Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Need To Ensure Peaceful Polls December 7

The Electoral Commission and the Security Agencies have put everything that matters in place to ensure that there is a successful election. This year’s election has been considered the mother of all election for very obvious reasons. For the election managers especially the Ghana Police Service, it is business as usual. A lot has been put in place to ensure that the election is devoid of security breaches. The core mandate of State security spearheaded by the Ghana Police Service is to secure all election materials, protect the election officials and voters, give adequate security coverage to party officials and candidates and also ensure that nothing untoward happen to mar the smooth conduct of the Poll. The Police administration has put in place adequate measures which would enable the process to run smoothly.

Learning from the past security strength and weaknesses. Surely, the Police are well prepared, physically and mentally for the task ahead. The ball is now in the court of the contesting parties, candidates and the voting public. Enough education has gone into this election and it is the belief of the election managers that the right thing would be done to enable us to continue to enjoy the peace we have been enjoying for years. As voters, we have been reminded not to do anything that would disrupt the process. Our duty is to cast our ballots and not to do anything that would interfere with the activities of the electoral officials. Whatever reservation a voter or a candidate, his or her agent may have should be addressed to the electoral officials or the detailed security officer. The Police have made it clear that all the laws that border on criminality would be enforced to the letter. The police are not leaving anything to chance as far as this election is concerned. December 7 election would not be considered a make or break affair. It is a simple exercise which is to help in selecting our Political leaders to stir the affairs of the State for the next four years.

Officially, campaigning has ended, what we all expect is to vote and this is not a fight. It is a decision as to who should lead you. We must all come out of this democratic exercise unscathed. We have been preaching peaceful election for more than a year. This is the time to make peace real. It is only our actions and inactions that can bring about the much needed peace.

Don’t sacrifice the peace of the nation for anything. Remember also that violence does not win elections.


Tuesday, 6 December 2016


The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation [GBC] has strived to maintain a high level of objectivity and fairness unprecedented in its history from the time of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the National Liberation Council, the regime of Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia through the Acheampong regime, General Akuffo's time, the AFRC days, Dr limann’s regime, the PNDC days and the current democratic dispensation. The Corporation has been both fair and transparent especially during election years. This year, the Political Broadcast Committee was proactive enough to begin consultations with political parties, months before the season kicked in in earnest.

The committee engaged the political parties, to set the ground rules for coverage of political activity and related issues such as debates and sensitization of the electorate on manifestoes of political parties. Furthermore, the radio and television newsrooms dedicated correspondents to all the flagbearers after the Electoral Commission came out with its final list. This, the Corporation has been doing since the inception of the fourth republic. Even though journalists and presenters at GBC might have their political preferences, it is instilled in them to be professional.

The Corporation tries as much as possible to ensure fairness in coverage of all political parties especially during the political season because ours is a public broadcasting mandate not tied to the political aprons of any political party. Granted that part of its mandate is to disseminate government policies and programmes, that does not mean that the Corporation is the tool of any political party to pursue its agenda. There is a clear distinction between governance issues and political party activity during election years. We do not for instance equate the inauguration of a project by the President to a political rally. This is because the coverage of the inauguration of a classroom block is part of the Corporation’s mandate to inform the public on what government is doing per its mandate to govern. It would therefore be unfair and unjust for GBC to be tagged as the mouthpiece or propaganda tool of any political party or government.

We note with concern that the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo Addo has allegedly said on a commercial radio station that he boycotted the NCCE/GBC Presidential debate because the two public institutions are bias. Nana Akufo Addo was quoted as saying that, "GBC acts like a propaganda wing of the ruling party". We disagree with this statement. This is because the GBC does not stifle the use of stories on any political party and distinguishes between pure reportage on governance and political coverage. It must be put on record that genuine and truthful attempts were made by the GBC through its political broadcast committee to get the New Patriotic Party to take advantage of GBC's platform to sell its message and candidate to the electorate. Even though the committee went through a frustrating time getting the NPP to be part of political programmes on GBC's platform such as the encounter with Presidential candidates and Presidential debates, it kept up its mission to involve the party.

