Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Enhancing Food Production Through Agriculture By Thomas Nsowah-Adjei

Agriculture is said to be the main foundation on which the socio-economic development of the country hinges. It provides food for Ghanaians and also offers job opportunities for majority both at the formal and informal sectors of the economy. The sector engages both academics and non-academics in its management to ensure that the nation is secured in food production for domestic use and for export. Regrettably, the country over the years in spite of the favourable agriculture environment continues to suffer and register unappreciable growth to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP. One is quick to refer to General Kuntu Acheampong’s popular Operation Feed Yourself that saw the nation triumph in food production, producing enough to feed the population and for export. It is worrying that the same cannot be said now with improved technology.

Agriculture, about 40 years ago, despite the constraint on land acquisition, lack of technology, unfavourable weather pattern, high interest rate and the use of hoes and cutlasses, people find it attractive to engage in it. Registering zero percent growth in agriculture is not good for Ghana's development, in view of the critical role of agriculture to national economic growth. Ghana has all it takes to make agriculture attractive. The late Dan Lartey became popular for his domestication slogan where he stressed the need to eat what we grow and grow what we eat. Many did not take it seriously, even though it was important to use it to motivate the citizens to go into agriculture. It was therefore heartwarming that the recent New Year School focused on the need to roll out a new policy for the Agriculture sector to enable the nation to become self-sufficient in food production. 
The policy when rolled out, will make the sector very attractive to the youth, create over 700,000 jobs, reduce food, meat, fish and poultry product import bill. If indeed, a percentage of the import bill alone is invested in making the sector attractive, Ghana will be the winner. Cocoa production over the years has been so politicized that the target of one million metric tonnes which Ghana came close to achieving when the mass cocoa spraying exercise was introduced under the Kufuor administration has remained a dream.

The sector is bedeviled with corruption such that unless the problem is addressed Ghana’s dream of recapturing the top spot as the world leading producer will never be realised. The Crops Research and Cocoa Research Institutes of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have come out with early matured, disease resistant, relatively cost productive, drought resistant and environmentally friendly planting crops materials for farmers to adopt. What is perhaps left is for government to have a clear vision and come out with workable policies that will improve on agricultural modernisation. It will make agriculture a preferred choice as business, instead of being considered as a hobby.

It is only through this that those who will go into agriculture irrespective of the number involved, whether literate, poor and aged can still make Ghana a real agriculture nation where we will be able to produce enough at a reasonable cost for local consumption and for export.

By Thomas Nsowah-Adjei, a journalist.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

New Ministry for Monitoring and Evaluation By David Owusu-Amoah

Development interventions have been part of nation building since time immemorial. Governments have over the years committed significant resources to a wide range of development interventions designed to improve the well-being of the citizenry. It is important to mention that a Government’s development intervention programme can be said to be successful if it is progressive in relation to its development targets to ultimately benefit the people. Some development policy analysts have said that the major challenge that has historically faced the development of this country is not the ability to formulate good and credible development interventions but rather the capacity to monitor their implementation to ensure optimum utilization of the Nation’s resources for fruitful results. The New Patriotic Party won the mandate of Ghanaians to govern on the back of some interventions outlined in their manifestos.

Since last week some Ministers of State designate have gone through the vetting process for appointment into various positions of Government. These prospective ministers had the opportunity of sharing their visions and aspirations for their respective ministries if given the nod. It is heartwarming to note that most of the visions shared by these ministers designate dovetail into the overall development agenda of the President. Much as a well-crafted development intervention is priceless for the achievement of overall national development, it is important to note that such interventions can yield the desired results if they are backed by effective monitoring and evaluation mechanism. It is this importance that makes laudable the decision of His Excellency the President, to set up a ministerial desk in charge of monitoring and evaluation at the Presidency.

Indeed monitoring and evaluation is priceless in any national development agenda. It provides an opportunity to showcase project progress. It reveals mistakes and offers paths for learning and improvement. In addition, it provides valuable feedback and lessons for continuous improvement development policies and plans in line with national budget. If there is any period when monitoring and evaluation should mean so much to us as a Nation, it is now when Ghana has become an oil exporting country with an experience of a strong growth warranting the need for strategic approach to development planning backed by efficient monitoring and evaluation strategies. Monitoring which consists of operational and administrative activities that track resource allocation utilization and delivery of goods and services as well as intermediate outcome is priceless. It is critical to sound governance and necessary for the achievement of development results.

According to the President, the idea behind the creation of the Ministry in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation is to consolidate government’s activities by ensuring that appointees live up to set targets which will culminate in the overall growth agenda. The importance of Monitoring and evaluation can therefore not be over emphasized. It helps Governments to assess the extent to which it has done what it pledged to do within the context of national development policy framework and manifesto promises. Experience has however showed that having a minister responsible for monitoring and evaluation is not a necessary guarantee for ensuring efficient monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

Indeed to say that there have been similar portfolios that suffered serious setbacks can best be described as an understatement. The way forward requires a clear definition of the role of the Minister in charge of this portfolio and his relationship with key state institutions in charge of monitoring and evaluation such as the National Development Planning Commission, the Ministry of Local Government, among others. Not too long ago The National Development Planning Commission launched a National Monitoring & Evaluation Manual as a reference document for informing Government on its performance and suggesting what needs to be done to minimize the weaknesses and maximize its strengths. Such a document will be useful for the Minister in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation to guide him in ensuring rigorous execution of policy interventions.

