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Insist on Your Right to Education

Uneducated citizenry is like a pitch any game can be played on it. Illiteracy is what has given the politicians in Ghana the chance to fool so many people for so a long a time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Story on school felling trees for charcoal to buy computers attracts donations


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Story on school felling trees for charcoal to buy computers attracts donations
KT Hammond
The Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa and some other philanthropists have pledged to provide some computers to the Volta region school that is planning some drastic measures to improve ICT education.

The donation follows a Joy News report about the Adidokpoe Methodist School in Battor in the Volta region that says it wants to fell about fifty trees on the school compound to burn enough charcoal to buy its first computer.

The school authorities believe this would halt the poor performance of the pupils at the BECE.

Peter Sarpong’s report captured the headmaster of the school as saying the students have to cut the trees on the school’s compound to burn charcoal, sell and raise money to buy a computer for the school.

The ICT teacher of the school lamented the difficulties in teaching the subject in abstract.

After the report was aired, the Adansi Asokwa MP, one of several philanthropists, came forward to offer some help.

KT Hammond told Joy News he will provide the school with three computers. He says he is touched by the commitment of the pupils and teachers.

CID investigates how cocaine turned into sodium bicarbonate


CID investigates how cocaine turned into sodium bicarbonate
Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) says it will investigate how cocaine kept in the exhibit room at its headquarters turned into sodium bicarbonate.

This had led to the court acquitting the man who was accused of possessing the narcotic substance.

A circuit court judge has therefore directed the Inspector General of Police to as a matter of urgency institute an enquiry into the incident.

Director of Operations at the CID, Chief superintendent Frank Kwofie tells Joy News the service will not shy away from any enquiry.

“At the time that it was opened at the court, and at the time that it turned into a different substance, needs to be investigated thoroughly and whoever is culpable must be held liable,” Chief Superintendent Frank Kwofie promised.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ghana 2012 elections: There can be politics without violence

The campaign must move away from the shallow politics that addresses none of the major problems facing the country to substantive and critical issues such as how do we connect the south of the country to the north by fast train network so that we do not have all our goods and passengers move by road thereby creating congestion and unnecessary fatal accidents. 
Language used by politicians and their agents must be civil, polite and full of respect and be devoid of the insults, tribal and ethnic rhetoric that has come to define the Ghanaian political landscape. Politicians must stop using abusive, inflammable language and avoid utterances that will not auger well for the wellbeing of the country. 
…The 2012 campaign must be based on policies
By Lord Aikins Adusei

