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The mother of all stupidity continues unabated

I never thought I will have to express my disgust in a familiar tone like the above title again. The first time I used it, the rendition was, ‘This is the mother of all stupidity’. It is a caption I gave to an article written about four years ago to capture my sentiments at that time. In the piece, I lamented over the economic consequences of increasing the number of parliamentary seats and district councils when the country’s economy was in dire straits.

Magic Dramani Mahama

Once upon a time a rider came across a few soldiers who were trying to move a heavy log of wood without success. A corporal was standing by just watching as the men struggled. The rider couldn?t believe it. He finally asked the corporal why he wasn?t helping. The corporal replied: ?I am the corporal. I give orders.?

As a human being or as a dead goat

My generation had a lot to be happy about as children. Even though we did not have the T.Vs, and the many things of interest and education for the children of today, we were still happy in our own rights. Setting aside the movies I watched at the Prempeh Cinema Hall and occasionally the Princess Cinema, all defunct in the then bustling city of Takoradi, we still had fun in the Kweku Ananse stories told us by the elderly. Some of today believe that the Kweku Ananse stories did not teach good lessons because the main character was always doing something wrong. Indeed he never did anything right.

The truth is like a calabash forced under water

The three Abrahamic faiths; Judaism, Christianity and Islam have been able to withstand the test of time because adherents of the three faiths have never doubted their origin. They all believe they are descendants of the Patriarch, Abraham who the Almighty God referred to as His friend.  Names like Jesus, Moses, Hagar, Solomon, David, Ishmael, Isaac, Noah, Jacob, Mary, Joseph, Zachariah and many more are found in the Holy Books of these three Abrahamic faiths but the difference is that they are spelt and pronounced differently. The roles they played in the three Holy Books are the same.

$250m scam worse than Woyome

The military, as a security apparatus, has refrained from issues bordering on the media, since the return to Constitutional rule in January 1993, I can affirm. One of the casualties of the so-called revolution when Jerry John Rawlings, aided by those who claim to believe in him, sat at the Castle and visited mayhem on this nation, in the name of a revolution, was the media.

When State Institutions fail to function

On Tuesday, May 3, 2017, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) held a press conference in Accra, and warned of a chaotic state in this country, if the security services failed to curb their tendency to favour the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) against other players in the national election psyche. 

OccupyGhana exposé on SMARTTYS bus branding deal

SMARTTYS SWEETHEART DEAL - Between the Ministry and the PPA

On 28th July 2015, some two months AFTER Smarttys had completed the branding of the buses, the Chief Director of the Ministry for Transport, signing on behalf of the Minister, then wrote to the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) for approval to sole-source the branding contract to Smarttys. The Ministry gave four reasons for giving this contract to Smarttys alone, and not opening it up for competitive bidding. Those reasons, of course, did not include the fact that Smarttys had already concluded the branding, and for that reason, there was no way any other person could be given the contract to do what Smarttys had already done under the sweetheart deal. We will examine each of these 4 reasons in turn, for the people to determine whether this was right or wrong.

The first reason was "URGENCY," as follows: The buses had been purchased under a social intervention programme. However, the colour code which had been selected for the buses was "not consistent with the current branding policy of the Ministry." There was, therefore, the need to brand them with the faces of the present and past leaders to recognize and appreciate their contribution to Ghana's development.

Does this add up? Does this make sense? The buses were purchased in the first place under another sole sourcing contract. In determining the colours when the buses were being purchased, was the Ministry unaware of its own so-called branding policy? Who approved of that policy and when and by which means was it legislated? Where is that policy document and may we see a copy? Why would the Ministry with a branding policy on colours, order buses in allegedly wrong colours and then use almost $1m of our monies just to change their colours? Why was the person who ordered the buses in allegedly the wrong colours not surcharged with the cost of simply respraying them? And when have Ghanaians been bothered about the colour in which a bus is sprayed? What was the original colour and what made that colour so repugnant that more of our monies had to be spent to change it? And how do you change the colours by putting the faces of the president and former leaders on them? Is it not the case that the buses were not resprayed at all and that all that happened was the embossment of portions of them with the faces of the president and former leaders?

This was one childish, empty, vacuous, corrupt and silly lie that the PPA should have seen through, unless, the PPA, in spite of the good intentions that led to its establishment, has at best become a pliable and malleable tool in the hands of political actors, or at worst, an active participant in corrupt transactions.

REASON #2 FOR THE SMARTTYS SWEETHEART DEAL

If the first reason given by the MOT (Ministry of Transport) to the PPA for selecting only Smarttys for the deal made you sick, then you are sure to puke at the second reason. According to the Ministry, Smarttys and Smarttys alone had to get the contract to avert a "MAJOR THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY"!

Yes, the MOT claimed that there had been a recent increase in transport fares, which had led to agitations by Trade Unions and commuters (Does anyone recall any such "agitations"?). This, according to the MOT, posed a Major National Security Threat which had to be averted by giving the branding contract to Smarttys for early branding and release for use.

This was clearly another lie. Early branding? The buses had already been branded in May. As at the date of writing this letter, 28th July, there was absolutely no threat (real or perceived) to the security of the nation. The only reason why the buses had not been released for operations to begin was that the branding had been done illegally, Smarttys had not been paid, the MOT was now seeking to use illegal means to cover its tracks, and PPA had to prove itself a mere rubber stamp, so that Smarttys would get paid. But dates don't lie.

And did the PPA crosscheck this fatuous lie with National Security? Note, once again, that the PPA approved of the sole sourcing within 24 hours of receiving this letter. Everything appears to have been pre-arranged.

Dear President Obama, Ghana HAS strong institutions. We have simply (wo)manned them, not with bold spirits but with timorous souls, to ensure that they don't work.