Indeed even hours before the Presidential debate GBC left its options open for the participation of Nana Akufo Addo. As a public broadcaster driven by public interest rather than profit, the GBC will continue to pursue its objective and mission of educating, informing and entertaining the Ghanaian public. The Corporation understands and acknowledges its role in the democratic dispensation of Ghana and would not do anything to disadvantage any political party or figure. GBC is for all Ghanaians and will as such serve as platform on which all the sundry including political parties can sell their message, flagbearers and manifestoes.

Our political leaders must endeavour to help GBC maintain its public service stance by avoiding utterances that would spawn the perception that the Corporation is biased towards a particular candidate and party. Anything short of this would be unfair, untruthful and unjust.


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Muslim Youth And Election Violence

There is a wrong notion among some people across the globe that Islam promotes violence and crime, due to the conduct of some Muslims who are engaged in some forms of crime and violence. The nefarious activities of groups like ISIS, AL-SHABAB, Boko Haram, and others have further painted the religion in bad light. The perpetuation of these unwarranted actions by some Muslims must be condemned and if any of them is arrested, he must face the law as a criminal and not as a Muslim.

Does Islam teach Muslims to be violent and criminals? Absolutely No! Rather, Islam itself means ‘peacefully submitting to the will of Allah. It is therefore absolutely wrong for any individual to tag Islam as violent or to call any group of criminals as “Islamic Terrorists”, “Islamic Suicide Bombers”, or “Islamic War Fighters”. One can however put the blame squarely at the doorstep of Muslim parents, Islamic Scholars and the Muslim Ummah at large for doing very little to prevent Muslim youth from engaging in crime and violence. Allah is not pleased with people who perpetrate crime and violence. Allah and His final Messenger, Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) have signed a serious warning to all human beings in the universe and entreated Muslims to be peace loving always.

This is found in Quran 5:32, where Allah says, “…if any one killed one person, it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind; and if any one saved one life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole human race…”. The Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) preached and lived peacefully, throughout his entire life and enjoined his followers not to relent in this regard. He said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep silent, unite the bond of kinship and serve his guest generously”. The Prophet also said, “None is a true Muslim until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself” and that “Allah has no mercy for one who has no mercy for others”. If the words of Allah and His final Messenger about peace, love and harmony are to be written down, even an ocean of ink would finish and one percent of it has not yet be written.

Considering the few verses of Allah and His Messenger, it is incumbent upon all Muslims and humans in general to live together in peace and unity and to shun crime and violence. As the nation goes to the polls, Muslim youth across the country must be extra careful with politicians who come to them with bribes and mouthwatering promises with the intent of influencing them to use illegal procedures including force and violence to enable them to win power. They must be mindful of the strong warning from Allah and His Messenger and to desist from such despicable actions. As they move around to support their candidates and to canvass votes for their political parties, they must let the verses of the Noble Quran and the Authentic Hadith be in their hearts and minds to serve as guide and direction in any circumstance they find themselves. As true Worshippers of Allah and genuine followers of Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him), they cannot afford to disappoint themselves in that regard, but to live an exemplary life worthy of emulation.

Muslims must be reminded of their sovereign duty to uphold the teachings of Islam at all times and to be unwavering in order to earn the love and blessings of Allah. These include abstaining completely from violence and crime, and instead fight very hard to promote peace, love, unity and societal co-existence. May the Almighty Allah continue to grant Ghana peace and unity before, during and after the elections.