The year 2012 will be another year for elections in Ghana. Leading candidates of the two main dominant parties i.e. the ruling National Democratic Congress and the opposition New Patriotic Parties are mobilising their supporters, issuing statements and making pronouncements. The President is alleged to have said that he would hand over the reign of government in 2017 prompting his critics and chiefly the opposition NPP to suggest that the President intends to stay in office irrespective of the outcome of the 2012 elections. The NDC on their part have argued that the NPP is willing and intends to use violence to achieve victory at all cost. They point to statement made by Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo the flagbearer in which he is reported to have used the phrase “all die be die” suggesting that nothing but a win will calm him and his supporters. Nana Addo has been accused by his critics and opponents particularly the NDC and their supporters of playing the ethnic card by using the word “Akan” which is the name of Ghana's largest ethnic group.
The recent brouhaha surrounding the use of biometric voting and the NPP insistence that there cannot be biometric voting without verification has added another twist to the fuel being poured into the upcoming 2012 elections.
These accusations and counter accusations are a semblance of the suspicion, mistrust and election violence that characterise elections in Africa in particular and the developing world in general. However, violent as elections in Africa may have been, there is enough evidence that Ghana has been a nation which has defied the odds in Africa and has maintained a positive reputation and standard that her African contemporaries are struggling to match. It is this reputation as a stable, peaceful, violence-free democratic country that Ghanaians must be happy and be proud to protect in the 2012 elections.
Students of politics and indeed politicians know too well that in politics wining and losing are things of reality and Ghanaian politicians must begin to educate and prepare their supporters on these realities so as to offset any negative event(s) that will emanate as result of the elections. One message that must be made clear is that so far as the 2012 presidential election is concerned there can be only one winner. That winner could be President Mills, Nana Addo or any of the presidential candidates of PNC and CPP. Since there is going to be only one winner and several losers, whoever emerges as the winner should quickly show maturity and leadership and avoid statements that will be interpreted negatively by the losing candidates. The losers on their part must accept the outcome of the election as being the people's verdict, congratulate the winner and assure their supporters that there will be another opportunity in 2017. In short every effort must be made to prevent the 2012 elections from going the Ivorian or the Kenyan way. Indeed it is the view of the author that there can be politics without violence and Ghana must not burn because of candidates losing or wining elections.
Campaign based on Policies
Each of the parties must have a clear campaign message and tell Ghanaians why they want them to vote for them. That is the political parties must talk more about their policies both domestic and foreign and take time to explain these policies to the people. For example domestically it is extremely important that the parties let Ghanaians know what policies they have on these specific issues: internet access and telecommunication in rural areas; quality education for all Ghanaians; financing tertiary education; financing and providing quality healthcare for all Ghanaians; employment and skill training for the youth; water delivery in cities and villages; quality and affordable rural housing; and promoting industrialisation, research and development.
Other policy areas could be ensuring energy security for businesses and fighting energy poverty in Ghana i.e. reducing Ghanaians' dependence on firewood, charcoal, kerosene and candles and increasing access to modern energy facilities. Other policies could also focus on ensuring that Ghanaians fully benefit from the proceeds of the oil, and other minerals in the country; providing irrigation, tractors and machinery for farmers and to ensuring that goods produced will not be left in the bush for lack of good roads. Voters may want to know what the parties' policies will be on combating climate change and desertification; addressing the problem of Kayayo and child streetism; providing efficient, reliable rail transport network; revamping Ghana urban road transportation system; fighting corruption and keeping Ghanaians safe at all time.
The campaign must move away from the shallow politics that addresses none of the major problems facing the country to substantive and critical issues such as how do we connect the south of the country to the north by fast train network so that we do not have all our goods and passengers move by road thereby creating congestion and unnecessary fatal accidents. Thus the critical question political parties and Ghanaians must ask and answer is what do we do as a nation to come out from the economic quagmire, poverty and deprivation that we continue to find ourselves in and how do we solve our numerous problems. The question of what we must do and how we must do it must be central to the campaign. In short the focus of the campaign must be economic and political stability; peace and prosperity; unity and love; economic and social equality; national security; and protecting our national interest.
Faith in the Electoral System
All political parties must have faith in the electoral system, the Electoral Commission and its chairman Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan. Judging from their previous experience and performance in organizing elections there can be no doubt that Dr. Afari Gyan and his team members have what it takes to organise the elections. In the past the Commission has shown itself to be a credible institution that operates without favouritism. In fact throughout country, the Commission has come to symbolise independence, transparency, accountability, fair play, honesty, integrity, openness, objectivity and strong leadership and is idolised by many institutions in Ghana and Africa. This notwithstanding, it is important that the Commission continues to work hard to erode any misconception that it is favouring or might be favouring one political party against the other. All peace loving Ghanaians must continue to support the Commission to deliver a credible, free and fair election which will make all of us proud.
Language use
Each of the parties must assemble their best election strategists to craft messages that will catch the attention of voters. The campaign strategist and managers must develop and come up with policies that Ghanaians can identify themselves with. The party that sells well will win at the end of the day. The parties must commit themselves to run clean, free and fair campaign devoid of any acrimony. These would help to avoid the mayhem and destruction that characterised the elections in Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
Language used by politicians and their agents must be civil, polite and full of respect and be devoid of the insults, tribal and ethnic rhetoric that has come to define the Ghanaian political landscape. Politicians must stop using abusive, inflammable language and avoid utterances that will not auger well for the wellbeing of the country. They must use sound argument to criticize their opponent(s) without the usual insults. Political leaders must quickly condemn irresponsible statements that will put the peace and stability of the country in danger and bring the nation into international ridicule and disrepute.
Each of the political parties and NDC and NPP in particular must educate their members on how to conduct themselves during the elections. The parties must reign in their supporters; suspend wayward members and distance themselves from anyone who will soil their reputation.
Every soul we lose and every property we destroy will be a cost to our common identity as Ghanaians. Therefore, circumspection must be exercised by moderators of radio and television programmes. The Ghana Peace Council, the media, universities, National Union of Ghana Students, the Christian Council, Catholic Bishops' Conference, and other faith based groups, non-governmental organisations and the international community must play their role to ensure that Ghana will once again go through another successful election without violence. Ghana is a constitutionally governed country and anyone who tries to disturb the peace of the land must be dealt with according to the laws of the land. Therefore the police and the judiciary must be allowed to work independently without pressure from any quarters.
Every prosperous nation is built with the sweat of all its citizens and politics is just one of the wheels by which a prosperous nation is built. But the politics must not be violent before we can build a prosperous nation. Indeed the politics can be conducted without unnecessary violence, loss of life and destruction of properties. Ghana is our home and the only country we have and doing politics based on policies and not violence must be our primary aim and concern.
Lord Aikins Adusei is an activist and anti-corruption campaigner. He blogs at www.ghanapundit.blogspot.com and can be contacted at politicalthinker1@yahoo.com.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Africa's military must be a force for stability, peace, prosperity and positive change

