Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Questioning Engineers About Current Power Cuts

Independent thinking is now asking very serious questions about what to date has been and is the contribution of the army of home and foreign made Ghanaian Engineers which this country boasts generally to development going 58 shortly but urgently specifically the electrical brigades among them with regard to the power supply drifted into semi-menopause presently. 

Divisive politics has had a field day close to one year on it and there is no winner because the stop go has not been brought to a resolution. The surge of the questioning of the engineers put the issues arising where it has laid more appropriately than political rhetory has played its hobby game of fault pointing. 

In simple precision language the new school of though is saying that the engineers have been a huge let down, having been there at least 45 years since Akosombo was lit for a population of less than six million now approximating 28 million from an unchecked baby boom and a quadruple of that number's demand and use of electricity discounting industrial expansion to keep the mathematics uncomplicated. 

What the country wants is not the likely long news conference statement of defense by engineers but  just a please get up and let there be light", biblically speaking. 

The poignant point about the bluntness of saying engineers" explaining whatever has better dividend for them.  It is that responding visibly to the public challenge confirms an embedded trust of them and belief that they can if they leave sitting behind desks in offices. 

The greater gain for the country is that their response the engineers retrieves their role as significant in the present and expectation futurely to fix things as ought left to them their knowledge spanners cables and switches. 

Incidentally politics shouting itself hoarse would also be stranded to give the country some peace in terms of this crisis which is everyone's default cumulatively through the years. 

The inference for stopping the politicking requires a bit of history recall.  It is merely to re-install a better appreciation of the implied need to denude the electric power supply difficulties of politics and its divisiveness. 

Akosombo for the starter was President Dr, Kwame Nkrumah's triumph over domestic opposition which globe trotted to block Western financial support for the project and failed, exposed as then US President John Kennedy rejected the overtures. 

In the year after successive governments - four military juntas and four civilian Republics have added bits of expansions - Kpong, Its adjacent irrigation for agricultural production having become a cropper of  a kind and Bui which are being too demonstrably shown today as woefully inadequate for a country whose population is increasingly  becoming unstoppably voracious or greedy for electricity at the urban level unlike some rurals where the people are innovating inexorably to provide themselves with some light without both politics and the engineers  would not be feeling themselves under siege. 

The crucial factor is that it is one country whose major error and the cause for all the power  distress is that there was not planning that projected the future, or there was one not sufficiently revised perennially and indeed left orphaned. 

There is not better lesson learning than that for a country with over abundance of ingeniousness without any doubt whatsoever but trapped in the dirty quagmire of intensively hostile divisive national politics of no substantive consequences for the good of country.


Thursday, 19 February 2015

NPP "Won Gbo" Demonstration

 For the first time in Ghana’s history, citizens are experiencing a load shedding exercise dubbed ‘’dumsor’’, 12 hours of power, 24hours of lights out. This scenario has placed great stress on the daily lives of Ghanaians , with a myriad of economic consequences.

The Opposition NPP blames this precarious energy situation on what is says is the ‘’government’s mismanagement of the energy situation’’.

The party led by its leader Nana Akuffo Addo fronted a demonstration which brought together men and women from all walks of life. The protest dubbed ‘’Wongbo’’ was to send a clear message to President Mahama and his cohorts that Ghanaians are suffering.

According to the NPP, the government is not a listening one and the only option it has is to pour into the streets to get the attention of government to address the issues. Political analysts believe that the NPP is justified by going into the streets to let the government act with urgency to fix what is described as a ‘’national energy crisis’’.

Agreeably, the NPP like any other party has the constitutional mandate to demonstrate, and practically too the load shedding exercise is not a friendly one.

The toll is severe on industries, most running below capacity, educational  and institutions and academic work is being disrupted , as we are told the cost of running generators are being passed on to the students. Clearly, the massive turn out of persons to the ‘’Wongbo’’ demonstration, sends out the obvious signal to government that a lot of Ghanaians, who may not necessarily belong to the opposition, identify with the current state of affairs and cannot sit unconcerned.

