party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

That outrageous letter signed by the four Republican U.S. senators is without a shadow of doubt the handiwork of some of the progeny of yesteryear's traitors.

That is why the question we must pose is: Who are the traitors in our midst who used their U.S. contacts to achieve an end they sought, for short-term political gain: the blatant interference in our nation's politics that that outrageous letter from those arrogant U.S. senators that patronises our nation so, represents?

Luckily, because America is an open society, it is possible to find out who actually lobbied the four conservative U.S.senators, by leveraging the following:

1) The U.S. Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995  & U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.

2) The U.S. Honest Leadership & Open Government Act of 2007.

The question is: Why does a media house from one of the more responsible sections of the Ghanaian media, not to write to the New York Times, to contact the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee to point out the blatant interference by the four Republican U.S. senators in our nation's politics, and demand that they disclose who lobbied them to come up with that blackmailing nonsense on bamboo stilts?

If the letter said to have been written by the four U.S. senators is not a hoax, then it will not come as a surprise to some Ghanaians that members of a conservative U.S. think-tank with known links to imperialism's fifth-column in Ghana (do they refer to The Heritage Foundation, perhaps, one wonders?), might have been put up to this outrage by those in our homeland Ghana, who are continuing their tradition of constantly stabbing Mother Ghana in the back, for short-term political gain. Pity.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Why Does The Hon. Kwadwo Baah Agyemang Not Sponsor A Private Member's Bill For Passage Into A Law Requiring Cattle Farmers In Ghana To Fence In Their Herds?

There is no question that most Ghanaians who are aware of it, have had enough of the criminal activities of the lawless elements amongst Fulani cattle herdsmen, across the country.

Many of those victimised  by Fulani herdsmen want them to be prosecuted swiftly, jailed and deported from Ghana, after serving their sentences - if they are not Ghanaian citizens.

Indeed, one doubts very much whether there is any Ghanaian, who does not empathise with the people of the farming communities, which are being made to suffer economic losses resulting from the destruction of farms by grazing cattle herded by Fulanis.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Nathan Kofi Boakye, the Ashanti Regional Police Commander, is right in saying that the time has now come for the nation to take bold action to deal effectively, once and for all, with lawless Fulani cattle herdsmen.

It is intolerable that farmers in many areas of Asante Akyem, for instance, should be raped, maimed and murdered with impunity on their own farms by Fulani herdsmen.

In light of such abominable crimes, it does not come as a surprise that most young people in Agogo  and its periphery, want Fulani herdsmen to leave with their cattle - and are threatening to take the law into their own hands to drive them away if need be.

However, since we are a nation of laws, it is important that in dealing with the lawless elements amongst Fulani herdsmen, no one is allowed to resort to unlawful action.

The question is: As a people, what creative means can we use, to resolve this thorny issue - especially as the possibility exists that some of them might eventually evolve into terrorists: given the callous disregard for human life shown by vicious Fulani herdsmen who commit heinous crimes such as highway robberies?

In our democratic society underpinned by the rule of law, Parliament holds the key to the resolution of the problem, in my humble view.

It is only Parliament that can pass the needed laws that will force the wealthy and powerful individuals who outsource the entirety of the operational side of their cattle-rearing businesses, to Fulani herdsmen, to take ultimate responsibility for the activities of their agents and assigns.

Since he is a parliamentarian, why does the Hon. Kwadwo Baah Agyemang, the MP for Asante Akyem North, not lobby his colleagues in Parliament, for bipartisan support, for a private member's bill to be passed under a certificate of urgency, into a law that states unambiguously that cattle can only be reared and kept within secure fenced-in areas in Ghana - for which permits have to be first obtained from District Assemblies - and can be moved from one point to another only in vehicles, but then  only after prior permission for such movement from one point to another has been obtained from the police?

If the Hon. Kwadwo Baah Agyemang successfully lobbies his colleagues to enable Parliament pass a private member's bill, sponsored by him, into a law, he will be exhibiting rare leadership that will enable him leave a lasting legacy as a responsible politician - which is far better for him in the long-term than being remembered as a parliamentarian who was once sought by the police because he was a rabble-rouser.

Grandstanding to take advantage of public discontent in a volatile situation, which could ultimately lead to violence and chaos anywhere in our homeland Ghana, for short-term political gain, really is despicable. For Mother Ghana's sake we must always condemn politicians who attempt to do so.

Ghana's global reputation as a haven of peace and stability in West Africa is a priceless asset, which ought to be guarded jealously, by all patriotic and well-meaning Ghanaians.

