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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.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The security danger of Issuing Voter ID Cards to Ivorians, Togolese and Burkinabes to vote in Ghana

There are numerous allegations that politicians in Ghana are bussing foreigners from Ghana's neighbouring countries to register in the ongoing limited registration exercise. Those allegations if true do not only bring the integrity of the entire electoral process into disrepute, but could affect Ghana's vital national interests. It can particularly pose security danger to the country in future. Holding a Ghanaian voter identity card is a proof that the bearer is a Ghanaian which automatically confers on the individual the right to access several socio-economic services such as education, healthcare, housing, employment, the right to own property in the country and many more. That could place enormous pressure on the socio-economic services in the country making it difficult for genuine Ghanaians to gain access to these services and putting pressure on the country's limited financial resources particularly for the communities where these services will be accessed by genuine Ghanaians and those from neighbouring countries.
However, while the pressure foreigners will exert on the socio-economic services is worrying, it is the short to long term security danger to Ghana that is most troubling. To begin with, Ghana like its neighbours are experiencing high level of terror threats from Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other international brotherhood of terror groups. These terrorists use different tactics and strategies when they want to attack a country. One of such tactics is using recruits with valid residence documents or passports to travel to the country they want to mount their terror operations. The 1998 terror attacks in Kenya and Tanzania by Al Qadea were carried out by this means. Prior to the 9/11 2001 attacks in New York, Washington and Arlington, Bin Laden and Al Qaeda used their vast financial resources to secure valid travelling documents for Mohamed Atta and his co-terrorists to travel to the United States. These documents enabled Mohamed Atta and his group to live, plan and carry out their deadly attacks in the United States without being caught. In recent days, the United States’ Department of Homeland Security worry that terrorists holding European passports and other valid travelling documents could use their access to these documents to enter the US to carry out terrorism in the country. The US is also worried that terrorists from countries with which the US has visa-exemption agreement with could use the opportunity to travel to the United States for the purposes of causing terrorism.
In Europe it has been established that Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda have relied on radicalised Muslims who hold European passports and who are able to move freely within Europe to plan and carry out attacks in several European cities including Paris and Brussels. IS has even used fake Syrian passports to send its extremists to Germany and other European countries (disguising them as refugees) to carry out attacks.
In an interview with the German television network ZDF in February 2016, Mr. Hans-Georg Maaßen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency the BfV or (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) warned that IS has deployed several of its fighters holding valid European residence documents to Europe. In February 2016, Police in Germany arrested a 49 year old Algerian who was living in Berlin with a fake French identity and who was planning terror attack against some targets. Another Algerian (30 years old) with ties to IS and living in Berlin with valid residence permit was also arrested. In West Africa, it has been shown that some of the terrorists who attacked the Ivorian beach resort of Grand Bassam came from Mali. Thus holding a fake or valid identity document could give would-be terrorists the opportunity enter a country to carry out acts of terrorism.
Issuing voter identity cards to non-Ghanaians carry with it several security repercussions. For example, the ID card entitles the holder to move freely within the country to conduct illegal operations against targets in the country. The card could be used as a proof of nationality by those non-Ghanaians (terrorists and non-terrorists alike) to seek employment or infiltrate the police, the military and other security agencies. It could be used as a proof of identity which will empower the holder to enter security and non-security facilities where the Voter ID is accepted as valid proof of identity to carry out terrorism against targets in the country. The cards could be used by those with criminal intent to buy weapons legitimately from the weapons market. These legitimately bought weapons can then be used for armed robbery and other criminal activities within the country. It can be used as a proof of identity to open bank accounts. These accounts can then be used to launder money or carry out fraud in the country and beyond. Given Ghana's poor record on data-keeping, and the lack of capacity, (human and financial resources) by the security institutions to thoroughly carry out background checks on people, or remove those illegally living in the country, the voter ID cards will make it difficult for the security services to check people illegally entering the country for the purposes of harming the country. Coupled with the recently announced policy of the government to waive visa for Africans travelling to the country, the voter IDs will compound the difficulties security agencies are facing in fighting cross border crime. It will make it harder for the security agencies to protect the country from Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Boko Haram, Ansaru and others who seek the destruction of Ghana and and other countries in the subregion.
The quest for political power shouldn't blindfold politicians to register non-Ghanaians, for while such action is criminal, it can push Ghana into uncharted territory. (For example we may not know how the Voter ID cards will be used by the foreigners after they secure them). In fact it could be used for all kinds of criminal activities. The trouble is that once such cards are issued they become valid till they expire.
