Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Nairobi Killings and Death of Professor Awonoor

Reports have it that the killings in Nairobi at the West-gate Shopping Mall is a revenge for the situation in Somalia. Late Professor Awoonor at that time he was shot was minding his business there, giving directions on knowledge as he has been doing here in Ghana.

He had earlier made major contributions in Literature and general learning, setting people in nation building through his lectures and instructions. As a former student in the then Secondary School,  I recall my first contact with the illustrious Prof. 

What I learnt those days were very illuminating and instructive.  I suspect Prof was a Christian or traditionalist but that did not bother us, after all Prophet  Mohammed instructs us to seek knowledge even if it is in China. Here it was in our local school, coming from our own. And then  Prof. goes to Nairobi for similar cause-impacting knowledge and he is killed as part of the collateral damage. 

Yes, the Koran allows us to revenge justifiable wrongs. But in equal measure. How can you determine this equal measure? We are therefore not surprised that the same Koran adds that if we forgive wrongs, it is Allah  who gives us the reward. In other words the highly recommended action to wrong done to a Moslem who follows the teachings of the Quran is forgiveness.  

Surah Shams tells us Allah has created humans to distinguish good from wrong - believers and non-believers alike!  When we do good we purify our souls and succeed thereby to go to Heaven, but when we do bad or evil we corrupt our souls and therefore end up in perdition!  

The Koran equally instructs us to act with wisdom when it says in Quran Chapter 16, verse 16  Invite (mankind, O Mohammed) to the ways of your Lord  with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in ways that is better.

Truly, the Lord knows best who has gone astray from His path, and he is the Best Knower of those who are guided.   Moslems are sometimes confused about Hadith 40 which instructs us to stop a wrong doing first by force, speaking against it or lastly hating it in our heart which is the weakest faith. 

The Quran  expects us to Obey Allah, His Prophet and Those in leadership. So obviously the patient path is the best under our current circumstances.  Prof Awonoor and many others who have been victims of these senseless killings could not have been near Somalia where Kenyan troops engaged the alleged perpetuators of Saturday's deaths.

So where is the wisdom in their deaths?   When I first heard of the Profs death,  I recalled in our science studies the role of Archimedes. If you were the type that worked mathematics well, you were called Archimedes.

Later I learnt that Archimedes was grossly involved in solving a Mathematical problem when a victorious soldier of his town came to fetch him. Apparently there was instruction that he should not be harmed. But that irate soldier killed him! Professor  Awoonor was equally engrossed in going to impact knowledge, and was killed!   I am just confused and sad. May the soul of Prof. and other victims rest in Perfect Peace! 


Friday, 20 September 2013

Reflection On Electoral Reforms

After the ruling of the Supreme Court and its recommendations for electoral reforms, many important personalities and organizations have added their voice to the need for such reforms. The Electoral Commission on its part has extended invitation to the political parties to bring forth proposals in connection with this noble national assignment. This is in recognition that political parties are major stakeholders in elections. As a matter of fact, the acceptability or otherwise of election results, in actual sense, rest with the political parties. It is instructive to note that electoral reforms have been a continuous process since 1992. As a matter of fact, the EC has been embarking on electoral reforms after every election or major electoral activity. The commission embarks on post-election evaluation or debriefing with the sole purpose of improving its performance in future.

The remarkable electoral evolution that we have observed over the years from translucent ballot boxes to transparent ones, replacement of thumbprint voter identity cards with photo id cards, manual registration and identification of voters giving way to biometric registration of voters and its concomitant biometric verification of voters, among others, lend credence to this assertion. Maybe what is new this time round is the publicity given to it and the fact that political parties are being asked officially to submit their inputs. This is a golden opportunity for the political parties to make an impact in the electoral process, so that we can have better elections in future. One important way that they can help to improve our electoral process is to make feasible proposals, vis-a-vis our socio-economic development, literacy level, culture and traditions, our perception towards elections, the level of trust or mistrust among the political parties themselves and others are worthy to be cited. These are very important so that in our zeal to reform our electoral process, we will not solve big problem and create bigger ones. Another means by which the political parties can make positive impact on the electoral process is to respect and be committed to the rules of the game that all of us will put in place. We need to encourage our followers not only to go by the electoral laws, but also allow those who break them to face the full rigours of the law as individual offenders but not to defend them at all cost as political party members. It is even important that they go ahead to condemn those who violate the law. One cannot end any discussion about the role that political parties can play in helping to shape our electoral process without touching on the party agents. It is now clear that political party agents or polling agents as we call them play very important roles in the electoral process at least on election day at the polling station. Against this background, the appointment of these agents should not be seen as job for the boys but rather as a very serious exercise. The parties should appoint people who are not only committed and knowledgeable but also those that can be trusted.