Under no circumstances should Ghanaians allow block-headed and verbally-aggressive politicians to destroy it - which is why many independent-minded and patriotic Ghanaians (including little old me) are so contemptuous of verbally-aggressive politicians like the New Patriotic Party's Bernard Antwi Boasiakos and the National Democratic Congress' Robert Owusus.

With respect, instead of expending his considerable energies engaging in rabble-rousing, the Hon. Kwadwo Baah Agyemang ought to focus instead, on getting a law passed by Parliament to enable law enforcement agencies, and officials of District Assemblies, to end the atrocities committed by Fulani cattle herdsmen in Agogo and other areas  across our homeland Ghana.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

What Exactly Is The Point Of Government Ministers Speaking To Ghanaian Journalists Guilty Of Mean-Spirited Partisanship?

It is such a pity that Ghana's  Attorney General, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, had to complain to the National Media Commission (NMC), about comments attributed to her by Joy FM's Kojo Yankson.

The question is: Why did Mrs. Marrietta Brew Appiah-Oppong not simply  walk away from Kojo Yankson without answering him - when he approached her and questioned her without first identifying himself?

As an aternative course of action, in such a situation, what is wrong with smiling and simply saying: "No comment, young man."?

There would have been absolutely no need for her to complain to the NMC if the Attorney General had had the presence of mind to refrain from responding to Kojo Yankson - and the unfortunate impression in the minds of many that she was backtracking and seeking to swallow words she had  uttered would have been avoided. Pity.

It is important that cabinet ministers in Ghana don't feel that somehow they are compelled by society to always answer questions from journalists. That is daft.

They would be wise to refer such journalists to the spokespersons of the ministries they head - and focus on their work instead.

They need to work hard doing what they are mandated to do at the ministries they head,  to support a beleaguered President, who, alas, has his back to the wall - unfairly, in the view of some independent-minded and patriotic Ghanaians, it ought to be noted.

Above all, in case they forget, the Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppongs must always remember that the President - a northerner loathed by many closet tribal-supremacists in Ghana for whom even in  21st century Africa being ruled by a northerner is an abomination - has to deal with the egregious mendacity of the worst of the political progeny of yesterday's bomb-throwers, who, like their political forebears, are busy sabotaging the nation-building effort at every turn, simply because they are not in charge of our homeland Ghana.

That President Mahama's real crime, for the most implacable of his political opponents, is that he is a northerner, is a fact. And, that it is the elephant in the room, for even many fair-minded and independent-minded Ghanaians, is also a fact. In a nation full of fence-sitting moral cowards, perhaps the reluctance of many decent people in Ghana to openly acknowledge the grain of truth in that outrage is also understandable.

Ironically, the most cynical of those closet tribal-supremacist political opponents of the President, always start off by accusing their victim of being a tribalistic politician, who is guilty of playing tribal politics. Incredible.

The question is: Do those backward and hypocritical individuals with antediluvian worldviews not understand that no tribe is superior or inferior to another in Nkrumah's Ghana -  particularly in the 21st century information age?

Surprising though it might be to them, scientific research has shown clearly that we share virtually the same DNA, whichever part of the Republic of Ghana we hail from. Long story short: We are one and the same people, it turns out.

It also ought to be pointed out that given the controversy generated by the presence in Ghana of the two ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees, not identifying himself to the Attorney General before speaking to her to solicit her views on the matter, was unprofessional of Kojo Yankson.

Sadly, unprofessional conduct is rife in the Ghanaian media today.

For the sake of our country, and its people, journalists in Ghana ought to be more professional in their work. Those of them who want to become politicians should follow the example of those journalists in Ghana who have left their jobs with media houses to join political parties. That is a more honest and honourable approach.

Unsurprisingly, there are some in the Ghanaian media world - who know about such things - who say that Kojo Yankson  saw an opportunity to ambush the Attorney General, and score political points for the political party he favours, and took it with alacrity. His conduct was clearly unethical, if that indeed is true.

Unfortunately, Joy FM, the Ghanaian-owned radio station that provided a platform for the BBC World Service's late Komla Dumor's talent, is now enveloped by a miasma of mean-spirited partisanship.

That  is why years ago some of us switched to listening to Peace FM instead - to avoid having to listen to that tiresome and pretentious crowd with overblown ideas about themselves at Joy FM. Arrogant lot - yet not a single world-class individual in the Komla Dumor-mould amongst them.

At this stage of the game, Mrs. Marrietta Brew Appiah-Oppong and her cabinet colleagues, would be wise to do so too - and  give journalists from Joy FM a wide berth when approached.