The onus again lies on the Minister designate if given the nod to collaborate with the National Development Planning Commission to ensure the development of appropriate institutional arrangements with clear roles and responsibilities as well as processes for undertaking M&E at the various levels of governance. This is indeed a sure way of making the Minister responsible of Monitoring and Evaluation useful for the overall national development agenda.

BY: DAVID OWUSU-AMOAH, HEAD OF MEDIA LIAISON, MINISTRY OF INFORMATION.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Insanitary Situation In Ghana By George Ankrah


Year in, year out, Ghana faces cholera outbreak which claims innocent lives. According to reliable statistics, in 2014 a severe cholera attack killed 250 people and infected as many as 25,000 people between January and December. Figures from the Ghana Health Service indicate that the situation was severe in the Capital city of Accra which recorded more than 18,000 cases and 114 deaths. The causes of cholera and these preventable deaths can be attributed to poor sanitation or insanitary condition in our communities. This year, it is predicted that there would be early but heavy rains. Rain is a blessing particularly to our farmers. But again the same rain may be a curse to those of us living in low lying areas, with choked gutters.

The situation is worsened with the reckless waste disposal practices among others. Governments over the years rolled out various sanitation policies starting from the first President Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah up to the immediate past President John Mahama’s regime who also instituted the monthly National Sanitation Day. These were all efforts to keep the surroundings clean to ensure healthy environment for socio-economic activities. It is an undeniable fact that sanitation is a global issue and in terms of wastes management, it is a serious business. Elsewhere, wastes are separated to make it easier for those who manage the waste to do it efficiently. Zoomlion, the household name in waste management in Ghana among several others are not doing badly.

What then is the waste management in Ghana our problem? Bad attitude, deliberate intent to throw rubbish anywhere, or is it also the failure or breakdown of local governance system where by laws are not enforced? Why is it difficult for the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to enforce the bye laws on waste disposal? How about ensuring that landlords construct toilets in their homes before renting them out to tenants? The least said about open defecation in across the country, the better.

The story is not different with refuse dump. From the Major Adenta road to Accra, and at the markets throughout the city, you find refuse dumped everywhere by traders. Just take a look at the Legon Tax Revenue Office in today's Ghana, you see children defecating openly on a mounting refuse. Soon after the declaration of the 7th December General Election, traders have taken over the over-pass at the Spanner junction close to the Accra Mall and have turned the floor into a refuse dump.

Thank God President Akufo-Addo's government has designated a Minister to take charge of sanitation in the country. Whatever measures to be rolled out to improve sanitation in the country should be embraced by all citizens. Sanitation is closely related to health. Let us hope and pray that the majority of Ghanaians would support the regime to address this bad sanitation habit. Sanitation is also a religious issue that is why we have the adage that cleanliness is next to Godliness. We throw the challenge to the country's religious leaders to use the pulpits and mosques to campaign for change in attitude towards waste disposal.

This way we can prevent diseases such as cholera and unnecessary deaths.

BY GEORGE ANKRAH A JOURNALIST.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Need to pay attention to primary Healthcare by Kingsley Obeng-Kyereh


Health is wealth. This is one statement that is often repeated when there is the need to stress why it is important to maintain the highest standard of well-being. For some people, this statement is often taken for granted not by openly saying health is not important but due to the action taken in relation to what should be done to maintain perfect health status. It will be recalled that in the latter part of the last millennium, there was a slogan – HEALTH FOR ALL BY THE YEAR 2000. Unfortunately, the year 2000 came too soon and that goal was not realised. It must be stated that the mere fact that that declaration was made showed the need to radically move from the status quo. To a large extent, it gave the global community some sense of urgency to improve the deteriorating health status of the population of many developing countries.

Ghana had had what was called the Danfa project to address this concern. Essentially, the medical model of health has informed many decisions in the health sector. Preventive Health care became relevant so that health centres will not be choked. Health Professionals did not need to wait to treat signs and symptoms but move to the communities to address the root cause of ailments. For example, instead of waiting to treat diarrhoea and cholera, it was necessary to tackle sanitation issues. Thus improving the environment was seen as an essential part of ensuring healthy lives. In addition improved water treatment, vector control and simple ways of hand washing go a long way to help the cause of primary healthcare. These informed the World Health Organisation's definition of health as a complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of disease.

In 1978, the International Conference on Primary Health Care at Alma Ata in the then Kazakhstan defined primary Healthcare as “essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the communities through their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination.” Long after the Alma Ata declaration looked at Primary Health Care, there is the need to assess the progress made so far globally. The Millennium summit brought in the Millennium Development Goals which devoted much attention to health issues. The MDGs were replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and yet the world continues to talk about a myriad of challenges in the health sector.

It is good to once again say that realizing the goals in the SDGs will mean staying healthy. Any economic or social development can be eroded if the people are not healthy. The issues of Primary Health Care are important in this regard. The Universal Access to health care campaign should not be seen as a mere slogan. It is at the very base of development and deserves more investment. It is good to note that the President’s nominee for the health ministry has mentioned issues relating to health insurance. Therefore primary Health Care should be given the necessary attention, so that the health bills reduce. Once we have agreed that health is not the sole responsibility of the health ministry but a cross-cutting issue between different ministries with community collaboration, it is time to get all shoulders to the wheel.

