28.2.07

More pix from the 59th anniversary of Christiansburg Crossroads shooting.






59th Anniversary Christiansburg Crossroads Shooting Incident marked-----PHOTO ACCOUNT

Wreaths were laid at the Osu Cenotaph on Tuesday to commemorate the 59th anniversary of Christiansburg Crossroads Shooting incident in which three Ex-Servicemen of the Royal West African Frontier Force were gunned down by the Colonial Police on February 28 1948.

Below are some pictures from the event:





Environmental performance, poor over last 50 years


Mr Emmanuel Salu, Deputy Director, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday said although Ghana was able to achieve a lot over the last 50 years, its performance on environmental issues had not been the best.
"Our natural resources such as the rivers and forests have not been properly managed, leading to deforestation and pollution of our water bodies, and worst still, is the problem of sanitation and littering in major towns and cities," he said.
Mr Salu was speaking at the inauguration of a 6-member national planning committee in Accra by Youth For Christ Heritage (Yufrist), an NGO and the EPA, with a mandate of drawing up an environmental consciousness programme in line with Ghana's 50th anniversary. The programme is on the theme; "Pepping up the desire for environmental consciousness, corporate partnership, a key strategy".
Mr Salu said although Ghana's population at independence was only four million and the 2007 figure stood at around 23 million, it did not give Ghanaians the justification to abuse the environment the way they were doing."Protecting the environment is a shared responsibility and agencies, NGO's and all well meaning Ghanaians should get involved in protecting the environment," he said
Our greatest handicap is our changing lifestyle in line with urbanisation. But with a little effort on the part of every individual about the environment, the nation would go a long way in achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs), which has one its pillars on the environment.
Mr Jehoiada G.K. Amuzu, Executive Director and Secretary to the planning committee urged all business entities to do their businesses in a manner that would take into consideration the interest of the larger society in ensuring a sound environment that would promote good health for all.He urged the business entities to support district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies in the maintenance of environmental sanitation of the towns and cities

CJA: Peoples' jubilee procession to go ahead

The Committee for Joint Action declared on Wednesday that the Peoples' Jubilee Process it has planned for Independence Day would come on.In a statement signed for CJA by Ms Emelia Arthur, the group said:
"For the avoidance of doubt ... we wish to make it abundantly clear that the Peoples' Jubilee Process scheduled for 6th March 2007 is going ahead."The CJA referred to statements by the Tertiary Students Confederacy (TESCON) of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), a group calling itself the Campaign for Patriotism (CAP) and the police on the proposed march and said they were meant to stop them.
"All these statements are clearly designed to prevent the lawful exercise of our right to participate peacefully in the 50th anniversary as free citizens in a manner of our choosing rather than in a manner imposed by the state machine."The CJA said it wanted to provide "a popular platform for the masses as an alternative to the essentially elitist Ghana@50 programme". "We hope to underline the political significance of Ghana's independence as an important victory in the worldwide struggle of the ordinary people against elitism.
"We wish to celebrate Kwame Nkrumah, the pre-eminent strategist and tactician of the struggles against classical colonialism." CJA said threats by TESCON and CAP to stage counter demonstrations and the Police to confront the CJA marchers demonstrated "clearly their utter contempt for the constitution and the citizenry".
Source:GNA

27.2.07

Ghana@50: 24 African heads of state to attend


Twenty-four African heads of state are set to participate in Ghana's jubilee celebrations on March 6, 2007, the government said on Tuesday.
Briefing journalists in Accra, Nana Addo Akufo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, NEPAD and Regional Cooperation, said a total of 65 delegations had confirmed their desire to be part of the celebrations.President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria is the Guest of Honour, while the Duke of Kent is representing Queen Elizabeth II of England.
He said that the bulk of arrivals and departures of the delegations were scheduled from March 5-7.Outlining the programme for the celebrations, Nana Akufo-Addo said President John Agyekum Kufuor would host a welcome cocktail for his guests and the Guest Speaker.From 2100 hours in the evening of March 5, there would be a re-enactment of historic scenes of March 5, 1957. There would be a commemorative Parliamentary Session with President John Agyekum Kufuor and his guest of honour in attendance.
Nana Akufo-Addo said after this, the President and his guests would move to the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park (Old Polo Grounds) for a laser and fireworks display.He said there would be a jubilee parade at 0900 hours on March 6 to be addressed by Presidents Obasanjo and Kufuor.
This would be followed by a reception hosted by President Kufuor at the Castle Gardens and a dinner at the Banquet Hall of the State House. Other fora would be held at the Accra International Conference Centre and other sites currently been located.Nana Akufo-Addo noted that issues such as accommodation and transportation had been enhanced and taken care of to make the celebration a success.
He said except the Parliamentary re-enactment, the programmes in Accra would be duplicated in all the 10 regions.The Foreign Minister appealed to Ghanaians to take active part in the celebration and ensure that it remained a memorable event.
Source:GNA

Rawlings leaves for South Africa

The Former President Jerry John Rawlings on Monday night left for South Africa to attend a forum on fighting corruption.
A statement signed by the Special Assistant to the ex-president, Mr Victor Smith said his wife accompanied him.
The five-day meeting is being co-hosted by the African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and South Africa.
It is intended to consolidate Africa's anti-corruption initiatives and infuse an African perspective into the definition, perspectives and mechanism for fighting corruption.

CPP condemns threats against journalists



The Convention People's Party (CPP) on Tuesday described the death threats issued against Mr Kweku Baako Jnr. and Mr Egbert Faibille Jnr., editors of Crusading Guide and Ghanaian Observer respectively as "a high form of barbarism".
A statement signed by Dr Edmund N. Delle, Chairman of CPP, said the party had observed that the death threats, via mobile phone text messages, coming closely on the heels of the murder of the Ashanti Region chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association, were unnecessary and must be condemned and resisted.This was because, he said, they had the potency to create panic in the society, particularly among journalists.
Dr Delle therefore asked Ghanaians to denounce violence and all other forms of intimidation of the media and appealed to Ghanaians to promote tolerance and peaceful co-existence."As the party for the masses which believes in freedom of expression we shall continue to support the media in its battle for democratic development," he said. 27 Feb. 07
Source:GNA

26.2.07

Cardinal Turkson Named to Pontifical Justice Council


Pope Benedict XVI appointed a cardinal, two archbishops and a layman as members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.The Vatican press office announced the appointments Saturday of Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana; Archbishop Juan García Rodríguez of Camaguey, Cuba; Archbishop Héctor Rubén Aguer of La Plata, Argentina; and Savino Pezzotta, of the Italian Workers Union.The Holy See also announced the appointment of Stefano Fontana, director of the Cardinal Van Thuân International Observatory, as consultor to the dicastery.

Accra Gears Up For Ghana@50

A number of projects are being executed in the Accra metropolis as part of plans and programmes to turn the physical and aesthetic outlook of the city for the country’s 50th independence anniversary.
Various organisations including the Ghana at 50 Secretariat, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) are funding these projects.Among the projects being undertaken by the Ghana at 50 Secretariat are the rehabilitation of the Independence Square, Freedom and Justice Arch and the Military Monument at the 28th February Crossroad.
The Project Officer in charge of Public Affairs at the secretariat, Mr Henry Wellington Okyne said, the secretariat was funding the construction of 10 jubilee rest stops on major highways throughout the country, adding that the projects were at various stages of completion.
The Very Important Person (VIP) lounge at the Kotoka International Airport is also being rehabilitated.Mr Okyne, however, could neither immediately give the cost of the projects, nor could he mention the exact locations where the projects were being undertaken.Some residents have already been gripped by the jubilee anniversary fever as they have displayed paraphernalia including Ghana flags on their vehicles, while others are seen wearing clothes made from the colours of the Ghana flag, which are red, gold and green with a black star in the middle.
One could also get bangles, hats, key holders and other items which have all been made with similar colours.According to Mr Okyne, although the secretariat was producing some of the paraphernalia, there were other individuals and companies who were manufacturing these items.