What exactly is the point of high-ranking government ministers speaking to journalists, who mask their mean-spirited partisanship, by giving the world the false impression that they are earnest about carrying out the societal watchdog role, which  journalists are supposed to play, in a  democracy, when in reality they are actually engaged in ever-so-subtle propaganda on behalf of self-seeking politicians - in what after all is an election campaign  for what will be a hotly-contested presidential election that is only a few months away? Odd, that.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

How Well-Prepared To Govern Ghana Are The Opposition Presidential Candidates?

One's prayer, as our nation's politicians step up their campaigns for this year's presidential and parliamentary elections, in November, is that all the opposition political parties are putting together solid transition teams  - and, most important of all, are also actively preparing to actually govern the country after the elections.

During the campaign for the December 2008 presidential election, Professor Mills, who was the candidate of the then biggest opposition party, the  National Democratic Congress (NDC), told Ghanaians that he would 'hit the ground running',  if elected President.

Yet it took quite some time for his administration to find its feet - and fill many positions that should have been quickly filled if much thought had been given to the actual governing process: and there had consequently been prior preparation for administering the nation.

Why weren't capable people pencilled for various positions, and vetted well beforehand by the NDC, itself, at the time, one wonders?

The question independent-minded and patriotic Ghanaians ought to ponder is: How well-prepared to govern Ghana are those opposition politicians currently seeking the presidency - should one of them win power after the presidential election this November? 

Should opposition politicians serious about winning power and governing Ghana still  be at each others throats' for control of their parties even at this late stage of the game - when they need to be  actively preparing to govern the nation?

What kind of an administration will a presidential candidate, seemingly incapable of uniting his own party, form, when in power? Who is pointing out the  potential for never-ending tension and paralysis in such an administration to Ghanaians?

Having listened to the many promises made by some of those seeking power, ordinary people need to know just how well-prepared for governing the country, the various presidential candidates actually are.

The Ghanaian media can ensure that by demanding solutions for resolving our nation's many challenges, from opposition politicians, each time they criticise the present regime.

Being able to clearly outline sound alternative policies, to resolve the myriad of problems our nation and its people are currently grappling with, is proof-positive that a politician vying to be president, is indeed well-prepared to govern our nation.

There is a world of difference between making countless promises in order to win votes, and being well-prepared to govern the country, after winning power and becoming president - in a nation that faces the conundrum of having to fund its development itself whiles spending nearly 70 percent of total tax revenues on about 600,000 or so  mostly-unproductive public-sector employees.

By what magical process is a debt-distressed nation that currently imports virtually everything under the sun, instead of manufacturing such goods itself, and which is said to be virtually bankrupt (according to some opposition politicians), going to be turned into a prosperous one within four years - when all its traditional cultures kill curiousity in the young and its educational system seldom produces innovators who can effect dramatic change in society?

Can our commodity-based national economy - the health of which is at the mercy of the volatility of international commodity prices and realistically will take nearly a decade to be transformed - really be turned into a booming  economy producing wealth and jobs within four years by any political party in Ghana, today?

And will politicians whose inner circles  are criticism-averse, and frequently resort to the Machiavellian controlling-tactic of intimidation-by-proxies, to cow free-spirits and the independent-minded within their own parties, guarantee the freedoms needed to spur the creation of an entrepreneurial culture that will bring about  prosperity in Ghana?  Food for thought.

Be that as it may, at least one hopes that as we speak, all the opposition politicians vying for the presidency in the November elections, are at least actively preparing to govern Ghana effectively - even as they criss-cross the country campaigning to be elected to the very important position of President of the Republic of Ghana. They have their work cut out satisfying a disgruntled and disillusioned populace. For Mother Ghana's sake one wishes all of them well.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Should President Mahama Persuade Prince Kofi Amoabeng To Take Over The Running Of SADA?

Not too long ago, Prince Kofi Amoabeng, the founder of the UT Group, was reported by sections of the Ghanaian media to have stated that a challenge he relishes, is being handed the judiciary system in Ghana, with the mandate to transform it into a profitable entity.

Given his track record, thus far, one has no doubt that it is a feat Prince Kofi Amoabeng can actually achieve - especially as most of those who work in the judiciary will support any agenda to transform it and make it a profitable undertaking that pays all those it employs compensation packages that are comparable to those earned by their counterparts in the UK, for example, from its internally-generated funds.

However, the task one thinks ought to be given to Prince Kofi Amoabeng, immediately, is to be handed the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), so that he can transform the area it covers into a thriving part of Ghana, in which young people who are ambitious and hardworking can become properous small business owners - by pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.

In light of the frustrations faced by millions of people who live there, the need to transform the administrative regions covered by SADA is so urgent and vital a task, that the government ought to put Prince Kofi Amoabeng in charge of it as soon as practicable.

The government must appeal to his sense of patriotism to persuade him to accept this urgent national assignment.