By Abu Ibrahim Azebre, Economics Tutor at Fumbisi Senior High School –Upper East 0240393109

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Death Of Former Cuban Revolutionary Leader Fidel Castro

Last Saturday, the world woke up to the news of the death of leader of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz. The world has indeed lost a great hero and beacon of the struggle for true independence from the forces of oppression and neo-colonialism. As Prime Minister, President, Commander of the Cuban Armed Forces and First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, his role at the helm of Cuba spanned nearly 50 years during which he left a major imprint on his country and on global politics. Castro was a towering international figure whose importance in the 20th century far exceeded what might have been expected from the head of state of a Caribbean island nation of 11 million people. In death, as he did in life, the fiery apostle of revolution who defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader continues to divide opinion. On the screens, we saw some mourning the charismatic leader who started his revolution with a small band of people in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, eventually leading to the overthrow of the Batista government. Yet, others have been celebrating his demise. His critics accused him of recklessly taking the world to the brink of nuclear war in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis, and also depriving millions of Cubans of their lives and liberties. US President elect, Donald Trump described him as a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.

But former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan and his successor Ban Ki-Moon, US President Barack Obama and many more world leaders paid glowing tributes to him. For us in Africa, Castro was a hero par excellence. His unwavering support for the freedom of South Africa and his stance against the apartheid regime will ensure that his name is recorded in the history books as one of the foremost international supporters of Africa's liberation struggle. His popularity in South Africa is therefore undeniable. No wonder, he received the loudest applause from the audience at the Union Buildings in 1994, as Mandela was sworn in as President. Ghana and many other developing countries still continue to benefit from the generosity of Cuba. Hundreds of Ghanaians receive different kinds of training in Cuba and thousands of Cuban doctors have served and continue to serve in the most deprived communities of our country.

During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Cuba was able to marshal the best medical resources in solidarity with Africa. Fidel will be remembered for his leadership of the Cuban revolution and for advances in Cuba in the fields of education, literacy and health. His government implemented social policies which have continued to bestow the benefits of the best social services for all Cubans. He demonstrated to the world that sovereign equality is a paramount idea that must prevail at all times, regardless of a nation’s size, economic or military muscle, or its relationship with the hegemon of the day. He steadfastly defended Cuba and its revolution for decades, and personally survived innumerable threats to his life. His love for the people of Cuba was selfless and unshakable. His devotion to the idea of freedom and sovereignty of all peoples and all nations spoke through his actions and solidarity. It is to be learnt from this icon that no price is too dear for freedom, shared prosperity and the best interests of all people. Arguably the greatest hero of the 20th Century, Fidel joined forces with like-minded legends including Che Guevara and his younger brother and now President, Raul Castro, to create a new resilient Cuban society that withstood decades of economic embargo and blatant aggression by the United States and its allies. Under his leadership and despite the economic hardships imposed upon his country, Cuba was able to build educational and healthcare systems that outperformed those of the so-called advanced countries and to make Cuba a star in arts and in sports.

We bid goodbye to a great man who led by example, stood firm and loved liberty in thought, word and deed. We are now left with his legacy and an obligation to continue the struggle for the economic liberation of the South, reform of international governance to reflect our diversity and sovereign aspirations, and an end to exclusion and marginalization of nations and peoples. In the fullness of time, the world will get to understand him for as he stated himself long ago, history will absolve him. Fare thee well Comandante Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz.


Death Of Former Cuban President Fidel Castro

Over the weekend all major International News networks had to abruptly alter their programmes to digest the sudden news of the passing on of Cuban Revolutionary Leader, Fidel Castro Ruz at age 90. Death at such an age is normally not mourned, but celebrated. A giant of 20th century politics, Fidel's passing really captured the centre stage of every discussions across the world in politics, economics, commerce and global planning and strategies. The emblematic revolutionary was known for his love of life and was a figure recognised by both friends and fees as a legend thrust on world politics and history by circumstances of his time.

Born, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz on August 13th 1926 to Spanish Immigrants of affluent background, the former Cuban leader abandoned his pursuit in law practice and embraced the Missionary cause of Jose Marti, the Cuban Independence, Liberator of the 18th Century, to be with the down trodden and exploited. Spurred on by the examples of radical like Simon Bolivar, Tupac Amaru, Toussaint L"Ouverture, Augustino Sandino, Jose de San Martin and Bartolome de Casas, and many more, Fidel overthrew the Philistine regime of Batista in 1959. Fidel and his revolutionary embraced socialism in Cuba to the eerie of the US, the great power and hemispheric hegemon of all time, just 90 miles from shore. From the 1960's to the 1980's, Fidel’s Cuba actively struggled against colonialism and Western Imperialism played and played an instrumental role in the formation of the Non Aligned Movement.