President Mahama has no choice but to find clear cut solutions to the problem. It may be uplifting that President Mahama admits that the energy situation has eroded some gains made by government on the economy. Contrary to the NPP’s view that the President is insensitive to the current power situation, we were told at a recent news conference by the new power Minister Kwabena Donkor that the load shedding will end this year.

Besides, putting in place long term measures to resolve Ghana’s energy deficit, for the short term we are told that barges are being brought in to manage the energy problem.

Ghanaians should perhaps blame themselves for the current energy crisis because we have all failed to hold our governments accountable, evidently this energy predicament is plainly one that built up overtime. During the demonstration, there were reports that police had a tough time in  controlling the massive crowds, while there was traffic hold up at the city centre.

The police need commendation for a good work done in making sure that there was no police-protestor altercation. As was clearly stated by the Greater Accra Regional Police PRO Afia Tenge, although the  demonstrators diverted the approved routes, the police managed by the end of the demonstration to achieve its target of protecting lives and property. When the protestors converged on the Hearts of Oak Park, their final destination, the NPP leadership addressed the gathering. One would have expected  the party to present a petition to the President outlining concrete ways of fixing the energy crisis.

The crux of their message to government  is simply to find an end to the load shedding, so that Ghanaians can continue to live normally.

Party leader Nana Akuffo Addo was quite brief commending demonstrators for coming out in their numbers and told them to vote the N D C out of power come 2016. The N D C on the other by close of  day of the demonstration held a news conference to react to the N P P's led protest in the streets of Accra.

The party pointed out that the
N P P simply wants to take credit for what the government is already working on, reminding all of numerous agreements signed in the  long term to turn the energy situation around. Ghana's current energy deficit did not happened overnight.

If previous governments took steps to think ahead , this country may not have been experiencing this crisis.Undoubtedly, President Mahama's name will go down in history as one of the best Presidents  Ghana ever had if he is able to solve what Political Scientist Bossman Asare describes as ''unprecedented national power crisis. What will be dangerous for Ghanaians at this time is for the NPP or the NDC to attempt to politicize the already precarious problem. The dumsor or the dumdum is not a party problem, it is one for all Ghanaians.

As evidently depicted in the Wongbo protest in the streets of Accra, the time for President Mahama to find an urgent solution to the load shedding is now.   

By Rebecca Ekpe, a Journalist.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Low Coverage And Participation Of District Assembly Election

Election is a very important activity in every democratic dispensation. It gives power to the people and enables them to choose their leaders to take decisions on their behalf. Unlike dictatorship, elections strengthen democracy and give the people the free will to contest various positions. Since Ghana attained independence, the country has used elections in determining the crop of people who lead them at a particular time. 

That notwithstanding, many Ghanaians do not know the importance of elections especially at the District Assembly level. Why is this so? Chapter 20 Act 241 - Section three of the Constitution which talks about Decentralization and Local Governance states that, subject to the Constitution, the District Assembly shall be the highest political authority in the district and shall have the deliberative, legislative and executive powers. Act 242 goes on to state that, the District shall consist of one person from every electoral area. 

This emphasizes the need for an effective district level election to ensure the people are well represented in the various district assemblies. Since the local government system is to ensure good governance, balanced development of the various assemblies through formation of policies and prudent use of resources among other things, it is necessary for much attention to be given to the district level elections. This will ease pressure from the central government.

An effective local governance brings development to the door step of the various communities in terms of building of schools, health facilities and ensuring the provision of other amenities among other things. But how can all these be done when the election are not given the needed attention? 

The election which was scheduled for November 2014 has been postponed to March 3rd, 2015 due to financial constraint and other issues on the part of the Electoral Commission. Media participation is also very low, while the Electoral Commission itself is not serious about public education on the elections. 

It is surprising and sad to note that, though we have less than a month to the elections, many people are not aware of it. The question is, what is the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) also doing? 

Are they waiting for the election to witness a low turnout before jumping on the various media platforms to make noise? There are so many issues begging for attention but no one seems to be talking about them. Let us get it right this time because it is believed that effective local governance is the key to the development of this country.