Therefore political parties, their leaders, Ghana's Electoral Commission and the people of Ghana must reflect deeply on any decision to allow foreigners to register and vote in the upcoming elections. They must take into consideration the following advice offered by Jean J. Kirkpatrick in her 1979 article titled “Dictatorships & Double Standards”:
“…leaders of all major sectors of the society must agree to pursue power only by legal means, must eschew (at least in principle) violence, theft, and fraud, and must accept defeat when necessary. They must also be skilled at finding and creating common ground among diverse points of view and interests, and correlatively willing to compromise on all but the most basic values. In addition to an appropriate political culture, democratic government requires institutions strong enough to channel and contain conflict. Voluntary, non-official institutions are needed to articulate and aggregate diverse interests and opinions present in the society. Otherwise, the formal governmental institutions will not be able to translate popular demands into public policy.”
By Lord Aikins Adusei
Email: politicalthinker1@yahoo.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lord.adusei
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Politicalthinke


On May 12, 2016, I listened to the passionate debate organised by Joy FM in which the panel debated about whether the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) should be scrapped or maintained. I agree with the Dr. Kwesi Aning and Osei Bonsu Dickson who argued that the BNI should be maintained. This article is intended to contribute to that rich debate.
Intelligence, narrowly defined, refers to the collection, processing, analysis and dissemination of information on one's enemies and rivals. As such it provides an essential input into any country's defence and foreign-policy making.[1]
As an intelligence agency, BNI is the subdivision of Ghana’s government tasked with making sense of current and future security challenges and providing accurate information and estimates to national security decision-makers. Given the relative stability in Ghana and the disorder, chaos and insecurity in Ghana’s neighbourhood particularly in Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Guinea Bissau among others, there is no doubt that the BNI and other security agencies in Ghana have served the country well. The BNI in particular has been indispensable in protecting the security of the Republic of Ghana. As a key pillar in Ghana’s security architecture, the BNI has played a major role in averting efforts by Ghana’s enemies to harm the country, its free democratic order, the economy and the people. .
The world is going through massive economic integration, and competition as a result of globalisation of capital. In this hyper integration and competition, governments and states that are well informed will survive. Intelligence agencies globally are actively gathering information and informing their authorities about the development in the global economy, science and new technologies and how to cope. Depriving Ghana of a key intelligence agency able to gather information and inform policymakers about the challenges and opportunities in the global economy will push Ghana to the periphery of the global economy.
Moreover, the current global security environment faces serious uncertainties than ever before. In almost every country and region there is a major struggle between the forces of good and bad. The forces of bad include powerful non-state actors like Al Qaeda and Islamic State and other transnational terrorist organisations that are hell bent on destroying or overthrowing the current global economic, political and security order. Al Qaeda and Islamic State for instance are actively seeking weapons of mass destruction to attack and destroy their so-called enemies. They are seeking nuclear weapons, harmful bio-pathogens and other destructive biotechnologies to cause mass casualties globally including in Ghana and other West African states. For Ghana to defeat these evil forces or thwart their diabolical efforts will require a strong commitment and dedication on the part of the state security apparatuses particularly the intelligence services like the BNI.
The security challenges confronting Ghana is not limited to the activities of transnational terrorist groups. Ghana and the countries in the West African subregion continue to be the main focus by other transnational criminal groups seeking financial benefits through the export of conventional arms, drugs smuggling, maritime piracy and cyber fraud. In the past several months, the Ghana Police Service has routinely seized several weapons in vehicles bound for several destinations in the country. These weapons are being smuggled into the country for criminal purposes. BNI has been deeply involved in stopping the flow of these weapons and drugs into the country. In future, stopping the flow of these weapons and the intended criminal operations in Ghana will require better intelligence. Scrapping the BNI will therefore grant the transnational terrorists, cyber fraudsters, illegal arms dealers, drug smugglers and pirates the room to operate with impunity.
Currently there is a heightened tension between Fulani herdsmen and farming communities in parts of Ashanti, Eastern, Northern, and Volta region. The herdsmen have had to abandon their traditional grazing areas in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Northern Nigeria in search of fresh water, and pasture for their animals. This has become necessary because climate change which has been described as a "threat multiplier" is altering the rainfall pattern in the subregion making life unbearable for the nomadic cattle herders. Predictions by scientists indicate that climate change will pose more threat for communities in West Africa. This means that more herdsmen may head to Ghana in future. Ghana needs BNI to gather information about the flow of Fulanis and other migrants and inform the government in order to avert any undesirable catastrophic incident between the migrants and the host communities.