REASON #3 FOR THE SMARTTYS SWEETHEART DEAL

We have reviewed reasons #1 and #2 given by MOT to PPA for giving the branding contract to Smarttys and Smarttys alone. But as noted, MOT gave 4 reasons and we intend to isolate and analyse these reasons one after the other. One key fact to bear in mind is that as at the date of MOT's letter to PPA for approval to sole-source the branding contract to Smarttys (28th July 2015), Smarttys had finished branding the buses, and the branded buses were parked safely on the premises of the State House.

That takes us to Reason #3: DEPLOYMENT OF THE BUSES. According to MOT, Smarttys and Smarttys alone had to do the branding because the Ministry wanted to "deploy the buses by end of August 31, 2015."

Of course, there is no other "end of August" than 31st August, but that's another matter. The truth, however, is that the buses had already been branded. There was, therefore, no other let or hindrance to deploying the buses even as at 28th July 2015 when this letter was written for PPA approval. The only reason why the buses could not be deployed was that Smarttys had not been paid, and it had become necessary to jump through these hoops to give the transaction a semblance of legality, and then justify the payment.

But did the PPA care? Did the PPA bother to check, or even send to the premises of the State House (a 10-minute drive from the PPA's Ringway Estates premises) to verify the claims? Because that trip would have shown that the buses had already been branded; that for which approval was now being sought, had been done.

Let us be charitable and assume that the PPA indeed verified the claim: what did they see that led to them granting the sole-sourcing approval within 24 hours.

 

Recalling sad events of May 9

I was torn between discussing the May 9 tragedy and the Supreme Court ruling on the unsuitability of the current Voters’ Register due to the existence of unqualified persons on the electoral roll. I opted for the former because today marks the 15th anniversary of what became the worst stadium disaster to have ever taken place in Africa. What a tragedy that was!

Tarzan writes: The looming horror of terrestrial aliens

Preamble

In 1995, Ied NPP/CPP task force that took part in the first voters registration exercise of the 4th Republic. 21 years on, it’s unreal that the issue of foreigners is still at the centre of so much rancour.

 

If we thought that setting the dates for the registration exercise was the end of our woes, we misfired badly. For it appears that pushing things into the month of October, the end of which coincides with the celebration of  'Halloween',  is introducing a whole new dimension into the small business of empowering Ghanaians to decide who should take this country into the 21st century. As so often happens to the inhabitants of this haven of peace and tranquility, we can turn the most mundane and obvious things into very complex hypotheses.  So it is that instead of us concentrating our energies to get all Ghanaians to register to vote, everybody has become obsessed with ferreting out non-Ghanaians, who for reasons that still baffle me, we call 'Aliens', and not 'foreigners'.

All manner of people who have nothing to do with the voter registration exercise are making pronouncements on the subject. Almost invariably, most of the comments only add to the confusion rather than assist the Electoral Commission's work . The President has pronounced on the matter and conferred with delegations of chiefs who have ‘gone’ to him for counselling. Some chiefs who feel they are not confused have also pronounced on the subject. Political party activists have had their say, as have all manner of 'do-gooding' publicly-funded organizations who have only realized that they are to inform the citizenry of their rights and civic responsibilities. Even political rags are disguising mischief in the glove of news worthy civic duties.   Rather than clear the matter, most of the interventions have only managed to confuse the whole business even more.

The right to register to vote is enshrined in Article 42 of our Constitution which states:"Every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda” The key qualifications are citizenship, age and soundness of mind. The fun and games begin when people try to define what qualifies one to be a Ghanaian and how do we verify this fact. The Constitution gives very clear and unambiguous definitions of citizenship.

Articles 6 & 7 of the Constitution define who can call themselves a Ghanaian citizen. The easiest and most incontrovertible cases are that anyone who was a citizen when the Constitution came into force on 7 January 93 continues to be a citizen (Art. 6(1). For the purposes of the forthcoming registration exercise, the other important class to note is anybody over the age of 18 and of sound mind who has taken the necessary steps to acquire Ghanaian citizenship by registration since 7 January 1993, according to the requirements of Art. 7.  However, the problem comes up when it comes to verification.  For in the absence of proper documentary evidence such as a national identity card, it is well nigh impossible to resolve the matter of who is or is not a 'foreigner' living in Ghana.

Let's start from the first principle. I had always assumed that anybody who is born in Ghana automatically qualifies to be a citizen of Ghana. But it turns out that this is not the case at all. If they were not already recognised as citizens when this constitution came into force, they can become so if either of their parents or grandparents were citizens of Ghana. Now this is where the real problems begin when dealing with who is an alien in our midst and must, therefore, mind his own business when it comes to registering to vote.

There are several people born outside of the borders that define the modern state of Ghana who have lived here for many years and some even decades.  If they have gone through a formal process of taking up citizenship of Ghana, then they are citizens of Ghana and are entitled to register to vote. But what of their children who may have been born in Ghana and are over the age of 18? In the absence of birth conferring an automatic right of citizenship, I am not so sure that they are covered by Art. 42 unless they themselves have gone through a formal process of naturalization. The reality is that most people in this category are largely illiterate, often live in rural areas  and hardly have a need to travel outside our  borders and thus obtain a passport, the most formal and definitive recognition of citizenship in the absence of a national ID card.

The confusion about establishing the right to register of so called aliens is compounded by the absence of any requirement to provide proof of citizenship and age. Again, we have sought shelter in the increasingly absurd excuse that we do not keep proper records of births and deaths. So it is that anybody can turn up, claim to be a Ghanaian, of 18 years or above, and of sound mind, and demand to be registered to vote as of right.  The onus is then on the party agents to challenge their claim of qualification and eligibility.