The appeal is for the media not to skew attention to only the political issues that titillate but to devote attention to the issues that affect the total well-being of Ghanaians.

BY KINGSLEY OBENG-KYEREH, MEDIA PRACTITIONER.

Monday, 23 January 2017

The Gambia Situation By Napoleon Ato Kittoe

Recent happenings in The Gambia are intriguing. Blotted by the 1994 coup by the beleaguered President Yahya Jammeh, the country had enjoyed relative peace. It is not clear whether the tranquil in the Gambia was as result of authoritarian rule but it had been very impressive until the recent political stalemate. The Gambia is threatened to go the way of some countries where similar situations had sparked civil wars and social disorganization. The world, including the diehard cynics, applauded President Yahya Jammeh for his swift response, initially conceding defeat to Adama Barrow in the last December Presidential election. As all waited with baited breathe to see a smooth transition, President Jammeh made a U-turn and refused to abide by the election results, alleging fraud. Following the sharp twist in events, the Gambia has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Issues like Jammeh being the only surviving coup-maker still in power, his tainted human-rights record and his idiosyncratic nature, as some would call it, have all thrust to the fore.

But Yahya Jammeh has raised some issues too. He says he realised later that certain improprieties affected the election results, requiring the judiciary to settle the dispute. The Gambia itself has not got a standing supreme court and so as invites are extended to some countries to appoint judges, to hear the matter, the supposed winner of the elections Adama Barrow, was sworn-in January 19 in neighbouring Senegal.

Meanwhile, the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, has mobilised a military force, which the world is made to understand that the force is on the verge of intervening in the Gambia, which lacks the muscle to contend on that front. It is interesting, Yahya Jammeh had been given up until 12noon January 20, to step down or be forced out. At this point, the stand-off becomes murkier as matters are coming to a head and the ignominious prospect of bloodshed seemingly likely. Yahya Jammeh, we are told is undergoing the diplomatic brush, with regional leaders talking to him to stand down. Situations like what The Gambia is going through have happened before and so the permutations are not far- fetched. It could either end in the arrest of Yahya Jammeh, possibly to be handed over to the International Criminal Court (I.C.C) for prosecution. Since nearly half of the voting population voted for Yahya Jammeh, it is not out of place to assume the nation is split down the middle and that, not all the Gambian people support the international maneuvering against their country. Another flash point which could lead to war, now or later.

The third scenario reminds one of Gaddafi's Libya where fellow leaders tried to talk him out of the conflict brought about by the Arab spring, which Gaddafi refused. In the end, he died in the bloodbath. With the United Nations Security Council, weighing strongly into the Gambian affair, one may like to know whether its position is informed by dynamics such as a call to war by the Gambian people, pre-emptive measures against a threat to war or an international law that overrides the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs and sovereignty of member states? Within the gamut of events in the Gambia today, at this point, one would choose dialogue as the only way to avoid a blood-spill while a country of political asylum for the ousted leader is arranged. The audacious move by ECOWAS to try to ensure democracy takes hold in a member state is commendable. One would expect the regional block to exert pressure on even scale when similar issues that involve the regional power brokers, erupt.

The Gambian situation and the recent war in Côte d’Ivoire are hypothetical, yet in the case of Côte d’Ivoire, when former President Gbagbo refused to relinquish power after he lost an election, ECOWAS failed to act.

BY NAPOLEON ATO KITTOE, JOURNALIST.

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Ghanaian Media In The New Administration Of President Akufo-Addo By Kofi Yeboah


A new dawn has broken. The celebrations are over. It is time for real business. And President Akufo-Addo is off the blocks with the naming of his Cabinet to govern the country for the next four years. As the new administration seeks to fulfill its mandate to Ghanaians, the media must also stand in readiness to fulfill their watchdog mandate to the citizenry. So, this is the time to get the cameras rolling, microphones set, and printers in motion to monitor the government every step of the way. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana, specifically Article 162(5), mandates the mass media to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people of Ghana. This is an absolute constitutional mandate the media must never abdicate. As a former Chief Justice, F. K. Apaloo, said in a Keynote Address at the Annual New Year School in 1999, there is, indeed, no modern institution that is more potent in keeping the government in check and exposing its wrongdoing and other acts of misgovernance than the media.

Upholding the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people means two things – first, exposing the evil deeds of government, and second, projecting the good deeds of same. However, extolling the good deeds of the government does not call for ‘prophetic sycophancy’ whereby the media shower praises on the government when none is due; neither does it call for ‘demonic mischief’ whereby the media criticize the government for no just cause. Indeed, upholding the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people, calls for absolute fairness and objectivity. In their quest to support the Akufo-Addo administration to succeed, the media must not necessarily become bedfellows to caress the government because that will break their fidelity to the people of Ghana in whose interest they work. Likewise, in their resolve to scrutinize government business, the media must not necessarily become bed bugs to suck the government because that will stifle their nourishment of the people.

Another critical role the media must play under the Akufo-Addo administration is to deepen democratic governance by encouraging the expression of free speech, divergent views and dissenting opinions as guaranteed under Articles 21(1)(a) and 163 of the 1992 Constitution. But in so doing, the media must be responsible enough not to allow their platforms to be used for destructive purposes, especially by political opponents.