In the 1990's contrary to the expectation of many, Fidel's Cuba not only survived the collapse of the Soviet Union - its benefactor and financier - but lived on and preserved its independence. The free and Independent Cuba that he built has become an influential member of the International Community and has served as an inspiration for many countries and people. One towering and incontrovertible character of this giant of our time was his conviction and resolve in the rightness of his cause and history has rightly absolved him. He chose the path of egalitarianism under which basic rights and opportunities were and are equally available to all irrespective of ones background in the Cuban Society. In the words of President Putin, Fidel Castro "was a strong and wise human being who always looked with confidence to the future. He embodied the highest ideals of politics, citizenship and patriotism, and was sincerely convinced in the rightness of the goal to which he devoted his whole life. As an example to this current generation Fidel proved that idealism can be translated into reality. He proved the superiority of scientific socialism over capitalism which subsists on exploitation and naked subjugation. As a man of his time, he devoted his life to the working masses in the struggle for justice and dignity and survived more than 600 attempts on his life. Not only did he survive the assassination attempts, he lived to see to demise of all the leaders who plotted to kill him. He survived because the people were on his side and bought into his conviction and the superiority of the ideals he espoused. Again, as an example his ideals in socialist internationalism invigorated humanity's consciousness. Cuba became an example not only for the Latin America but for our entire world. Life expectancy in Cuba is much higher than it is in many affluent countries, Against all odds and five decades of crippling embargo and blockade of people, Cuba not only survived but came out victorious.

Africa as a continent, and Ghana in particular is indebted to the selflessness and generosity of this icon of history when all came to sum up the imprint that, this man stamped on history, it would be recalled that, "he inherited a poor backward country in 1959, with a largely illiterate population, the backyard of the USA, whose high and mighty used Havana as a private whore house and the island as a playground. He closed down the casinos, started to implement a progressive socialist government which began to provide high quality public service and to open opportunities to all. Commandante Fidel Castro Ruz has departed to eternity leaving behind "terra firma" to enter the annals of history as a hero of humanity.

In our hearts shall live the battle cry of the revolution, "Patrio Muerte, Venceremos - Independence or death - victory shall reign.


Monday, 28 November 2016

African Countries Quitting The ICC

The Gambia, South Africa and Burundi have given indication of their intention to quit the International Criminal Court. The decision to quit the court should not come as a surprise to anybody. For a long time, many have held the view that the court is used for the persecution of Africans, especially their leaders while ignoring crimes committed by the West. The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The court is meant to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore only exercise its jurisdiction when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Council or individuals states refer investigations to the Court.

Since, it began functioning on first July 2002, the Office of the Prosecutor, an organ of the court has opened ten official investigations and is also conducting an additional nine preliminary examinations. So far, 39 individuals have been indicted in the ICC including Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. It is not intriguing that all the 39 people indicted by the court are all Africans? There is no doubt that there are many Western countries that have committed heinous war crimes against independent sovereign states and their citizens since the creation of the ICC but not a single western citizen let alone leader has been indicted.

It is still mind boggling why former US President George Bush and his friend former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair have still not been investigated for the baseless war they waged against Iraq, which resulted in the killing of Sadam Hussein and thousands of Iraqis. The ICC, despite being called International Criminal Court, is nothing other than an International Caucasian court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans. The unfairness of the court can also be seen in the fact that, the US, which regards itself as the champion of democracy and human rights, signed the court's treaty but has never ratified it, yet it is quick to refer other citizens to the ICC. The same America goes about signing treaties with less powerful countries not to surrender American citizens to the ICC, even when they are indicted.