The farce begins when both the prospective voter and the challenger(s) have different interpretations of citizenship and there is no incontrovertible evidence available to settle the dispute.  The present regulation says that the person should be allowed to register under formal protest, with verification to be decided at a future date. So he or she will be entitled to try to register. However, the challenger may also be very determined to stop them on the basis that once they register, nothing can undo. Both sides may be asserting rights which are probably not well-informed by the laws of the land or the regulations governing the registration exercise.

For the moment, let's try to bring sanity into the whole process by suggesting that: 1) anyone who knows they were not born in Ghana and have not taken the necessary steps to take up Ghanaian citizenship should not attempt to register:;2)Anybody born in Ghana must be assumed to be a citizen unless they have taken legal steps to renounce their citizenship; 3)Anybody who is in doubt about their eligibility or feels they are likely to be challenged must try to take some documentary evidence of eligibility with them to their registration centre; 4) Political party agents must accept and operate by the Electoral Commission's rule that anybody suspected of being an alien must be allowed to register whilst a formal protest is launched and the matter investigated. 

The registration of voters is too important an exercise for this country's future for it to be allowed to degenerate into a squabble about terrestrial aliens living in our midst. In this regard, nobody should ever appear to be offering advice that people who are clearly foreigners in our midst can and should be allowed to register, on account of some spurious sentiment of oneness of people divided by colonially-created boundaries. For the moment, these boundaries the legitimate definition of the nation state of Ghana, which give credence and authority for the same person to call themselves the elected President.

Ultimately, the lesson for us to learn is our refusal to do proper documentation of who is or is not a Ghanaian will always catch up with us in unexpected but inevitable dire consequences.  The case for a national ID card becomes more and more compelling each day, photo, thumb print and all. . If we had them, all we would have had to do would have been to turn up at the registration centres, flash them at the electoral officers and bingo they will become empowered for Decision '96.  

AFOKO: Seeking ‘Justice’ or NPP’s fall?

Let me own up first. I voted and campaigned vigourously for Paul Afoko, particularly Western Regional votes in 2014 before we went to Tamale. He won and I was happy. I believed and trusted him to be sincere towards the course of the NPP even if Nana Akufo Addo did not like him, as he has made the world to believe. Obviously, he also did not like Nana Akufo Addo but all of them like the NPP. In my view, their collective love and attachment to the party and what it stands for would have watered down whatever animosity; real or perceived that existed between them. Nay, it did not happen, the unexpected happened, Paul Afoko has exercised his constitutional right to challenge his suspension in court.

Why the NPP isn’t focused on any specific campaign message

Because it is confident that the voters will be more swayed by their own living conditions to vote against President Mahama than anything else, having exhausted its arsenal of promise-making and being left with nothing else but loud-mouthed criticisms, “takashi”, and “patapaa”(intimidation). But is that enough to win it Election 2016? Folks, in assessing the electioneering campaign strategies of the political parties toward Election 2016, it is clear that even though we are not yet in the main season, a lot is happening to tell us how the tide flows.

Tarzan asks: Are we better prepared for a disputed electoral outcome?  

After the 2012 elections, I hosted a special four-part series of my Tarzan’s Take television show under the theme “Beyond the Verdict”. The 2nd programme, titled “Never Again: Electoral Reforms & Constitutional Changes’, focused on the necessary reforms and legal changes that were needed to ensure that the outcome of future elections, especially the inauguration of the incoming President, would only occur after all the due processes involving any legal challenges had been decided.

When looters of state resources come to judgement

I have heard ugly noises from very knowledgeable people, seeking to justify the change of logo by the Electoral Commission without any official consulting stake-holders and the people of Ghana, in whose name the commission operates, and whose taxes oil the life-styles of the Commissioner and all their men and women.

Bawumia is welcome to rejoin NDC if exasperation is eating him up

My sudden addiction to social media lately is really taking its toll on many other hobbies I use to enjoy. I hardly make time to read articles from my favourite journals and motivational books since Facebook seems to be providing me real time articles both good and bad ones.

Tribal politics is in the NDC's DNA; the NPP cannot be blamed for it

For all my life, I’ve attended two political rallies, both in 1992, when I didn’t have a vote. The first one was an NDC rally at the Techiman Methodist School park. When I heard that President Rawlings was coming to town, I made it to the rally grounds sharpish, taking a position as close to the dais as possible to see President Rawlings 'fiili-fiili.' Sadly, President Rawlings' spoke in an inappropriate manner that even his interpreter, the late I. K. Adjei-Mensah, tried to polish things up. But Rawlings would have none of that, insisting that the interpreter should say exactly what he had said. When the interpreter persisted with his 'polishing-up' interpretation, Rawlings pushed him aside and asked someone else to do the interpretation.

Tarzan writes: In whose name and for whose welfare?

The President of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has embarked on a nationwide tour, ostensibly to account for his stewardship of the last four years and to ask for a fresh mandate on November 7, 2011. The account has consisted largely of inauguration of infrastructure projects ie roads, schools, hospitals, as well as cutting sods for the start of new projects, albeit more infrastructure.

Rawlings in cahoots with Akufo-Addo to unseat Mahama

As the November 7 2016 general elections in Ghana draw closer, the political and power out-come dynamics are getting clearer. The two main players in this year’s Presidential contest without a doubt remain the same as in the last election.

Spectre of a Police State

Barely eight hours after hearing the bodyguard of a presidential contender had been detained along with a photographer, I read this online story of a 15-year-old thrown into a police cell overnight for tearing up another presidential contender’s poster. Security matters are about everyone because everyone needs security. So I tread carefully in my ‘intrusion’ into those matters.