It is not only the political parties whose cooperation is needed to make the electoral reforms a success, but all stakeholders and well-meaning Ghanaians especially, the law enforcement agencies. A humble appeal goes to them that when electoral offences are committed, they should treat them with all the seriousness they deserve. Those who make reckless and insulting statements should be condemned by society because the consequences will be borne by all of us. Let us all bear in mind that elections will come and go but our dear nation will always be there, so we owe it a national duty to preserve the peace and tranquility that our forefathers bequeathed to us.

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Going By Due Political Process

The impact of the election petition has been overwhelming for every Ghanaian. The anxiety of not knowing, dealing with contemptuous statements and the expectation of verdict generally contributed to the overwhelmingly challenging experience for the ordinary Ghanaian.

In the midst of all these concerns Ghanaians again demonstrated their willingness to subject themselves to due political process. As the so called zero approached, many were those who thought the hard earned peace in Ghana would be whittled away by some magic wand.

Here again, it was very refreshing to note that Ghanaians held their own and went about their daily chores with poise and grace. That is why Ghana with all her shortcomings continues to be the oasis in the dessert among the comity of nations. The people of Ghana have shown their love for their country. The children and women of Ghana are particularly grateful for the demonstrable love shown to Ghana. Indeed the height of our love for Ghana has been shown by the depth of our love for one another and our willingness to tolerate each other even in the face of adversity.

The peace is holding but, let us not take it for granted. Let us be reminded that it is Ghana that has triumphed. Political commentators and praise singers are urged to use the same energy deployed to articulate their divergent views to unite Ghana for growth and prosperity. Ghana faces many socio-political challenges such as the poor land tenure system, the need for institutional reforms in the public sector and corruption. 

Citizens of Ghana are colluding to dupe Ghana for their personal aggrandizement. Attention must be also drawn to the high cost of poor social services the ordinary Ghanaian tax payer is forced to endure and above all, there must be a renewed thinking towards patriotism and love for country to move Ghana forward. God bless our homeland Ghana and may the peace prevail.


Decision To Scrap Allowances To Teacher Trainees

Government`s decision to remove allowances to Teacher trainees is a step in the right direction and perhaps long overdue. For years now teacher trainees have been given training allowances to see them through their course and perhaps to motivate and attract prospective school leavers to the teaching profession. With the passage of the College Of Education bill, the training colleges attained tertiary status and since it would be practically unwise to pay allowances to tertiary students’ government decided to scrap the allowances. Teacher trainees are now given the option of applying to the Students Loan Scheme for instant loans to finance their education. Invariably monies saved from the withdrawn allowances could be diverted to expanding facilities in the Colleges of Education. With their new status, the Colleges of Education might require improved infrastructure and expanded facilities such as ICT laboratories, school auditoriums and perhaps readily available research funds.

There is no doubt the cancellation of the allowance will inure to the benefit of trainee teachers because hitherto government restricted admission to the teacher training colleges through the quota system in view of the huge financial encumbrances involved in paying the allowances. It is unfortunate teachers trained with the tax payer`s money drift to perceived lucrative areas like politics, business, law and medicine. Some refuse postings to deprived areas where their services are most needed. Now that teacher trainees will no longer be given allowances more students can be admitted to the Colleges of Education to churn out more teachers. That perhaps explains why government has directed the Colleges of Education to increase their enrolment by 40 percent to ensure that more applicants are accommodated for the 2013/2014 academic year. According to Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa the 38 Colleges of Education dotted across the country are expected to admit about 20 thousand applicants. When teacher trainees pay their own fees to see them through education, the umbrella body, GNAT, can then negotiate for better conditions of service for the living standard of teachers to improve. With the removal of the allowances there is the likelihood that only committed teachers will enter the profession and not those attracted by the allowances.