Captain Moussa Camara, chief of the ruling junta whose officers massacred 157 Guineans in September 2009         

A reflection of the role of the army in the past

The Arab Uprising in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya as well as the recent deadly civil war in Ivory Coast has shown the paradoxes within the Africa military establishment. The uprising and wars have brought to the to fore how the military in Africa can be a force for peace, stability and prosperity and at the same time a force destabilization, chaos, mayhem and destruction. In Egypt the army won the respect of not only Egyptians but also the entire world when they refused to slaughter their countrymen in their thousands. They realised that it will be sensible for Hosni Mubarak and his sons to leave the throne of power rather than butcher thousands of their own people. In Libya and Ivory Coast on the other hand the army chose to side with the powers that be and subjected their own people to extreme brutalities. When the military in Africa is critically examined not too many positive things can be associated with it.

The role of the military everywhere, Africa included, is to secure the democratic institutions and protect the territorial integrity of their nations and prevent outside predators from preying them. 

Unfortunately in Africa the armies have ignored their traditional mandate of safeguarding the territorial integrity of their nations and have adopted positions that have been detrimental to Africa's development and progress. Like the German army that raped, tortured and killed six million Jews in the 1940s, the armies in Africa have been associated with extreme barbarity, massacre, rape, torture, genocide, summary executions, economic sabotage, infringement of civil liberty, dictatorship, corruption, pillage, force imprisonment, social havoc, brute force, political instability, usurpation of constitutions, reversal of democratic values including the overthrow of constitutionally elected governments. According to Patrick J. McGowan of the Arizona State University, between January 1956 and December 2001 the African military carried out more than 80 successful coups, another 108 failed coups, and 139 attempted and reported coup plots.

A soldier stripping a woman naked during the 2009 army massacre of 157 unarmed opposition protest

It is difficult to find a single country in Africa where the armed forces and the security institutions have not had excesses against the country and the civilian population. From Algeria to Zimbabwe, the militaries in Africa have become a destabilising force preventing Africa from catching up with the rest of the world. In South Africa and Namibia where apartheid was brutally and religiously enforced for by the white minority government, the armed forces were the enforcing power. The genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994 which resulted in the death of some 800,000 people could not have taken place without the strategic involvement of the armed forces. The horrors of the Biafra war in which tens of thousands of Nigerians especially Igbos died was made possible by the incursion of the military into civilian rule.