Is Nana Akufo-Addo a competent leader?

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by their so-called Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo have been loading it on President John Mahama that he is an incompetent leader who does not deserve a second-term, therefore Ghanaians should try him. Should Ghanaians try Akufo-Addo? Ha-ha! A competent person is known to have the necessary ability, knowledge, or skill to do something successfully.

New logo or new register; Charlotte Osei’s flop

I have restrained myself from being one of the critics of the President’s choice of Madam Charlotte Osei as the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission.

My reason is simple. I do not want to swim in the same river with those who believe that it was inappropriate for a woman to be handed that task. I am forward-thinking and so I am convinced that competence, integrity, knowledge, and even courage, cuts across gender.

And so if I would have critiqued a man’s performance in charge of this sensitive institution, then I will certainly not hesitate to do same when a woman is in charge.

‘Giving a dog a bad name’

But I also want to believe that some chauvinists may be unduly exerting pressure on Ghana’s first female head of the EC. It’s perhaps just a case of giving the dog a bad name to hang it.

Without going on that trajectory nonetheless, it must be candidly stated that, some of the events that have characterized Charlotte Osei’s 10-months reign are disquieting.

And some of these events have genuinely made me question her leadership credentials and what the rippling effects of her actions or inaction could be for this nation, bearing in mind the delicacy of the institution she heads.

What is my grumble about Charlotte Osei?

One of the first hurdles she is even yet to cross is the most critical issue of a credible register for the first major election she would be overseeing come November 7, 2016.

Without going into the technicalities or the merits of the proposal for a new voters’ register, advocates for the new electoral roll have put forward their arguments be they valid or not.

Those opposed to it have equally done same; and attempts have been made by the EC to respond to the issues and address them.

A supposed neutral committee has recommended cleaning of the register rather than a compilation of a new one.

Convincing assurance

Regardless of this, the cacophony of noises over the register still remains. I believe that at this point, all that the commission must do; is to give a convincing assurance that there is no cause for alarm and that the elections would be credible with or without a new register – which she has tried, but not convincing enough.

‘Laughable’ logo

I find it quite inconceivable however, that just when the huge dust over the register debate is yet to settle, and after the brouhaha that equally greeted the Commission’s botched National Election Steering Committee, a rather bizarre decision could be taken to change the EC’s logo.

L-R: The old and new logo

And this is at a time when the Commission’s education drive on the electioneering process has not effectively started with barely seven months to the election.

Of what positive impact will the logo of a national institution such as the EC, which is not a service provider in competition with any entity, have on the crucial event of November 7, 2016?

I am not for or against a new register; I am only for a credible register. But is a new logo more important than a credible or a new register? What are the priorities of the commission considering the huge financial burden that comes with organising elections? I believe every little penny must be spent on organising a free, fair and transparent election; and the introduction of a new logo, certainly is unconnected to achieving this, and must be condemned by every right-thinking Ghanaian.

Debate on logo needless

The President, John Dramani Mahama, a major stakeholder in the contest of November 7, has suggested that the debate over the logo brouhaha is putting undue pressure on the commission.

These were his words “Some parties have made it a penchant to continuously attack the Electoral Commission for reasons I can’t understand. This is the time to give the EC peace to do its work …I mean how is a logo going to affect the quality of elections in this country? I don’t think it’s a discourse that we should be splitting heads on. I think that our Electoral process has inherent safeguards in it that any serious political party can ensure that it polices that election and ensure the integrity of the election.”

Mr. President, you got it wrong on this one. Let us be truthful for once regardless of where we stand on the political divide. Let’s stop this hypocrisy else this nation will keep marking time.

Mr. President, I am sure that until the recent logo brouhaha, you may not have even taken notice of what the EC has been using as a logo all these years. You can be pardoned for that because I am in the same boat with you on that just as many Ghanaians are.

And we can all be pardoned if we didn’t know about the EC’s logo because in the scheme of things, it is of no use to us. If we have anything to be concerned about as far as the EC is concerned, it is the results of their work. It is the integrity, fairness and transparency in what they do. Therefore, if there must be any re-branding, it should be towards changing the misconceptions about the commission; and a logo change cannot surely achieve that.

Perhaps, changing a logo at a time when there’s less activity for the commission, would not have elicited such public outrage. It would have gone unnoticed. Like the Akan adage says, ‘We do what is essential, before what is praiseworthy’. And like the good Book says in Corinthians, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable”.

I hope this is not one of the usual attempts for someone to benefit unfairly from the state coffers through the award of the contract for this shambolic logo. We are very much aware that in mother Ghana, the over bloating of project costs for the sake of kickbacks is very normal and no more shocking.

Madam Charlotte Osei, I get the feeling that you want to leave in your stead symbols that you would be remembered for when your service is over. Well; leaving behind a new logo just as it was listed as one of your achievements when you were in charge of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), will only be laughable and mediocre.

And perhaps in your haste to impress us with a new logo, you ended up giving us one that has many potholes. There are even allegations of copying, which is even much more embarrassing if they are indeed true. I hope you can exhibit the audacity to withdraw or postpone it and rather focus on the major issues. But I won’t be surprised if you don’t because in this society, we are conversant with mediocrity because there is very little or no integrity.

For the office that you hold, your legacy will not be a mere symbol; but rather an intangible legacy of peace and stability for our country as you lead the Commission to conduct the make or break exercise for the country. That is what your predecessor Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan left behind despite the up and downs that characterized his 22-years of committed service.

We cannot begrudge him because like the African proverb says ‘He who fetches water indeed breaks the pot’.