As any human institution, the BNI is fallible. It has had its own shortcomings and failures. However, these failures should not warrant its total abolishment. The French intelligence services the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) and Directorate-General for Internal Security (DSGIS) were not scrapped after terrorists struck Paris in January 2015 and again in November 2015. Belgium has not disbanded its intelligence services after the recent Islamic State assault in Brussels. Similarly, in the United States, the 9/11 Commission did not recommend the CIA and the FBI to be abolished after the terrible tragedy of the 9/11 terrorists attack in Washington, New York and Arlington. Likewise the 1975 Arrant Commission did not recommend the Israeli foreign intelligence service i.e. the Mossad or the military intelligence (AMAN) or the domestic intelligence agency (the SHABAK) to be disbanded after their failure to prompt the Israeli political leadership to prepare the country’s military to respond to the then impending combined Egyptian and Syrian assault in 1973, a failure that led to monumental catastrophic outcomes for Israel in the beginning of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Also the MI5 and MI6 intelligence agencies in Britain were not scrapped after Al Qaeda bombed the transport networks in London on July 7, 2005. Spain did not disband its intelligence agencies after Al Qaeda’s deadly Madrid train bombings in March, 2004.
The problem facing the BNI which has made its work difficult has to do with the broad functions (tasks, powers, and fields of work) assigned to it by the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act (Act 526) 1996 that set it up. While the Act lets the BNI functions as a Domestic Intelligence Agency, the organisation sometimes doubles as adomestic and foreign intelligence agency. Combining these two functions continue to overwhelm the agency.
In many countries including the United States, Britain, Israel, Russia, France and Germany the work of domestic intelligence and foreign intelligence are performed by two different bodies. In the United States for example, the FBI is concerned with domestic intelligence while the CIA concerns itself with foreign intelligence operations. In Britain the Security Service (popularly called MI5) functions as a domestic intelligence agency while the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) conducts foreign intelligence to protect Britain’s interests abroad. In Israel, the Mossad is responsible for gathering foreign intelligence while SHABAK is responsible for domestic intelligence.
Similarly, in Germany, the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND)) acts as an early warning system to alert the German government about threats to its interests, while Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) has a duty to protect the internal security of the Federal Republic of Germany. In Russia, domestic intelligence falls on the Federal Security Service (FSB) while foreign intelligence functions fall on the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). In France, the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) is the foreign intelligence agency responsible for protecting France’s interests abroad while Directorate-General for Internal Security (DSGIS) functions as France's domestic intelligence agency with duties that includes counter-espionage, counter-terrorism, countering cybercrime and surveillance of potentially threatening groups, organisations, and social phenomena.
As a result of the division of intelligence powers, functions and fields of operation into domestic and foreign, these intelligence agencies are some of the effective in the world. They are able to focus on their core mandates and not dabble in other functions which are beyond their capabilities. The Israeli Mossad, America’s CIA, the British MI6 are some of the world’s premiere and effective secret intelligence services in the world. Likewise the MI5 of Britain, the FBI of USA and the BfV of Germany are noted for their role in maintaining internal security, preventing foreign intelligence services from gaining foothold in their home countries and preventing terrorists from harming their countries. They work to prevent the activities of money launderers, cyber criminals, pirates, drug lords and other criminals from gaining access to the domestic economy.
Therefore, if Ghana is to have an effective intelligence agency capable of protecting Ghana, then the BNI should be restricted to its role as a domestic intelligence agency while another agency is created purposely as a foreign intelligence agency to protect Ghana’s interests abroad. This will free BNI to focus on its core mandate.
Another challenge that makes the BNI less effective has to do with the issue of politicisation. Politicisation here is defined as “the manipulation of intelligence to reflect policy preferences.” To be precise, it is any external intervention in the elements of intelligence work which should be kept objective, autonomous, and free of political influence. Included are three stages of the intelligence process— collection, processing, and production—as well as certain elements of the planning, direction, and dissemination stages, which should be carried out solely on the basis of professional considerations.[2]
Critics of BNI assert that the agency suffers from political manipulation often by the government in power. They argue that the BNI often comes under political pressure to please the government of the day by often overreacting to issues associated with the political opposition. The critics point out that BNI’s decisions are often coloured by political considerations especially when they arrest members of the political opposition while allowing politicians on the government side to go scot free for similar or related offences. The critics claim these arrests are not based on objective, autonomous, and non-political interference assessment of the offence in question but rather they are carried out to meet the mindset or political needs of the government in power. There is some truth in this criticism and the BNI must work hard to be objective, autonomous and free of political control so as to gain the trust and support of all Ghanaians. In fact currently the BNI is one of the organisations in the country that does not enjoy the trust and prestige of the public.