Throughout the continent the military sees itself as alternative to civilian rule, a wrong notion that has had profound and devastated impact on Africa's development and progress.

Immediately after independence many of the armies in Africa joined forces with American and European intelligence agencies to forcefully overthrow governments that they were mandated to protect. Throughout the 1960s,1970s, 1980s and even 1990s the armies in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia, DRC and Algeria among others took their countries hostage and reversed decades of economic, social and political progress. In Ghana despite the massive economic and social infrastructural projects carried out by Kwame Nkrumah's government the military connived with Western imperialists and abruptly stopped Nkrumah's effort to industrialise the country. In the process they helped to reverse the many successes that were chalked under Nkrumah's presidency. Ghana today is still struggling to attain a middle income status while her contemporaries like South Korea and Malaysia enjoy one of the best standards of living in the world.

Since Egypt became a republic in 1953 the army has been in power most of the time with Gen Hosni Mubarak in charge for 30 years until the people's revolution swept him aside in 2011. During his 30 year reign Egypt, its leadership and its institutions became more corrupt, and inequality between the people and the ruling elite and their cronies widened exponentially. In the early years of her independence the Egyptian army adhered to its original role and fought aggressively against British, French and Israeli invasion but after Mubarak came to power the army as they have done everywhere on the continent, increasingly turned its attention to its citizens treating them as if though they were an invasion force. Although there appears to be a revolution in Egypt that effectively ended the dictatorship of Mubarak, but a closer look at the country suggests that there has not been any revolution at all. The army headed by Field Marshal Tantawi, a longtime ally of Mubarak is still in charge and there are reports that the number of civilians tried in military courts has increased under the supposed revolution, which is a clear indication that the army's disregard for civil institutions and impunity is still in operation.

The Nigerian armed forces have done more harm than good to their country. The harm which begun in January 1966 ushered in a period of brutalities, assassinations, coups, counter coups, civil war, official corruption, human right violation, economic decline, and impunity that the country has still not recovered from. Dubbed Africa's sleeping giant because of her economic and political potential, Nigeria is often ridiculed in international circles and is now considered a failed state thanks to the role of its military. Since independence in 1960 there have been six major coups in the country with most of the country's 50 years of independence being ruled by corrupt military dictators. By metamorphosing and constituting itself into civil and political power and entrenching corruption and impunity the armed forces of Nigeria helped to lay the foundation for what has become a hopeless and desperate security situation in the country. Since oil was discovered, the armed forces have backed corrupt multinational corporations like Royal Shell that are destroying Nigeria's environment and endangering the livelihoods of millions of people in the Niger Delta region. The threat of the military taking over power was heightened when Omaru Yar'Dua died and even the current administration lives in fear of the armed forces as is indicated by a recent speech by Nigeria's vice President. In the speech he pleaded with the army to respect the constitution and remain loyal to the government.

Civilians always bear the brunt of military excesses in Africa 

Col Al Gaddafi of Libya toiled for 42 years to develop Libya into the Switzerland of Africa but used seven months to destroy what he painstakingly helped to build. Despite the good works he did in Africa he also supervised a government based on terror, fear, intimidation, torture, imprisonment, assassinations, terrorism and killings. In the spring of 2011 the Libyan army under the command of Gaddafi and his sons were in fact ready to slaughter their own citizens in order to maintain their grip on power until they were crashed by the rebels but not until 25,000 Libyans have been sacrificed. In Ivory Coast, Gen Robert Gay and Laurent Gbagbo both used the military to achieve their political ambitions and succeeded in plunging one of Africa's successful economies into civil war that killed about 3000 people and shattered the economic successes of the country.

The security forces in the Horn of Africa remain one of the feared armies on the continent. Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Isaiah Afeweki of Eritrea and their security architecture continue to engage in wars, kidnapping, assassination, torture and imprisonment of people critical of their regime. Many Eritreans and Ethiopians are freeing their countries in their thousands to escape the brutalities of the forces. In Cameroon the feared military unit called Jean Damme has been used by Paul Biya to intimidate and terrorise the civilian population rather than protecting them from the dictatorship of Biya.