Daily Guide: NDC Plots To Mess Jubilee Celebrations


Information reaching Daily Guide indicates that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has begun unfolding a number of activities intended to undermine the forthcoming Golden Jubilee celebration of the country’s independence.
Details of an elaborate plan to pour cold water on this high profile event, which would witness the arrival of very important personalities from all over the world, included unleashing of thugs on celebrants.This, Daily Guide has learnt, was to compel many people to stay away from the celebrations.
Monday, March 5, 2007, would witness one of such deflating activities unfold at the Frankies Hotel at Nima in Accra, a reliable Daily Guide source hinted.On that day, the party would inaugurate its Greater Accra Women’s Working Committee and have in attendance various party groups and thugs whose services would be needed to execute the programme. This seemingly innocuous inauguration would thus be but a ruse to put finishing touches to the plan; hence locating it in an area from which the NDC/CJA strategists intended to draw most of their support.
The source hinted that the line-up of activities was the result of an elaborate planning by a body of party activists at the top.In a brief telephone interview with Daily Guide, Ms. Maggie, the Okaikoi North constituency Women’s Organiser of the NDC, in charge of coordinating letters on the programme, said they would soon be sent out to the various media houses for coverage.“We are trying to inaugurate our Women’s Wing and Working Committee,” she said. Asked why the event would take place at the time the country would be celebrating her Golden Jubilee anniversary celebration, she could not give any specific reason but confirmed the function would take place on March 5.
In an obvious coordination between the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) and the NDC, the former was said to have impressed upon the latter not to go ahead with the inauguration of the Working Committee which had been scheduled for February 24, and rather postpone it to the March 5 date.On the heels of the Nima inauguration would be a rally at Jamestown, which party supporters were to attend in their numbers.
The next day, March 6, would witness a mass protest procession of party faithful through the principal streets of Accra. A similar procession had already been announced by the Committee for Joint Action (CJA), the socialist arm of NDC. The objective of the change in date, according to one political observer, was “intended to divert attention from the anniversary and thereby rob it of the shine it deserves from all citizens of this country”.

Chronicle: Rawlings To Boycott Ghana@50


Credible information gathered by The Chronicle newspaper indicates that Former President, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings would not honour the invitation extended to him by President John Agyekum Kufuor to join in the celebration of the country’s jubilee anniversary scheduled to take place on March 6, this year.
According to sources close to the Former President, he is likely to turn down the invitation due to the soured relations existing between him and the incumbent government, coupled with the accusations that he has left a messy legacy and that he’s soliciting for funds and support to topple the ruling government and many others.This would obviously shatter the hopes and aspirations of most Ghanaians, who would have wished to see the two leaders on the same platform, especially during this historic Jubilee anniversary of Ghana’s independence to chart a new course for unity and reconciliation.This paper has gathered from the grapevines of both the leading members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and sources close to the office of the former President that though the NDC founder would have loved to attend the gathering, various comments have come up for a second thought and consideration.According to the sources the questions being asked are whether or not the invitation to Mr. Rawlings, who was accused of being a serial coup maker in addition to recent allegations by the President, Mr. Kufuor to the effect that he (JJ) had solicited for funds from an oil-rich country to topple the current administration, should be taken seriously.Considering his reservations about how he was ignored at all State functions, over the period, including being ignored at a dinner in honour of President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire in 2001 by President Kufuor, Mr. Rawlings is said to have contemplated deeply on whether or not to join the President to celebrate Ghana @50 at the time that Mr. Kufuor continues to accuse the NDC administration that he led of leaving a messy legacy for the NPP to inherit.Another major sentiment the former President is reported to be agonizing over is how the first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, has been completely shoved aside, and his name not being made to occupy where he belongs in our history by the current administration. According to our sources, Rawlings is angered that in a Jubilee State of the Nation Address, Dr. Nkrumah’s name did not come up at least once in the address.“All monuments are rehabilitated but Nkrumah’s monument is completely left out; even his mausoleum has been left and government is rather asking for donation of $2m with donors’ name being inscribed on the mausoleum.If even the founding father has been so shabbily treated, is it any wonder that Mr. Rawlings, who led us for nearly 20 years has been completely ignored,” a party member told this paper. Besides other reasons why the NDC founder would turn down the invitation, this paper learnt was how he was not invited to take part in one of the major programmes outlined for the Ghana @ 50 celebrations - the lecture by Mr. Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General and above all, the late invitation at a time all other heads of state had been invited ahead of schedule.

Wayo calls for Ghana@50 Boycott on VOA



People have no water, they are dying, there is no electricity ... Kufuor - the biggest conman ... World Bank - a bunch of criminals.
The founder of the opposition united renaissance party (URP) is calling on Ghanaians to boycott the country’s golden jubilee celebration which takes place next month. Speaking to the Voice of America (VOA), Kofi Wayo said the protest is necessary because of the failure of the ruling party to provide the people with the basic necessities of life as promised. Wayo also accused the government of President John Kufuor of what he calls “messing the country up.”
Wayo said he does not understand why the government would spend millions of dollars on the celebration when some of the population does not have clean water.
“These people have no water, they are dying, there is no electricity so what is the priority of an intelligent leader? Ninety percent of the children die from water borne diseases, so why can’t they make water their priority? But their priorities are fancy cars, they are buying jaguars luxury Mercedes and no water,” he said.
He questioned why a country like Malaysia should export oil palm to Ghana when they got the palm from Ghana in the first place.
“You see two year olds with canisters and I took a look at the canisters they are made from Malaysia because Malaysia ships to the country palm nut oil and the Malaysian got the palm nut from Ghana. You see the Africa leader is not interested in substance… these leaders have no culture, no ethics, they have no morality, they don’t know anything about this,” he said.
Wayo chided leadership in Africa as lacking the humane ability to provide the needs of the people they rule.
“They don’t manufacture anything in this country. Even needles to sew clothes are imported into the country. So you can see the leadership has no intelligence at all. You see these leaders are not even leaders; they are a bunch of scoundrels... there is no water and their priority is to buy expensive cars so they can ride in and be big shots,” Wayo noted.
He took a swipe at President Kufuor for what he describes as “not keeping his promise to Ghanaians.
“I swear, I’m disappointed, I’m shocked, this man is the biggest con man I have ever come across. He was a pretty good liar…he believes in corruption, he bought a hotel for his son; his whole family is in the government. The whole system is collapsed so everybody depends on extortion to survive and we are trying to turn it around,” he said.
Wayo said there was the need to free the people from being deceived.
“We got to have freedom, we’ve got to have the people get water and light. The World Bank is telling the leadership to raise prices when the people are already poor and can’t afford it anyway. The World Bank people are a bunch of criminals,” he fumed.