One finds it frustrating that vast swathes of the countryside areas covered by SADA, still remain poor, although they could support small-scale enterprises that could produce highly sought after products such as organic moringa seed oil, cold-pressed organic neem seed oil and neem seed cake, organic baobab powder, organic baobab seed oil, organic Voacangaa africana seed oil, organic shea butter and neem seed oil body cream, organic shea butter and neem seed oil pomade and soap, organic rice, organic fruits and vegetables, both for local and export markets.

 An example of such a cottage industry owner, is Madam Cynthia Kampoe, a serial social entrepreneur, who leads a women's group based in Tamale that produces all the above-mentioned organic products.

The value-chains of their various product lines provide over 300 sets of twins with scholarships and financially empower countless women in the three northern regions. Incredibly, they are struggling to survive. That really is unacceptable and intolerable.

Yet, all they need is funding to purchase modern production equipment, and to purchase raw materials. As it happens, their social enterprises produce organic products, which have lucrative niche overseas fairtrade export markets that could turn all those phenomenally hardworking rural women into cedi millionairesses in less than a decade. Prince Kofi Amoabeng would definitely know how to bring about such a transformation.

President Mahama must show that he is a creative thinker who is capable of making critical appointments that are in the supreme national interest, when needed. Given the volitility of the area it covers, the appointment of the person who runs SADA, cannot be treated as a business as usual matter - in which top-level appointments are often based on the political allegiance of those being appointed to key public-sector positions.

Given the bellicose noises one is hearing from the rival ruling families in the Dagbon traditional area, the Abudus and Andanis,  it is in the national interest that  Prince Kofi Amoabeng is persuaded to accept a national assignment to run SADA and transform the area it covers.

He has the nous and gumption to transform the areas covered by SADA  - by creating the necessaey  conditions, which  will enable the living standards of all those who live there and are willing to work hard and improve their individual circumstances by pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, to do so.

Young people in Dagbon will definitely not have time to forment trouble, if they owned thriving businesses of their own, which produce organic rice for export to Iran, and for sale locally, for example, will they?

President Mahama must persuade Prince Kofi Amoabeng to run SADA - and help to transform the areas it covers into prosperous parts of our homeland Ghana: in which those who live there enjoy high living standards. A grateful  nation ought to pay him a bonus of US$10 million if he succeeds - small Pito beer: given the billions of dollars it will add to Ghana's GDP if he succeeds.

Should We Have An #Anti-CorruptionIdeasFest To Solicit Ideas That Will Enable Ghana To Seal All The Loopholes Through Which Public Funds Are Syphoned Off Into Private Pockets?

If the authorities in Ghana succeed in plugging all the loopholes through which taxpayers' money is syphoned off into private pockets, our nation could be swiftly transformed into an African equivalent, of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia.

If all the taxes due from importers and exporters at Ghana's ports - which ought to be set at rates so low that only the most recalcitrant businesspeople with try to evade them - were actually collected and paid to the state, for example, the government of Ghana would be able to easily provide  free world-class healthcare for ordinary people, provide well-designed and well-built affordable accommodation that ordinary people who cannot afford to build their own homes, could purchase over the long-term in schemes that use affordable rental rates as monthly installment payments, and also provide free world-class education from kindergarten to tertiary level in Ghana for all those with the aptitude to study.

The question is: How can the government seal all the loopholes through which taxpayers' cash is syphoned off into private pockets?

Could the creativity of ordinary people in Ghana not be tapped to find ways of sealing the many loopholes through which thieves milk the system dry - by offering handsome cash prices in competitions for the best ideas to help our homeland Ghana to achieve that most desirable of common-good ends?

 It is also important that all those who report the theft of public funds in Ghana are given immunity from prosecution for any information they provide, which leads to the successful prosecution and imprisonment of those responsible for such egregious crimes.

And  if the state also offered 10 percent of each amount of taxpayers' money that whistleblowers save for the nation, by reporting the theft of such public funds, which  leads to the prosecution and imprisonment of all those who steal taxpayers' money, would it not make a huge difference to the fight against corruption in Ghana?

Would such a policy not be incentive enough to encourage many patriotic citizens to actively participate in the fight against corruption in our country?

Above all, why do civil society organisations that fight corruption in the system, such as #OccupyGhana, not set up interactive websites where those who want to do so, can provide valuable information anonymously to expose corruption -  including the theft of public funds through the inflation of government contracts, for example?