They must also not constitute themselves into regime defenders or regime changers, as the case may be. It is very heartwarming that the liberalization of the media landscape in Ghana has led to pluralism in the industry. But it is also heart-wrecking to observe the development of unbridled politicization and polarization of the media landscape. So media pluralism has, unfortunately, come to hurt, rather than help, the cause of national unity and development. It is time for this kind of ‘mercenary journalism’ to give way to professional journalism.

Again, in discharging their mandate as watchdogs of society and development agents, the media must endeavour to uphold high journalistic standards at all times. This is a professional imperative that can never be negotiated for any consideration whatsoever. So in the desire of media institutions to be on top of the competition, they must not sacrifice substance for hogwash, or accuracy for speed, or quality for mediocrity. Breaking the news first is not as important as getting it right. And need anyone be told that in the media industry, credibility is more valuable than profitability? The clarion call, therefore, is for the media to be prim and proper in the discharge of their watchdog mandate, as they uphold the responsibility and accountability of Akufo-Addo’s administration to the people of Ghana.

This is a charge to keep the media have!

BY KOFI YEBOAH, A COMMUNICATION CONSULTANT.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

THE LAWLESSNESS IN POLITICAL TRANSITIONS BY RUTH ADJORLOLO


It said that those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat the mistakes of the past. The December 2016 election has come and gone, with the successful inauguration of Nana Akufo-Addo as the Fifth President of the Fourth Republic. While this success story has received the commendation of the international community, the activities of some people going round seizing State facilities and even brutalising political opponent is denting Ghana's enviable democratic credentials. In spite of the fact that this lawlessness by party activists occurred in the past and was condemned, its recurrence anytime there is a change in political power democratically requires collective national effort to nip it in the bud. Allowing people to assume they have the power to storm State-owned institutions like the Tema Port and the Passport Office suggest lawlessness to the highest degree. The danger in this phenomenon is the apparent helplessness of the Police Service who are mandated to ensure law and order, especially protecting lives and property.

It is true the police have issued stern warning that they will deal ruthlessly with anyone caught on the wrong side of the law. But to some skeptics, the inability of the police to act decisively and promptly in such cases could be due to the fear of the hierarchy of the service to fall victim to the political leadership of the party in power. They wouldn't want to go against the supporters who voted the politicians to power, therefore, staying off the heat. Though this may sound as allegation against the Police, it looks like the most probable reason or explanation for their seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards this life- threatening behaviour of party foot soldiers. When the politicians promise the youth and errand boys jobs and other privileges, they forget to educate them on how such promises will be delivered. They secretly give the assurance to secure jobs for them in some sensitive State institutions, thereby encouraging such acts of impunity.

As a people, Ghanaians should acknowledge the fact that, there is no need for any excuse in this matter. What civilised citizens want is that, this recurrent transitional ritual of lawlessness by party foot soldiers must stop, before it becomes a major blot on Ghana's democratic practice. The steps to ending it start with no other than politicians, particularly the ruling party. For our democracy to thrive, there should be awareness creation for supporters of the political Parties to know that transition from one Party to another does not call for lawlessness; neither does it mean everything belonging to the state becomes party property. The laws do not cease to work after transition. With more than two decades of constitutional rule, the action and inaction of the political leaders must not be seen to be encouraging such disgraceful behaviour of criminals who operate under the cloak of partisanship to perpetrate violence.

Let us cherish the national peace and work together to entrench democratic governance where the rule of law is supreme.

BY: RUTH ADJORLOLO, A JOURNALIST.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Adopting Innovative Strategies To Build A Prosperous Nation By Kofi Amponsah-Bediako

The Ministerial nominations made so far are aimed at ensuring an effective governance system for the country. In all, the President has put forward 36 nominations for vetting by Parliament. The nominations were made in line with the vision of the President to take immediate steps to facilitate rapid socio-economic development of the country in the short to medium term. It is the desire of the President to build an optimistic, self-confident and prosperous nation with a strong and thriving democratic society in which mutual trust and economic opportunities exist for all, irrespective of their background. To be able to achieve this, there is the need to ensure effective implementation of policies geared towards speedy growth in all sectors of the economy. In this connection, the focus must be on agriculture, energy, manufacturing, health, education and eradication of poor conditions and hunger across the country. There is also the need to encourage value-added exports to strengthen economic growth.

All these cannot happen by chance but need to be addressed in a purposeful manner. The implication here is that, the country cannot continue in the same old ways of doing things but must come up with innovative strategies of achieving the desired vision. At a glance, the 36 Ministers-designate so far may be seen to be too many. However, when viewed in terms of the specific peculiar needs of the country such as the desire for rapid economic growth, employment generation at the district level and fulfilling the aspiration for all-inclusive growth and development in different parts of the country, it becomes easy to understand why six new Ministries, to be based at the Presidency, have become necessary. The need for regional re-organisation, inner-city and Zongo development, special development initiatives and Ministerial monitoring and evaluation of all government projects, among others, constitute the new direction that the country must follow for the realisation of the vision of the President. The battle ahead is a tough one but that is the only option available for us to achieve our dreams.