The decision by the three African countries to withdraw from the Court is a step in the right direction. It does not matter that the current Chief prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, is an African, a former Justice Minister of the Gambia. The decision to withdraw must not be misconstrued to mean a blank cheque for the commission of crime. By all means, those who commit crime must be punished. It is true that some African leaders are notorious for committing heinous crimes against their own people. These leaders must be dealt with. The AU must be able to establish its own court to deal with such cases. There must be African solution to African problems. The continent has come of age and is in a position to deal with its own troubles. If 60 years ago, Ghana's first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah declared that, the black man was capable of managing its own affairs, how can it not do so now?

It is understandable that judging from the conduct of the continental leaders, they have not demonstrated enough commitment to strengthening their institutions. But that is no justification for western powers to interfere in the affairs of the continent. It behoves the citizens of African to demand more from their leaders. Instead of this scratch my back, let me scratch your back, the leaders must be bold to condemn their colleagues who are not living up to expectation. The need for an African Court of Justice is very necessary. This will ensure that those leaders who abuse the rights of their citizens and those who visit terror and tyranny on their people are dealt with Justice is a pre-requisite for peace and development.


Improving Investment Architecture For Africa’s Youth

Despite their numerical strength, young people in Africa are still confronted with significant obstacles to participating in economic, social and political circles. Yet, Africa’s youth are the key to the continent’s renaissance and will remain players in and advocates of social transformation and development in many spheres. The enormous benefits that youth can contribute can only be realised when investment is made in their education, employment, health care, empowerment and effective civic participation. A number of bilateral and multilateral donors, as well as foundations and other global institutions have published policies and strategies, commissioned research and analysis, and launched a range of programmes and initiatives targeting Africa’s youth.

This donor momentum has obviously increased the profile of Africa’s youth across all domains of global development discourse. However, more needs to be done to ensure that donor policies and strategies are matched by an increase in funding and specific programming to effectively and efficiently meet youth needs on the continent. Across Africa, as part of division of labour between donors and partner governments, several donors have moved towards greater sectoral concentration, both at an overall regional level and in specific countries.

This has in most cases led to a diminishing focus on youth development as a sector in its own right; either because it is considered as cross-sectoral or because it has been dropped in favour of other key sectors such as education, health or economic growth. The aid effectiveness agenda has also led to most donors increasingly shifting from the old ‘project’ modality towards larger-scale programmatic sector-wide approaches. This shift has increasingly resulted in multi-donor programmes in which the national government or a UN agency is the main in-country partner. In several African countries for example, for a variety of reasons, governments only pay lip service to youth issues, and as a result, youth development programmes do not receive significant funding. Developing a system to enable specific monitoring of commitments and expenditure on youth will ensure that policy commitments are matched by programming commitments and funding. For more efficiency and coordination, donors should also create specific youth units with advisors that have responsibility for driving policy and programming on youth. The youth units and their advisors could provide more explicit guidance to different country and sectoral programmes on why, when and how to focus on youth with examples of best practice for analysis, programming, monitoring and evaluation.

In the absence of this, youth issues risk being de-prioritised. Donors should also give more overall priority to youth development in Africa. For Africa’s youth to receive the much needed programming and funding they deserve, there needs to be a more systematic approach to analysing their situation, and when appropriate, including more explicit objectives related to youth development in key donor policies, strategies and programmes. Undoubtedly, more funding is needed to demonstrate donors’ recognition of the importance of investing in youth for Africa’s development. Both large and small programmes are encouraged. But in particular, smaller, catalytic projects on youth development in African countries can be critical to supporting the piloting of new approaches particularly at community level.

Large-scale programmes can be executed through multi-donor pool-funding mechanisms, while small projects can be funded through mechanisms like challenge funds and small grants initiatives managed by third parties. In order to provide a fuller picture to form the basis for investments in Africa’s youth, further research is required to provide context-specific analysis of the situation of youth in each African country. Such research should explore the specific risks and challenges faced by different groups of youth and the opportunities that exist for engaging with them to meet their needs and enhance their role in peace building and development.