Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Legacies Of The Late P.V.Obeng

If it is indeed a dream, then most probably it is a nightmare that should be over very soon. But alas it’s true that Saturday 17th May 2014 was a time for PV Obeng the Senior Presidential Adviser and Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, an all-time statesman of Mother Ghana to bow out without a parting word.

Now we look for him in rainbows way up in the sky when we can no more behold his physically bright shiny eyes turning around in their sockets as he shares words of wisdom and knowledge.

P V is suddenly far away gone into the silent land. As we go through our memories, his imprints
around us are indelible. We remember very well his admonishing for all well meaning Ghanaians to be nationalistic in the quest for sustainable national development.

When he re-echoed this at the National Economic forum little did anybody know it was a farewell
message. PV in fact proved that indeed hard work breaks no bone.

No wonder President John Dramani Mahama described him as a tireless public servant, and a shoulder that can be reliably leaned on for advice, guidance and support.

Although his profession was Mechanical Engineering, his knowledge and understanding of other fields of human endeavour were profound.

One cannot agree better with former President Rawlings when he also described him as one of Ghana’s most adept and captivating minds, a rare gem of a man.”

It is his style of leadership in promoting consensus that most probably prompted former President Kufuor to refer to him as a leadership chamber.

He indeed believed that as Ghana is in transition to a full middle income status there is the need to explore ways of achieving the long held goals of the founding fathers, which is a free, just and prosperous society where all citizens enjoy a decent way of living through the implementation of various strategies and policy interventions.

As somebody with a heart for Ghana he had time and time again indicated the urgent need to mobilize and rally the nation behind a nationally owned and shared vision by creating the opportunity for the broad spectrum of Ghanaians to articulate, define and support a long term vision for national development.

He believed that such national vision for a long term development plan should be the basis for policies of all governments. For PV, this is the only way to ensure policy stability and also protect successive plans from changes in government as well as ensuring implementation of policies on a long term.

He was also of the opinion that if there is any time that Ghana needs a long term outlook to development planning then it is now when Ghana has become an oil exporting state with an experience of a strong growth,
warranting the need for a fair and objective approach towards harnessing these potentials.

He echoed this vision anytime he had the opportunity. To him, for development planning to become purposeful and have the needed synergy, national visions should become prime components. The only way to pay glowing tribute to this statesman is for all well meaning Ghanaians to help consolidate our development
efforts and address the weaknesses identified in our development process by holding in high esteem the ‘Ghana first’ attitude above all other interests.

That P V Obeng has paid his dues well enough is an understatement. He has indeed registered his name in the list of gallant ancestors who are referred to in the National Pledge as having sacrificed for mother Ghana with their toil and blood.

Let us all as Ghanaians not allow his toil to be in vain by inculcating in us this long term nationalistic attitude towards national development. For this is a sure way of joining the developed economies.



Lead Role Played By Veep Amissah-Arthur at Economic Forum

A random sample of the views of most participants in the just-ended national economic forum highly commended the Vice President, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, for the lead role he played and the effective manner he went about the whole three-day programme from the planning stage to its successful execution.

The 140 participants after deliberations came out with a 22 point communiqué known as the Senchi Consensus, which has also been well received. President John Dramani Mahama in closing the forum said “Our economic management team has been re-invigorated by this process and it is ready to begin immediately implementing the outcomes of this gathering.

As the Chairman of the government’s Economic Management Team, Vice President Amissah-Arthur took the forum as his baby, nurtured it and made sure it blossomed. His work output was in full glare for all the 140 participants to see.

The accumulated economic experience of Mr Amissah-Arthur dates back to the early days of the PNDC era when the country’s economy registered negative growth and had to support Dr Kwesi Botchwey, as first, a
Special Assistant and later Deputy Finance Minister, to resuscitate the economy and return it to the path of growth.

The TUC Secretary General, Kofi Asamoah, who represented the TUC, in an interview with Radio Ghana said “He actively co-ordinated the whole thing from the very beginning till the end and sometimes into the late night and it was just appreciable that he was on his feet all through from the planning stages. It was quite commendable and encouraging”.

Another participant, Dr. Steve Manteaw of ISODEC and a steering member of the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative also said he was impressed about the vice president's show of great commitment and dedication to the whole process. He contributed to the discussions and was deeply involved.

It is obvious that the Vice President left a very good and indelible impression on the participants, especially those who came into working contact with him at the forum for the first time. For those who know him know the stuff he is made of.

He is punctual and time conscious, meticulous, modest, principled, workaholic among others. For Mr Amissah-Arthur, his prime focus and demeanour clearly shows that there is enormous work to be done to
support President Mahama to deliver the Better Ghana Agenda he promised the people of Ghana.

