Thursday, 29 March 2018

How Ghana Can Respond To Natural Disasters

The occurrence of natural disasters globally in recent years has attracted the attention of environmental watchers, Geologists, Scientists and Researchers. The last time Ghana encountered a devastating natural disaster was in 1939. It was an earthquake in Accra which claimed 17 lives with hundreds of people injured. After this dreadful and tragic incident, 79 years on, Ghana has recorded some natural disasters. Reference could be made to the May 9 disaster at the Accra Sport Stadium which claimed more than 120 lives with several sustaining various degrees of injury. We also remember the Melcom Disaster at Achimota, the twin disaster of fire and flood at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, The gas explosion at Atomic junction and a couple of earth tremors, the major one occurring in 1997. During all these natural disasters, the response readiness of key stakeholders and agencies mandated to ensure the safety of the people, protection and preservation of life and property were tried and tested. These agencies proved beyond all reasonable doubts that they are up to the task.

Since 1986, the National Disaster Management Organisation has been at the centre of affairs coordinating, monitoring, supervising and managing disaster related issues. However, it is instructive to note that in managing mass casualty emergencies, it takes a multi-ministerial and multi- sectoral approach in dealing with such issues. We ask ourselves, does the National Disaster Management Organisation have adequate logistical and material capacity to co-ordinate and manage these national calamities. What blueprint and contingency plan has the Organisation? It is indeed worrying to know how state agencies are poorly resourced to carry out their constitutionally mandated responsibilities. The Police Service lacks personnel and critical accoutrements to carry out their duties, the Ghana Ambulance Service has only 17 vehicles nationwide but only four in Accra with a population of over one million residents. The Ghana National Fire Service is not adequately resourced and finds it virtually impossible to fight fire on high rise buildings whilst the Geological Service of Ghana has problem servicing seismographs, gadgets used in monitoring and forecasting earth tremors in earthquake prone areas.

Another vital area is the level of awareness creation amongst civil society. How often are Ghanaians given safety tips on disasters? As a country, can we say in all sincerity that we shall not be caught pants down if an earthquake hits in the deepest of night? Are we battle ready? Do we have the necessary and adequate resources to combat such disasters? Do we have adequate information on what to do? Would it be another knee jerk reaction rather than a proactive one? Since the last disaster at Atomic Junction and the twin disaster at Kwame Nkrumah circle of floods and fires, have we learnt our lessons? Have we moved from the vitualistic tradition of counting our losses after any major disaster and saying never again? Or we formulated a comprehensive plan robust and elaborate enough to combat such disasters? Posterity should be the best judge.


Commemoration of World Water Day

The earth is made up of about 70 percent water. Out of this 96 percent is held by oceans, meaning all but four percent of our water is saline. Water resources like streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater, provide people with water they need everyday to live. According to the UN, 2.1 billion people have safe drinking water at home, of these 844 million do not have access to drinking water service, including 263 million people who travel for more than 30 minutes per trip to collect water. Also 150 million still drink from untreated water sources such as rivers, lakes and streams, which is a serious health risk. Unclean water according to the World Health Organisation, WHO kills one million babies in their first month of life from preventable deaths, across the world. These staggering figures show how vital water is to life. It is against this background that the UN in 1993 designated 22 of March every year to draw attention to the importance of protecting water sources and for governments and Civil Society Organisations (CSO), to take action to ensure safe drinking water.

This year's theme is 'Nature For Water'. It underscores the need to explore nature-based solutions to 21st century water challenges. Behind the sources of pipe -borne water is nature, which stores, cleans and relieves the fresh water we use. The water that keeps man healthy, powers industry and economy, come through nature. Nature components play different roles in maintaining and sustaining freshwater system. For instance forests, aquifers, soils, lakes and wetlands provide water storage, while wetlands and soils filter water, rivers apart from providing fish as a source of protein, serve as a means of transportation. Floodplains and wetlands lower flood peaks in downstream cities, mangroves, coral reefs and barrier islands protect coasts against storms and inundation. Apart from that traditional practices that are linked to conservation are equally relevant. That is not to say, technological means to address the issue are not relevant. If all these are not done with continuous education, enforcement of environmental laws, and attitudinal change, all efforts at protecting water bodies will yield no results and the repercussion will affect not only communities along water sources but the entire country as well as the world.

