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Monday, January 28, 2013

Our future can’t be overshadowed by instability - Mahama tells AU

Our future can’t be overshadowed by instability - Mahama tells AU
President John Mahama

President John Mahama has encouraged African leaders not to allow the continent’s future to be overshadowed by the dire situations that persist in places such as Somalia, eastern DRC and lately Mali, among others.

According to him, the African continent can succeed so long us the leaders muster the political will and take advantage of vast human and material resources as well as unprecedented access to technology.

President Mahama said this in his address at the opening ceremony of the 20th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday.

He therefore indicated the commitment of African leaders to be challenged by the AU’s 50th anniversary in the coming months to rise up to occasion.

“We who now wield the mantle of leadership on the continent are challenged by this 50th Anniversary to rise to up to occasion. With Africa's vast human and material resources as well as unprecedented access to technology, there is no reason why we cannot succeed if only we could muster the political will and seize the moment.”

He also emphasized Ghana’s support for the on-going international intervention in Mali. This, he said is expected to lead to a speedy resolution of the crisis and the full recovery of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.

“It is for all these reasons that Ghana has watched with grave concern the deadly threat posed to the peace and progress of our continent by the events unfolding in the North of Mali.

“We fully support the on-going international intervention in Mali and trust that it will lead to a speedy resolution of the crisis and the full recovery of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a much- treasured sister African country. “

Below is the full statement


Your Excellency Mr. Yayi Boni, Chairperson of the African Union and President of the Republic of Benin,
Colleague Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellency Mr. Ban ki-Moon, Secretary - General of the United Nations,
Your Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union
Honourable Ministers
Your Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is with a profound sense of honour and gratitude that I join you at this Twentieth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. My delegation and I are grateful for the warm welcome and other courtesies accorded to us by the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia since our arrival here yesterday.

We also commend the Commission of the African Union for the excellent facilities and arrangements made for this Summit.

Let me also use this occasion to acknowledge and extend warmest congratulations to Her Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the newly-elected Chairperson of the African Union Commission

Madam Chairperson,

We take pride in your appointment not merely because you are the first woman to hold this key position in our organization. In fact, the weight of your own credentials bear ample testimony of the sterling personal qualities and wealth of experience that you bring into this office.

Our excitement and optimism derive from the impact your work and achievements could make on the lives of millions of women across the continent and even beyond. You can, therefore, count on Ghana's full support during your tenure.

In the same breadth, I wish to pay well-deserved tribute to your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Jean Ping, who ably led the AU Commission and worked tirelessly in furtherance of the ideals of the African Union. We wish him every success in the next phase of his distinguished career.

Let me also acknowledge outgoing Chair of the AU President Boni Yayi for the boundless energy he has shown during his tenure in office.

Your Excellencies,

Last December, My country Ghana held successful Presidential and Parliamentary election. I had the honour and privilege of being entrusted with the hopes and aspirations of my fellow countrymen and women by being elected to the high office of President of the Republic.

In accepting that challenge I fully recognize how intimately bound the fortunes of my country are with those of our entire continent. Our struggle to overcome poverty, disease and illiteracy, is a common one whose success is dependent on the solidarity that exists between us. This solidarity has always made us deeply appreciative of how much we owe our country's continuing stability and steady advancement in democracy to the friendship and cooperation we have enjoyed with a great many countries since our independence in March 1957.

Ghanaians have also not forgotten how you stood head and shoulder with us in the dark days when our nation was overcome with grief, following the sudden and untimely demise of President John Evans Atta Mills.

I am, therefore, here today fully conscious of the encouragement and generous support that have been consistently extended to Ghana over the years, by the international community among whom this unique continental union of African states enjoys a pride of place.

On behalf of the Government and people of Ghana, I wish to extend our deepest gratitude to the Chairman of the African Union, His Excellency President Yayi Boni, and all the other distinguished colleague Heads of State and Government who came to grace the swearing-in ceremony of my Vice-President and myself on January 7, either in person or through their able and eminent representatives.