Teaching is one of the most important professions the world ever. It is a noble profession and ready jobs are guaranteed upon completion of training. Most of us owe the teacher a debt of gratitude for what we are today. It will therefore be prudent to make the profession attractive to school leavers. Government has no option but to improve infrastructure at the Colleges of Education as most of the infrastructure at these Colleges are in deplorable condition. For instance, at the Kibi Presbyterian College of Education, a report by a fact finding committee set up by the National Council for Teacher Education showed bad road network, leaking teachers bungalows - some of them not rehabilitated for years now. Now that the statuses of these training colleges have changed, there should be a development plan to bring infrastructure there at par with the Universities. Government must expedite action on the construction of the ten additional Colleges of Education in all the Regions as promised in the NDC manifesto. Even though some people argue that the plan is ambitious and superfluous, there is no denying the fact that better qualified teachers need to be trained to meet the country`s development needs. A popular adage says if you think education is expensive try illiteracy. Quality education can never be free. Whatever is free is never cherished and turns out to be more expensive. As the British adage goes, there is no free lunch. Government must keep focus and go ahead with its education development plan, teacher education inclusive. The floodgates have now been opened for us to get more quality teachers for our students, and no agitations can stop this.


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Ozone Depletion And The Way Forward

The theme chosen for this year’s celebration of world ozone day, "a healthy atmosphere, the future we want", is most appropriate given current pollution of the atmosphere by chemical substances which are threats to the ozone layer. The Creator of the Universe in his infinite wisdom in creating earth placed a protective layer known as the ozone between earth and the sun to protect the earth from the ultra-violet rays sent down by the Sun. The Sun's rays are thus absorbed by the Ozone in the stratosphere and this does not reach the earth. Unfortunately through human activity vis-a-vis the use of harmful chemicals and industry, we keep destroying the ozone and the dangers in doing that are catastrophic. When the ozone is depleted, the sun rays are focused on humans, there is climate change and the air quality is polluted. Ozone depleting substances like Chlorofluorocarbon and Methyl Bromide have become part of us and if care is not taken, we risk our very existence as humans. For instance, industries that manufacture items like insulating foams, solvents, soaps, cooling items like air conditioners and " take-away containers use Chlorofluorocarbons, CFC's, and when these are released into the atmosphere they go to destroy the ozone. Methyl Bromide on the other hand is a highly efficacious broad spectrum fumigant used to fumigate the soil for control of soil-borne pests, diseases and weeds of high value crops. It is also used for quarantine and pre-shipment applications.

Even though attempts are being made to phase out these ozone depletion substances, measures put in place are not far reaching. It has been sometime now since the Ministry of Energy banned the importation of used fridges with CFC's yet they are all over the market. It is as if we are joking. With Methyl Bromide, even though the deadline for its phase out as set by the Montreal Protocol is 2015, this is quite unachievable given its low price and connection with food security. A recent Regional Consultative meeting for Methyl Bromide experts in Nairobi Kenya cited various challenges to the sustainability of the Methyl Bromide phase out programme. These include factors such as the arrival of new users that were not sufficiently informed and trained on alternatives and stringent quality requirements imposed by markets. Training and technology transfer are important components of achieving sustainability in the Methyl Bromide phase out. At the heart of the global debate on climate change is the issue of high temperatures that are attributed to the excessive emission of harmful greenhouse gases from industry and agriculture. The effect of these emissions is the depletion of the ozone layer that gives cause to unusually high temperatures and its attendant negative effects on crop production.

As we mark World Ozone day today, let us seriously reflect on how to curb climate change since future growth is threatened by that. Increasing temperatures across the various ecological zones where rainfall patterns are also becoming less predictable must make us sit up. World Ozone Day is opportune. We need introspection as to how we have individually or collectively contributed to Ozone depletion. The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and Environmental Protection Agency must map out strategies to educate the people and rekindle in them the need to protect the Ecosystem. We must grow more trees and stop falling the few that we have. We owe it an obligation to posterity to keep the atmosphere healthy and we have no alternative. If we want to do away with diseases like skin cancer then we must seriously protect the ozone. The right time is now.