The efforts by government and media to stop illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey" is a laudable venture that should be sustained to protect the country's water bodies from pollution. In their quest to extract the minerals from the belly of the earth, these illegal miners use dangerous chemicals to pollute the rivers that are sourced and treated to provide safe water for the country. It is in this light that the Operation Vanguard team needs to be resourced continuously to carry out its mandate of halting galamsey operations to save the water bodies from pollution and the degradation of the environment. All these efforts at protecting the water bodies will come to nothing if those who live along the banks of rivers and lakes, are not involved in the operation. The practice in the past where trees were planted along the banks of rivers and other water bodies to protect them, should be re-introduced. It will also be prudent to find alternative sources of livelihood for those who farm along the banks of rivers so that trees can be planted to protect them. It is the hope that all these suggestions will be taken to protect the country's water bodies.


The Insolvency Of UNIBANK And The Way Forward

News of the insolvency of Unibank and the subsequent appointment of KPMG, an international accounting firm as the official administrator is worrying and shocking. The Bank of Ghana yesterday (March 20) broke the news of incapacitation of Unibank which it said had among other things persistently maintained a capital adequacy ratio below zero or negative 24%. This, according to the Central Bank contravenes section 29 of Act 930 which requires a minimum capital adequacy ratio of 10%. The insolvency of Unibank raises fundamental issues about the strength of our commercial banks. Less than six months ago this country woke up to the collapse of two banks, UT and Capital banks and it is yet to fully come to terms with the loss. Presently with Unibank, we are told that for close to two years its oxygen came from the Central Bank. What we do know is that if banks face liquidity shortages or worst, it would have major impact on savings, business and consumers. Severe banking crisis invariably affect economic growth and can cause unemployment. For example after the credit crunch of 2008, many banks in the UK, US and Europe went short of funds, they had lost money lending to subprime mortgages. They needed to improve their balance sheets, therefore loans dried up leading to a period of negative growth and increasing unemployment.

A fall in investment levels causes lower economic growth and has a knock down effect. With lower demand firms cut back on investment and crisis such as the Unibank, UT and Capital Banks certainly will have an impact on general economic confidence. If consumers fear their savings are not safe in the banks they will switch to cash savings and not keep money there. The collapse of the three banks automatically will lead to losses but most painfully the loss of jobs. What we are not sure of at the moment is whether there are other banks in similar situations and just waiting to fall. Experience tells us that governments are much more reluctant to allow banks to fail. The manner of the GCB - UT synchronisation is a clear example. The bottom line is that there is the need for something to be done to halt the situation especially in the banking industry. Rules have got to be adhered to and supervision intensified. This is because we cannot allow banks and microfinance institutions to fall like stone from the sky inflicting never healing wounds on customers, investors or business. In such situations we think external auditors of these institutions must be questioned for gross dereliction of duty and failure to bring to the attention of the public the precarious state of the banks. This is because there is huge public interest in them.

Going forward we expect the Central bank to tighten its supervisory role since, we cannot continue to have our banking institutions collapse. The Bank of Ghana nevertheless deserves tons of commendations for acting swiftly to avert the imminent crisis. Indeed the pain and attendant loss is too harsh for the economy and those hardest hit. Players in the collapse of UT, Capital and Unibank must bow their heads in shame for their roles in bringing them down. Indeed there are more questions than answers in the Unibank episode, how can a bank that won four awards at the 15th Ghana banking awards in 2016 face imminent bankruptcy in 2018? How can a financial institution adjudged sixth best company in Ghana out of 100 top performing companies face near bankruptcy? How can a bank voted for being the most prestigeous company in Ghana in December 2017 be put under such microscopic surveillance in 2018? These indeed are potent questions that demand quick answers. Can the Bank of Ghana tell us more?


Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Annual Hajj By Moslem Pilgrims And Government's Support

Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims. It must be carried out at least once in the lifetime of all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking that journey. It is one of the five pillars of Islam. The issue at hand is with government subsidizing Hajj fares for prospective pilgrims as was announced by the Chairman of the Hajj Board, Sheik I.C Quaye at the official launch of the 2018 Hajj season in Accra. He said the fare for this year's (2018) Hajj pilgrimage is GH¢15,000, an equivalent of $3,450. According to him, the actual fare is GH¢19,500 but government has absorbed GH¢4,500 of the cost to enable more pilgrims to perform the Hajj.

The Vice President, Dr Alhaji Mahammudu Bawumia also confirmed government’s decision not to increase the fare for the 2018 pilgrimage to Mecca at a forum in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region. According to him, government has decided to maintain the fares from last year’s (2017) pilgrimage despite the increment announced by the Saudi Arabian government. This, to some, especially prospective pilgrims and the Muslim community at large, sounds good but upon a second thought must be worrying in view of what Hajj is all about. Hajj is purely a religious act and has nothing to do with the state. Muslims should in clear terms discourage this trend on grounds made known in the Holy Quran that places emphasis on the fact that Hajj is for the physically and financially capable and not to be burdened on anybody. Embarking on the Hajj pilgrimage to every discerning person is Allah's way of getting the physically capable to put such a status to good use in order to have a meaningful livelihood. It is a known fact that a number of free tickets are given to Imams, the Council of Muslim Chiefs and others. Ghana as a state has a lot of financial obligations including the Free Senior High School Policy, School Feeding, inadequate classroom blocks, incubators for neo-natal intensive care units, and ambulances. All these need every pesewa available to be put in to better the lot of Ghanaians. A pilgrimage to Hajj which is basically a religious act should not under any circumstance be state funded or subsidized. Instead, what the Hajj Board and for that matter government should look at is the welfare of prospective pilgrims before, during and after the journey. Every year, in spite of measures put in place to make the transportation of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia successful, it ends in problems.

Christians also embark on trips to Jerusalem and other places but that never becomes an issue of state interest because it is handled properly. Upon all the challenges they face before embarking on the journey, Ghanaian suffer a lot when they get to Saudi Arabia. Most complain of being abandoned by their so called agents as soon as they get there. Issues of accommodation, transportation to and from all the various sites and others are all left for pilgrims to handle by themselves whereas pilgrims from Nigeria and other West African countries who always out number Ghanaian pilgrims are well catered for. Prospective pilgrims should be ready to foot the bill and get the best out of the trip. Government should hold the Hajj Board and agents accountable for the welfare of Ghanaians during their stay in Saudi Arabia. The Board and Agents should ensure that prospective pilgrims who pay on time ahead of deadlines embark on the trip instead of charging more after the deadline to displace others who paid earlier. There is also the issue of so called protocol pilgrims who in the last minute are brought in disturbing the smooth process.

BY: Marie Aziz Tunde, Journalist.

Expulsion Of 23 Russian Diplomats From Britain And Its Implications

Great Britain has ordered 23 Russian diplomats in its country to leave within one week following a chemical attack on a former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The British Prime Minister, Theresa May gave the order in the British House of Commons. The two were found unconscious in Salisbury, England as victims of an apparent poisoning which has so far been identified by the security agencies as nerve agent known as Novichok. It is said to be among a group of chemical weapons of extreme potency and not common. Police Sergeant Nick Bailey who was at the scene of the incident also got severely injured and was admitted to a hospital and said to be in critical condition. The expulsion by the British government appears to be the gravest in international diplomacy since the Second World War and has brought the relationship between the two countries to its lowest ebb. The attack has received global condemnation with some describing it as barbaric and an appalling act of violence.