Submission Of Senchi Progress Report To The President

Promoting dialogue towards achieving consensus is considered an essential pre-requisite for success in any development effort. Several benefits result from employing consensus-building to address challenges in life. Collaboration towards consensus building is a sure way of having quality solutions to challenges. The clarion call for consensus building in development planning that cut across party lines has become important especially as a sustainable transformational development strategy.

 Unfortunately, the nature of democracy sometimes creates suspicion when consensus building is being initiated. In spite of this challenge, there is no gain-saying that consensus building remains critical to the enterprise of nation building that can stand the test of time. In May last year, a national economic forum was held at Senchi in the Eastern region at the height of the economic crisis when the cedi was depreciating rapidly and the economy facing severe challenges. 

The purpose of the economic forum was therefore to promote dialogue towards achieving consensus on the policies, strategies and measures that are required to rescue the nation from these challenges. The forum brought together a wide range of stakeholders to promote dialogue on some of the critical economic policy issues confronting the country.

Thankfully, the Senchi forum never remained another talk-shop but was followed immediately with the formation of the Post ‘Senchi’ Implementation Advisory Group at the National Development Planning Commission with the responsibility of guiding the implementation of the recommendations of the Forum. The objectives of the Implementation Advisory Group are among others to establish a coordinated implementation and monitoring arrangement for effective implementation of the recommendations. 

It is believed that the successful implementation of the Senchi consensus will go a long way to usher in a new era of stable, shared and sustainable growth if it receives the desired support and commitment. For some months now, the Implementation Advisory Group has had their hands glued to the wheel to actualize the worthy ideas in the Senchi consensus. 

As much as there have been some challenges towards the implementation of the Consensus it is worthy of mention that some important successes have been chalked up such as the midterm review of the government’s budget by the Finance Minister that helped to stabilize the cedi. This was followed by the one billion dollars from the Euro bond, as well as the one point six billion dollars from the COCOBOD syndicated loan, not forgetting the government’s decision to open negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.

Receiving the report, President Mahama indicated that the massive investments being made by government in the energy sector are in response to one of the key recommendations of the Senchi consensus, to improve electricity supply for industry and households. Countries such as China, Singapore and Sri Lanka have attained commendable development partly due to well-articulated and effectively implemented national visions. The responsibility lies on all well-meaning Ghanaians to support such development efforts that cut across party lines to ensure long term solutions to Ghana’s economic challenges.


Regulating the Activities of Some Men of God: The Role of the Church

Widespread concerns have been raised in recent times about the activities of some pastors and the need to regulate their activities. The media has been flooded with latter day prophets whose modus operandi are gradually making Christianity unattractive.

In fact, most of these so - called men of God have engaged in various acts of unrighteousness such as bathing women, whipping, and stomping pregnant women and so on with no biblical backing. It makes one wonder what Christianity has become.

As Ghanaians, it behooves everybody to speak out in an attempt to restrain these pastors from further acts of their unbiblical schemes.

Anytime this subject is mentioned, most of these so- called prophets are quick to retort by saying ''touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm’’. Anyway, who says all of them are anointed by God? It is said,'' One hand cannot clap and a bird cannot fly on one wing''. One is guided by this aphorism that, as long as people go to these prophets, these irreligious acts will not cease.

After all, it takes two to tango. Most of these vulnerable persons are subjected to all kinds of unethical and barbaric gymnastics all in the name of spiritual cleansing and divine exorcism.

The question that comes to mind is, what influences people to go to these so-called men of God regardless of the far-reaching bitter experiences they endure? Ignorance has been identified as a paramount reason.”

My people perish for lack of knowledge', so says the Bible. Ignorance in this instance, stems from the fact that many a Ghanaian do not simply study their Bibles.

As a result of this, many are unaware that the Bible says we should not believe every spirit, but test these spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

These ignoramuses are almost always be unable to decipher the truth or otherwise of whatever these pastors tell them hence they follow blindly.

Lack of faith by most Christians of today is another reason why these workers of lawlessness take advantage to continue committing these acts of iniquity against these poor Christians.