Trigger-Happy Police Service

The Ghana Police Service, according to its boss is one of the best in the world. No doubt the Police has chalked-up successes in their bid to maintain law and order in the country. In fact, the professionalism and tacit approach by the Police in handling dicey and volatile situations have come up for mention at different fora. For instance, the preparedness and alertness exhibited by the Police in the just gone-by election petition has trumped-up their image in the eyes of the public. Sad to say however, recent developments in policing seem to be eroding the achievements of the Service. Several shooting incidents in Accra and parts of the country involving personnel of the Service have portrayed the police as a trigger-happy bunch of people who exploit their fire power to unleash fear and terror on criminals and innocent citizens alike. Recently, government had to cough-up a whooping forty--two thousand Ghana Cedis as compensation to the family of one Stephen Danomah, formerly of the Central University College in Accra, after the courts accepted that he was negligently shot by Police Constable Felix Asante some five years ago. Constable Asante was subsequently dismissed by the Service. One thought the Police would have taken a cue from that, having incurred such a huge debt for government to pay following negligence from one of their own. But no, the situation rather seems to have assumed distressing dimensions. Some few months ago, residents at Mallam Atta in Accra expressed disgust at what they called an unprovoked attack on three men alleged to be armed robbers. The three were controversially shot and killed by the Police near a popular pub in the area inspite of protestations by people around that they were not robbers and were not armed. Worse of all, the three were reported to have surrendered willingly and placed their hands on their heads but instead of exercising the first option of arrests, the Police instead smoked their lives out of them. Just last month, the Police were again in the news for another shooting incident, this time an innocent father at Michel Camp, who according to eye-witnesses, was mistaken for an armed robber and gunned down. Unfortunately, the Police later said the car was rather involved in an accident, angering the public for trying to hide the truth. And as if all these were not enough the Police recently turned the guns on themselves when two officers lost their lives at Gomoa Pomadze near Winneba Junction when they were shot by a patrol team responding to a distress call. The two officers were driving to the hospital after one of them was injured by robbers but the patrol team inadvertently mistook them for the escaping robbers, pursued them and fired at them, killing them on the spot. Now the often repeated question on the lips of many is whether all these needless deaths could not have been avoided if the Police is lately not becoming trigger-happy? For some yes but for others, they just may be attributed to fate.

Experts believe the orientation of some of the young officers leave much to be desired. Having just come out of training and passed out, some of them delight in flaunting the gun before defenceless civilians, as if to show them where power lies. But does power lie in the bosom of our cops or the institutions that is supposed to guard their activities? The Police Intelligence and Professional Standards, (PIPS), indeed, has a difficult task to re-orient deviant cops. Some of the shootings that have taken place really raise important concerns about Police accountability. Some personnel are not in tune with modern trends in policing and are not learning from experience and need to be kicked to the touch. The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, (CHRI), has in the recent past carpeted the Police for often acting in ways that did not conform to established standards of professional conduct. The CHRI believes the absence of a public complaints Authority as recommended by the Archer Committee to deal with Police misconduct and high-handedness, had allowed some Cops to act with impunity. In most advanced countries, Police Officers are not even allowed to carry fire arms because of suspected abuse. They are only allowed arms in extreme situations. Recent developments on the Police front probably calls for a replication of this. The Police have come up for praise on numerous occasions for tackling armed robbery head-on. What is hazy at the moment is how the service will try to find a balance in all these unfortunate incidents so that while they are lashed for misusing the power of the gun, they will equally get some plaudits for using the gun properly. Indeed, the problem is a hydra-headed one and needs a careful appraisal to solve. Having said that, the killings, whether unfortunate or deliberate had gone on ad nauseam and the quicker it is halted, the better and safer we will all be as we step out of our homes each day and night.