Novichok is a chemical, which must even not be used in any war, let alone on civilians. Britain’s allies in the European Union, NATO and the UN, have sent words of solidarity to the bereaved family and the nation. Even though Russia has vehemently denied any involvement in the attack, the Prime Minister Theresa May went on to give an ultimatum, which Russia brushed aside, hence the decision to expel the 23 diplomats who are suspected to have something to do with the unwarranted attack. Theresa May’s conviction might have resulted in the fact that the attack has created tensions between the two countries. The chemical is a deadly weapon which is known to be developed and produced solely by the former U.S.S.R now Russia. The reason for Britain pointing fingers at Russia is that one Alexander Litvinenko was murdered in November 2006 and his death was later established as a case of poisoning by radioactive chemicals, which was said to have been approved by Vladimir Putin. Perhaps for security reasons all the details cannot be made known but it is also widely known that several intelligence agencies were detailed to assist in the investigation. British troops trained in chemical warfare were also on the streets of the city of Salisbury to help in the investigation so Mrs. May’s decision must be comprehensively conclusive. Britain’s action is deemed as necessary to help protect innocent citizens as the primary duty and responsibility of the government. It is also refreshing to note that Britain has received tremendous support for her action which includes the withdrawal of all UK government officials and members of the Royal family from participating in the upcoming world cup finals to be stage in Russia this summer. In some quarters, Mrs. May has been hailed for the brave action of compelling case for Kremlin culpability in the incident but the action has definitely sparked off an unending diplomatic row. There will be a tit-for-tat matter, as a result of the action by Britain, which is very necessary despite the fact that Britain’s opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn does not totally agree with his Prime Minister. However if this unscrupulous action by Moscow is not countered and halted, who knows which country will be the next.

If Putin’s Russia has been able to do it to a super power country like Britain what about developing countries whose economic and military might are not much. Countries around the world have agreed to chemically disarm by destroying stockpiles of chemical weapons they may have and facilities, where they are produced to conform with the Chemical Weapons Convention. To ensure global peace, all nations must join hands to help eliminate the entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons in the world. This is the time for the world to stand up and speak the truth to the powers of Russia about the abuse of human rights by the Putin government and its supporters, both at home and abroad.


The ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ Concept

In recent times, following President Akufo-Addo’s commitment to the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ project, many people have expressed views regarding the issue as to whether it is attainable. From the explanation given by the President, Ghana Beyond Aid simply means being able to maximise all available resources to address the needs of the country to a point where Ghana is able to cater for its people without a cup in hand for aid. The country ought to pursue an agenda geared towards prosperity, dignity and self-respect. The abundant natural resources as well as quality human resource base, including intellectual and professional capability, call for better management to make Ghana Beyond aid a reality. If this is the case then, the project is a long term vision. This calls for conscientisation of the people regarding the concept and working towards its realisation aimed at making the country better for all. National transformation is a process, not an event, but a deliberate and purposeful agenda ultimately aimed at an attainment of true economic independence.

The President’s commitment to ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ is not in doubt looking at his intention to transform the economy, maximise revenue and address the needs of the people in a manner so as to do away with the dependency syndrome. Programmes like OneDistrict One Factory, Planting for Food and Jobs as well as One Village One Dam are all meant to ultimately establish the country as one Beyond Aid. In addition, the fight against corruption is necessary to block leakages of funds into private pockets so as to increase the revenue base of the country and make it possible for the financing of national developmental plans. Ghana, like many other developing countries, are trapped under the aid syndrome, making it difficult for such countries to break away for the quagmire and consciously pursue a consistent agenda for the actualisation of this notion and also making it into a practical programme.

To make ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ achievable, a number of things are needed; first of all, arresting a declining economy and making it strong and resilient in the shortest possible time. Secondly, there should be massive investment in infrastructural system including the construction of a railway networks that will serve the economic needs of the people. Thirdly, we need to add value for our natural resources for export. With regards to the fight against corruption, the Whistle Blowers Law is needed to make all forms of business transaction in the country more transparent. It is important to note that, the Free SHS policy being implemented by the government will help sharpen the skills of the human resource base of the country. However, the educational system ought to be oriented towards technical, vocational and science education to make it more meaningful to the needs of the country. A road map is also needed to give meaning to the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ concept and to pull along the entire population towards its achievement. All in all, ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ is achievable so let each and everyone support it and work towards its success.