The President needs the support of all to deliver, not destructive vicious attacks meant to destroy the reconstruction effort underway in the country. Let us avoid criticising others through prejudiced lenses as this can draw us back into the undesirable dark days of suffering, corruption, arrogance of power and aimlessness. At least, there is much hope for the future so this should be exploited to inject energy to propel us all to achieve what is good for the country. It is important to keep away from cheap propaganda and focus on the good works and results which are yet to come. Patience is a virtue so we need to unite to support the President to achieve our ultimate desire of an accelerated economic growth and improved standard of living for all Ghanaians.

BY: KOFI AMPONSAH-BEDIAKO, HEAD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, GHANA STANDARDS AUTHORITY

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

President Akufo-Addo’s Ministerial Appointments And Development Vision For Ghana By Nana Sifa Twum


On the 7th of January this year, Ghana saw the birth of a new government. The country again demonstrated to the rest of the world another democratic feat, with the swearing in of the fifth President of the Fourth Republic. The new government led by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has nominated people for almost all key ministerial positions. The swift manner in which the names of the nominees were released signifies President Akufo-Addo's preparedness to take over the reins of governance of the country. This perhaps is unprecedented in the annals of the governance history of Ghana where within two days after swearing-in, the new President has come out with names of nominees to handle various ministries, to form the government. Some of the names were even announced before he was sworn in as President.

Taking into consideration the herculean task ahead of him and the limited time of four years he has to make an impact and perhaps qualify for reelection in 2020, President Akufo-Addo immediately communicated his nominations to the legislature. He went further to appeal to the august House to expedite action on the approval or otherwise of the nominees so that he can set in motion his governance machinery. His call to parliament to effectively scrutinize all his appointees and not “rubber stamp” them in “wholesale” as qualified is also welcome news. The thirty-six names so far nominated have been hailed as highly talented, rich in knowledge and skill and achievers. Most of them have much to show by way of success in their respective fields of endeavour. Throughout his campaign trail, President Akufo-Addo made the people of Ghana aware of how bad the economy had been, the deplorable nature of the rail system, and the poor living conditions in the Zongo communities. He told Ghanaians about the need to reorganize the regions to ensure fair, equitable and balanced distribution of national resources among other crucial national needs. His nominations for ministerial position therefore have direct bearing on these aspirations, especially when one looks at some new and unheard-of ministries.

By and large, the nominations have been hailed by experts as excellent as against what critics say constitute duplication. Governance Expert, Professor Baffour Agyeman Duah for instance has the view and I quote “every President has a vision therefore the creation of new Ministries are meant to promote the vision and goals of the new administration.” unquote. The clear message from these new ministries is that one cannot continue to do the same thing and hope to achieve new results. As a people, it is important to accept change, explore more opportunities available to achieve new and satisfying results. The President’s ambition to turn the nation around is obviously clear and the step for the start is right. All the key areas which the President has highlighted as crucial and therefore ensuring pragmatic approach to their recovery such as aviation, railways, regional reorganisation and business development are honestly genuine needs of the people of Ghana.

With a collapsed railway system and without a national carrier, Ghana has been entertaining more than 42 other national airlines into its air space. This indeed warrant such an approach from a visionary leader. The question about the cost implications and the funding of the new ministries should be looked at as an investment. The longer Ghanaians sustain such investments the more citizens will enjoy the dividends. It is also believed that the gender and regional issues will be addressed in the deputy ministerial and other appointments.

Ghanaians must exercise patience to see how the new Ministries would perform in the general governance of President Akufo-Addo, bearing in mind that we all float together or sink together.

BY NANA SIFA TWUM, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT – LONDON- UK.

Friday, 13 January 2017

President Akufo-Addo’s Nominees For Ministerial Appointments

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at a news briefing on Tuesday and Wednesday officially announced some ministerial nominees for approval by Parliament approval committee.The professional background and expertise of the nominees undoubtedly seem to make them suitable for their respective portfolios, having excelled in similar endeavours as politicians, business persons, entrepreneurs, public and civil servants. Comments following the announcement have been varied, but generally, it appears the appointments are in the right direction. Managing a nation requires such experienced people more especially in the face of economic challenges characterised by unemployment, high interest rate, budget deficit, high cost of living, and huge foreign and domestic debt. These challenges, coupled with the promises made by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) during the campaign place a heavy burden on the President and his appointees. The nominees when given the nod by Parliament are expected to help the President to initiate area specific policies and programmes to achieve better living conditions for Ghanaians. Irrespective of one’s political affiliation, favourable economic environment will ensure to the benefit of all Ghanaians.

The appointment of experienced and qualified persons alone cannot make Ghana a better place to live. The appointees are expected to come out with strategies that are not alien to the Ghanaian environment. Ghanaians will no longer take any excuses. The immediate past National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration had its fair share of criticism regarding the crop of Ministers President John Mahama worked with.To some, the critics were proved right in that, the utterances of some of them were in bad taste. It is therefore not surprising that some people attributed the NDC's defeat in the December 7 polls to these attitude and culture. This should serve as a lesson and a guide to President Akufo-Addo in appointing his ministers.

Apart from all the rich academic credentials of the ministerial nominees, the most important criteria are the person’s attitude and human relations in general. Some of these common human-relation skills can never be acquired in the classroom. President Akufo Addo in his other appointments should exclude people whose actions and inactions can have a negative impact on the NPP administration.