10th Anniversary Of The NHIS

A decade ago, following series of pilots in selected districts, the National Health Insurance Act, 2003 (Act 650) was passed by Parliament into law. The scheme has since grown to become a major instrument of financing healthcare delivery in Ghana. Currently, it engages more than 3,200 providers of healthcare services to nearly 9 million active NHIS subscribers. These subscribers have access to a benefit package covering about 95 percent of disease conditions in the country. The scheme currently provides premium-free healthcare for seventy percent of its total registered membership underscoring its social protection credentials. It is clear that the scheme is today credited with improvements in the healthcare of many people. In the relatively short period of its implementation, NHIS has gained international recognition culminating in the UN Award for excellence and leadership in November 2010. Again, a World Bank Report released in August last year, among other observations, noted that consumer satisfaction with the NHIS was high. Over the decade the scheme has grown exponentially from a small membership base of a little over one million in 2005, to nearly 9 million active members in 2012. The increase in membership and utilisation of healthcare services underscores the schemes popularity and significance. Nevertheless, this has also resulted in a corresponding increase in claims payment from seven point six million Ghana cedis in 2005 to 550 million Ghana cedis in 2011. Again, management has put in place structures to increase efficiency, contain cost, improve quality of care and secure the long term viability of the scheme as well as meet the MDG's 4 and 5. In 2008 for instance, the NHIA introduced the free maternal care programme which has been re-packaged and enhanced for pregnant women. The package has been streamlined to prevent its abuse. The programme is important in the drive to reduce and ultimately eliminate maternal mortality.

The scheme in 2009 developed a formal accreditation system to maintain quality standards. Another landmark initiative by the NHIA is the introduction of clinical Audit. Since January 2010 when the clinical Audit was introduced 20 million Ghana cedis has been recovered in respect of false claims. A vast improvement in claims management was achieved with the establishment of a state of the art claims processing center. The centre has rejuvenated and resourced the internal audit to be transparent and enhance accountability and expose malfeasance. Such audits are instilling financial discipline in the scheme. The NHIA in 2012 organised a provider payment reform to contain escalating cost, rationalize health care provision, eliminate delays in reimbursement of health care providers, improve quality of care and check the tendency of subscribers to visit numerous providers oblivious of the cost implications. Capitation, an additional payment mechanism has therefore been introduced to improve subscribers’ quality of care through improved doctor-patient relationship, ready access to medical records and history of patients, and competition between providers for clients. All these initiatives including; the introduction of the instant biometric ID cards to eliminate difficulties in ID card management, authentication of subscribers at healthcare facilities, and to check fraud and abuse. The NHIS ICT system has been upgraded with the creation of ultra-modern data centre and the necessary processes completed for the electronic linking of diagnosis to treatment to facilitate electronic claims processing.

It is indeed refreshing that the profile of the NHIS in the global arena continues to rise. It has become a favourite destination for delegations from foreign countries and institutions seeking to learn from Ghana's experience. The 10th anniversary commemoration which is under the theme: Towards Universal Health Coverage: Increasing Enrolment whilst Ensuring Sustainability, coincides with the implementation of the new NHIS, Act 2012 Act 852 which enjoyed bi-partisan support in its passage. The new law creates unitary scheme and ensures greater efficiency in the operations of the scheme. Such modest milestones chalked up against challenges and the positive difference the scheme is making to the lives of the people, provide a reason to celebrate the NHIS and galvanize the abundant goodwill, support and expertise for the next phase of implementation. On this occasion, it is appropriate to acknowledge the contributions of all Ghanaians particularly, subscribers and development partners as well as the hard-working staff of the NHIA for a good work done.