Many people have wavering faith and so they do not have the patience to wait upon the Lord particularly in trying times, they therefore resort to all sorts of engagements with these pastors for miracles. The gullible mentality of many Ghanaians, particularly female worshipers give these pastors an upper hand to continue fooling their members. For these gullible persons, any pronouncement by these prophets are taking at face value.

That is, everything said by their pastors is nothing but the whole truth without probing further. Desperation has also led many to go through a lot of dehumanising treatments.

Desperate people, during desperate times are forced to take desperate decisions. Some people are so desperate for money, marriage, and children and so on.

They are filled with desperation to the extent that the pastors take advantage of the situation to unscrupulously manipulate them. Illiteracy has also played a major factor in allowing pastors to abuse the rights of their members.

Due to the illiteracy rate in the system, many Christians do not have any choice but to believe anything said by these men of God.

Going forward, to prevent or limit these abominable acts against people who go for deliverance from pastors, we are advised to study our Bibles and pray to God for better understanding of the word so that we do not fall into the snares of these false prophets.

Knowledge is power, indeed. Secondly, let us growth in faith by praying without ceasing and meditating upon the word of God.

As we are learning other subjects, let’s also strive to dedicate our time to learning about the things that affect our spiritual lives. When we grow in faith, it will make us understand the workings of God in our lives and in the end, it will prevent any form of desperation.

To conclude, just as Ezekiel was told in Ezekiel 33:1-9 to be a watchman and blow the trumpet to warn the people of Israel of the coming danger, so are we, as a matter of collective responsibility also advised to warn other against allowing themselves to be deceived by theses hypocrites parading as messiahs.


By: Zephaniah Kwesi Danaa, A Journalist

Two Years Of President Mahama's Administration

Exactly two years ago, John Dramani Mahama took the Oath of office to begin a four year term as the 4th President of the 4th Republic of Ghana. He had blazed into the campaign with a few months left for the decider following the sudden death of the sitting President Mills and won the 2012 election one touch. But the controversy that enveloped the election and the litigation that characterized its validity are unparalleled in our national history. For eight good months, the Supreme Court heard its highest profile and most politically sensitive petition by the NPP flagbearer, Nana Akuffo Addo challenging eligibility of the results. Productivity was held hostage by the trial due to the all-absorbing attention it attracted from the generality of Ghanaians. Despite the historic live coverage by the state broadcaster, GBC, the sensational tilt by sections of the private media and partisan twists by some political elements stoke tensions and sent Ghana teetering on the brink of an implosion. It took the unwavering commitment to justice by the Supreme Court, the display of statesmanship by Nana Akuffo Addo who accepted the verdict and above all the Grace of God Almighty to save the situation. Before the electoral dispute, Ghana’s democracy was perceived globally to be in fine fettle. But the Supreme Court litigation proved otherwise. The blatant truths exposed during the proceedings were that despite its shiny veneer, our electoral system needed reforms which must be fixed to guarantee a foundation of peace for the 2016 polls.

Peace they say, is the ultimate of life. But this indispensable ingredient was conspicuous by its absence in the first year of the Mahama administration. Insecurity had replaced aspiration as the dominant concern of the people. That situation was worsened by the chain of strikes and demands by workers which distorted the spending priorities of the government. No doubt, the cedi fell, inflation rose and the economy declined, leading to Ghana’s application for an IMF bail-out. It is to the credit of President that he begins the second half of his rule with the cedi stable and the nation peaceful. Despite the cataclysmic challenges and manifold obstacles, Ghana is making leaps in progress in the areas of infrastructural development, water supply and electricity extension. The flagship interchanges at Kwame Nkrumah in Accra, the Eastern Corridor roads to shorten the distance between the north and the south, the Cape Coast Sports Stadium and the expansion of the Kpong Water System to cover Adenta and other areas are a few but penchant examples. It is also to the credit of President Mahama that during the first half of Mahama’s presidency, Ghana can still lay claim as the model of democracy in Africa. This is a clear departure from the situation which saw our multi-party governance system heading for the rocks in 2013.