25.2.07

AU Chairman Kufuor cals on Sudan to work with UN to end crisis


President John Agyekum Kufuor, the African Union Chairman, has called on Sudan to work closely with the United Nations (UN) to end the crisis in the Darfur region. Sudan has been resisting attempts by the world body to send in peacekeepers to the troubled Darfur region.
President Kufuor, who made the call at an end of year reception organised for the Diplomatic Community at the Castle Gardens underscored the need to ensure peaceful approach to conflict management and resolution in the Africa.
He said as the Continent was moving away from liberation struggle to economic empowerment, he was determined to use his Chairmanship of the AU to work to tackle weak governance and conflicts. Additionally, Ghana would work with the ECOWAS Commission to promote greater integration. President Kufuor expressed the Nation’s gratitude to the country’s development partners for the support that enabled the Government to remain focussed on its development agenda.
He said, through the seven-billion dollars debt cancellation, a lot was being done in the areas of social services and infrastructure to improve the lives of the people. He stated that, with the sustained pace of the country’s current development there was no way it would not be able to achieve its vision of becoming a middle income status and the Millennium Development Goals.
Mr Mohammed Mahmoud Ben Labat, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, congratulated President Kufuor on his election as Chairman of the AU. He expressed admiration for his constant effort at promoting good neighbourliness and sub-regional integration.GNA

24.2.07

EDITORIAL: Ghana Hits the Golden Age!


The Land of our Birth, Ghana, to which we all pledge our allegiance, is 50 years old!! Hitting the golden age as a nation is cause for celebrations…merry celebrations. It also calls for reflection, very sober reflection, of the fortunes that the nation has undergone since attaining nationhood.Ghana has undergone a lot of transformation since 1957. It has also undergone a lot of upheavals. In short, the nation has experienced both ups and downs over the past fifty years. From a modest beginning in 1957 with a population of just over five million people and limited infrastructure, a lot has been achieved. Educational opportunities have expanded tremendously. There was only one university at Independence: the University of Ghana at Legon, near Accra, established in the pre-independence days in 1948. Today the country boasts of four large public universities, three university colleges and a number of private university colleges. From the earlier days when students had to travel for miles to attend secondary schools, students now have a wide range of choice of different secondary schools and post-secondary institutions close to their homes and neighborhoods. Roads and other infrastructures have expanded greatly making many hitherto remote areas of the country now accessible.On the political front, the country has emerged from the small unitary Parliamentary system of government inherited from the British colonialists to a vibrant blend of Parliamentary and Presidential system. From a one-party dictatorship instituted by the first government in 1960, the country now boasts of vibrant opposition parties. From days gone by when freedom of expression and freedom of political association were taboos, the practice of which could land one in Preventive Detention, the country and its citizens now boast of and enjoy an unalloyed and unrestricted freedom of expression and association. The principle and practice of the rule of law now reign in the country. From days gone by when there was only one Radio and Television Station, the nation now boasts of over one hundred and thirty radio stations across the country and about four television stations. From the days when there were only two newspapers, the Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times, there are now an uncountable number of newspapers, most of them privately owned. In short the nation has made a lot of strides on the political, social, legal and economic spheres.On the negative side, the nation has experienced a lot of social and political upheavals. A Preventive Detention Center was built at Nsawam, 22 miles north-east of Accra around 1958 to jail political opponents in the early life of the nation. This institution has been used continuously by governments at various times in the nation's history to incarcerate their political opponents.Military adventurers have also disturbed the political and social order of the county on countless occasions. Over the course of the past fifty years, military interventions have interrupted the political and constitutional order of the nation for as many as six times. The military arrogated unto themselves the power to run the political affairs of the nation for nearly half of the nation's fifty-year life. The result has been a near total destruction of every fabric of the nation's life. Military adventurism led to senseless human rights abuses, total plunder of the nation's wealth and the destruction of the political system.One negative thing that has lingered in the psyche of the nation's citizenry is the negative attitude to work and the wanton disregard of public property. People have not developed any positive attitude to work over the past fifty years. In fact this attitude seems to be getting worse. Nations can only develop if citizens regard public property as their own and take good care of them. Nations also develop if citizens develop positive attitudes to work and ensure higher levels of productivity. In this regard, Ghana as a nation has fared very badly. We can go on and on.Looking back over the past fifty years, however , we can all feel proud as having participated at various times in the nation's life to bring the Land of Our Birth to where it is today…respected among the community of Nations. To all those who have genuinely contributed to the positive development of the nation, we salute them and encourage them to work even harder. To those that have sat on the fence or participated in the destruction of the county at various times in its history, we wish them a change of heart and attitude. The country belongs to us all and no matter which part of the world we have settled and made a second home, GHANA will always be the Land of Our Birth, to which we all pledge our unflinching support and allegiance.Let us all resolve on this joyous occasion to contribute our quota in any way we can to make the country even greater and worth living in for generations to come who will and should celebrate the 100 th anniversary in more grander style.We wish all Ghanaians and supporters of Ghana around the world a very Happy Anniversary.AFENHYIA PA!!!
Source:Ghanaian News Canada

19.2.07

Minority NDC calls off Parliament boycott


The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentarians, who began an indefinite boycott of Parliament on February 6 2007 in solidarity with the jailed member of Parliament (MP) for Keta, Mr Dan Abodakpi has called off the boycott and would return to Parliament on Tuesday.
A statement signed in Accra by Mr John Tia, The Minority Chief Whip, said the decision was taken by the Minority Caucus in consultation with the Functional Executive Committee of the NDC at a meeting held in Accra on Monday.
“The Minority caucus has decided to call off its boycott of Parliamentary proceedings which we had earlier embarked upon in solidarity with our colleague, Dan Abodakpi, Member of Parliament for Keta,” the statement said. It said the Caucus meeting considered all the pleas to the Minority, especially that of Mr Abodakpi and all well-meaning Ghanaians. “Accordingly, Members of the NDC Minority in Parliament will as from tomorrow, Tuesday the 20th of February, 2007, resume participation in parliamentary proceedings.”
The Minority thanked “all those who showed concern, solidarity and support for the struggle to fight injustice in this trying period of the country’s democratic dispensation”. NDC MPs described the 10 years’ imprisonment slapped on Dan Abodakpi, Member for Keta, by an Accra Fast Track High Court for causing financial loss to the State as a miscarriage of justice. The NDC said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had not abandoned its declared agenda to use the Fast Track High Courts to destroy the NDC through the use of political trials to jail the Party's leading members and functionaries.
President John Agyekum Kufuor in his State of the Nation Address on February 8 appealed to the NDC MPs to reconsider their boycott of Parliament. Delivering his State of the Nation address to Parliament in Accra, he said: "I make this appeal in the light of the sincerity with which Government is committed to the reconciliation process it has initiated for healing the wounds of the nation and to make for a fresh start." President Kufuor said it was a "sad day" the opposition NDC has chosen to absent themselves.
He said it was also sad that they had resorted to this course of action, apparently in reaction to the judgement of a duly constituted court of law. "It is even sadder that they seem to ignore the fact that the due process of going through appeals, as provided for by the Constitution, is yet to be exhausted in the particular case."GNA