Uganda's Iddi Amin and his henchmen seized power and begun deporting Asian business owners destroyed the country's economy. Museve's 25 year dictatorship has not helped to place the country on the path of economic prosperity, social cohesion and cultural advancement. In Ethiopia Mengistu and his army officers succeeded in turning the country into a country of hunger, famine and total destitution. The sad story of Somalia where a brutal civil war is still ongoing was the making of Siad Barre and his military dictatorship that begun in 1969 and ended in 1991.

The military in Togo and Guinea have had their faire share of the atrocities suffered by Africa and her citizens. The military in both countries have engaged in repression, massacre, corruption, and reversal of freedoms. In Guinea for example Lansana Conte and his bunch of military officers ruled the country as their personal fiefdom for more than two decades and succeeded in reducing the country to a beggar state despite being rich in gold, bauxite and other minerals. In September 2009 the Captain Moussa Camara military government that took over power when Lansana Conte died succeeded in shooting, stabbing, assaulting, raping women and massacring 157 innocent members of their own population. In Togo also Gen Eyadema retarded the country's development for 32 years until his death in 2005. The army quickly installed his son as his successor to ensure that the legacy of corruption of the father continues.

Gen Mobutu Sese Seku's Zaire (now DRC) suffered the same fate as any of the African countries mentioned above. Backed by his country's armed forces, the United States and her European allies, Gen Mobutu made poverty and corruption one of the entrenched symbols of his country. For 32 years he led the armed forces to turn their guns on Zairians killing as many as he could and stealing billions of dollars worth of DRC assets and stacking them in American and European banks. The DRC army has been accused of rape, extortion of money from civilians and killing them. The DRC armed forces are considered one of the most indisciplined armies in the whole of Africa. Since the late 1990s more than five million Congolese have perished in the hands of the military, the various rebel groups, and Rwanda and Uganda armed forces.

The brutal and dictatorial regimes of Blaise Campore of Burkina Faso, Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia, Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, Dos Santos of Angola, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo Republic; their abysmal economic performance; and the inability of the people to raise their voice have been made possible through their alliance with the military who have been used as war dogs to pounce on the populace and deny them economic, political, social and cultural freedom. The so called strong men of Africa have been able to bring Africa to economic and political standstill because of their use of the armed forces and other security institutions to instill fear in the population. Today Africa remains the only continent where military dictatorship and dictatorial regimes backed by the army is still dominant. In other words the military in Africa have been largely a distracting force. In the name of national security which can be interpreted as regime protection these military governments implemented oppressive dictatorial laws that turned their own citizens into slaves without rights.

Surrounded by their kind these army officers like Sani Abacha, Ibrahim Babangida, Hosni Mubarak, Gaddafi, Jerry Rawlings, Iddi Amin, were never and have never been concerned about the welfare of the people but rather their stomach and there is enough evidence to proof it. The evidence about how Africa has suffered in the hands of the military is clear when countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Libya are considered. From Sani Abacha who stole more than 3 billion dollars in five years, to Mobutu who bankrupt Zaire, to Hosni Mubarak whose ill-gotten wealth was pegged at 75 billion dollars, to Omar Bongo who stole Gabon's money to financed French political parties, to Obiang Nguema, Paul Biya, Blaise Campore, Denis Nguesso, Omar Bongo and Dos Santos accused by civil society organisations of corrupt, flamboyant and extravagance lifestyle the evidence of why Africa is a paralysed continent is clear.

Some of the periods in which the army took over power remain one of the darkest and wasted years in Africa's effort to fight illiteracy, poverty, hunger and diseases. In many of these military takeovers many businessmen and women lost their investments as businesses were confiscated, sold or given to their cronies. In countries like Ghana state owned businesses were sold to cronies and allies of the regime. In Nigeria for instance Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha among others succeeded in draining the country's coffers by using money meant for electricity, education, health, water, roads to buy expensive military machines for their own protection. Gaddafi for example bought several billions of dollars worth of weapons from France and the United Kingdom while cities such as Benghazi were crying for infrastructure.