Winner Takes All’ Syndrome In Ghana

It is often said in Ghana that it is wiser to yield to demands to sell one's mother for power because after attaining the power, one can comfortably get back his or her mother. This demonstrates the might of power in our part of the world. It is therefore not surprising that in Ghana, what has become known as ‘the winner takes all’ politics is pervasive. A political party is either in or out. It therefore came as no surprise to many when at a lecture in 2012 on the topic ‘Democratic Governance in Ghana: 'How Political Polarization may be abated’ a retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe remarked that after winning election, ‘only party faithful become citizens of the country whiles others become foreign nationals’. With absolute control over all the national resources, coupled with the power to go ones way regardless of what others say, and the hypocrisy by supporters to shower praises on victorious politicians even where there is none, political parties justifiably cannot want to be in opposition. Former President John Kufuor hit the nail right on the head when he said that people can do anything to get power or to hold on to power. Power, indeed, is sweet. It is unfortunate that very vital public facilities funded by the tax payer continue to favour power holders. This explains why some people will be in a queue for hours to see a doctor in a public hospital whiles others simply walk in with absolute ease and get whatever services they need. On one occasion, customers at a bank got furious when a young lady described the service rendered her as excellent because she was served immediately she walked into the banking hall. This happened when other customers including some elderly citizens had been in the bank for over three hours without being attended to. Sadly, a security man told the angry customers that the said lady was a minster’s daughter - as though minister’s relatives have an edge over others. Some people simply sit at home and receive appointment letters because they have links with people in government, whiles others carry big files and walk from Ministry to Ministry for months and sometimes years searching in vain for jobs. This has persisted in all governments that have ruled Ghana since Independence. These are some of the issues that explain the tensions and occasional sporadic violence during elections, after all, the winner ‘will eat all’ because he or she has it all.

Calls for a second look at the ‘winner takes all’ syndrome are therefore justified. Indeed, there have been attempts in the past to reduce the powers of ruling governments but these have failed. Admittedly, the decentralization concept that the PNDC intended could have partly solved the problem of winner takes all if it were properly implemented. Unfortunately, the none partisan district level election appears to be a positive step and even under that, the Executive President still appoints 30 percent into the assemblies. We are therefore left with no option than to endure the painful practice where even board members of public institutions are appointed by the Executive President.

Power, like Justice, belongs to the people hence they must have a say in the governance process than merely voting in election years. At the National Constitution Review Conference, no consensus was reached on the mode of selecting Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCE's). For the way forward, the Government White Paper on the CRC, report approves the recommendation that the President will nominate a candidate for approval by a simple majority of the Assembly as DCE. In Municipalities however, the President shall nominate persons who will be vetted by the Public Services Commission for competence after which three nominees will contest in a public election in each Municipality. Mayors in Metropolitan areas will on the other hand be elected by acclamation. These in addition to the fact that the Legislature is not seriously affected by the' winner takes all' syndrome will partly address the problem. To strengthen this, the Legislature must fight to reverse the practice where MP's cannot introduce a Bill into Parliament. Beyond these, there should be a conscious effort to expand the private sector to reduce the dependence on the State for virtually everything including football sponsorship and employment. Until such a time, let us all stop the blame game and contribute our quota to the democratic progress of our motherland, Ghana, by working hard, paying our taxes and exposing nation wreckers.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Ills Of Politicising The Judiciary

The association or perceived linkage of the Judiciary in Ghana with active partisan politics, a trend which is fast emerging in Ghana's democracy if not checked, can eventually spell its doom. Currently dominating discussion on our airwaves is a statement attributed to lead counsel for the NDC in the December, 2012 election petition, Tsatsu Tsikata. Mr. Tsikata is alleged to have attacked the integrity of one of the nine justices of the Supreme Court who sat on the case, Mr. Justice Anin-Yeboah. Mr. Tsikata claimed Justice Anin-Yeboah throughout the hearing of the election petition allowed his allegiance to the era that appointed him to the Supreme Court to cloud his judgement. Before the start of the hearings, the NPP for unexplained reasons expressed no confidence in Mr. Justice William Atuguba as Presiding Judge asking him to recuse himself owing to his relation with the Presidents Executive Secretary, Dr. Raymond Atuguba. They later withdrew their petition. Also another judge on the panel, Mr. Justice Jones Dotse was alleged to have held an executive position in the NPP in the Volta Region, an accusation which he denied. The list is endless but suffice it to say that this is a dangerous trend given the fact that the 1992 Constitution amply provides for Separation of Powers and Independence of the Judiciary. Separation of Powers restrains or prevents officers or functionaries of any of the three Arms of State, the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary from abusing their function and position. This is to afford effective checks and balances between state powers. Locke and Montesquieu adduce that the three Powers of State should be separated in function and composition and no person should be a member of more than one Power of State.  For instance, if the Executive usurps the legislative powers of the legislature, government meddles in parliamentary proceedings and dictates to Parliament thus Parliament is unable to check and scrutinize government effectively.  Article 125 (3) of the 1992 constitution vests the judicial power of Ghana in the Judiciary accordingly neither the President nor Parliament nor any organ or agency of the Executive or Parliament is given final Judicial power. Nevertheless the problem of the Executive trying to affect the functioning of the judiciary is prevalent in a host of both developing and developed countries including Ghana. There are many ways in which the Executive affect judicial decisions. These include appointing and dismissing judges and manipulating the law.  We recall for instance the appointment of Justice Afreh to the Supreme Court in March, 2002. Justice Afreh was appointed immediately to the bench to hear the review of the Tsatsu Tsikata versus Attorney General's Case which challenged the constitutionality of the Fast Track Courts. Justice Afreh's appointment increased the court's number and when the case was finally reviewed, the earlier verdict in favour of Mr. Tsikata was overturned which in the opinion of many people amounts to packing the court. 