17.2.07

I am not just testing the waters - Botwe


Mr. Daniel Botwe, former Minister of Information at the weekend in Tamale indicated that he was out fully to contest the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) flag bearership race for the 2008 elections.He has therefore called on all party delegates and sympathizers to lend him the needed support to win the primaries to lead the party to victory in 2008 to dispense good governance to Ghanaians.
Mr. Botwe appealed to delegates and all those who support him to rule the country not to listen to any propaganda that sought to create the impression that he was only "testing the waters" and to later support one of the candidates already in the race.Mr. Daniel Botwe said these when he briefed the media in Tamale on Saturday to throw more light on his activities towards the race for the flag bearer of the NPP and how he could win the primaries for the big post of the party and to formally confirm his intention to the delegates in the region.
"The limited objective is to confirm to delegates that I am not stepping out of the contest. I will give Ghanaians my time measured plans aimed at developing the country if I win the race in December this year." he said.He said, no one goes to war in anticipation of being killed or losing the battle and that adequate measures were put in place to ensure that he wins the primaries convincingly to ensure that the NPP won the 2008 elections with ease.
Mr. Botwe said, he had been the party's General Secretary and Organizer before and he knew how to galvanize support for votes, which he succeeded in helping to win the 2000 and the 2004 elections. He said the 2008 elections was going to be the toughest ever and would be keenly contested and needed someone who had been with the people throughout difficult times to be able to retain power for the NPP, adding that he was a threat to candidates in any of the opposition parties.
On the number of aspirants in the NPP, Mr. Botwe said the high number was not a problem but rather confirms how truly democratic the NPP was saying, "it will discourage losers in the primaries from forming their own parties since they can not get the numbers that would encourage them to do so".He expressed disappointment about the low patronage of people for the Ghana@50 celebration and how everything was centred only in Accra instead of decentralizing it for people to feel it.He said, "I have travelled all the way from Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region to Lambusia in the Upper West Region, Binduri in the Upper East Region, Walewale and Tamale in the Northern Region and no National Flag is flying or hoisted anywhere.
He said even on the day of the National Flag raising day, veterans converged at the District Assembly in Walewale and could not get flags for the purpose, which he said, was a shame and described it as a planning error since the celebration was for the nation but not for NPP. He appealed to all Ghanaians, irrespective of political affiliations to join and make the celebration a success since Ghana was for all Ghanaians and must all regard it as such to ensure national progress. 17 Feb. 07
Source:GNA

15.2.07

Veep launches official celebrations of independence anniversary


Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama on Thursday joined a number of people, including ministers of state and pupils from Accra Metropolis to mark the official countdown towards the country's 50th independence anniversary in Accra.
Mrs Theodosia Okoh, the designer of the national flag and Mr Ernest Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture were among those who joined the Vice President to hoist the national flag at the Independence Square.
The event dubbed: "Rally Round The Flag Day," which was organised by the National Planning Committee for the Golden Jubilee celebrations, attracted Mr Hackman Owusu Agyemang, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Ms Gloria Akuffo, Minister of State In-Charge of Aviation, Mrs Oboshie Sai-Cofie, Deputy Minister of Information and National Orientation and Ms Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State who assisted in hoisting the 10 flags at the independence square.
The event was preceded by a float through the principal streets of Accra to display the national colours, the distribution of the flags to schoolchildren who waved them enthusiastically.Vice President, who inspected a Police Guard of Honour after his arrival at the Square, later addressed the gathering where he asked Ghanaians to use the Golden Jubilee celebrations to forge national unity to facilitate development.
"Today marks the forward march of our 50th anniversary. We are all people of one nation and we should all participate in the anniversary to hold the nation together and lead the nation to prosperity." Mrs Okoh, who would turn 85, in June this year could not recall her age when she designed the flag.She however, expressed joy about the event and asked Ghanaians to unite to ensure a successful anniversary.
Source:GNA