One way to free the BNI from undue politicisation is for the agency to ensure that its officers express their positions/estimates in a strong and clear voice, even when confronting opposing policymakers/politicians who might take measures to silence them for nonconforming. The BNI must again object to any overly close relationship between its officers and policymakers (politicians) because doing so will compromise its intelligence objectivity and credibility. As has been suggested by Columbia University professor Richard K. Betts, “policy interests, preferences, or decisions must never determine intelligence judgments,” and that on “crucial questions, intelligence professionals should fall on their swords.”[2]
By Lord Aikins Adusei
E-mail: politicalthinker1@yahoo.com
[1] Levite, A. (1987) ‘The role of intelligence in Israel's foreign policy’, Defence Analysis, 3:2, 177-179
[2] Bar-Joseph, U. (2013) ‘The Politicisation of Intelligence: A Comparative Study’, International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 26:2, 347-369

The people of Volta Region should free themselves from the yoke and tyranny of the NDC

Why is the Volta Region one of the most deprived regions in Ghana despite consistently voting massively for the NDC in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012? Why are the road networks in Ho and the surrounding districts very poor despite the huge support NDC has enjoyed from the people in the region? Why is water so scarce in several parts of the Volta Region despite the region having one of the highest parliamentarians in the country under the NDC? Why is unemployment in the region so high and pervasive among the people especially the youth? Why aren't more factories been established in the region to ease the unemployment and poverty in the region? Why have the leaders of the NDC not reciprocated the positive gesture and favours Voltarians have showered on the party for decades? Have the people of Volta Region been taken for granted for supporting the NDC?
In the last couple of weeks, the people of Volta Region and the Northern parts of Ghana have intensified their protests against the President Mahama led-government. They feel the NDC has not fulfilled its part of the social contract between the party and the people. Those in Ho want the roads in the city to be fixed. Others want water. Some have complained about lack of jobs while others are bitter due to lack of electricity for their socio-economic activities.
It is not only the ordinary people who feel neglected, the chiefs and other opinion leaders feel the same way too and have been very vocal about it. The Paramount Chief of the Avatime and Bator Traditional Areas, Osie Adza Tekpor VII said in 2014 that “Our people are suffering; our people are cursing and making negative statements…Some say they have regretted voting for the NDC.” Another chief Torgbui Koku Ahiem IV also said: “We are getting tired…anytime we meet and talk about the development of the region, the promises are repeated…always promises, repetition of promises…The promises are too much. Every now and then there is one promise or the other…We are not happy at all about the government because whenever people travel to Ho, you will become a multi-coloured human being as you will be either red or black.” He was referring to the poor nature of roads and the dirt associated with it. Togbe Adela Titriku Anaze XII, the Chief of Podoe-Dofor and the President of the Dofor Traditional area, speaking on behalf of the chiefs in his traditional area in 2015 said the government has failed to develop the region. “We, the chiefs, do not want to be seen talking too much but again we would like to remind the government that a promise to the people is an indebtedness to the people”.
It is good that the people of Volta and their counterparts in the north are making it clear how they feel about their current situation. The unquestionable support NDC has received from these regions has made the party complacent. In fact, in my opinion the people have been taken for granted by the NDC for a long time. Because the votes have been automatically there, there has been no basis for the NDC to deliver tangible socio-economic goods to the masses who always vote for the party: excellent roads, hospitals, water, schools, irrigation, railways, fast internet accessibility, good public transport, deep ports and harbours and many more.
Voltarians voted hugely for the NDC in the last six presidential elections. Without the Volta votes the NDC would not have won 4 out of the 6 presidential elections since 1992. Almost all the Voltarian MPs in the current parliament are NDC candidates yet the region has not changed much in terms of social and economic advancement. This is because the people do not appear to value their votes or have not insisted that the terms of the contract between them and the party be implemented to the letter. The Voltarian MPs some of whom were key ministers in the Rawlings and Mills presidencies and the current Mahamah administration have not devised any social or economic policies tailored to the needs and aspirations of Voltarians.