Your position as the Chairperson of the EC, may undisputedly be one of the most sensitive positions, and so you must constantly remind yourself of the task handed to you, and also know that every action you take will be tracked by the public eye; you must thus have a listening ear, and make sense of good counsel and objective criticism.

Inasmuch as I had some reservations about the man Afari-Gyan, I wish to say that, I am proud of him and would have been gratified if I had come through his loins.

My admiration of him from afar; is rooted in the bravery that he exhibited in his over two decades of dedicated service to this country.

Yes; it may be an undeniable fact; that in being firm, which is for me the most important but unmentioned requisite in heading an institution such as the Electoral Commission, he may have sometimes gone overboard – for which reason his critics have touted him as stubborn or intransigent.

This may not be weird or untrue about Dr. Afari-Gyan because although I am not an expert in human behaviour; it is rational that anyone who exhibits firmness in their deeds, may sometimes go overboard by ignoring what is right and sticking only to their own positions.

In some cases also; such persons are wrongly misjudged or hated for their firmness; so, the criticisms may be bias.

We hope that you don’t become hardened to wise counsel and dispassionate criticism; and we also hope that you don’t become a weakling or a walkover for the selfish interests of some individuals or groups.

My mouth has fallen; the young can be as wise as the grey-haired.

Why must President Mahama go when the NPP cannot come in?

Folks, it is common knowledge that the battle cry of the NPP politicians and their buffs is that President Mahama is incompetent and must be voted down at Election 2016. That clarion call resonates only with them, not with those who have eyes to see what his government is doing to transform Ghana in line with the NDC’s manifesto. Those with a genuine desire to see Ghana developed along the path of peace, love, and national unity see things differently. I am one of them; so should you be too if you love Ghana.

One of our Facebook good friends, Musa Kukar, says it all; and I reproduce his comments for purposes of buttressing my stance that retaining President Mahama and his government in office spells more good for Ghana than his political opponents can ever bring themselves down to admit. Here is Musa Kukar’s eye-opener:

“I am afraid the NPP wants to lie to the good people of Ghana to get power. All revenue is so low because the NPP signed a killer contract with the oil companies. What is 7 per cent profit bring to the national coffers? But for the coming to power of NDC that ‘kululu’ contract agreement wouldn’t have gone up to the 10 per cent. To worsen matters the price of crude oil is now $38 from over $130+ NPP will never bring anything better. Did Dr. Nkrumah not use state resources to build schools and industries? Yet (UP) NPP sympathizers demonized his rule. But after over 50 years we now know he loved our dear nation. He was a selfless leader unlike his opportunistic opponents who wanted to corner our common wealth. We have seen their evil politics.”

A very good observation, good friend. Yours is a comment loaded with wisdom, I daresay to support my stance that merely wishing President Mahama “to go” just because he is what his opponents are not won’t solve Ghana’s problems. I am poised to prove why.

There is no perfect government anywhere in the world. What we have in Ghana has its ups-and-downs; but evidence strongly persuades me that it is up to the task, especially in laying the foundation for the take-off that we should expect in future. No country ever makes progress without a solid infrastructural base.

I am more than happy that President Mahama has focused on this aspect of governance and is using public funds to prove to the citizens that providing facilities for them is a sure step toward giving them the chance to uplift themselves. And, as he explained at Axim, the government won’t be fixated on infrastructural development in its second term but on measures to improve livelihood, taking advantage of the infrastructural base already laid. What could be more re-assuring than this explanation?

Providing infrastructure comes with a huge price, though, which immediately manifests in the cost of living. And which the NPP rogue politicians are highlighting as the government’s failure. Their tunnel-vision approach to politics won’t let them see anything good in a party and government that they regard as their nemesis. But merely wishing that government out of the way won’t pave the way for them to be in power. Their kind of pipe-dream is nauseating.

Ghanaians may be in want of instant gratification (which infrastructural development doesn’t immediately provide—and which Akufo-Addo and his NPP are quick to snatch at in their bitter but misplaced bad-mouthing campaign); but if they look beyond today, they should see what some of us have seen to assuage all doubts, suspicions and apprehensions. Just as Nkrumah sought to do to move Ghana beyond where his opponents could bring it after orchestrating his overthrow, so also is the NDC administration bent to do (starting with Jerry Rawlings and moving on with Atta Mills and John Mahama).

I am more than persuaded that the NPP’s battle cry is vacuous and dry. It sounds pleasing only to the ears of Akufo-Addo and his benighted buffs, not the segment of Ghanaians who appreciate what the government is doing. And they are in the majority to prove their worth at Election 2016.

Crying hoarsely all over the place and using “patapaa” to create the impression that Ghana is doomed under President Mahama won’t wash with those genuinely seeing what is unfolding. And they are those hailing President Mahama all over the place. The video clips on his tour of the Western Region “to account to the people” are clearly indicative of the affection and appreciation shown by the beneficiaries of the projects so far undertaken by the government.

We wait to see how those in other parts of Ghana will react to him when he visits their communities to commiserate with them. A true leader walks every step of the way with the people.

I have read a news report quoting an Akufo-Addo supporter as saying that Akufo-Addo is not for “ordinary people”. The last nail in his political coffin? In politics, any leader who moves along with the “ordinary people” wins hearts, minds, and thumbs at the polls because the “ordinary people” form the majority of the voter population. Only elitists of Akufo-Addo’s type consider themselves as tin-gods to be feared. Scarecrows of his type are political dinosaurs with no place in the 21st century politics of our kind.

So, if the NPP people cry that “Mahama must go” and yet do not know how to reach out to the electorate to win their hearts, minds, and thumbs, what will they resort to? Mayhem!! Even, designing schemes to cheat their own people in internal elections to choose their Parliamentary candidates and flagbearer. Intimidation, arm-twisting, plain bullying, and murderous intentions reign supreme therein. Scarecrows scaring each other? Tweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaa!!