Perhaps #OccupyGhana needs to hold an #Anti-CorruptionIdeasFest on social media platforms to solicit ideas to help Mother Ghana to successfuly seal all the loopholes through which thieves in our country syphon off public funds into private pockets? Food for thought for the thoughtful? Perhaps.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Fear Of Terrorists Will Only Immobilise Us As A People - And Stop Us Fighting Back Ferociously When Attacked By Them

Somehow, elements of the controversy generated by the presence in Ghana, of the two ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees, Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby and Mahmaud Umar bin Atef, remind one of the naïveté of those who thought that by appeasing Germany's Adolf Hitler, Europe would be able to avoid war on a large scale.

Alas, in that particular instance, the policy of appeasement, failed miserably - and in the end it took an allied invasion of Europe by U.S. military forces, U.K. and British Commonwealth forces, as well as  European forces from the European nations opposed to Adolf  Hitler, to defeat Hitler and his axis power allies in the Second World War.

And so it is with terrorists. Let no Ghanaian think that terrorists will spare any intended victim of theirs - simply because those intended victims went out of their way to avoid causing terrorists any offence.

Instead of turning the issue of the acceptance by the government of Ghana, of a request from the U.S. administration to give temporary refuge to the two ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees, into a political football, Ghanaians must rather focus on finding practical ways in which as a people - and on an individual level - we can somehow insulate our country from the scourge of global terrorism.

Why are we acting as if terrorists are rational beings, who will spare our country from being attacked, because we are well-behaved towards them - and that somehow if the government had refused to accept to take in ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees, when requested to do so by the American government, it would have spared Ghana from ever being attacked by Islamist extremists?

When Islamist extremists decide to target their victims, it matters not a whit to them, what collateral damage  is caused - in terms of the deaths of innocent people and damage to property - when setting off bombs and shooting their victims.

We must understand clearly that in the fight against global terrorism, we are all in the frontline trenches together - and can be killed by those murderous and unhinged-monsters at any given time: and in any location around the world.

The plain truth, is that even fair-minded and moderate Muslims, Christains,  Buddhists, etc., etc., all face possible death from those deranged minds, when they strike during terrorist attacks.

It is said that cowards die many times before their deaths. In any case, one has only one life - so one must live it to the full: instead of constantly living in fear because one fears potential terrorist attacks.

If we want to win the fight against global terrorism, in our part of the world, we must not allow terrorists to have the satisfaction of thinking that they can immobilise our people and our country simply through fear of being attacked by them.

Far better to show them, by continuing to lead our normal lives, and refusing to be cowed by them, that we fear them not - and utterly despise their cowardice. Let us all be watchful at all material times - and report suspicious characters to the authorities.

And instead of allowing fear of terrorists to divide us, let us rather unite, and stand up to them together. A policy of appeasement has never worked with irrational people who use murder and egregious violence as weapons to terrorise society - in order to impose their views on others.

When they finally get the message that we will not allow our nation and its people to be enslaved by them, regardless of the harm they cause, we shall finally be rid of them. Forever.

Fear of terrorists will only immobilise us as a people - and stop us from fighting back ferociously when attacked by them. Let us stand up to all terrorists - whatever their creed or ideology.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Africa Will Never Be Cowed By Terrorists - Which Is Why We Stand With Our Burkinabe Kinsfolk

The abominable and unforgivable actions of the cowards who attacked the Splendid Hotel in the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou, and murdered as many as 28 innocent people, and injured a further 56, must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

What have those unhinged minds achieved by murdering innocent people - many of whom were in Burkina Faso to help in its development: and to help alleviate widespread poverty in what is one of the poorest nations in the world?

Is true Jihad today, not actually meant to be a fight against poverty, ignorance and disease? None of the 28 who died deserved such an end - not when they were in Burkina Faso to help its people.

How can killing innocent people in the name of Allah - who is merciful and loving and in the enlightened 21st century information age obviously wants there to be peaceful co-existence between all the peoples of the world - ever be acceptable to Allah as Holy War?

Nothing on this earth can justify terrorism and the murder of innocent people. And to say that killing innocent people earns a passage to heaven for terrorists is arrant nonsense. It does no such thing.

Indeed, Islamist extremists who engage in acts of terrorism and kill innocent people as part of a Jihad, are today's apostates. They are headed straight for hell - and will roast in its hottest part till the very end of time. No question.

Good and decent people across Africa stand with our Burkinabe kinsfolk - and our hearts go out to the loved ones of all those who were so cruelly murdered by those bloodthirsty criminals from the so-called al-Murabitoun terrorist group. Ditto families of the injured victims who survived.

Clearly, the regional grouping, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), needs to do more in the area of counterterrorism cooperation, between security agencies in the sub-region.

Above all, in cooperation with our overseas allies in the fight against global terrorism, we must train Ecowas member-states'  armed forces'  special-forces units, and transform them into some of the world's most efficient and effective special forces.