As prospective state appointees lobby for placement in the current NPP administration, they should be mindful that, the office is a political one and one can be reshuffled at any time. They must bear in mind that, there are so many qualified people in the country to take over anytime they are relieved of their posts. They should note that their stay in office, will largely depend on how they conduct themselves to realise the positive impact that Ghanaians desire when they voted for change in the December 7, 2016 general election.

BY: THOMAS NSOWAH-ADJEI, A JOURNALIST.

CONTROVERSY OVER EMOLUMENT FOR POLITICAL APPOINTEES BY RUTH ABLA ADJORLOLO

The President has no official residence to lay his head? Another Administration is now history and was it really that the transition was smooth? One issue that rears its ugly head during a transition since returning to constitutional rule in 1993 has to do with the controversies surrounding emoluments of key government officials, especially, the President.

Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution stipulates that some special arrangements should be made for public office holders when they exit office after their service to the nation but in effect, some of the provisions are so vague that, any time there is a transition, the issue is engulfed in controversies. It is important to make sound judgement and discretion in such situations in order to save the nation from unnecessary problems and hardships.

In Ghana people make less than GHS300 a month, yet the state still has an obligation to give politicians “ex-gratia” and to former Presidents, accommodation and cars. This definitely drains the national coffers at a time when the economy is weak. After staying in office for just four years, the President, his Vice and Parliamentarians take home fortunes to the amazement of many a Ghanaian.

Those who happen to remain in power after the four years are entitled to another set of privileged emoluments at the end of their tenure. Until we put an end to all these perks for politicians, Ghana will forever get caught up in disputes over State cars and buildings.

Today, former President John Mahama is leaving office after four years in office and he, together with other outgoing MPs are being seen off with huge retirement packages that leave many people wondering if it is worth doing any other work apart from being a political leader.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) who lost their seats are also going home with pensions that exceed what some civil servants take as salaries the whole of their working life.

In the case of presidents and the vice, Ghanaians are subjected to the issue of preference of house and other facilities they should be entitled to.

During the first transition in Ghana in 2001, the issue became very topical when some of the privileges of former President Rawlings were curtailed, bringing in its wake a series of debates as to what retiring presidents should be sent home with.

Though it is a constitutional provision we have all lived with for some years now, it is about time to review this policy to ensure fairness and justice in the area of remuneration for public and civil servants.

One would have expected Ghanaians to review the issue when it surfaced during the first transition in 2001.

Sadly, we still come face-to-face with it after every transition.

It re-surfaced in 2009 when former President Kufuor was denied the privilege of occupying an office he had chosen for himself.

Here we are again with the same problem. How do our former presidents, vice presidents and MPs feel when they, after receiving huge salaries for four years, grab gigantic emoluments and send-off packages at the expense of the taxpayer who struggles to get their daily bread after queuing for hours in the hot sun to vote for them?

How do they feel when frail and poor pensioners go to Pensions offices a number of times chasing their paltry monthly benefits, amidst bribery and so on?

How do they feel when they unanimously agree on increasing their emoluments but fail to pass very crucial bills such as the Right to Information Bill that would save the nation millions of Ghana Cedis from corruption?

This is truly a morally-depraved generation of leaders whose interests are considered higher than any other interest; a generation of leaders who can only be said to be interested in amassing wealth in leadership than serving the people.

It is no wonder that, they are ready do all things to ensure they win elections; yet they tell us they just want to serve the people. It is easy to hide behind the law to do all manner of things without falling into trouble.

Many companies and persons in authority have used the law as a cover for malicious and selfish acts. The law is made by man and can be manipulated by man to achieve selfish interests.

That is why, in applying the law, some amount of morality ought to be applied and that is what many Ghanaians are calling for in this matter of ex-gratia and houses for presidents and vice presidents.

It should not be difficult for former Presidents to return to their own homes after serving the nation, especially when some money is spent in making the house a bit more comfortable.

It should not be difficult for MPs to prove their selflessness and love for the nation by voluntarily asking the nation to reduce their ex-gratia to save the economy.

Political leadership should not be a means of making quick money butrather a demonstration of one’s commitment to serving the people by making judicious use of the national resources. Morality should be the guiding principle in putting finality to this recurrent albatross.

BY RUTH ABLA ADJORLOLO, A JOURNALIST.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Avoiding Lapses At National Events By Ernest Obeng-Anim


On 7th January 2017, Ghana chalked up another milestone in its democratic credentials with a colourful ceremony to inaugurate a new President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. The function was attended by Ghanaians from all walks of life with heavy presence of party faithful. The occasion was also graced by 16 Presidents and other foreign dignitaries. What has become symbolic of such national events is the display of the country's rich culture where citizens dress in different designs of Kente and smock. The January 7 inauguration was no exception with the new President himself appearing in a magnificent kente. The inner perimeter was for very important dignitaries, while the stands were occupied by party supporters, most of them in the NPP colours of Red, White and Blue. It should be the case that at such auspicious events, the only colours to be displayed should be the national ones. It is not feasible to get all citizens to be at the venue for every national event. This is where the broadcast media especially, radio and television come in to let those outside the venue be part of the ceremony.