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Reduction In Electricity Tariffs

The downward review of electricity tariffs came as a surprise to many consumers because such reviews are usually characterised by upward adjustments. This is because many a time, when the PURC announces review of tariffs, it goes up, rather than coming down.
According to the PURC, residential customers are to enjoy 17.5% reduction, non-residential 30%, special load customers 25%, while the mines are also to enjoy 10% reduction. The percentage reduction is an improvement of what was announced by President Akufo-Addo in January, this year. The objective for the tariff review includes ensuring efficient and equitable tariffs, making them relevant to the current socio-economic development, and also ensuring that business moves on as expected. In announcing the review, the PURC was guided by consumer and investor interests, economic development, revenue requirements, natural gas prices, renegotiation of power agreements, as well as, prudent and efficient costs of the operation of the utility companies. The announcement has come as welcome news for the consumer as well as investors, both local and foreign.

Energy is foundational to socio-economic development so when it becomes over-expensive, it kills the spirit of business and thereby destroys the desire to pursue smooth and uninterrupted economic development programme. The country is encouraging the youth to go into entrepreneurial development and thereby help the private sector of the economy to thrive but all these greatly depends on adequate supply as well as efficient use of available energy. Towards this end, there is the need to ensure a balance between consumer and investor interests on one hand and revenue generation by the companies on the other.

The downward review of electricity tariffs is good but all categories of consumers will need to go by the principle and practice of energy efficiency. This calls for awareness creation on the part of everyone in the country. Electrical gadgets and devices used by consumers ought to adhere to energy efficiency and conservation so as to help in the maximisation of the use of the amount of energy at the disposal of the nation. The importance of energy efficiency and conservation of power in Ghana cannot be over-emphasised since energy or power serves as the backbone for many economic activities. Energy conservation and efficiency is therefore a concept and practice that we need to embrace in the country. It is important to note by all consumers that the reduction in the tariffs is good and most welcome but the issue of applying energy efficiency methods cannot be overlooked. This is because if energy is utilised in an inefficient manner it leads to avoidable increase in costs and brings about unnecessary burden on those who consume the energy, a situation that will make it difficult for the Electricity Company of Ghana or government to agree to tariff reduction. The issue of energy efficiency has, therefore, become very necessary as part of the national life of Ghanaians in order to continue to develop in a manner that will help the energy sector to cope with the supply of the needs of people in the country. This is what the nation needs for sustainable development so as to be able to implement a smooth, desirable economic programme that would generate local and foreign investor confidence consistent with national economic progress and prosperity.


Feud In Parliament Between The Speaker And The Minority

All is not well with Ghana's democracy as Parliament which is one of the three arms of government is constantly under siege with the Minority having either to walk out or embark on a silent protest. The last time this occurred was on Wednesday March 7 when the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) embarked on a sit down strike. Several times the Minority has had a cause to accuse the Speaker, Rev. Professor Mike Aaron Ocquaye of being bias against them. The latest in the fracas between the two started when the Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu rose up with the intent of catching the eye of the Speaker to make an intervention during a presentation to the House by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Kennedy Ohene Nyarko. The Minority leader was however ignored by the Speaker paving the way for the Deputy Agric Minister to conclude his presentation with the Speaker giving the floor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway to make a statement. There have been similar situations like this but it is important to recall that the Minority in one instance had to walk out en bloc during deliberations on the controversial 510 million dollar Ameri power deal.

It is said, the Minority can have its say but the majority would have its way. This is true but when the Speaker who is considered father of the house and meant to be an impartial arbiter in controversial issues before the house is perceived to have taken sides then it raises cause for concern. Also when the minority or majority unduly shows disrespect to the Speaker, then something might be wrong. The Speaker according to British Parliamentary traditions which Ghana copied from, the Speaker is the Chief Officer and highest authority in the House of Commons and is expected to remain politically impartial at all times. Though the Speaker would probably be a member of a political party, he or she should not discriminate between government and opposition members in taking decisions. The Speaker in all jurisdictions keeps the order and calls MPs to speak and finally gives his opinion on the issue. He makes sure MPs follow the rules of the House which includes directing an MP to withdraw remarks if for example they are abusive. He can suspend the sitting of the House due to serious disorders and can suspend MPs who are deliberately disobedient, so in this regard, the Speaker commands the respect of both sides of the House and indeed every member. Given all his powers, the Speaker is expected to operate beyond suspicion else he loses that respect which is essential in holding the house together.