However, President Mahama will readily admit that he still has a tall mountain to climb on the road to election 2016. Inelegant comments and strident attacks over corruption, whether proven or not, tend to detract his presidency. He also needs to convince many who are deeply skeptical and blatantly pessimistic that his government will stick to its social democratic credentials even in the face of unrelenting stream of tough times. Perhaps, the free senior high school and model pre-university projects, more pro-poor interventions and much awaited energy peace of mind will prove the skeptics wrong and put President on a comfortable lane for next year’s elections. Ultimately, however, it is the electorate who can best assess him. And this assessment will reflect in the outcome of the Election 2016.


Abuse Of Privilege Vis-a-Vis The Role Of Leadership

If we all agree with Dr. Martin Luther King that “the time is always right to do what is right", then it has clearly become imperative to call the attention of the Ghana Police Administration to the recklessness and irresponsibility on the country’s roads. It has become common sight these days to see police personnel behaving recklessly and without consideration on our roads and streets, and clearly, this is an abuse of privilege. Some of our police personnel who have been trained to drive service vehicles use the roads and streets as if they were above the law. This issue is a bother to most road users and contradicts recent media commendation of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Alhassan, for his exemplary and exceptional conduct. It was noted that as the IGP moved from his residence to his office at the Police Headquarters daily on the traffic-prone Madina-Legon-Airport road, he does not use the siren to have a right of way to enable him move unimpeded, but rather goes through the traffic and stops at intersections like all other road users. Indeed, this show of humility and respect for the rights of others were extolled by otherwise critical media and members of the public. An ‘ayekoo’ therefore goes to the IGP so that the police administration is encouraged to ensure that such traits of exemplary conduct permeate the entire hierarchy of the Ghana Police Service. This is to ensure that the public will at no given time be held to ransom by security personnel, personnel from the Ghana Armed Forces, Immigration Service, Prison Service and private security agencies. Ministers, deputy Ministers and some Mayors and District Chief Executives also fall foul to this indiscipline. Such acts of traffic indiscipline are more rampant within Accra, Spintex Road, on the Accra-Kasoa-Winneba highway and in all regional capitals. By the infractions of the security personnel other reckless motorists also take advantage and join the fray. It is sad to state that in situations where some drivers and pedestrians have been bold enough to question such irresponsible conduct, some of them have been subjected to brutality by the shameless security personnel, thus compelling the public to look on helplessly?

The level of recklessness and abuse of public trust is such that the legitimate use of sirens and motorcades and the mandatory obligation to give way to such recognized vehicles have been abused and made the public insensitive to what is right and just.“ A stitch in time saves nine,” whereas “a word to the wise is enough.” Let the humble IGP, Mohammed Alhassan impact his lifestyle on the Ghana Police Service and make meaning to the words of Peter F. Drucker who submits that, “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked, leadership is defined by results not attributes”. The Police Administration must ensure that all recklessness on the roads and misuse of sirens are controlled.


WAEC's Decision To Destroy Certificates

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC), on the 20th of January, 2015, re-announced that it would by the end of this month begin destroying certificates of private candidates that have not been collected since the last 10 years. The move is aimed at decongesting the offices which have been flooded with candidates’ certificates. WAEC says some of these certificates comprise that of candidates who wrote the November-December, Advanced Business, and General Business examinations dating as far back as 1965. According to the Head of Public Affairs of WAEC, Mrs Agnes Teye-Cudjoe, last year alone saw more than one hundred and seventy seven thousand (177 000) candidates sitting for the November-December examinations. Considering that, averagely, this number of candidates write WAEC’s private examinations each year, then by way of calculations, multiplying the number of candidates by the number of years of uncollected certificates, one would agree with WAEC that indeed its storage spaces are choked with certificates. We must, however pause to ask whether the West African Examinations Council’s move to destroy these certificates is laudable? Will the destruction of these certificates forever decongest WAEC’s storage space? Certainly not!