Folks, we admit that the Mahama-led administration has yet to have firm grips on the economy to turn it around; many other sectors of national life are yet to be controlled and problems tackled to our satisfaction. We must admit that the going has been tough; but the consolation is that the government hasn’t been sleeping. That is why it is asking for its tenure to be renewed at Election 2016. I support it!!

That is why I am happy at the level of political mobilization going on, especially by the innovative approach dubbed “I Choose JM”. I congratulate the brains behind this move and urge them to intensify their efforts. Clearly, video clips on their activities (the latest ones being the Kawo Kudi and Odododiodoo sessions in Accra) are heart-warming. Others are on course in other parts of the country. They tell me that the NDC is indeed a grassroots machine that knows how to mobilize support for its cause.

Flip the coin to see how the NPP people are doing their public outreach activities. Lectures upon lectures in narrow spaces, churning out abstractions, and vain promises, not to talk about depressing lies about governance. Such a stale political move rakes in nothing but absolute rejection at the polls. The only way for them to pursue power, then, will be recourse to the dark chambers of the Supreme Court. Well dodged!!

Liars, thieves, and murderers of their sort deserve no compassion. To rub more salt into their wound, let me tell them that they are nowhere near winning the hearts, minds and thumbs of Ghanaian voters. Until they provide better alternatives for building Ghana and taking it out of the woods, they will remain what they have been all these years—disgruntled, unfulfilled nay-sayers. Let them blow their own horns and enjoy the cacophony; but it won’t place them in power. Merely wishing President Mahama to go is a desire to see a vacuum in governance. But it won’t happen because Nature itself abhors vacuum.

I shall return…

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FEATURE: Are You Mad Or Just Schizophrenic?

On 26th July, 2015, a gentleman by name Charles Antwi caused a stir in the country when he was arrested with a loaded firearm in a church where the president of Ghana, John Mahama, worships. He subsequently confessed he had planned to assassinate the president because he thought he, Charles, and not Mr. Mahama, should have succeeded late President Mills.

The citizenry trembled at the thought of losing another sitting President. There was general concern about the potency of presidential security, but the discussion quickly switched to the mental state of Mr. Antwi, when each utterance after his arrest revealed a man operating in his own warped reality.

Sections of the Ghanaian public were quick to call him “mad”. That description is wrong, but what was being described was spot-on; Mr. Antwi was later diagnosed with a kind of psychosis, very possibly schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder in which a person interprets reality abnormally and has disordered cognitive, behavioural and emotional functioning.

The cause of schizophrenia is not known, but researchers have suggested that a family history of schizophrenia, being conceived by an elderly father, being born to a mother who was malnourished during the pregnancy, certain infections while in the womb and drug abuse are risk factors.

The major components of the presentation of schizophrenia are;

Delusions, in which the individual has an entrenched false believe of something that is not real e.g. that he is being persecuted by aliens, or that people around him can read his mind, or that he is the President of Ghana, when all these are false.

Hallucinations, in which the individual hears, sees or feels things that are not present.

Altered speech, where the person utters phrases and words that do not make sense, or cannot follow through a conversation.

Abnormal motor behavior, where the individual assumes awkward postures or makes repetitive, useless movements or stops moving entirely.

Mood disorders, where individuals have swinging moods that are sometimes difficult to understand; they are often depressed though.

Schizophrenia usually commences in the 20s and is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment. Treatment typically involves the use of medicines known as antipsychotics, supported by social and behavioural therapy.

Schizophrenia is a treatable condition. It is thus a mystery that half of the 21 million people who are suffering from schizophrenia around the world do not receive treatment. The ratio is much bleaker in Ghana.

The WHO considers the following to be the strategies to curb this imbalance:

appropriate training of the primary health care personnel;

provision of essential medicines;

strengthening of the families for home care;

professionals to provide support to peripheral levels, including referrals.

public education to decrease stigma and discrimination.

With the persistent bemoaning of the paucity of psychiatrists in the country, the consistent agitations from mental healthcare nurses about conditions of service, the perpetual lack of beds at our psychiatric hospitals and the incessant breaks in the supply of antipsychotics used to treat schizophrenia and other psychiatric illness, it seems Ghana has a long way to go to meet the stated requirements.

Another significant problem, which will bring a great positive change if solved, is the stigma society attaches to mental health in general and schizophrenia in particular.

In a society where a family history of mental illness disqualifies a potential suitor from being allowed to marry into a family, where one suffering a hallucinatory episode would rather be chained to a tree in the back yard than be sent for medical attention, where it is believed mental illness has a spiritual cause rather than a biological one, you realize we need more than logistics and motivated health workers to curb the problem.

We all need to help turn things around; were media houses to open up their portals more for public awareness, were teachers to demystify mental illness to the children in their care from the earliest possible age, were our religious platforms used to advocate this paradigm shift, we would be halfway through the problem. The state too must do its bit.

In recent times, we have seen the setting up of the Mental Health Authority, a great first step by the state. We must empower this authority to be more than just another office where public servants pretend to work half the day and read newspapers the other half; it must be properly resourced to implement all the laudable provisions in the mental health act, which lays a strong emphasis on public education.

Like hypertension which requires drug therapy or acute appendicitis which requires surgical management, schizophrenia is an illness which can be controlled with appropriate treatment.

Since individuals with schizophrenia are usually not aware of their abnormal mental state, it behooves family and friends to help them seek healthcare and encourage them to comply with treatment. This is why a society which mystifies mental illness and shuns those suffering it can never have its streets rid of them.