Ghana's Parliament is acknowledged as one of the best in Africa because of the way the house operates and how members carry themselves about. In some Parliaments, for example in India, South Africa and just recently Uganda we had MPs engaging in fisticuffs on the floor of parliament. These could have happened because the Speaker perhaps might have lost control. Ghana is a citadel of decency and cannot afford to go the way of boxer parliaments. Leadership of Ghana's legislature must rise up to the occasion and identify what has gone wrong since consensus building is a basic tenet of parliamentary democracy. The hiccups that have beset our parliament in recent times is one too many and the earlier the two sides sat together to thrash out issues the better. We cannot allow bickering, name-calling and hooliganism to take hold of our parliament. The minority must do self-introspection to identify where they also fall short. Respect for rules governing the House is non-negotiable and the earlier people are made to tow the line the better. If two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. The bad blood between the Speaker and the Minority is denting the image of the country and must be resolved once and for all.


Friday, 9 March 2018

Concerns Raised On 2018 Independence Day Awards

Thirty selected students from the 10 regions of the country were on Tuesday, March 6, presented with the President’s Independence Day Awards for academic excellence in the 2017, BECE. The students performed better than their peers in their final basic education examination. It is unfortunate there was controversy from the Northern Region following a petition brought against a female student, which resulted in the withholding of the award. This is where many have raised concern about how transparent the selection is even though the Regional Director has explained the circumstances that led to the choice of the eventual awardee Abubakari Hanifa. Indeed, to avoid future occurrences of such unfortunate situation to ensure the credibility and acceptability of the awardees and based purely on merit, one would not hesitate but agree with the Director General of the GES, Professor Kwasi Opoku Amankwa, to consider handing over the selection of the awardees to the West African Examination Council which over the years select the overall best West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) candidates from member countries.

Aside this hitch, the awards were well deserved as six students who excelled in subject areas such as Science, Mathematics, Visual Arts, Integrated Science, General Science and Pre-Technical, also received awards. This year’s awards also witnessed an innovation with four students with special needs (visually and hearing impairment) attracting Presidential attention and Special Awards. It is important to recall that the President’s Independence Day Awards, since its inception in 1993, has been providing scholarships each year to 20 young brilliant students between the ages of 14 and 19 ( a boy and a girl) from the ten regions of Ghana. The awardees are selected based on their exceptional performances in the BECE as well as other extra-curricular activities. The objectives among others are to recognise and reward academic excellence, promote participation in co-curricular activities and reward exemplary conduct and good moral behaviour. Since winners from the 216 districts are also interviewed at the regional level leading to the selection of best students in the ten regions, stakeholders must ensure absolute transparency and fairness during the selection process to make the awards credible and acceptable to all. Those who attempt to circumvent the selection process to favour any individual candidate should be exposed and sanctioned by the Ghana Education Service, GES, to ensure the awards are not cheapened for parochial interest to become a dent on the presidency’s image.


Helping Security Agencies To Fight Armed Robberies In Ghana

One key point made by President Akufo-Addo in his address during the Independence Anniversary parade was that armed robbery in the country is unacceptable. Indeed, guaranteed security is an issue that cannot be compromised under any circumstances. Without security, national development cannot thrive as expected and socio-economic progress would almost come to a standstill. The robberies that have taken place in various places in Accra and Tema are quite worrying.

These and a few others ought to be dealt with without delay. This explains why the President has made it clear that government would do all it can to equip the police to deal with the problem. It is also for this reason that the Police Administration has carried out a reshuffle in line with the exigencies of effective management and operational control of the Service. Other security measures taken by Government include the deployment of heavy military and police presence in major cities across the country. These measures have become necessary because as was pointed out by the Minister of Information at a recent news conference, the government takes a serious view of these events and therefore taking measures to forestall such occurrences with the view to ensuring better and a more effective protection of life and property. The public must assist in the effective implementation of such measures by closely observing without being found our any strange developments or events taking place in their areas, whether during the daytime or at night. In connection with this, strange happenings must not be taken for granted under any circumstances but immediately reported to the police or security agencies to assist in the clamping down of criminal activities. This is important because effective security depends, not only on the relevant agencies, but on useful information provided by the public.