We agree naturally we all have political sympathies but that should not influence our work otherwise, it would amount to corruption. Corruption has been loosely defined as using ones office for personal gains. It is unfortunate Mr. Tsikata was in discretional in the timing of his statement.  He could mean well but the truth is always bitter and most times depends on the circumstances. Strong and independent judiciaries are sine-qua-non for enhanced democracy. They safeguard the rights of the people and form the building blocks of prosperous and stable nations. There is always hue and cry when politicians and for that matter people of Tsatsu's stature criticize the judiciary. We recall the furore generated when the National Chairman of the NDC, Dr. Kwabena Adjei made his infamous "there are many ways of killing a cat" statement. We need to safeguard the peace we are enjoying by being circumspect in our utterances. It has been established, there are bad nuts within the judiciary and it is up to the Chief Justice to clean the stables. Tsatsu's statement has stirred the hornet's nest but not be the harbinger for troubled waters.


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Supreme Court Verdict

The confirmation by the Supreme Court that President Mahama was validly elected in the December 2012 general election validates a popular television advert, 'the tradition goes on'. It confirms the notion that no Presidential election petition in Africa has succeeded in reversing the status quo. That perhaps explains the request to the nine justices by lead counsel for the petitioners Philip Addison to do what no court in Africa has done before by confirming Nana Akufo Addo the winner of the Presidential election. Just recently, the constitutional court in Zimbabwe threw out the legal challenge of that country's Presidential election which saw the 89 year old Robert Mugabe being re-elected for a seventh term in office. We can also cite election disputes in Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda and Kenya which were all jettisoned for various reasons. In each of these cases, the constitutional courts in those countries ruled that electoral violations and malpractices that occurred were not substantial enough to have affected the outcome of the election. We are yet to set eyes on the full judgement of the Supreme Court but the long and short of it all is that President Mahama was affirmed the 4th President of the fourth Republic and incidentally the fourth John in succession since 1992. Now that this has been clarified, President Mahama and his NDC party must set out to reconcile the nation for total reconciliation is vital for national development.