In light of the recent attacks on hotels in the Malian capital of Bomako, and the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou, there is also an urgent need to review the free movement of people, under the Ecowas Treaty.

Those entrusted with the task of keeping the sub-region safe and secure, need to be more watchful, now, more than ever, going forward into the future.

That is why citizens of Ecowas member-states travelling to neighbouring countries within the sub-region, must henceforth, as an administrative measure, be required to report to the nearest police station in the areas they secure  accommodation, within 24 hours of their arrival - for their personal details to be taken: and added to a regional database which can be accessed by all the security agencies of the Ecowas  member-states.

Such a database will help the security agencies in the member-states to disrupt attempts by terrorist groups to build cross-border capabilities. It is urgent that it is made available as soon as practicable.

The peoples of Africa will never be cowed and enslaved by extremists. And just as we struggled against great odds to throw off the shackles of colonial bondage, we will also defeat those, who, although full of evil themselves, seek to enslave others by imposing their warped, sinful and anti-religious beliefs on them, through senseless acts of terrorism.

Terrorists operating on African soil, need to understand clearly that Africans are so strengthened mentally - by memories of past conquests by our ancestors that are buried in the deepest recesses of our minds - that we will never allow Mother Africa to be cowed by terrorists.

That is why we  mourn with our Burkinabe kinsfolk - and stand with them against those grotesque and cowardly monsters who seek to enslave Mother Africa through acts of terrorism. They will never succeed in their aim. Ever.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Government Of Ghana Must Ignore Politicians Criticising Its Decision To Give Refuge To The Two Ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. Military Prison Detainees

The government of President Mahama should listen to the advice of those patriotic Ghanaians who say that their administration ought to stop discussing what is a national security matter in public.

For some of us, the advice that the government should simply ignore those of its political opponents who are criticising its decision to give refuge to the two ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees, Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby and Mahmaud Umar bin Atef - and stop trying to justify acceding to the request from the U.S. administration for same - is pragmatic advice they would be wise to heed.

Each government of the day is in charge of the security of Ghana - not its critics: who, if they knew how important our collaboration with the U.S. security services is, to our own ability to secure our country, in an age of global terrorism, would probably not be saying many of the things they have been saying.

If those cynical politicians now criticising the presence of the two ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees in Ghana, were in government themselves, and aware of the importance of Ghana's security services' collaboration with the U.S. security services, they would also have agreed to give refuge to the two, if the U.S. government had approached their regime.

Paradoxically, there are Progressives and nationalists in Ghana - myself included -  who loathe a lot of the exploitative and imperialist policies of the U.S. in the developing world; however, when it comes to the fight against global terrorism, we are quite keen that our security services should cooperate with the security agencies of the U.S., and other world powers.

Is it not precisely such collaboration between our sister nation Nigeria  and the special forces of the U.S. and other nations that has led to the tide gradually turning  against the murderous extremists who want Boko Haram to enslave Nigerians and their country?

It is such a pity that so many fair-minded Ghanaians, don't seem to realise that those cynical politicians busy criticising the government's decision to allow in the two ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees,  would definitely not be taking the unhelpful positions they have now taken - and would not be making some of the absurd statements they have been making recently on the issue - if they were in power today.

And the irony is that they would probably be questioning the sincerity of many of those now questioning the wisdom in the government of Ghana giving refuge to the two ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees,  if they were in government themselves today.

Furthermore, many of those politicians bringing up past reports from the U.S. Defense Department, on the two, are just playing politics with a delicate matter.

They know perfectly well that those self-serving U.S. Defense Department reports they are quoting, were lies insisted on by the extreme right-wing masters-of-the-universe, then in power in the U.S., who launched those unjust and pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which the lives of tens of thousands of young Americans, Britons, Germans, Spaniards, etc., etc., have been lost so tragically.

Those past U.S. Defense Department reports now being used by some Ghanaian politicians to criticise the presence of the two ex-Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison detainees in Ghana, were designed  to justify the unjustifiable abuse of the human rights of people seized in swoops, by Western coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, which netted many innocent people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, when the Western coalition forces launched raids to capture supposed terrorists. Some eventually ended up in the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay prison.

Let us be realistic. Terrorists will strike when they will - not because of the presence in Ghana of Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby and Mahmaud Umar bin Atef. What is important is that we can continue to collaborate with a key ally in the fight against global terrorism, the U.S., to prevent such attacks as far is humanly possible.

President Mahama and his appointees must stop the pointless discussion of what is a national security matter in the open, henceforth. It is not wise to allow this matter to be turned into a political football - by desperate and cynical politicians who are desperate to win power:  and will clutch at every straw that comes their way.