This must be the focus of all appointees and the NDC as a party. The distractions from the opposition elements will surely play up but if the distractions are coming from within then it is dangerous for the survival of the government. It is good and generally acceptable for one to have an ambition, nurture that
ambition and work assiduously towards realizing it.

But in the true sense of democratic practice, one can lobby power brokers and convince them beyond all doubt but should not seek to destroy one’s colleague through negative media publications.

President Mahama has spoken to further demonstrate the confidence he has in the Vice President. A word to the wise is enough.

The 'Senchi Consensus' at National Economic Forum

The three day National Economic Forum has ended successfully at Senchi with a 22 point communiqué dubbed the ‘Senchi consensus’.

Some of the critical issues worthy of noting in this communiqué include the need for the Nation to be guided by the Directive Principles of State Policy in national development effort, anchored in a long term
national development framework with a compelling vision. Related to this is the call for a long term national interest which should supersede all other interests in setting any national development agenda.

A forum such as the National Economic Forum that offered a democratic opportunity for non partisan sharing of ideas even in the midst of multi party democracy is a step in the right direction.

One of the challenges that however confront multiparty democracy which also became an issue prior to the commencement of the Economic Forum is the contention between political party interests and national
aspirations when discussing national development issues.

Some are of the opinion that it is this among other reasons why the largest opposition party in Ghana boycotted this all important National Economic Forum.

This issue ignites the discussions on the need for national development to be discussed nationalistically devoid of political persuasions.

Regardless of one’s viewpoint, it is important to note that national visions and nationalistic approaches to national development are indispensable components for national development not only in contemporary Africa but also beyond the frontiers of Africa.

Countries such as China, Singapore and Sri Lanka are said to have attained commendable development partly due to well articulated and effectively implemented national visions.

Political parties in Ghana would therefore do the Nation a great service by always considering national aspirations first in discussing matters that border on sustainable national development.

In the early days of H.E President Mahama in office, one statement that kept running through his utterances was the need for all Ghanaians to consider partnership as against partisanship in working towards sustainable national development.

It is further worthy to note that during the national stakeholder’s conference on the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission , many Ghanaians indicated the urgent need to mobilize and rally the nation behind a nationally owned and shared vision of national development by creating the opportunity for Ghanaians to articulate, define and support a long term national development agenda.

The fact that the need to deepen national interests above other interests has come up again at the National Economic Forum, is an indication of how priceless the ‘Ghana First’ attitude is, for tackling national development issues in a sustainable manner.

The National Development Planning Commission has initiated a process to undertake national stakeholder consultations to agree on a national vision for a long term national development plan, which should form the basis for policies of future governments as well as successive medium term national development

This is to ensure policy stability and protect successive plans from changes in government, as well as ensuring the effective implementation of policies on a long term basis.

In addition The National Development Planning Commission has also taken steps to have
the requisite Legislative Instruments (LIs) enacted to support the decentralized planning process in Ghana.

Indeed if there is any period when nationalistic attitude should be the hallmark of development planning, it is now when Ghana has become an oil-exporting state with an experience of a strong growth, which calls for a fair and objective approach towards harnessing these potentials.

The major challenge that has historically faced the country is not the inability to formulate good and credible policies and strategies but rather the weak capacity to implement these policies and strategies.

Such challenges can be reduced if as a nation we will all rally behind a national vision that will stay from generation to generation regardless of whichever Government is in power.

All those behind the National Economic Forum deserve a thousand applause for this noble work.The problem in this nation has always been with effective implementation of such useful ideas. It is hoped that this time there would be an efficient monitoring mechanism to ensure the implementation of these ideas to keep them from being a nine day wonder.


To regulate or not to regulate the media

The media are the oxygen on which democracy thrives. In the words of GJA President Affail Monney, the media are literally the life wire of our democracy. Without a vibrant and pluralistic the media in Ghana cannot boast of a successful transition to democratic rule.

The media wields great power which can make or unmake a society, government or its people. This is a concern that brings to the fore the debate of whether or not to regulate the media.

One of the happiest days in the lives of Journalists in Ghana was the day the  criminal libel law was repealed.

Today, some would have wished that the law was not repealed, so that it would serve as a sanction and a
check to the rather bizarre excesses of some in the inky fraternity.

Sometimes one is tempted to question whether all the presenters, hosts and producers of shows in the local languages on private radio station are qualified journalists.

Information disseminated by some of the presenters are sometimes overly serious and in some cases reduced to mere jokes, even on very important issues like energy crises and its associated socio-economic toll on the livelihood of the people.