We are similarly grateful to the numerous observers from various countries, inter-governmental, non-governmental organizations and civil society groups who came to witness the elections. My government regards them as indispensable partners in striving for the highest standards of transparency and integrity in our electoral process.

Your Excellencies,

It is for all these reasons that Ghana has watched with grave concern the deadly threat posed to the peace and progress of our continent by the events unfolding in the North of Mali.

We fully support the on-going international intervention in Mali and trust that it will lead to a speedy resolution of the crisis and the full recovery of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a much- treasured sister African country.

Your Excellencies,

A few months from now, our organization will mark its Golden Jubilee. I am aware that a preparatory committee is already hard at work trying to put together a befitting programme for that momentous occasion. I wish to commend members of the committee and wish them every success in their efforts. Whatever the outcome of their work, it is my hope that it will successfully capture the essence not only of times past and present but, above all, the bright new future we envision for this great continent of ours.

I am certain many of us are already caught up in retrospection about the golden age of African liberation and our revered national heroes. There is no question that it was their selflessness and exemplary courage which inspired the faith and optimism that gave birth to the OAU in May 1963. Ghanaians take pride in the special honour recently conferred on Dr. Kwame Nkrumah whose statue stands prominently in front of the Commission's imposing office complex. At the same time, we recognize that notwithstanding that Ghana was his birthplace, Kwame Nkrumah's vision for our continent and his unshakeable commitment to its unity made him a citizen Africa.

We who now wield the mantle of leadership on the continent are challenged by this 50th Anniversary to rise to up to occasion. With Africa's vast human and material resources as well as unprecedented access to technology, there is no reason why we cannot succeed if only we could muster the political will and seize the moment.

For, in spite of the highs and lows of the last few decades, there is still much to be thankful as well as hopeful for. We cannot remain entrapped in the grim episodes of our past. Nor must we allow our future to be overshadowed by the dire situations that persist in places such as Somalia, eastern DRC and lately Mali, among others.

If we can recapture as a people the same spirit of selflessness and patriotism that brought us out of colonial domination, I have no doubt that the dreams that inspired the heroic pioneers of independence and development will surely materialize in a generation.

Africa is making progress. As said by earlier speakers, some of the fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. Most African countries now go through regular democratic elections for selection of leaders. The era of military juntas and unconstitutional governments is behind us. We are making steady progress in meeting the millennium development goals. Women are making progress in taking their place as partners rather than subordinates in the scheme of things. We can accelerate this progress if we recognize our successes and build on them rather than remain focused on our failings. We will easier fill the cup if we recognize it as half full rather than if we continue to perceive it as half empty.

May I also take the opportunity to convey to you, Excellencies my sincere gratitude and thanks to you for your support which you have graciously given for the candidature of Dr. Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as Africa's candidate. I look forward to your continued support as he begins to go through the processes of selection associated with this strategic position. Fifty years after the formation of the OAU/AU, Africa is more than ready to lead this crucial world body through the much needed process of reform that will enhance Africa's prospects as an equal partner in the world trade system.

I thank you for your attention. 


Apostle Safo to go into commercial production of automobiles

Apostle Safo to go into commercial production of automobiles
One of the 4x4 built by Apostle Dr Kwadwo Safo

A Ghanaian industrialist, Apostle Dr Kwadwo Safo, is moving beyond the manufacturing of vehicles for exhibition purposes to commercial automobile production in an ambitious effort to venture into an industry dominated by world economic giants like the USA, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France and Korea.

From a current production level of two vehicles per year, the Apostle Safo Suaye Technology Research Centre (ASSTRC) intends to take the local automobile market by storm and increase production to 40 vehicles per month or 480 vehicles per year.

At the moment, construction work is underway at the ASSTRC at Gomoa Mpota in the Central Region for the installation of a new automobile assembling plant to begin the commercial production of various brands of Katanka vehicles in two years' time.

A Technical Officer at ASSTRC, Alfred Akutteh, who conducted a Daily Graphic team around the new automobile manufacturing site last Tuesday, said the consignment of the assembling plant was on the high sea and would be delivered by March, this year.

After the installation of the assembling plant, ASSTRC will train its workers on how to use the assembling plant, hoping that by 2015, it would be ready for production of the Katanka brand of vehicles.