It does our nation no good in the long run for our leaders to discuss such security  matters in the open.

The government of the day is in charge of the safety of the Republic - not the general public: who lack all the necessary information needed to make proper judgements on sensitive security matters.

If it is not possible to share such information with the  general public, for security reasons, then it is enough that the government of Ghana gives Ghanaians the assuarance that Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby and Mahmaud Umar bin Atef pose no danger to Ghanaians and their country. What the government's cynical political opponents say as regards this particular national security issue is of no import whatsoever. Many of them are not being sincere. The  government must simply ignore their grandstanding. Period. End of story.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Why Are Ordinary Ghanaians Being Burdened With Multiple Taxes - Whiles Multinational Companies Continue To Evade Taxes In Ghana?

At a time when ordinary Ghanaians and small businesses are reeling from the numerous taxes being piled on them,  day in day out, by the authorities, it is most unfortunate that the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), continues to allow multinational companies to evade taxes in Ghana, and get away with it.

It is a situation that most Ghanaians find rather baffling. The question we must pose is: Is the GRA not aware of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiative by the  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Group of Twenty Nations (G20), designed to provide nations such as Ghana, with the tools needed to stop such egregious tax evasion by multinational companies?

It is time the authorities in Ghana understood clearly that they need to stop piling on tax upon tax on ordinary people and  small businesses - and make sure instead that multinational companies in Ghana stop evading taxes on the profits they  generate in their operations here.

Those who lead our country must also understand that there is far too much unnecessary and unacceptable expenditure in the public sector, which amount to profligate spending.

Instead of piling on yet more taxes, the attitude of our leaders ought always to be to first search for ways that savings can be made in government spending, and how non-tax revenues, such as dividends from state-owned enterprises (SOE), can be boosted - by making them more efficient and profitable through better management at all levels.

Would the world come to an end, for example, if government ministers are unable to travel abroad to attend international conferences - because Ghana needs to cut down on government spending? Certainly, not.

What was the point in spending some of Ghana's oil money to respray buses and plaster the photographs of President Mahama and a number of former presidents on them - when those selfsame buses could have earned decent revenues from advertisers even if they had been left in the original colours they were sprayed by the manufacturers?

Why have all those in government who sanctioned and played a part in that foolishness still not been dismissed - after the departure of the sacrificial lamb, Dzifa Ativor, the former minister for transport: who resigned shortly after the so-called "rebranding" scandal broke?

Above all, at a time of austerity, why do we have to continue having a small army of government ministers and deputy ministers, if Ghana is broke?  Ditto presidential aides and presidential advisers? When will our leaders come to realise that that does not simply make sense in an era of enforced-austerity?

Their numbers ought to be trimmed drastically to save money - so that the tax burden being shouldered by ordinary people and small businesses can be lessened.

It is totally unacceptable that Ghana has so many government ministers, whiles many EU nations with far bigger economies, have to make do with much smaller numbers of ministers - in order to stay within their public-sector spending limits.

How can we continue to justify shoving taxpayers' money down what that financial equivalent of a blackhole - of endless perks and sundry allowances - represents, I ask?

In a nation of diverse-ethnicity, whose different traditional cultures discourage curiosity in the young, and whose educational system produces learners-by-rote who seldom think creatively, it is little wonder that it never strikes the vast majority of our "booklong' ruling elites that the most effective way to widen the tax net and boost revenues, is to make Ghana the nation with the world's lowest tax rates - setting rates so low that only the conscienceless and the most recalcitrant individuals and businesses (who ought to face long mandatory jail sentences when caught and tried) will try to evade them.

That is what will actually help make our country prosperous in the long run - and that is not rocket science either. The GRA needs to undergo a cultural change - one that makes it a partner that enhances private-sector  growth: not a hindrance to private initiative and a killer of enterprise. Hmm, Ghana - eyeasem  o: enti yeawieye paa enei?

For the benefit of readers of this blog, I have culled a summary of the OECD/G20 BEPS initiative, from the OECD's official website, for their perusal. Please read on:

"About Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) us @OECDtax

In an increasingly interconnected world, national tax laws have not always kept pace with global corporations, fluid movement of capital, and the rise of the digital economy, leaving gaps and mismatches that can be exploited to generate double non-taxation. This undermines the fairness and integrity of tax systems.

Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) refers to tax planning strategies that exploit these gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid. BEPS is of major significance for developing countries due to their heavy reliance on corporate income tax, particularly from multinational enterprises (MNEs).

Research undertaken since 2013 confirms the potential magnitude of the BEPS problem. Estimates conservatively indicate annual losses of anywhere from 4 - 10% of global corporate income tax (CIT) revenues, i.e. USD 100 to 240 billion annually.