In most of the countries like Ghana the armed forces have never fought external aggressor rather they have often been used as instrument through which external aggressors (particularly Belgium, Britain, France and United States) get their hold on Africa's resources and their people. The armies in Algeria, Gabon, Egypt, Rwanda, Tunisia and Uganda have been the main instrument through which countries like United States, France, Belgium, have achieved their foreign policy objectives in Africa. France for instance used her troops stationed in Gabon and Senegal to gather intelligence and used the armies in Africa to carry out more than 40 coups against the people of the continent. The billions of dollars that Egyptian armed forces receive from the US annually is the main reason why the armed forces protected the regime of Hosni Mubarak for 30 years because he was seen as useful weapon and counter force against Iran and Iraq.

From a closer look one can easily see why and how Africa (one of the resource endowed continent in the world) has been reduced to a beggar and a desperate hopeless continent. The Armed forces incursion into civil power destroyed economic progress that was made in the early periods of independence. Political, economic and social institutions were destroyed as the armed regimes implemented policies without thinking about their impact. The army backing of the dictatorial regimes such as those in Zimbabwe, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and Angola has endangered Africa's economic growth as well as her social and political progress.

Wind of Change

There is no doubt Hosni Mubarak and his sons would have been in power and amassing wealth to the detriment of the Egyptian masses if the armed forces had chosen to back them. Unlike Libya where an estimated 25000 souls have perished, the refusal of the armed forces in Egypt to kill protesters at Tahir's Square helped to avoid a possible bloodbath. The armed forces' refusal is a sign of how the army can be a force for good, a force peace, stability and positive change. In Ghana the armed forces are seeking a different role that will not only contribute to improving the overall security situation but also the economic development of the nation. The armed forces in Ghana are considering entering into business ventures. This new concept is an indication of the positive thinking that is emerging in the African security command. These ambitions by the army should be nurtured as it has the potential of helping the armed forces to generate extra money outside the traditional sources. In Rwanda and Uganda the United States is helping the armed forces with training and reorganisation. Though many doubts the real intentions of the United States, it is hoped that such training will inculcate a sense of discipline and professionalism in the psyche of the army and help protect the countries from the instability that have come to defined them.


The 21st Century has come with new security challenges that demand new strategies and tactics. These challenges also demand an army which is well trained and well resourced to respond to the threats and challenges. The emergence of Boko Haram in Bauchi and Borno States in Nigeria, Al Shabaab in Somalia; the threats posed by pirates in West, East and Southern  Africa and its impact on the safety of international maritime transport all demands that the army in Africa undergo serious transformation and reorganisation to respond to these emerging threats.

Therefore many of the armies in Africa need  reforming to reflect their role in this 21st century and also to respond to the emerging security threats such as piracy and terrorism. Democratic values, human rights, and respect for contitutional order must be at the centre of any training offered to the men and women in uniform. This will help them to understand the need not to derail the wheel of democracy and economic progress being made in Africa. It will help them to be on the side of the people always and not back dictators and power hungry individuals who seek to perpetuate their rule through violence and intimidation. 

Rather than seeing itself as an alternative to civil power, the army in Africa must work closely with other security agencies to protect the institutions of governance, democracy, civil liberty and rule of law. Therefore they must not allow themselves to be used by unscrupulous politicians to the detriment of the security and wellbeing of their countries. And they must adhere to their mandate as the protector of the territorial infrastructures of the countries and refrain from acts that destroy the very nations they are supposed to protect.   The military must do more to improve their relationship with the citizens of their respect countries. It is not in the interest of the army that they are feared rather than respected by the people. The 21st century global security arrangement demands that the armed forces become more professional, less power hungry and ready to protect the interest of their countries.Africa is bigger than any single individual and the armed forces must ensure that they will not be a bastion for insecurity, but rather a force for political stability, peace, prosperity and positive change.

By Lord Aikins Adusei

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