14.2.07

The True State Of The Nation 2007 -NDC



(1.) INTRODUCTION
Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, just last Thursday, February 08, 2007, President J.A. Kufour read his message on the State of the Nation to Parliament. In that speech, he challenged members to do a critical mid-term analysis with candour and sincerity on the state of the nation. This is exactly what we intend to do in this piece
Ladies and Gentlemen, the President in his State of the Nation Address presents a picture of hope, progress, and achievement instead of the actual picture of desperation and despair, doom and gloom of the future and the dark clouds of fear and insecurity hanging on the lives of the majority of citizens of this nation.
(2.) A DIVIDED NATION Ladies and Gentlemen:The unprecedented and peaceful handing over of power from one democratically elected government to another and the immeasurable and tumultuous goodwill Ghanaians gave to the NPP administration have long been recklessly squandered by the government at the alter of viciousness, vengeance and arrogance.The recent return of His Excellency, Kofi Annan, the victories of the Black Stars and the Golden Jubilee Anniversary present a unique opportunity for us to reconcile ourselves, unify the nation and set it on the path of accelerated development. It is painful to state that the 6-year rule of the NPP administration has left the country even more deeply divided, in a way not experienced since our independence.Ladies and Gentlemen:The true state of our nation is one that is bitterly polarized on political and ethnic lines, where political patronage reigns supreme and the politics of exclusion is a daily nightmare for people who do not tow the line of the ruling Government. The culture of fear has been introduced into the body politics of the country. As a result businessmen, contractors, intellectuals and others fear to express their views objectively or be seen associating with non-NPP politicians.
(3.) SELECTIVE JUSTICEIn his first press conference on 22nd March 2001, after the NDC had handed over the reins of administration to the NPP, Prof. J.E.A. Mills said “we had hoped that cooperation, consultation and consensus would characterize at least the first few months of the NPP Administration, so that they would have the benefit of the NDC’s long experience in government and also forge a united front in the face of external factors which have in the main been responsible for our economic difficulties in 2000.” Alas! This was not to be.
Since the NPP took over the administration of this country in 2001, there has been a pernicious attempt not only to demonize the largest opposition party, but the pursuit of an actual policy of selective justice in which the judicial process is used to incarcerate as many leading members of the NDC as possible, with the avowed aim of prosecuting the party into oblivion. It is no wonder that former Senior Minister J.H. Mensah let slip the actual intentions of the NPP, when he pronounced with elation in Legon, that “by the time the government finishes with the trial and imprisonment of former NDC Ministers and functionaries, the NDC will be no more.” Since 2001 a large number of NDC personalities have had their homes searched ‘Rambo style’ under the guise of looking for illegal weapons. Many have been hauled before investigative bodies, had their cars impounded, and subjected to numerous kinds of harassment. In the absence of a reality check, one would not believe that this was Ghana of the 21st Century, where one party had handed over power to another in a peaceful transition. It is reminiscent of the era of coup d’etats.Since then, the conviction of Mallam Issah of the PNC and other NDC personalities like Ibrahim Adam, Kwame Peprah, Dr. George Yankey, and only recently Dan Abodakpi have occurred in the face of even more blatant instances of corruption and obvious and serious cases of financial loss to the state under the very nose of President Kufuor. In all this President Kufour has abdicated his oath of office in which he swore “to do right to all manner of persons” and deviously insists that he will not respond to allegations against members of his government and will only take action if he is provided with evidence. Even when evidence has been provided he has still failed to act.
(4.) GOVERNANCELadies and Gentlemen:Fifteen years since the adoption of constitutional rule, institutions of governance are still very weak and subject to the bullying and manipulation of a powerful executive. Ghana needs a strong and independent legislature that is well resourced to carry out its constitutional mandate. Parliament as it exists today is weak and subject to the authority of the executive. It may be necessary to review the constitutional provisions that allow the majority of ministers to be appointed from Parliament in order to remove the ‘carrot’ that the executive uses to create a docile majority that are subject to its whims and caprices. There is the need to strengthen these institutions.
The general public’s opinion about the judiciary is not a flattering one. There are allegations of interference in the work of judges by the Chief Justice. Ghana needs a strong and independent judiciary that is not subject to the manipulation of the executive or the rich and powerful in society. The public pronouncement of the Chief Justice that judgments are written for some Judges and the blatant interference in the work of the Judiciary by the President in the Tsatsu Tsikata’s case are clear testimony of the NPP’s misconception of an independent Judiciary. The judiciary must be strengthened and resourced to carry out its constitutional duties.We must consider the possibility of an independent public prosecutor with security of tenure. Such a prosecutor must have constitutional authority to institute prosecutions without considerations of political affiliation. We therefore recommend the separation of the office of the Attorney- General from that of the Minister of Justice.The law setting up the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) must be reviewed to strengthen it in the fight against corruption and graft. The SFO must be affiliated with the office of the independent public prosecutor and must be able to initiate investigations in cases of abuse of office and corruption without recourse to the political office of the Minister for Justice.We must take the fight against corruption to a whole new level instead of the platitudes paid to it so far by the Kufuor administration. The Office of Accountability in the Office of the President must be shut down and the resources being expended on it channeled to the SFO and CHRAJ. There must be constitutional review of our assets declaration regime to make it more meaningful in the fight against corruption.There must be an inter-party consensus on the nature and number of ministries Ghana needs so that ministries do not appear and disappear at every cabinet reshuffle with the attendant disruptions and waste of public resources.
(5.) HUMAN RIGHTS AND SECURITYHuman Rights and security remain a great challenge to the NPP Government. Almost 5 years since the murder of the Ya Na of Dagbon and 40 of his elders, the NPP Government has still been unable to apprehend the perpetrators of the dastardly crime and bring them to justice. Even more recently in the case of the the murder in 2004 of Alhaji Issah Molbila, where the soldiers involved in the Alhaji’s torture leading to his death have been identified, the NPP is either unable or unwilling to proceed with their prosecution. Ghana which in the past was the most tranquil state in the West African sub-region, with a very low crime rate, has recently become a dangerous country to live in. Armed robberies involving rape and murder of the victims, highway robberies where buses are ambushed and the passengers mostly traders robbed of their entire capital have become a daily occurrence in Ghana.A prominent lawyer and citizen of Ghana, Alhaji Ibrahim Mahama, currently live in exile in Burkina Faso for fear of being attacked and murdered.Recently mysterious killings in the Suhum area have created fear about the possibility of a serial killer operating in the area. This has heightened fear among the citizenry in view of the mysterious deaths of women that occurred in the run up to the 2000 elections. The brutal gunning down recently of the late Samuel Ennin, the Chairman of the GJA Ashanti Region, is a typical example of the state of insecurity Ghanaians have to live with under the Kufuor administration.
(5.) ECONOMY Ladies and Gentlemen:A review of sectoral performances will create a better understanding of the stagnation and degeneration that have occurred in various facets of national life under the NPP administration.
The NPP Government continues to take pride in stabilizing the macro-economic environment. While it is largely true that there has been stabilization in this sector over the last several years, many factors account for this. A favourable international economic environment beginning 2001 has been a key factor in achieving this stabilization. Unlike the period leading up to the year 2000, when prices of our major export products were near collapse, with cocoa at an all time low of $700 per tonne and gold trading as low as $240 per ounce, cocoa from 2001 has traded at an average of $1600 per tonne, while gold has consistently kept pushing the $700 per ounce mark. Added to this has been the improved donor inflows and huge debt forgiveness granted Ghana and other developing countries.
Indeed one can say that with the amount of resources available to Ghana over the last six years, this country must be far ahead of where it presently is. It is a paradox of our development that with the kind of resources that have flowed into this country under the NPP Administration, Ghanaians feel even more financially emasculated than they did before the period up to 2000.Ladies and Gentlemen:The latest UN Human development report released last year gives a graphic picture of what is happening in Ghana. The report indicates a reduction in the quality of life and a growing gap between the rich and poor in Ghana. While the 20% richest have access to the best of social services such as education and health, the 20% poorest have experienced a significant slide in their quality of life, especially in respect to basic social services such as shelter, health, education and access to water. Guinea worm has gone on a rampage. Ghana has gone from being the best country in guinea worm eradication in 2000, to overtake war torn Sudan as the worst country in terms of the incidence of guinea worm. In a sad commentary ex- President Jimmy Carter described Ghana as not only being the worst afflicted in the guinea worm disease but also as being a major exporter to neighbouring countries. Maternal mortality and infant mortality have all shot up significantly over the last six years. In respect to infant malnutrition, the latest statistics indicate that almost one out of every three Ghanaian children is malnourished.Introduction of numerous taxes and levies have increased the cost of doing business in Ghana. This has been aggravated by steep hikes in the price of utility services. The cumulative cost of electricity supply has gone up by more than 300%, water by more than 100%, and petroleum products by about 500%. These have resulted in the obvious sluggish growth in the industrial and manufacturing sector. Combined with an erosion of the purchasing power of the citizenry, this situation has led to a folding up of many businesses and left most manufacturers and consumer outlets with high inventories.While the NPP in opposition was strongly opposed to petroleum price increases, and actually chided the NDC Government to look for other sources of generating revenue other than petroleum taxes, in government the NPP has superintended some of the steepest hikes in petroleum taxes and price ever in the history of Ghana. Where has all this revenue gone? What does the ordinary Ghanaian have to show for the huge revenues collected by Government over the last 6 years? We share the CJA’s opinion in their statement of April 26th, 2006 when they say that “ordinary Ghanaians must not be overtaxed to satisfy the opulent lifestyles of government functionaries. All Ghanaians have been watching with indignation the dramatic changes in the lifestyles of NPP Government officials who until recently were almost paupers.”Ladies and Gentlemen: Despite the President’s numerous and expensive foreign travel, ostensibly to seek investment, foreign direct investment (fdi) has fallen steeply and hovers around the $100 million per year mark, from a high of almost $400 million in the late 1990s.There has been a steep increase in external borrowing. In 2005 alone external borrowing amounted to almost $800 million, representing a 20% increase in external debt. Indeed it is paradoxical that while the NPP Government begs for debt forgiveness with one hand, it continues piling on additional debt at an even faster rate with the other.