BEPS is a global problem which requires global solutions. For the first time ever in tax matters, OECD and G20 countries worked together on an equal footing. More than a dozen developing countries have participated directly in the work and more than 80 non-OECD, non-G20 jurisdictions have provided input. 

Fifteen actions equip governments with the domestic and international instruments needed to tackle BEPS. The final BEPS package gives countries the tools they need to ensure that profits are taxed where economic activities generating the profits are performed and where value is created, while at the same time give business greater certainty by reducing disputes over the application of international tax rules, and standardising compliance requirements.

The BEPS Action Plan endorsed by the G20 in July 2013 identified 15 key areas to be addressed. 

The final BEPS package, which includes and consolidates the 2014 interim reports has been developed and agreed in just two years. This package was presented by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría to G20 Finance Ministers at their 8 October meeting in Lima (read press release) and will subsequently be presented to G20 Leaders at their summit in Antalya on 15 -16 November 2015.

Arrow actions 13 2015 
Explanatory Statement 2015 Explanatory Statement 2015 (EN / FR / ES / DEU)
Arrow Action 1
Arrow Action 2
Arrow Action 3 2015 
Arrow Action 4 2015 
Arrow Action 5
Arrow Action 6
Arrow action 7 2015 
Arrow Action 8
Arrow actions 11 2015 
Arrow actions 12 2015 
Arrow Action 13
Arrow actions 14 2015 
Arrow Action 15

Implementation and inclusive monitoring
With the adoption of the BEPS package, OECD and G20 countries, as well as developing countries that participated in its development, will lay the foundations of a modern international tax framework under which profits are taxed where economic activity and value creation occur. Work will be carried out to support all interested countries in implementing the rules and applying them in a consistent and coherent manner, particularly those for which capacity building is an important issue.

Monitoring implementation and the impact of the different BEPS measures is another key element of the work ahead. Following the G20 and OECD call for even increased inclusiveness, a new framework for monitoring BEPS will be conceived and put in place in 2016, with all interested countries and jurisdictions on an equal footing.

The role of the OECD Committee on Fiscal Affairs

The technical work on BEPS is undertaken by the OECD Committee on Fiscal Affairs (CFA) , with all Associates on an equal footing, through its subsidiary bodies:

  • Working Party 1 (Tax Conventions and Related Questions), in relation to part of Action 2 (Neutralise the Effects of Hybrid Mismatch Arrangements), Action 6 (Prevent Treaty Abuse), Action 7 (Prevent the Artificial Avoidance of PE Status), and Action 14 (Make Dispute Resolution Mechanisms More Effective);
  • Working Party 2 (Tax Policy Analysis and Tax Statistics), in relation to Action 11 (Establish Methodologies to Collect and Analyse Data on BEPS);
  • Working Party 6 (Taxation of Multinational Enterprises), in relation to part of Action 4 (Limit Base Erosion via Interest Deductions and Other Financial Payments), Actions 8 (Assure that Transfer Pricing Outcomes are in Line With Value Creation / Intangibles), 9 (Assure that Transfer Pricing Outcomes are in Line With Value Creation / Risks and Capital), 10 (Assure that Transfer Pricing Outcomes are in Line With Value Creation / Other High-Risk Transactions), and 13 (Re-examine Transfer Pricing Documentation);
  • Working Party 11 (Aggressive Tax Planning), established by the CFA to carry out the work in relation to part of Action 2 (Neutralise the Effects of Hybrid Mismatch Arrangements), Action 3 (Strengthen CFC rules), part of Action 4 (Limit Base Erosion via Interest Deductions and Other Financial Payments), and Action 12 (Require Taxpayers to Disclose their Aggressive Tax Planning Arrangements).
  • Forum on Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP), in relation to Action 5 (Counter Harmful Tax Practices More Effectively, Taking into Account Transparency and Substance); and
  • Task Force on Digital Economy (TFDE), established by the CFA to carry out the work in relation Action 1 (Address the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy).

The BEPS Project and developing countries

Taxation plays a central role in promoting sustainable development, and developing countries face significant challenges in developing their tax capacities and mobilising domestic resources. Engagement of developing countries in the international tax agenda and on BEPS is important, in particular to ensure they receive appropriate support to address the specific challenges they face.

Engagement with developing countries has been extensive since the beginning of the BEPS Project. Over 80 developing countries and other non-OECD/non-G20 economies have been participating and discussing the challenges of BEPS through direct participation in the CFA, regional meetings in partnership with regional tax organisations, and thematic global fora.

End of culled summary from the website of the OECD.