The sudden wave of criminal activities, particularly in commercial areas and around financial institutions should send a signal to everyone that these activities are well orchestrated by criminals who would any length to disturb the peace of the country. It also raises suspicion in certain circles that they may even be politically motivated. This explains why former President Jerry John Rawlings, stated that he hopes the robbery and killings are not politically motivated to undermine those in charge of the security machinery so as to pave the way for the attainment of selfish parochial ambitions. Whatever it is, the security agencies must work hard to prove to the nation that they are committed to the national interest of peace, security and orderliness. It is unfortunate certain individuals, otherwise described as security experts, are putting fear into people by creating the impression that whatever is being done to assure the people of guaranteed security cannot yield good results.

Time will tell whether the security measures taken are on track or not. One clear thing, however, is that the reshuffle in the police service, for example, has been taken in line with standard practice. It is the hope of everyone that all hands will be on deck in the interest of the nation so as to prevent the needless killings and disturbances in the country since no one will gain from unstable security conditions in the country.


Commentary On The Struggle For Independence

The history of Ghana's struggle towards independence and its final attachment will not be complete if the role of students in Colleges and Secondary Schools then, is not properly and justifiably recounted and placed in their proper perspective. The arrest of the Big Six and their subsequent detention having instigated the riots which culminated in the 28th February crossroad shooting incident and the looting of European shops led to a protest march by some students in secondary schools in Cape Coast. On the 15th of March 1948 the students undertook a protest march in Cape Coast in solidarity with detained United Gold Coast Convention (U.G.C.C) executives resulting in the expulsion of 150 students from St. Augustine College and Mfantsipim School. This was as a result of the Quashie - Idun commission which was charged to investigate and come out with a report on the students’ unrest. Among other things they recommended the revocation of the appointment of four teachers, three from St. Augustine and one from Mfantsipim. They were Kwesi Plange, JJ Mensah-Kane and HP Nelson all of St. Augustine's College and H.W.K Sackeyfio of Mfantsipim.

On the 1st of July 1948, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the Secretary General to the U.G.C.C. met all the embattled teachers at his office in Saltpond and commissioned Kojo Botsio, who was to become Ghana's first Minister of Education, on the attainment of independence, to evaluate plans to start a new school. On the 8th of July, 1948 Dr Kwame Nkrumah on his way from Axim to Accra made a stopover at Cape Coast and personally donated 10 pounds to the teachers towards starting the school. With this, the teachers made benches, blackboards, purchased some basic writing materials and rented space on the ground floor of the Old Temple House at McCarthy Hill in Gyegyem, a suburb of Cape Coast. On the 16th of July, 1948, 16 boys and one girl were enrolled at this school as the first students. On the 19th of July, 1948, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah delivered a historic and highly motivational speech at this school in which among other things he advocated the chain of four Ghana National Colleges in all the territories which make up the Gold Coast leading to the founding of very high institutions in this country''.

Ghana National College from a humble beginning of 16 students, can today boast of a population of over 1,500 students, male and female comfortably sitting on top of academic conducive hills. By hard work, sacrifice and years of investment by old students, parents and government, Ghana National College has risen to become one of the highly preferred institutions. As we look forward to a successful commemoration of the 61st Anniversary of Ghana's Independence, it is appropriate to reflect on the sacrifices of the 16 gallant students who stood and defended their rights for the acquisition and attainment of a decent education just as our forebear fought for our political freedom.


Thursday, 1 March 2018

The late Professor Francis Allotey

The late Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, while on earth, established himself as a great mathematician and scientist. He had a truly distinguished academic career that was admired by people the world over. He held a number of leadership positions in many organisations within and outside the country. In Ghana, was in charge of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Mathematical Association of Ghana and the Ghana Institute of Physics. He also played a great role in the establishment of the University of Energy and Natural Resources in the Brong Ahafo Region.

Professor Allotey rose through the ranks of a Lecturer to become the first Ghanaian full Professor in Mathematics in 1973 at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi. Later on, he became the Pro-vice Chancellor of the University in 1978. Within a few years he had become a widely known figure the world over. His fame rose very high due to his work on Soft X-ray Spectroscopy which became the principle widely known as the ”Allotey Formalism” for which he received the Prince Philip Gold Medal Award in 1973. Due to his brilliance as a scholar, he consulted for a number of organisations in the world. He was a consultant for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Inter-governmental Bureau for Information and the United Nations Industrial and Development Organisation.