(6.) EMPLOYMENTLadies and Gentlemen:The economic policies pursued by the NPP have adversely affected the poor and vulnerable. These policies have destroyed jobs rather than fulfill the promise to create jobs. The unemployment situation has worsened. The worst affected is the textile and garment industry. Textile factories which were the flagship of Ghana’s industrial sector have collapsed leading to massive retrenchment of labour. Cotton farming which was the bastion of agriculture in Northern Ghana, has also collapsed leading to a steady drift of the youth from that part of the country to seek menial labour in the cities in the south.The cost of high utilities and levies also led to a collapse of many firms in the timber industry. This led to massive lay-offs. The young and energetic youth left unemployed by this situation finding no other means to eke out a livelihood, have resorted to chain-saw operations, which is fast destroying the little forest cover left in Ghana.A significant portion of the population that were marginally above the poverty line, have become a new class of poor people. Diminishing real incomes have thrown a larger number of people into the street, leading to a phenomenal increase in the number of street hawkers.The registration of unemployed and under-employed was an ill-advised measure adopted by government which has led to increased frustration among the teeming number of unemployed. Almost 4 years on, many of them are left clutching the little registration slips they were given with absolutely no job prospects in sight. The Youth Employment Programme for which government illegally raided the coffers of the GETFUND, NHIS and District Assembly Common Fund, is not providing much relief. On the ground the programme is being implemented on party lines. There are numerous reported cases of coordinators demanding a registration fee from the already impoverished youth. In other cases, the youth are led to believe that they must join the NPP in order to enhance their chances of earning a job placement.
(7.) ENERGYLadies and Gentlemen:We now turn to the most significant crisis facing our nation at this juncture in her history. Following the energy crisis of 1998, the NDC put in place a well considered plan for increasing Ghana’s energy generating capacity to meet the rapidly rising demand. Construction of Aboadze Phase I & 2 with a combined capacity of 550 MW which had commenced in 1996, was brought on stream in 1999. The Osagyefo barge with capacity of 125 MW was constructed with assistance from the Japanese Government to be moored at Efasu to tap the viable offshore gas field operated by GNPC. The NDC Government also repaired and brought into operation the 30 megawatt thermal plant located at Tema. Additionally to increase generating capacity of Akosombo, the NDC Government in 1999 commenced retrofitting of the old turbines installed since the Nkrumah era. This represented a 108 MW increase in the hydro capacity from 912 MW to 1020MW.To supplement thermal generation using gas, the then CEO of GNPC, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, who is currently being tried for causing financial loss to the state, championed the West African Gas Pipeline Project and went ahead to sign the MOU after extensive advocacy work that got Togo, Nigeria and Benin on board the project to make it viable. The Parliamentary Committee of Mines and Energy at the time, was also resourced to visit the legislatures of Togo and Benin, to persuade their counterparts there to buy into the project and prepare for legislative input. This is the project for which President Kufuor constantly tries to steal credit.The NDC envisioned that this project will bring considerable amounts of cheap Nigerian gas to Ghana and reduce the cost of thermal generation by almost 30%. NDC also introduced the policy of Independent Power Producers (IPP) within the framework of the power sector reform. This allowed the participation of the private sector in power generation to supplement that provided by VRA. Plans were also far advanced in respect of additional hydro generation, through execution of the Bui Dam project. The reckless cancellation of the contract of Messrs Brown and Root, threatened to endanger the project until the salvation by the Chinese Government almost 5 years late in 2006. The NDC policy to promote the use of LPG and renewable energy sources has been shelved since 2001. No serious initiatives have occurred on this front under the NPP Administration.
Ladies and Gentlemen:Despite these laudable initiatives bequeathed to the NPP Government in respect of energy generation, the Kufuor administration went to sleep and could not see or hear the warning signs. Not even a strong warning by the Chief Executive of VRA that with VALCO coming on stream, the Authority could buckle under the pressure if urgent steps were not taken to enable it recover its losses and augment its generating capacity. The NPP Government only woke up in shock when they were hit by the power crisis of 2006. The President in his address mentioned belated measures to resolve the problem. While we are skeptical about how fast these measures will alleviate the supply bottle-necks, particularly so as the President cared little about the accuracy of his figures, we are willing to strongly support these measures in order that they come to fruition as early as possible, to put the energy supply that is so crucial to national development back on an even keel.
(8.) HEALTHAccess to basic health care still remains a challenge for the majority of Ghanaians. Detention of patients after hospitalization has become a common occurrence. As stated earlier, this has led to significant increases in maternal and infant mortality. Erosion of purchasing power and general poverty has also seen an increase in infant malnutrition.NDC had started the pilot schemes for the introduction of a National Health Insurance Scheme before it left power in 2000. At the 2000 election, there was a consensus as indicated in the manifestos of all the political parties that contested the elections, that a national health insurance scheme was the best way to improve general access to health care. With its victory in that election, the lot fell on the NPP to implement the scheme. A very reckless and over hasty implementation that saw a one-sided passage of the bill through parliament and lack of due diligence in implementation has led to a huge mess in the NHIS. As we speak now, almost 3 million people registered under the scheme, one year on, have not received their cards to enable them access healthcare.We also have a situation where hospitals and pharmacies are reluctant to provide care under the scheme because repayment of claims under the scheme is reported to be very slow.There are many cases where holders of insurance cards from one district are refused treatment in another district when they travel. They are asked to either pay cash or go back to their district to access treatment.Children are disadvantaged under the scheme. Under the cash and carry system, children under five, pregnant women and persons over 70 years were entitled to free healthcare. Under the current scheme, children are entitled to treatment only if their parents have subscribed to the NHIS. This would adversely affect our infant mortality statistics.More sinister is the blatant breach of Act 650 by the agencies that are supposed to transfer funds into the National Health Insurance Fund. SSNIT is in arrears of several billions of cedis in respect of the transfer of the 2.5% workers contribution to the NHIF. Payments that should go directly to the NHIF from the collecting agencies are rather paid to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the Controller and Accountant Generals Department, who then decide when to transfer these monies to the NHIF contrary to clause 91 of the law. These monies have therefore suffered the hazards of going through the consolidated fund.Ladies and Gentlemen: As at 31st December 2005, the total amount of money accrued from NHIL and SSNIT contributions stood at ¢1.861 trillion, out of which only ¢984.48 billion had been paid to the NHIF. As at December 2006, an outstanding balance of ¢1.45 trillion remained to be paid to the NHIF. This is based on the projected figure for 2006 of ¢1.51 trillion. Information available however indicates that collections were well above this figure.