As usual, a number of Ghanaians who could not make it to the Black Star Square were glued to their Television sets to observe proceedings. The deafening noise that greeted the arrival of the dignitaries and the rich cultural display added pomp and pageantry to the ceremony. The State Broadcaster, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, GBC, provided live feed to other stations. The staff exhibited professionalism to the admiration of all. This underscores the fact that if GBC is well resourced and the staff well motivated the sky will be the limit. The Master of Ceremony for the programme, Kwame Sefa-Kayi was a delight to watch exhibiting one of the things he knows best. He performed his duties with all seriousness to the admiration of the dignitaries as well as Ghanaians who either watched on television or listened to Radio. Kwame keeps increasing in knowledge and in style making the job seem easy. The organisers of the programme undoubtedly worked tirelessly to set up the place to make the event a memorable one, and they deserve commendation.

However, one cannot tell how the seating arrangement was done, because some of the ushers appeared confused and did not know where to direct the dignitaries to sit. Some of them were seen on Television asking the dignitaries to show them their invitation cards even though they were driven in vehicles into the inner perimeter. This is an issue that should be addressed during future programmes. One other area of concern at such events has to do with running ceremonial commentary. With the array of commentators that GBC can boast of, one is at a loss as to why the organisers decided to use other people. It is important that such events are used to provide unadulterated historical facts.

Unfortunately, from the way the two commentators discharged their duties, it was obvious that they did not prepare or do any research before the day. One cannot really tell whether they were not informed early enough. It is unacceptable for anybody to be ignorant about the political history of the country forgetting that during such ceremonies many people, including students watch Television to educate themselves on the history of the country. A couple of years back, a group tried to rewrite the history of Ghana by saying the first President Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah is the founder of the nation relegating the collective effort of the other members of the big six to the background. The commentators instead of righting the wrong doubled the evil by displaying their poor knowledge of the political history of the country. Let us avoid such national embarrassment.

There was also no coordination between those on the ground and the commentators and therefore identifying the dignitaries was a problem. It was mistakes galore and they kept apologising as if that was what people wanted to hear. The 60th Anniversary of Ghana's Independence is around the corner and those who will be tasked to organize that momentous event should select the right people for the various roles. This will help avoid a repetition of the abysmal performance witnessed on 7th January’s inauguration of President Akufo-Addo, when the eyes of the global community were fixed on Ghana. The country deserves better than this because of its enviable democratic record. The President, Nana Akufo-Addo who has spent greater part his life fighting to deepen democracy in Ghana needs all and sundry to give of their best to move the country forward. He won the election after the third attempt and would not need any disturbances to mar the plans he has for the country.

It will be prudent for those who will be given any duty to perform to do it diligently to reflect the good plans the President has for the nation

BY ERNEST OBENG-ANIM, A JOURNALIST.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

President Akufo-addo's Inaugural Speech

The beautiful inaugural Presidential address delivered by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Saturday, January 7, did not only appeal to Ghanaians but to all people the world over.

Many significant issues were raised to show that as a people, Ghanaians need to work together and take the country's destiny into their own hands.

This explains why great emphasis was placed on the active involvement of everyone towards nation building and national development.

Ghanaians are expected not to see themselves as mere subjects or spectators, but as noble people who are proud of their citizenship and ready to work hard towards the attainment of the national goal.

It is only within the context of this realization towards national aspirations that people in this country can boldly exercise their responsibilities towards nation building.

The promise by the President to protect the public purse is quite significant. The protection of the public purse will come in form of rigid institution of measures against corruption, strictly punishing all those who engage in it.

Another high point has to do with ensuring value for money in all transactions carried out by anyone on behalf of Ghanaians.

As was pointed out by the President, public service should be used to serve the people, but not for money-making for those in authority. This means that politics should be an avenue for public service to improve upon the quality of life of everyone in the country.

Having existed as an independent country for almost sixty years, the inaugural speech by President Akufo-Addo has rekindled a new hope of what is in store and also attainable for the people of Ghana.

Everyone, past and present, is needed to push this country forward towards the attainment of a higher level of development.

Indeed, the linkage to the nation’s proud heritage as seen in the mention of names such as John Mensah-Sarbah, K. A Gbedemah, S. D Dombo, K. A. Busia, Kwame Nkrumah, among many others, shows the greatness of the role played by our past leaders and their relevance to the present generation.

Having played their part, it is up to the present generation to continue from where they left off.

The focus of all citizens should be rallying round the National Flag to push the country to a higher pedestal of enviable progress and development.

At this time, there is no excuse for the nation to continue to be poor so the earlier we work hard, the better it will be for the present and future generations.

In line with this noble course, both the government and opposition have a role to play to ensure the realization of the dreams of the founding fathers of this nation.

The youth must also join the battle through the harnessing of their energy for rapid socio-economic development.

On the whole, it was a great speech that was well delivered with great oral skills. For this reason, there is the need to come together as a nation, irrespective of political affiliation, to work towards the common good and make this nation great and strong in line with our national aspirations.

BY KOFI AMPONSAH-BEDIAKO, HEAD OF PUBLIC RELATION, GHANA STANDARDS AUTHORITY



Monday, 9 January 2017

President Mahama’s Conduct As 4th President Of The Fourth Republic

A new tranquil democratic era beckons after the emphatic victory of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the December 7 elections. In Parliament House January 5, President John Dramani Mahama set reinforced the tone of that era with his last state of the nation address which lasted 31 minutes - the shortest in modern memory. Although the duration was cute, its impact is huge. President Mahama put patriotic duty beyond personal rivalry and portrayed utmost respect for the in-coming President, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo- Addo. President Mahama spoke glowingly of his relations with Nana and traced their common history of entering Parliament the same year in 1997, serving as MPs for three terms and leaving together in 2009. Most importantly, President Mahama wished Nana well. The outgoing President was also measured in touting his achievements, a clear departure from the chronic tendency of heads of state to deliver homilies on the litany of their accomplishments and espouse lofty development plans for the nation.