But even before the equipment arrives at the port, Apostle Dr Safo is appealing for government support in respect of import duty exemption to cushion ASSTRC in its ambition to venture into commercial production of vehicles.

He said support from the government would enable the ASSTRC to help more youth, including university students and graduates, who had been making use of the practical training at the centre to realise their potential in life.

Apostle Dr Safo said he did not seek any reward for his initiatives, except to help his fellow Ghanaians and prove to the world that the black man was also capable of great exploits in the world of technology.

Since its establishment in 1971, the Kristo Asafo Mission, under the leadership of Apostle Dr Safo, has undertaken what is arguably the largest philanthropic campaign in the country, making huge donations in cash and kind to educational institutions, orphanages and many needy institutions.

It has also spearheaded many technological innovations with the manufacturing of the Katanka brand of vehicles, all without any government or external support

But Apostle Dr Safo is not perturbed by the lack of support, saying in spite of the challenges he might encounter, he would never be discouraged in his endeavours.

The Katanka brand of vehicles, according to Mr Akutteh, was designed to suit the local environment and interests.

All the parts of the Katanka brand of vehicles are produced locally with local materials in line with Apostle Dr Safo's philosophy that there is the need to tap the rich natural resources of the country for its development.

Already, the ASSTRC has successfully experimented the manufacturing of a car that has no engine and moves only with the aid of a solar-powered battery, without petrol and water.

The essence is to help the country save fuel for use by big vehicles and industries and for other purposes, while making the car very manageable for patrons in terms of cost.

Mr Akutteh also conducted the Daily Graphic team around the Electronic, Electricals, Mechanical, Designing and Carving, Moulding and Casting, Machine Shop, Automobile, Body Design, Auto Electrical and Welding sessions of the centre.

Apart from the automobile industry, Apostle Dr Safo is also taking his guts to the aviation and marine industries with an ambition to manufacture aircraft and marine vessels.

The dream of manufacturing aircraft was on course at the time the Daily Graphic team visited the ASSTRC as workers were seen busily working on the wing of the aircraft. 

 Daily Graphic

Bolin-Lana’s palace at Yendi under siege from military/police men

Bolin-Lana’s palace at Yendi under siege from military/police men

Members of the Abudu Royal Gate of the Dagbon Kingdom are reporting that gun-wielding military and police men have laid siege to the palace of their spiritual head, the Bolin-Lana.

The action is believed to be in connection with the decision of the Bolin-Lana to celebrate the Damba Festival in spite protestations from the Andani Gate.

The Secretary to the Abudu Gate, Mr. Abdalla Saddique, told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show the siege started at 3am Monday.

He claimed the Yendi Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr. Issa Zakaria had told the Andanis to bate their breath for the authorities would make sure a military/police team invades the Bolin-Lana’s Palace to restrain him from any further actions.

Mr. Saddique said when he heard the information Sunday, he immediately contacted the Yendi Bureau of National Investigations as well as the Police Command there but officials denied any knowledge of plans to invade the Bolin-Lana’s palace.

He said the officials declined to answer his calls when he contacted them again after the siege started.

The siege, he said, is causing great discomfort for members of the Abudu family living in the palace because they can neither leave nor enter the palace.

The Yendi police have yet to comment on the matter.

The Member of Parliament for Yendi, Alhaji Habib Tijani has however confirmed the action of the security agencies but said no reasons were stated.

He said all military and police spokespersons and commanders had turned off their mobile phones and that it was practically impossible to find out why the Bolin-Lana’s palace had been put under siege. 

 Myjoyonline.com | Malik Abass Daabu

GHANA: $80 million worth of gold flown out to Iran; Officials tight-lipped

$80 million worth of gold flown out; Officials tight-lipped

Stunning facts are emerging that Ghana may have dished out a 1.5tons of gold worth almost $80 million to the People's Republic of Iran without proper documentation.

On January 19, Mehr News Agency (MNA), a private Iranian news agency, reported that Turkey had released a cargo plane full of Gold from Ghana "carrying Ghana's commitment to Iran in Gold".