We recommend the National Chairman and General Secretary of the NDC, Dr. Kwabena Adjei and Johnson Asiedu Nketsiah and other political leaders for personally attending the 21st anniversary of the NPP. Dr. Kwabena Adjei even went further to adorn a paraphernalia of the NPP which was quite significant. Being in opposite camps should not make us enemies. We can disagree to agree. As Ghanaian born former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, suggested, whatever electoral reforms the nine justices have ordered must be carried out with eagerness. This would forestall the recurrence of irregularities and administrative errors that were elucidated during the Supreme Court hearing. Coming events they say cast their shadows, we are witnesses to how the Electoral Commission jumbled the last District Assembly elections and these were arguably carried over to the General election. President Mahama's address to the nation after the judgement was indeed spot on, it was an elixir for bleeding hearts. His call on Ghanaians to put the election petition behind them and work together to build the nation is most relevant. We need total reconciliation to move the country forward. The polarisation of the country along party political lines is counterproductive. We cannot continue to live with divisiveness, ethnicity, intemperate language and total disrespect for law and order. Having been defeated twice in his presidential ambition it would be perhaps prudent for Nana Akufo Addo to consider bowing out of active politics for it is always better to call to quit when the applause is loudest. His maturity exhibited in accepting the verdict and calling President Mahama to congratulate him is exemplary. Nana Addo on retirement will have the opportunity to impact whatever knowledge he has acquired over the years to the younger generation. Dr. Afari Gyan will be the happiest man today given the Supreme Court judgement. For, had it gone the other way, it would have dented his more than 21 years career as chairman of the National Electoral Commission. Dr. Afari Gyan in all sincerity will admit he was truly grilled by counsel for the petitioners and as the Presiding Judge, Mr. Justice William Atuguba in an obiter dictum and what could best described as a tension releasing comment put it "so you see that, Go to Court, go to Court is not easy. With the rubicon finally crossed it is incumbent on both the NPP and NDC to re-organise their structures in order to make a big come back in 2016. It is refreshing the NDC has set out to expand its electoral college.

Our religious leaders, National Peace Council, Christian Council, National Media Commission, GJA, TUC, individuals and organisations who gave peace messages must pat themselves on the back for a yeoman's job. We must not stop at that. We must continue to conscientise ourselves on the need to live together as we people with a common destroy. It is not for nothing that Ghana is considered a model of democracy in Africa. We must therefore put our act together to ensure that no spanner is put in the wheels of our progress so that Ghana will continue to be greater and stronger.


Ghanaians As One People

If knowledge is indeed power, then, let’s look no further for a form of power. For we have it! Ghana is gifted with immense resources and this, we need not be in doubt of but have the courage of faith and the confidence of self to tap into our pool of rich and abounding indigenous knowledge and resources! Thankfully as a nation, our cultural values have evolved and evolve around collectiveness and community rather than diversity. This blessed gift of inter-connectivity of the average Ghanaian brings great relief of tremendous hope and aspiration. Indeed the global village in which we inhabit is not a new community after all. We have always lived there in a shared communal life! The culture of inter-marriage, co-education, metropolitan activities and inter-connections attest to this. Yes, we are deeply united as tribesmen and women and also religious, yet one thing is clear - we are one people from South to East, West to North! This awareness of our collectiveness and communal life is indeed instructive to our quest for the way forward. We are a strong nation and people than we consider. Indeed diversity is natural and can be useful material for our community development if utilised properly. We have been educated to appreciate our uniqueness and also understand that perceived mistrust or subtle differences are no issue but only creation of diversity and using it against each other becomes the problem. Society it is said, is dynamic and these so-called differences may well reside only with a few people who do not accept the concept of change as part of life. Definitely not with the dynamic, zealous youthful generation who are happy to be involved rather than be excluded! This freedom of connectivity and participation of the Ghanaian must inspire hope and sharp focus in our quest for peace and development. Gone are the days when so-called myths surrounding one tribe or another served some kind of embargo on individual liberties and common freedoms. It said that in Ghana the average Ghanaian marries not only his friend but also into the friends, family as well as the tribe! As put in the Christian context regarding oneness of the faith, there is no Jew or Greek, we are all one wonderful people and Ghanaians! This great story and experience of the Ghanaian is a healthy development tool! Socio-cultural change is a must for our political and economic space, not an option! It has come to a point in our national course and discourse when we have to sit up as a nation and move away from petty and nagging behaviours and as matured stakeholders in the republic, reason together not as different groups or parties but as a unit of respectable tribesmen and women! This is the way forward.

The politics of our country must endeavour to move forward beyond partisanship to a more meaningful patriotic and nationalistic agenda. This way, political parties may exist rather than work for their individual political and ideological interests, work towards the national good. This means majority will not after all carry the vote but the consensus will! Politics will then regain its image in the eyes of the people not as a ploy or tool to amass wealth but a means of seeking the public interest. This is a surety for sustained peace and development and the powerful force of politics and corruption will be restrained. May the Red, Gold, Green and the Black star of Africa be lifted high now and always!

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