(9.) EDUCATIONThe PNDC Government introduced the Educational Reform programme which sought to move our educational system from the Grammar school model inherited from our colonial masters to a new model that was more responsive to the needs of our country. This reform programme changed the basic structure of our education to the current Primary, JSS and SSS model that we now have. Certainly after many years of practicing this new model, there is a need for a review to streamline the system and address challenges that confront it. In attempting a review of the educational system, the NPP Government should have borrowed a leaf from the NDC Government when it held the National Education Forum (NED) that conceived the idea of the GETFUND. This forum allowed all stakeholders in the educational system to brainstorm on the way forward in respect of Ghana’s education. Unlike in the case of the NED, the current educational review the NPP intends to implement later this year has not been subjected to intensive public debate and consensus building.Quality education is increasingly becoming a preserve of the rich. With a widening gap in quality and cost between the urban private schools and rural public schools, the children of the rich have access to quality education and the jobs that flow therefrom, while the children of the rural poor are consigned to a status of semi literacy and a general lack of opportunity for self improvement.High school fees ranging from a minimum of about ¢3 million to a maximum ranging in 1000s of US Dollars, have made the urban private and international schools a no-go area for the children of the ordinary Ghanaian. While liberalization of the tertiary sector and the advent of private universities have led to increased opportunity for university education, the fees charged are so high that majority of students from financially challenged homes cannot take advantage of the new opportunity. Some professional courses like law and medicine for which fees are charged between ¢15 million and ¢40 million respectively, have once again become a preserve of the upper class.Morale in the teaching field is at an all-time low. High handed measures adopted to break the NAGRAT strike including withholding their salaries, has completely demoralized the teachers. This certainly will affect the quality of teaching and learning at the classroom level.Problems with the Computerized Selection Placement System (CSSPS) have resulted in chaotic situations where in some cases, students who opted for day schools have been posted to boarding schools outside their communities, girls have been posted to boys-only schools and vice versa, Christian students have been posted to Muslim schools and vice versa. So confused was the situation that in the first year of operation, the headmasters and headmistresses that the system was designed to exclude from the admission process had to be called in a panic and camped for upward of a week, to apply the human touch to what the computerization had so badly messed up.The polytechnics are even now more confused than ever about their status. Regular strikes by Polytechnic Teachers (POTAG) have severely disrupted academic work. Thousands of graduates from polytechnics with degrees varying from mechanical engineering to catering cannot find placement in the job market, because employers are still confused about the worth of their qualification.We suggest the holding of a national forum to discuss the educational review before it is implemented latter this year. The capitation grant should be paid in one big bulk at the start of the academic year in order to allow the schools authorities manage and plan better. There should be a review of CSSPS in order to let it achieve the purpose for which it was introduced. Part of the GETFUND should be set aside for subsidizing the high fees charged at the tertiary level in the form of bursaries or scholarships. The GETFUND should be decentralized to allow institutions and schools apply bulk sums to their priority needs.
(10.) AGRICULTUREThe complete collapse of the cotton, sheanut and rice industries have caused many households to sink below the poverty line in northern Ghana. This has led to a steady exodus of the youth of the three northern regions to the south in search of greener pastures. This has accentuated the situation of poverty and hunger in the area.There have been some good private initiatives in establishment of mango plantations in northern Ghana. However, as long as mango is a replacement for rice and cotton and not an addition to already existing food and cash crops, the agricultural economy of northern Ghana will hardly pick up to the point of reducing poverty as envisaged under the MCA compact.The Aveyime rice project continues to suffer neglect on the altar of political expediency. This is a project that was being implemented to boost the production of quality rice for the local market and export. Many years on and after incarcerating some officials of the NDC government, the project remains a political tool. A lot of the agricultural equipment on the site has deteriorated beyond repair.Government has failed to attract foreign capital investment in the cotton industry. It has also failed to fulfill its promise of a PSL on cotton. The industry remains an unresolved problem to the detriment of thousands of small scale farmers in northern Ghana.In the midst of all this Ghana still continues to suffer significant food deficits. Large quantities of maize are still imported to supplement low local production. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has not published trade statistics over the last several years. This is obviously because of the deteriorating deficit Ghana suffers in respect of key products. Present value of rice imports are estimated to have ballooned above the $500 million mark from about $100 million in 2000. Ghana also currently imports more than $50 million worth of poultry products and over $30 million worth of tomato products per annuum. The NPP promise to increase tomato production and processing has remained a pipe dream.
(11.) PSIThe President’s candour about the state of his PSIs must be appreciated, considering that there have been very few occasions in his 6 year tenure that he has been as frank and honest as he was when he addressed the issue of the PSIs in his recent state of the nation address. The President was however not completely truthful with the people of Ghana. The actual position is that the PSIs have failed. The flagship factory in the PSI on cassava starch into which almost $7 million was invested has been closed for almost a year now. The farmers of Bawjiase area have resorted to selling their cassava for ‘agbelima’ (dough) and gari. The 5 additional factories promised by Hon Kwamena Bartels have been surreptitiously shelved. The PSI on textiles and garments is floundering. The local producers in the garment village have had some of their shipments returned for not meeting the stringent requirements of the US market. The PSI on palm oil is not making much headway we are told because of a lack of adequate capitalization.
(12.) AVIATIONLadies and Gentlemen:The ill-advised liquidation of Ghana Airways has adversely affected the aviation industry in Ghana. Lucrative routes developed and formerly being flown by Ghana Airways have been taken over by foreign carriers. The Ghana International Airlines created purposely for NPP bigwigs is making heavy weather in trying to create space for itself in the highly competitive aviation industry. Using leased planes, and with a management that does not appear adept at nurturing the fledgling airline to grow, the airline is still heavily reliant on government intervention. It had to be bailed out last year with a hefty $20 million loan from SSNIT. The dramatic lock out of the former management and the rumpus with NPP party officials has resulted in expensive litigation and an exposé of rot and graft that almost grounded the new airline.Alas! This was to be expected following the very non-transparent manner in which the airline was set up. What was the need to liquidate Ghana Airways? Government could have in a more transparent manner invited strategic investors with a proven track record to buy into the ailing airline off course with management control, especially when it knew that it was going to ring fence and take over the airline’s debt eventually. Workers were cruelly laid off and left to their fate. Some have died and others have had their marriages broken. A lot of pilots trained at great expense by Ghana Airways are today flying other airlines all over the world. There are currently about 6 Ghana Airways Pilots flying for Ethiopian and they have transferred the trade mark Ghana Airways soft-touch landing to that airline for which Ethiopians are taking the credit.
(12.) COMMUNICATIONThe communication sector which the NDC with considerable foresight, had liberalized and allowed private sector participation has performed phenomenally. The explosion in mobile communications and broadband access that was forecast is happening. The sector held the potential to have performed even better, but for the ill-advised decision to chase away the Malaysian investors in Ghana Telecom and hand over a lucrative contract based on cronyism with absolute lack of transparency to Norwegian Telecom Management Partners? Or is it Telenor? This ill-fated decision by former Communications Minister, who has subsequently been rewarded with the posts of Parliamentary Affairs Minister and lately Transportation Minister, has resulted in colossal loss to the country and Ghana Telecom.
Saddled with massive short term debts, political interference and award of large dubious contracts to cronies, the Norwegian managers just continued to fleece the company of huge consultancy contracts and heavy pay packets running into billions of cedis until gratefully but most belatedly, the President intervened and halted the orgy. Ghana Telecom is in need of urgent re-structuring and a review of management. The current exercise to re-privatize Ghana Telecom and Westel must be carried out transparently and the new investors allowed a free hand to compete with Areeba which appears to have had such a big head start while the two had gone to sleep.
(13.) GOLDEN JUBILEE CELEBRATIONIt is an irony of our history that the NPP Government, successor of the NLM and UP traditions that strongly opposed the granting of independence by sending a delegation to remonstrate with the Queen to delay granting independence to Ghana, should be the government presiding over the celebration of our independence on the occasion of this unique 50th anniversary. It is no wonder that President Kufuor in his recent state of the nation address, failed to acknowledge the role of the founding father of the nation Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, when commenting on the 50th Anniversary.The Golden Jubilee celebration has been shoddily handled. Planning has been poor and consultation has been non-existent. This has created poor public awareness and participation in the programmes marking the Golden jubilee.Malaysia which also celebrates its Golden jubilee this year, set up its anniversary planning committee more than a year before the event. Unlike in Ghana the events have been better planned and publicized over an extensive period, evoking a strong national response and participation amongst the Malaysian people.Not the case in Ghana. A failed Chief Executive of VRA has been recycled as head of the anniversary secretariat. Contracts are flying like confetti to cronies and other party apparatchiks and hangers-on. When Ghanaians complain about the huge sums being expended on the anniversary celebration, the President arrogantly brushes them aside, telling suffering Ghanaians that they “know the cost of everything, but know the value of nothing.” Now we know that as for President Kufuor he knows the value of everything but not the cost of anything. He and his people know the value of constructing the Presidential Palace, implementing the re-denomination of the currency and the National Identification Program but obviously do not know or care about the cost to the Ghanaian people. We are at least grateful that the President and his hangers on realize the value of our independence contrary to the attitude of their predecessors.It is unconscionable that in a day and age when guinea worm has run riot, and more women are dying in childbirth, with increased mortality among children under 5, government has no qualms in spending over ¢200 billon cedis in celebrations including the importation of a huge fleet of flashy cars.
(14.) CONCLUSIONLadies and Gentlemen: In accordance with President Kufour’s exhortation to discuss the State of the Nation address with candour and frankness, we have given you this presentation as the true state of affairs in our dear nation, Ghana. It is our hope that it will add to the public discourse on the numerous challenges that face our nation and help us as a people to take the corrective actions necessary to bring our country back on track.Thank you. God bless Ghana.
Source:NDC