Indeed, 10 years from now, another batch of candidates’ certificates would again be printed and kept in the same storage spaces that WAEC claims is choked now and candidates would again abandon the collection of such certificates. Hence, this system of destroying old certificates and printing new sets of certificates would merely become a cycle of waste. The gospel truth is that, many of these candidates do not even know that apart from collecting their results slips there are certificates to be collected as well. Per suggestions to the examining body, WAEC must adopt the use of SMS alert messages to tell candidates whose certificates are ready for collection to do so. Similarly, emails could be sent to these candidates telling them where and when to go for their certificates. More so since WAEC says after the destruction of these certificates former candidates in need of attestation of results would have to pay for them suggests that the certificates could be printed on demand. So, why are they not printed on demand rather than printing them before demand? There should be a flexible system of collecting one’s certificate.
For instance, one should be able to apply online to WAEC where he or she wrote the examination for their certificate to be sent to the nearest WAEC office for identification and collection without necessarily commuting from one region to the other. The West African Examinations Council must look beyond clearing old stock of certificates at its storage facilities and focus on dealing with the root causes of why such spaces get flooded with uncollected certificates. A Cameroonian proverb says that he who does not look ahead always remains behind. It is about time WAEC looked ahead by taking advantage of technology in getting things done the right way or remain behind the global world.


Tema Fire & the Need for Gov’t Structures to be More Proactive

Ghanaians woke up to reports of fire gutting the Central medical stores at the Tema Industrial area which served as a hub for storage of a chunk of the country's medical supplies including a storage facility for the World Health Organization.

It took days for a combined team of National Fire Service and Fire personnel from the
Industrial area in Tema to quench the fire. Government is yet to come to terms with the loss, which runs into millions of Cedis as it emerged that the medical facility was not insured.

One question which most Ghanaians keep asking is, how did that happen''? How come
government after government could not ensure that premium was placed on a facility that served the health needs of HIV and AIDS patients, the aged, the country's work force, mothers, infants and babies yet to be born?

This is a clear violation of human rights and smacks of lack of discipline. It also exposes weak supervision, for that matter in most of the country's government institutions. At a news Conference in Accra, The Chief Director at the Ministry of Health cited lack of funds as a reason for not insuring an essential property as the Central Medical stores. Should the lack of funds continue to cost the state millions of Cedis given the magnitude of waste in most
government establishments?

A simple calculation can be done by driving around the city after working hours and one would be surprised at the numbers of lights left on in most government establishments while workers had long gone home. It is time for us, as a country to be proactive than retroactive. Authorities in charge must think through and adopt precautionary measures in administering government institutions.

The fire at the Central Medical Stores once again brings up for discussion the question whether; the National Fire Service has the capacity to do its work. Fire fighters and other personnel including the media were asked to vacate the medical stores fire scene at a point because there were no oxygen masks available.

Furthermore, it was difficult in the first place for the fire team to locate a hydrant from the onset of the fire, because the outlets were blocked. Ensuring that all buildings adhere to fire safety codes is clearly a responsibility of the National Fire Service. It is about time this nation became more proactive at consolidating gains made. What looks like back tracking is not going to do us any good. It is better late than never we must say to Interior Minister, Mack Woyongo who has called for the installation of Close Circuit Television Sets, CCTV's at the country's essential facilities to serve as surveillance.

That will surely be an easy way to catch perpetrators of evil deeds and bring them to book. Even though investigations are on-going, some eye witnesses say refuse burning at the premises of the Central Medical Stores could have caused the fire. If this turns out to be true then, this is clear negligence. Perhaps it is time to ban the burning of refuse within city limits. Ghanaians deserve to be told why, who and how the nation's Central Medical stores filled with supplies were gutted by fire.

The Interior Minister says he is not ruling out arson. What we need to be cautious of is over politicising this issue. During a medical emergency, political colorations do not matter. What matters is the capacity to save lives. How are we saving lives as a nation?

If we sit and allow millions of Cedis to go down the drain, in an already precarious economic climate. President Mahama has described the burnt down Central Medical Stores scenario as a ''national tragedy''.

It is indeed a tragedy to see that authorities in charge of government institutions are less proactive, and this attitude must stop!

By Rebecca Ekpe, A Journalist.