It is difficult to prevent Schizophrenia since the cause is not known, but early treatment is crucial. We cannot avoid the very occasional Charles Antwi, who attempts a ridiculous feat like single-handedly overthrowing a government, but were all schizophrenics and people with mental illness in general able to receive treatment early, we could significantly reduce the number of people walking around naked on our streets.

All psychiatric illnesses, including schizophrenia, can be treated; the only madness in mental health is deciding as a society not to give it the attention it deserves.

By: K.T. Nimako (MB ChB)

 

Dr. Kojo Nimako is a private medical practitioner with an interest in public health, and Citi FM’s Chief Medical Correspondent. He is also the editor of healthbloggh.com and the Executive Director of Helping Hand Medical Outreach, an NGO focused on health education.

Follow on Twitter: @KTNimako

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Sex Before Marriage, Damaging Effects

Discussions about whether sex before marriage is good or bad and if there exist any negative effects can be traced back to biblical times. The Holy Bible and many other holy books like the

Qur’an all admonish us to avoid sex before marriage. The Bible which describes the act as fornication even goes as far as admonishing Christians to “flee fornication”.

Again the famous “Ten Commandments” which serves as guiding principles in some of the major religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam also admonishes people to avoid sex before marriage.

This has compelled scholars, scientists and other people in academia to investigate the reasons why sex before marriage is criticized in the religious circles.

Regardless of the many benefits associated with having sex, discussions about the damaging effects of sex before marriage do not die down. Marriage can be defined as a union (legal union) between a man and a woman in which they decide to live together and share their lives together as well as have access to each other sexually.

The Legal Information Institute for example defines marriage as “…a contract based upon a voluntary private agreement by a man and a woman to become husband and wife”. Sex on the other hand refers to when men and women have intercourse. Whilst, sex before marriage, otherwise known as premarital sex, is also defined as, when two people who are not in a legally binding union (marriage), engage in sexual relations.

Many people in the world today engage in sexual intercourse regardless of whether they are married not. Several people also have multiple sexual partners irrespective of their age or marital status. In fact, sex before marriage has become so prevalent that a lot of people seem to have forgotten about the fact that there may be negative factors associated with it.

The negative effects associated with sex before marriage are not farfetched. The mere fact that two people who are not married or in any committed legal relationship sleep together pose a danger of trust after the intercourse. Collins (2014) in his article titled “How your premarital experiences can affect your future marriage” argues that,

“Individuals who had more sexual partners or more experience cohabitating ]before marriage] are not as likely to have high-quality marriages compared with those who had less, said Galena K. Rhoades”. The author posits that one’s sexual life before marriage as well as other romantic relationships is linked with the quality of one’s marriage.

This is because the people one has had romantic/sexual relations with may complicate the new marriage, also children that may have been conceived as a result of sexual intercourse will further complicate the marriage and thus inadvertently reduce the quality of the marriage.

The impact of sex before marriage on the individual does not certainly apply to one’s marriage alone. There are other problems such as the possibility of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, especially when one of the pair sleeping together has multiple partners. This view is supported by Brennen (2011) who in his article

“Why should I not have sex before marriage?” posits that, some of the negative effects of having sex before marriage include the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, the risk of getting addicted to sex, and also the negative effects of abortion and unwanted pregnancies associated with premarital sex.

Very often people who engage in premarital sex especially adolescents, find themselves in the situation where they are in a hurry to get it over with, or avoid being caught and may not take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

Cordoso (2015) who chooses to focus on the psychological effects of premarital sex in her article “6 reasons why sex before marriage affects a relationship” argues that, there are further damaging effects associated with premarital sex beyond the physical problems. According to her, premarital “sex gives the couple intimacy at the wrong time”.

Thus, feelings of jealousy and possessiveness that arise in relationships in which the couple are engaged in premarital sex develop as a result of them having sex at the wrong time. Again, Cordoso posits that, premarital sex has damaging effects especially for women because sex to women means the woman surrendering herself totally to the man and when such acts are not reciprocated, women are left psychologically broken.

Finally, she believes people who through premarital sex get pregnant have the course of their lives changed forever even though they are not yet prepared to be mothers. People who engage in premarital sex more often than not do not engage in it out of love. They do so because of the need to satisfy a pleasure and thus make the whole act a selfish act.

This may thus further affect the partner especially if that person is doing it out of love rather than need. This can lead to several emotional problems if one partner finds out the other was not doing it out of love.

The literature above thus points to the fact that, premarital sex has several damaging effects which range from emotional and psychological problems like depression, to physical problems like contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Given that human beings are biologically programmed to want to have sex, it is difficult for one to abstain from sex before marriage in spite of the many damaging effects associated with premarital sex.

Alao (2011) in her article “Premarital Sex: Saying NO (When Your Body Wants It)”, has offered some solutions as to how to avoid premarital sex and obliterate the damaging effects in the process. Alao argues that, for one to be successful in avoiding sex before marriage, the person must first identify why they want to abstain from sex, communicate with their partner their reasons, set boundaries and avoid being alone with your partner when you cannot be interrupted.

For those who feel they cannot abstain from sex altogether too, it may be useful if they use condoms to help prevent some of the physical problems associated with premarital sex like unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The author Albert Opare is a political science graduate from the University of Ghana and a social commentator as well as a social & political activist. You can contact the author by mail on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Comments and Criticisms are welcome

Michael Oti Adjei makes the case of how Grant and his agent disrespect Ghanaians

He said it with a stone cold face and then smiled wily afterwards. Boosted by victory in a Nations Cup qualifier against Mozambique at the Accra Sports Stadium, Avram Grant knew his moment to hit back at weeks of intense scrutiny had arrived and he did not miss the chance to land his comeback punch.