Professor Allotey was an international figure. His visits were numerous taking him to nuclear installations in Russia, Poland, Germany, Iraq and the US. He also visited other nuclear institutions in India, United Kingdom, Sweden and various parts of the world. Professor was involved in local and international programmes on policies and matters relating to science and technology for development. Professor Allotey saw science and technology as the key for socio-economic development. For him, if Africa was to develop, then there was the need to pay attention to the application of science as a way of addressing the numerous problems facing the continent including food production, water supply, good environment, shelter, safety, healthcare as well as alleviation of poverty. He strongly believed that mathematics was the foundation for solutions to many of the problems facing mankind and it is for this reason that he urged the youth in Africa to contribute significantly by researching into the extension of knowledge in mathematical sciences. This great national and international figure has left lessons for Ghanaians.

To begin with, he proved to be a proud son of Ghana, calling on everyone to work hard to achieve similar laurels. He was also a great encouragement to the youth and scholars in the country. He has proved that the study of mathematics and science can be demystified and applied for the growth of the country. The nation has lost an illustrious son whose interest in mathematics and science was beyond doubt. Let us make this icon of Professor proud and remember him by encouraging our young ones to take to the study of mathematics and science for the development of the country.

May his Soul rest in perfect peace!

By Dr. Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, Director of Corporate Communication, Ghana Standards Authority, GSA .

Performance of Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources

It is often said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with only one step. The above adage one can conveniently argue gave birth to the establishment of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources by the President Nana Akufo- Addo in February last year to give meaning to the collective effort of Ghanaians to rid the country of filth. The establishment of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to many Ghanaians was not surprising looking at the level of filth in the country.

Specifically the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources is to formulate comprehensive national policies in the area of sanitation and water sub sectors for effective performance and delivery to Ghanaians. Almost one year down the line since its establishment, it is important to take a step back and see how far the Ministry has gone, its prospects and challenges and the way forward. It must however be acknowledged that as a new Ministry it is still in the process of establishing the various structures to enhance its delivery.

Undoubtedly however, one of the high points of the Ministry was the launch of the National Sanitation Campaign in November last year which was launched by the President. The launch of the National Sanitation Campaign was to restate the ideals of the national Sanitation day observed on the first Saturday of each month and to emphasize the fact that sanitation is an everyday issue. It was also a direct response to the declaration of the President to make Accra the neatest and cleanest city in Africa by the year 2020. It is important to state that the Ministry is steadfastly implementing the directives the President announced during launch.

These include the establishment of the National Sanitation Authority, the National Sanitation Fund, the National Sanitation Brigade and the establishment of the sanitation marshals among others. The one house, one toilet project is also vigorously being pursued by the Ministry through the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). The Ministry has also successfully evacuated the refuse at the dumpsite at Mallam paving the way for the effective use of the land for the benefit of the community. Evacuations of refuse at other dump sites have also reached various levels of completion. Another notable programme of the Ministry is the Comprehensive Integrated Urban Environment Sanitation Master Plan. All the intervention programmes being pursued by the Ministry are in pursuant to the attainment of the sustainable development goal target six.

There is no doubt that within the past one year, the Ministry has also gone through its fair share of challenges. Issues of institutional re-alignment, office accommodation, logistics, are but a few of the challenges. There is also no doubt about the fact that the sanitation situation in some of our towns and cities is not the best. But it is equally wrong to blame the Ministry and assume it is doing nothing to turn things round to achieve the best result.

The fact is that it is our individual and collective action and inaction with regards to refuse disposal and waste management that has created the unfortunate situation the country finds itself. If just for a period of one month or even less Ghanaians desist from open defecation, throwing rubbish about indiscriminately and dispose of our rubbish appropriately, change our attitude and behaviours towards the environment, we would have the neatest and cleanest environment we can dream of.

The yearly expenditure of $290 million on sanitation related issues would be channeled to more productive use to enhance the living standards and improve the well-being of all Ghanaians.