Media pluralism have contributed to a vibrant media landscape and a peaceful democratic environment. Recent developments in the media landscape, however, call for the need to regulate media excesses.

This is a challenge because the 1992 constitution makes room for freedom of expression, and a free speech is one difficult thing to legislate.

Even though free speech cannot be legislated, free speech can be regulated for sanity and civility to prevail. That is why regulatory bodies such as the media commission are established with the mandate among others to ensure that the state media is insulated from governmental control, and also take appropriate measures to ensure the establishment and maintenance of highest journalistic standards in the mass media, including the investigation, mediation and settlement of complaints made against or by the press or other mass media.

Whether the NMC is leaving up to expectation is the question to be asked. Chairperson, Krabral Blay Amihere has said time and time again that the commission is not fully equipped to do its work. The NMC cannot monitor the media, because it does not have the capacity to do so. As powerful as the media are, should we look unconcerned , while venom is poured on airwaves on a daily basis for public consumption?

There should be a way to monitor the activities of recalcitrants presenters, hosts and so on. The Media Foundation for West Africa received some commendation in this regard, for its work monitoring indecency on the airwaves.

However, most of its work were pre and post election based, as well as donor funded . It is very important that government ensures that the National Media Commission is well-equipped to do its work effectively. The National Communications Authority, NCA also has a stake in bringing some sanity in the media landscape.

Through the allocation of frequencies, the NCA should do its homework well by investigating who the real owners are and their agenda. This is necessary to ensure that the media are insulated from governmental control or setting an agenda that will derail the work done to maintain Ghana's democratic dispensation. Perhaps the debate should begin whether or not it is prudent for every radio station to cover politics.

Broadcast stations , especially radio should have specific areas to,concentrate on, either in entertainment, sports, religion, environment, geography, education etc. Media specialization will encourage competition and ensure quality and sanity. We can take a cue from developed media in the US under its Federal communications Authority and in the UK, the Press Complaints Commission for example, to deal with complaints from members of the public about the editorial content of newspapers ,magazines, broadcast media including their websites and the complaints are assessed against the Editor's Code of Practice.

In Ghana, many have have asked how relevant is the G J A code of ethics in the wake of the power of
social media , where any and everything hits the public domain.

The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association also has a code of ethics with sanctions, but has any member been sanctioned for the use of indecent language on the airwaves?

Journalism thrives on credibility and integrity, but where monitoring and regulatory mechanisms are limited or completely absent , and with the onslaught of new media, opinions could pass as facts; a danger which in the long term could collapse the moral fibre of our democracy.


15th Anniversary Of Asantehene Osei Tutu

This year's Akwasidaekese of the Chiefs and people of Ashanti will go down in history as one of the most patronised and significant. The joy and ecstasy that characterised the event will forever, be memorable.

The great Ashanti Kingdom has every cause to celebrate Sunday`s Akwasidaekese as it climaxed activities marking the 15th
Anniversary of the coronation of Otumfuo Osei Tutu as Asantehene.

The month of May and indeed May 06 this year marked the 64th birthday of the much revered Ashanti Leader, Otumfuo Osei Tutu. It is significant to note that unlike many traditional leaders, Otumfuo Osei Tutu`s reign covers the entire Ashanti region, parts of Brong Ahafo and the Worawora district of the Volta Region.

Born Barima Kwaku Duah, Otumfuo Osei Tutu`s 15 years on the golden stool has not benefited only Ashantis but the entire Ghanaian society. His wisdom,
thought provoking speeches and sterling leadership qualities have been widely acclaimed. He has helped to shape and preserve the rich Ashanti culture which he inherited from his forebears.

Today chieftaincy in Ashanti is held in high esteem globally. As the 16th occupant of the golden stool, Otumfuo Osei Tutu in his 15 years on the throne has had cordial relations with almost all Ghana`s Heads of state. So close is his relationship with the sitting Head of State John Dramani Mahama that rumours recently went flying that he helped to secure victory for him in the December 2012 election petition before the Supreme Court.

Reacting to some of these allegations, Otumfuo Osei Tutu noted that he will not be distracted by any unfounded speculations peddled by sections of the society against him.

To him, he supports any ruling government regardless of which
political party is in power. According to Otumfuo, his duty as a traditional ruler is to help the government of the day to advance the socio-economic well being of the people, especially in the areas of job creation, provision of quality formal education and other social

According to Former President, Jerry John Rawlings, Otumfuo Osei Tutu`s political acumen is sharp and impressive, Former President John Agyekum Kufuor lauds his forthrightness in confronting
major traditional and national issues describing it as incisive.