On January 2, 2013, Turkish authorities seized the stash of gold in a Turkish Airline cargo plane bound for Dubai en route to Istanbul's Ataturk Airport in Turkey.

The Turkish authorities claim the gold lacked the necessary papers needed before it could be transported.

It was however realised that the information given to the authorities was not entirely true because nobody knew where the cargo originated from or where its destination was, even though the gold onboard the plane was, undeniably, gold carrying Ghanaian seal.

Both Ghanaian authorities and executives of the Turkish Airline have been tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding the strange gold haul.

After the seizure in Turkey, Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi was in Ghana to meet President Mahama on January 8,2013, behind closed doors. The issue of the gold might have been part of the issue discussed.

Just after that, President Mahama's next official assignment outside Africa was to Turkey, ostensibly to plead for the release of the gold haul on which the government had maintained sturdy silence.

An earlier enquiry by Daily Guide at the Turkish Embassy did not yield any answer.

The Turkish Ambassador, Aydin Nurham, who spoke to Daily Guide in early January could not volunteer any answer, but promised that his outfit was going to investigate the issue.

Reports said that Turkish authorities fined the plane $1,910 for stopping at Ataturk Airport on grounds of missing documents.

Anatolia News Agency, Turkish official news agency, had it that ULS, the cargo owner would pay $67 for missing documents and $ 1910 for stopping at Ataturk Airport.

The cargo was bound for Iran to deliver the gold to the Persian country. It was to stop at Dubai Airport.

It is believed that the US and the EU sanctions on the Iranian banking sector have limited bank payments of countries monetary commitments to Iran and they barter gold for Iranian oil and gas.

Danquah Institute Queries

Pro- New Patriotic Party (NPP) think tank, the Danquah Institute (DI), believes that there is something fishy about the whole transaction, since it was done on the blind side of Ghanaians.

"The 1.5 tons of gold, worth some $80million, is said to be Ghana's financial commitments to Iran" over a transaction, details of which are not known to the public.

This seemingly curious transaction took place over the election period and at the time of the transition. What is also curious is the choice of the President to travel to Turkey around the time of this unspoken crisis and yet this issue has not featured in any official communication about the presidential trip," stated DI in a statement issued on Sunday, January 27, 2012.

"The question which arises, therefore, is that why would an official transaction involving $80million worth of gold between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran lack the proper documentation? If indeed, the gold was to settle Ghana's "financial commitments" to Iran, why would it be missing some crucial documentation necessitating its seizure at the Turkish airport?" DI questioned.

According, to DI, there was no such arrangement between Ghana and Iran to the effect that the country's financial commitments to Iran have to be paid in gold.

"We are aware of the use of Ghana's cocoa as collateral for the construction of the Bui hydroelectric dam. We are also well aware of the use of Ghana's oil as collateral for the $3billion loan from the China Development Bank," explains DI.

Mahama Must Answer

The Danquah Institute wants President Mahama to explain to Ghanaians why the country's gold was used to make payments to Iran and why the plane carrying the gold was seized in Turkey for lack of proper documentation.

The government has so far refused to give any answers to this matter since the plane was seized on January 2, 2013, "and the silence from government on a transaction, said to involve some $80million, is deafening. We, at DI, are demanding full disclosure of this transaction from government for the benefit of the people of Ghana and in the interest of good governance," charged DI.

A known allegation against the Islamic Republic of Iran is that the country evades US sanctions by engaging in a barter-trade system where countries with gold, for instance, purchase crude oil from Iran and pay gold in return. However, it is not known if Ghana has purchased crude from Iran since Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) has not been operational for several months.

According to DI, from June to November 2012, Iran evaded US sanctions by importing Turkish gold to pay for billions of dollars worth of energy sales to Turkey.

"Ghana has been an oil producing country since 2011, are Ghanaians aware that we barter with gold with the Islamic Republic of Iran, or any other government for that matter? What is Iran giving Ghana which requires our financial commitments to her be made in gold? Is Ghana's Parliament aware of such a transaction?" the DI asked. 

 From: Ghana | Daily Guide 

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