13.2.07

Public to "Rally Round the flag" on Thursday










Ceremonies would take place throughout the country on Thursday, February 15, to "Rally Round the Flag Day" to mark the official countdown towards the country's 50th birthday.
The event would be used to invite and encourage all Ghanaians to demonstrate their love, commitment and patriotism towards the land of our birth, a statement on Tuesday signed by Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby, Chief Executive of Ghana@50 Secretariat.The release said the day would be marked with ceremonies such as brass band floats through the principal streets of Accra and all regional capitals and distribution and waving of national and jubilee flags by school children.
It said Vice-President Aliu Mahama, Regional and Sector Ministries and Metropolitan and District Chief Executives would perform simultaneous flag raising ceremonies at 12 noon.The highlight ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Independence Square in Accra to be attended by members of the National Planning Committee and senior officials of Government.The statement said Mrs.
Theodosia Okoh, designer of the national flag, had been invited as the Special Guest of Honour for the occasion and would join the Vice-President and members of Government at the Independence Square as an acknowledgement and to give the event its proper historic grounding."All Ghanaians are therefore entreated to join in this historic event by attending the ceremonies, flying the flag in their homes and cars, or displaying them on their office desk and places of business." 13 Feb. 07
Source:GNA



The Nkoranza North Constituency bye-election would take place on March 13, 2007, the Electoral Commission (EC) said on Tuesday. A statement from the EC signed by K. Sarfo Kantanka, Deputy Chairman Operations to the Ghana News Agency said the “poll shall be taken in the Nkoranza North Constituency between the hours of 0700 hours and 1700 hours on Tuesday, March 13, 2007”.
It said, “nomination of candidates shall take place at the office of the Returning Officer, Nkoranza North Constituency, Busunya on Tuesday, February 27 and Wednesday, February 28, 2007, between the hours of 0900 hours and 1200 hours and 1400 hours and 1700 hours”.
The statement said nomination forms could be obtained from the Returning officer at Busunya, Brong Ahafo region. It said all nominations should be proposed and seconded by two registered voters respectively and supported by 18 other registered voters from the Constituency and with the consent of the prospective candidate.
The statement said nomination forms should be delivered to the Returning Officer, Nkoranza North Constituency with a deposit of 500,000 cedis in banker’s draft and two passport sized photographs in colour with red background.
The notice of election was issued in accordance with “Article 112 of the 1992 Constitution, as amended by section three of Act 527 (the Constitution of Ghana (amendment) Act, 1996)”, following the receipt of notification from the Clerk of Parliament on the occurrence of a vacancy “in the membership of Parliament necessitated by the resignation of Mr Eric Amoateng, Member of Parliament for Nkoranza North Constituency on February 9, 2007”.GNA

Deputy British Prime Minister in Ghana for three-day visit


John Prescott, Deputy British Prime Minister, arrived in the country on Tuesday evening for a three-day official visit. During his visit, the Deputy Prime Minister is expected to call on President John Agyekum Kufuor, tour the Fort William at Anomabo and also attend a commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade among others. At the airport to meet him, were the Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, government officials and officials of the British High Commission.GNA

10.2.07

"Internet Love" Cost American $150,000




GREG Stivey, an American, apparently did not find it strange when a girl friend he met on the internet demanded huge sums of money from him.He readily sent her 3,500 dollars she requested for her to join him in the US and parted with another 2,000 dollars to secure her release from a supposed arrest at the Kotoka Airport for possessing 33 kilogrammes of gold.Through various representations by the girlfriend, identified by the police as Nancy Osei, and her accomplices, Mr Stivey sent a total of 150,000 dollars before realizing that there was something wrong.
Superintendent Denis Abade of the CID Headquarters told the Times that Edmund Ametepey, unemployed, and Alexander Quarshie, a trader, Nancy’s accomplices are assisting the police in investigations.Nancy herself is on the run.He said the American met Nancy at a dating site on the Internet, in January last year and introduced herself as a single lady who was looking for a Christian man to marry. He became interested in her, and started corresponding with her through the Internet.He said that Nancy later on informed Mr Stivey of her desire to join him in the USA, and demanded $3,500 for the trip.
The amount was transferred to her.Mr Stivey later on received a call from one Kennedy Smith, an alleged travel agent, who informed him that Nancy had been arrested at the Kotoka International Airport for allegedly carrying 33 kilogrammes of gold, and so 2,000 dollars was needed for her release. He accordingly transferred the amount to secure her release.
The police said after that transaction, Ametepey and Quarshie told Mr Stivey "stories upon stories" about Nancy’s trip, which made him transfer more money to bring the total to 150,000 dollars.In August last year, the American came down to Ghana with the view of tracing his supposed fiancée, only to realise that he had been duped. Consequently he sought legal advice.
He has since left for the US..The police said that in January, this year, Stivey received a call from a lady who claimed to be Nancy’s friend, and said Nancy had been kidnapped for three months, and she needed 300 dollars to buy a new phone. The money, should be sent in the name of Alexander Quarshie, a supposed pastor’s son.
The police said the money was transferred on January 15 but when Quarshie went to the Industrial Area branch of the SG-SSB to collect it on January 23, he was arrested by the police who had been alerted by Mr Stivey.Further investigations led to the arrest of Ametepey.
Source:Ghanaian Times

9.2.07

Amoateng Resigns!


Speaker declares seat vacant after 14 months




Accra, Feb. 9, GNA - The Speaker, Mr Ebenezer Sekyi Hughes, on Friday declared the Nkronzah North seat vacant and accordingly, directed the Clerk of Parliament to inform the Electoral Commission of the vacancy.




Before the commencement of Public Business, the Speaker informed the House of a communication received from Mr Eric Amoateng, (NPP-Nkronzah North), informing the Speaker of his resignation in accordance with provisions of the constitution and article 17 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.




Article 17 of the Standing Orders states that: " A member who desires to resign his seat in the House shall notify Mr Speaker in writing under his hand of his intention to resign his seat and Mr Speaker shall inform the House as soon as practicable."

The Speaker read out all the contents of Mr Amoateng's letter on the floor of the House.






The member, in his letter addressed to the Speaker, said: "I have come to the realization that my people would be better served in my crises by relinquishing my position."





He said his resignation was voluntary and expressed appreciation to the Speaker, the Majority and Minority leaders and the Privileges Committee for the time given him during his long absence from the house. Mr Amoateng is facing legal charges in the United States following his arrest late 2005 for his alleged involvement in narcotic drugs.

Mr Sekyi Hughes, after reading out the communication, said Mr Amoateng had complied with "Standing Order 17 in all material respect."






He said: "In accordance with Standing Order 18, I herby declare the seat of Nkoranzah North vacant on this 9th day of February, 2007."

Standing Order 18 states that: " The seat of a member shall be declared vacant by Mr Speaker under clause (1) (b) to (h) of Article 97 of the Constitution."

The Speaker then quoted Standing Order 19, and directed the Clerk of Parliament to inform the Electoral Commission of the vacancy in accordance with that provision.





Mr Sekyi Hughes told the House that his earlier ruling on January 30, to the Privileges Committee to re-visit the position taken by the House to give Mr Amoateng time, had been overtaken by the communication received from the member.





He, accordingly, ruled that the matter before the committee had no effect in the light of the resignation of Mr Amoateng.


Source:
GHP