President Mahama praises him for bringing creativity into the chieftaincy institution. Over the past 15 years Otumfuo has visited almost all the continents of the world to receive awards and most of his travels were at the invitation of other monarchs, governments, corporate bodies, institutions of higher learning and international organisations.

Just recently the University of Professional Studies in Accra at a special congregation conferred its highest honour of a doctorate degree on Otumfuo. This is in recognition of his exemplary
contribution to the growth of education in the country and also as an alumnus.

Just 17 months into his reign Otumfuo Osei Tutu established the Asanteman Education Endowment Fund which has helped in educating many brilliant but needy students. In 2006 he was appointed Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, KNUST.

The list can be endless but suffice it to say, Otumfuo Osei Tutu has been an inspiration. He received a standing ovation when he delivered the 2013 democracy lectures organised by the National Commission on Civic Education. His call on the media to lift itself out of mediocrity and become a beacon of light and hope for the people is not misplaced. Today as we eulogise Otumfuo Osei Tutu on his stewardship and high standard of leadership, it would be prudent to urge contemporary chiefs to emulate him.

His call for national unity  at his coronation anniversary durbar at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on Sunday could not have come at a better time.

This is at a time the nation is polarised along political lines and practically everything is looked at with political lenses. Ghana definitely cannot forge ahead on a divided front. We need every body to get on board the national reconstruction effort. No political party or government is a repository of wisdom.

We need national consensus and collaboration in our development aspiration. Ghana is neither for the NDC nor NPP.

We all have a stake in its forward march. As we commend Otumfuo Osei Tutu on a reign well - served, it is incumbent on us to count our blessings as a nation and not our mishaps.

The Chieftaincy institution must be a focal point for development and not litigation. The numerous chieftaincy cases pending in our courts are a disincentive.

We say Ayekoo to Otikorkorso Nana Asantehene, may he live long to be a light for our path, a guide to our national aspirations. There can be nothing better than that.


The Need For Multi-Party Governance Reforms

Civil society groups and individuals have lauded the Institute of Democratic Governance, IDEG's initiative for convening a national
interest dialogue on the urgency for multiparty governance reforms
before 2016 elections. However, critical issues that came up in this dialogue are about its sustainability and matters arising from the debates.

One would ask how relevant are the issues? IDEG has identified challenges to the country's democratic governance and is advocating that to address them, there should be the promotion of a more inclusive government, eradication of the threat of political violence in the country's electoral democracy, the strengthening of national cohesion; and changing the public service bureaucracies for
effective professional and impartial services.

Furthermore, IDEG suggests that to address the myriad of challenges confronting Ghana's democracy, political parties should be transformed into effective development organizations rather than being only elections machines.

Many will agree that political parties should not be election machines only, but contribute by becoming effective development organizations.

The question is how can this be achieved? One way to do this is
perhaps through legislation and for that matter amending the constitution. Then one may ask, how many times will the Constitution be amended? An issue that rears its ugly head at a time when the Constitutional Review Commission, set up to facilitate the effective implementation of the amendments to the constitution, is almost at the height of its work.

It therefore presupposes that the constitutional amendments on political parties may be recurring in short term, which normally is supposed to be on a long term basis, like 10 to 20 years after the first amendment. What is also critical is that for all the political parties and not only the two major ones to become active
development mechanisms, there should be a guaranteed funding for them.

This means to avoid any questionable sources of electoral funding, government must take up the issue of funding.

Another issue that emerge at the IDEG's national interest dialogue is the promotion of a more inclusive government. This is being interpreted as ruling with colleagues from the other political divide. That is to say, ruling with political opponents who may not necessarily share the same vision or ideologies, but are competent for a particular job.

This could be good in the opinion of political optimists, at the same time dangerous for political pessimists. How can President Mahama for instance make Dr. Bawumia his Finance Minister after he and his supporters
challenged Mahama’s legitimacy as President in the Supreme Court?

In actual fact, IDEG's concern is about inclusive government and not
leaving anyone out, so far as the national cake is concerned. To
promote inclusive governance, Parliamentarians will have to put a stop to boycotting proceedings in the House.

This is for a simple reason that they were given the mandate by the people to represent them and therefore, Parliamentarians must not see themselves as individuals, but the people's choice and must perform that mandate accordingly.

For democratic progressives, sustaining the current peaceful political atmosphere is paramount. This can be done according to IDEG, through the eradication of the threat of political violence during elections, and the strengthening of national cohesion.

National Cohesion is not the responsibility of government alone, but the citizenry as well as other civil society organisations. The onus
on government in this context is to provide the resources and create the enabling environment for citizens to realize the need to place patriotism above partisanship.