His baton race analogy of the presidency where one leader hands over to another also resonates well with almost all who heard it. The Bible, which is a perennial spring of wisdom, states in Proverbs 16:24 that pleasant words are a honeycomb - sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Indeed, the perfume of President Mahama farewell address is strong enough to deodorize the stench of inelegant comments and indecorous conduct which characterized the electioneering. It should also help mend fences, assuage verbal pains and heal physical wounds political opponents inflicted on each other in the fierce struggle to win power. Politics, in short should not be a discreditable business but a decent contest of ideas.

As long as we stick to the ballot box and not the bullet course to choose leaders, elections will be won and lost. Even though President Mahama lost the election he's won the aftermath. This is evidenced by his incredible display of statesmanship and extraordinary ability to contain the loss of shattering magnitude. The political gospel of Mahama prescribes a new democratic scale to measure the conduct of future leaders. Specifically, he commit future losers to accept genuine defeats honorably and not at all attempt to dance to the politically mangled and extremely dangerous tune like the type being called by President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia. As the saying goes, a good example is better than a good advice. The example set by the out- going President outclasses the best advice one can give theoretically. It indeed bears the prospects to matriculate Ghana into an unassailable level of democracy, continentally and globally. Human as he's, he blundered in several areas.

Per his own plea, we leave history to judge him.
But his blunders do not obscure the fact that his place in history is assured. To the in-coming President Nana Akufo-Addo, no one should envy him for ending his two presidential electoral steaks in the most dramatic of circumstances. It is said that good things come to those who believe, better things come to those who are patient and the best things come to those who don't give up. He deserves all the accolades for his unshakable belief, unwavering patience and unquenchable spirit which have elevated him to the pinnacle of the political career.

As he supercharges his leadership skills to deliver, may God be his helper and bless our homeland Ghana.

By Roland Affail Monney President Of The Ghana Journalist Association.

Friday, 6 January 2017

President Mahama's Final State Of The Nation Address


Once again the President of the Republic, John Dramani Mahama, has delivered the annual State of the Nation Address at a colourful ceremony in Parliament. 2017’s ceremony the final one by President Mahama, shall go down in history as a significant one for many reasons. It comes at the end of one of the smoothest transitions in recent times, where after one round of voting, the winner of the polls was determined to pave the way for change in government. This necessitated a longer transition period. It is believed that handing over of notes from the outgoing National Democratic Congress to the incoming New Patriotic Party went on successfully. In another vein, President Mahama made some important statements on continuity in change of government that should catch the attention of many an observer of the political happenings in Ghana for some years now.

President Mahama urged his successor, Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo to endeavour to continue with all uncompleted projects initiated by his government in line with the true principles of governance across the globe. This call means a lot to Ghanaians in view of what has prevailed in the past where project are abandoned to the detriment of the national interest. Since the overthrow of Ghana’s first President Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, there has been a negative culture of abandoning projects initiated by earlier governments in a bid to discredit it. This culture saw the neglect of many projects undertaken with the hard-earned tax payer’s money. Scattered across Ghana today are several silos constructed by Dr Nkrumah meant to store enough food to ensure sufficiency and fight hunger in the country. The silos have been abandoned by succeeding governments, without consideration for the huge amounts of money invested into them.

However, a careful observation of our political scenes in this fourth republican constitutional era shows the ugly surge of that culture with dire consequences to the tax payer. At a time resources are scarce and governments across the world are doing their best to maximize the use of everything at the disposal of the State, we have cases of projects being abandoned or neglected in the name of political expediency, to discredit one’s opponent and win cheap political points. It is unfortunate that, in doing so, politicians fail to take into cognizance the wastefulness of the practice and the harm they are doing to the people who spend precious time to queue to vote them into power. Perhaps when a system is developed to hold them accountable over how they treated previous government’s projects, these politicians would sit up and spare the nation the waste in the name of cheap political points. It is about time that politicians understood the principles of accountability and probity and more importantly continuity of whatever one inherited from their predecessors.

Governance is about the people and those whose resources are being managed by leaders given the privilege of enjoying the largest of leadership. No leader owns the nation to waste its resources with abandon and the earlier they realized this, the better for the future of this country. This nation has bled for too long in the hands of those who have been misled into thinking they can get away with whatever they do in government. The President’s message to his successor is very relevant at this time of economic challenges where resources are badly needed to save the people from poverty. The incoming President, therefore, has a moral duty to ensure that political sentiments do not override the moral responsibility towards the people who have voted him to power.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is expedient at this time to insert into the transitional provisions, a clause that mandates incoming governments to complete every project initiated by their predecessors. The clause should be made so binding on office holders so as to prevent them from finding any excuses. That would ensure that they carry out their duty of protecting scarce state resources for the benefit of the people, Ghanaians have suffered for too long and this is the time for things to change.

BY RUTH ADJORLOLO, A JOURNALIST.