 

This country, Grant advised, should concentrate on the football, not the bull***t. We don’t know exactly what he meant by that and we probably will never know given how well the Israeli has been protected from difficult questions in recent days.

But it is obvious why he is unhappy. Fuelled by our collective rage, we hauled him back to Accra to make trips to Dawu, Tema, Obuasi and everywhere to watch league games when he would rather have been relaxing somewhere in Europe claiming to be monitoring players.

His agent Saif Rubie, whose only interest in the affairs of Ghana football is obvious also saw the moment to hit back after that 3-1  win over Mozambique. He asked to #stoptbs and told us to #foh which means f***k out of here.

Then after Nigeria’s AFCON hopes were ended by defeat in Egypt, he saw his moment to strike again, taking the ‘clueless’ Ghana media on again for thinking qualifying for AFCON is easy. He said we should check with South Africa and Nigeria.

It is a legitimate punchline. The gloating of both Grant and his agent too have all the trappings of two ignorant men with no knowledge of the history and football context of the country whose money they are happy to take and whose job they begged for.

Grant is the highest profile coach to manage Ghana and we said that happily when he took the Ghana job. He took Chelsea to the Champions League final, Portsmouth to an FA Cup final and West Ham to relegation. Before him we had trawled Serbia for coaches who gave us world cup qualification and others who thought they could walk on water without the performance to show for it.

For all that though, Grant’s two jobs before taking up the Ghana position was in Serbia and Thailand. For a man who feels like the Ghana version of Alex Fergusson and Jose Mourinho combined that must have been spectucalar.

The painful truth that Grant and his agent don’t want to hear is this: he needed Ghana as much as Ghana needed him. If they have any shred of honesty, they would happily admit that they applied for this job, lobbied for it and did all they can to get it. It is true that Ghana had been bruised at the 2014 world cup but when Grant consistently says how he saved and rescued Ghana football, he is being economical with the truth to make himself look good.

And his own decision making in the period that he has been in the Black Stars job bares that out. If that Brazil team represented everything bad about Ghana football, then it says a lot about Grant’s judgement that he has rarely tampered with it’s composition.

Apart from Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince Boateng, the core of the team that played USA, Germany and Portugal has been in place. Grant installed Razak Braimah as number one goalkeeper and played Baba Rahman as left back more. Maybe that is what he wants us to be grateful for.

And what is this bull***t that Grant and his agent have constantly referred to? Bull***t is when you draw a salary of over $40,000 and think it is okay to be absent from your duty post for more than two months. Bull***t is when it requires two letters from your employees to report back to work after your leave. Bull***t is when you claim to be monitoring players in Europe but only say it with a one photo and a visit because we begun asking questions. Bull***t is when a day after your country’s league kicks off, you are miles away on a television station discussing another league. Bulls***t is when after all those supposed monitoring, you still call up the same set of players we can all list with our eyes closed. And bulls***t is when it is news that our national coach has watched a league game because he is a demi god.

But it is not just bull***t. It is disrespect to our collective wisdom as a country. It is even worst that after he sat down to deliver that bull***t verdict others have attempted to claim it was aimed at journalists. It was not. He was talking to an entire country that dared ask that a coach who earns more than the president of this land must treat them with the seriousness his salary requires.

Maybe we also need to organise some badly needed Ghana football lessons for Grant and his agent who has become an expert in everything Ghana overnight.

Anyone who thinks that failure of Nigeria and South Africa to qualify for AFCON 2017 highlights Ghana’s achievement in qualifying is dabbling in needless self gratification.

Maybe Grant does not know these basic facts
•    Ghana has missed only one AFCON since 1992.
•    Between 2008 till now, Ghana has reached every AFCON semi final.
•    In that period too, the country has played in two finals including the one that gives Grant the wrong impression that he is the best thing to have happened to this country.
•    South Africa has barely managed to match up to Ghana in international football so can’t use their failing to highlight the ‘achievement’ of qualifying
•    And Nigeria have won two AFCONS since we last won one. They did as recently as 2013. Morale of the story; it is not just about qualifying, it is about winning.

If reminding Grant of all this bulls***t, then we will dabble in a lot of it. If telling him we don’t want a coach who goes on long holidays disguised as monitoring, then we will happily talk about that.

Kwesi Nyantekyie has done an incredible lot to position this country as a major force in African football by providing the base for regular world cup appearances and Nations Cup participation. The coaches have done well and so have many of their players.

But down to the last man, they know what this country craves. This country wants another Nations Cup title not glorious penalty defeats so it is pointless boasting about one. The players know this, the managers know this.

Grant, it seems is the last man to understand that. So he can complain all he waants. We will remind him that in the country that was coached by C.K Gyamfi and aided to global recognition recently by Ratomir Dujkovic and Milovan Rajevac, he has done nothing yet.

tv3network.com

Prez Mahama’s Scotland visit, Gay bashing claims & Jon Benjamin’s intervention

Another attempt to divert attention from an event that should project the image of Ghana has been foiled. This time it took the intervention of British High Commissioner, Jon Benjamin. “The way the issue has been reported is a bit exaggerated and overstated. The gay issue came up but I can’t give you details, it was one of many issues that was discussed. President Mahama spoke in a large reception room which was full. From what I saw, everyone applauded President. I think we are spending much time on what was a non-issue at all,” he told Starr FM’s Morning Show Host, Nii Arday Clegg.

The trouble with Sonnie Badu’s public offer to help Yaw Siki

I love giving and I love people who give. In fact, I love the concept of giving, so when people give, I am super excited. I do not share in the opinion that, one must have a lot before he or she can extend a hand but it is a plus when you have more.