In fact despite its potentials, the Volta region is poor and without major development because the NDC which dominates the region does not have any realistic development blue print for the region. As a result Voltarians are among the leading migrants in the country. Very few Ghanaians are willing to migrate to Volta and the three northern regions because these regions are seen as not providing enough socio-economic attractions and opportunities. The NDC has not put in place policies and programmes that will change the Volta region and make it more attractive to other Ghanaians to settle and live there. According to Jay Oelbaum of the Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto-Canada “The regions of destination with the lowest percentage of the migrant population [in Ghana] are Volta and the three northern regions, while Ashanti, Western and Greater Accra are respectively the destinations with the highest share of in-migration”. [1] The leadership of the party is only interested in the votes but not the needs, aspirations and opportunities of the people. They use the people during elections and dump them afterwards. This has to change.
While some NDC apparatchiks in Volta and the three northern regions have been riding on the back of the people to become wealthy, the people whose votes continue to make the NDC the longest ruling party in the history of the Fourth Republic continue to be kayayos in Accra, and Kumasi and live their lives selling dog chains, ice water, sugar cane and sleeping in kiosks, and uncompleted structures in Accra. Is it how to reward loyal voters?
It is difficult for majority of Voltarians to vote for other parties because they feel the NDC is theirs. But in the face of increasing poverty, lack of socio-economic development, poor infrastructure, lack of economic and employment opportunities for both the youth and adult population, will the people continue to provide unflinching support for the NDC?
If Voltarians are going to vote for the NDC again in December 2016, then they must do so by assessing whether the NDC actually deserves their votes given its track record in the region.
By Lord Aikins Adusei
[1] Oelbaum, J. (2004) "Ethnicity adjusted? economic reform, elections, and tribalism in Ghana's Fourth Republic", Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 42:2, 242-273

A Leopard can't change its skin: PNDC vs Rev. Charles Palmer Buckle, NDC vs Rev Martey & Otabil

The Catholic Standard, before it was banned by the PNDC government of Jerry John Rawlings in 1985, was Ghana’s oldest private newspaper, owned by the Catholic Church of Ghana. The editor of the Catholic Standard during the PNDC era was Reverend Dr. Charles Palmer Buckle, the present ArchBishop of Accra.
It will be recalled that when the PNDC ousted Dr. Hilla Limann’s PNP government in 1981, the PNDC carried out several anti-democratic and human rights abuses against many Ghanaians including journalists, chiefs, traders, politicians, judges, university lecturers, ex-police and army officers, trade unionists, members of the clergy and ordinary citizens. For example apart from the murder of the three high court judges and an ex-army major in 1983, the regime also arrested and detained Kwesi Pratt and Kwaku Baako before being freed later on.
On 22 June, 1982, the publishers of the Free Press, Mr Tommy Thompson, his editor, Mr John Kugblenu, and Mike Adjei a senior writer of the paper, were all imprisoned without trial for penning editorials critical of the PNDC regime. After a year in detention the three were freed but John Kugblenu died a week after his release. In February 1985, the news-editor of the Pioneer newspaper together with Baffour Ankomah (the editor of Pioneer in Kumasi from 1983-6 and the New African magazine current editor) “were arrested and detained at Gondar Barracks in Accra accused of publishing ‘false reports’ about an assassination attempt on the life of Jerry Rawlings in Kumasi”. For their crime their heads were shaved. They were also tortured before being thrown into separate guardrooms. They were later released.
Fearing for their lives, several journalists, unionists, business people, politicians and army officers fled the country. For example the editors of Palaver and the Echo fled Ghana. John Dumoga, who edited The Echo, fled to Nigeria by means of a refuse truck. Baffour Ankomah later fled the country after his article ‘Ghana, Marxism and lies’ incurred the wrath of the PNDC apparatchiks.
In 1985 three union members of the Cocoa Marketing Board in Accra were arrested and sent to Gondar Barracks. One of them was tortured to death there. Another Ahmed Pobee, who was then 35 years, was seriously injured after a soldier violently stamped on his manhood. Pobee was freed but later escaped to Lagos in Nigeria after attempt were made to arrest him for the second time. Those journalists who stayed maintained a low profile, stopped writing anything political or branched into sports writing. These activities by the PNDC around the country, imposed what became known as the ‘culture of silence’ on the entire population.
However these atrocities did not go down well with the Catholic Standard and its editor Reverend Dr. Charles Palmer Buckle and many of the private press in the country including Free Press, The Palaver, The Echo, the Pioneer, The Believer, the Ghanaian Voice and many others. As a result the private press and particularly the Catholic Standard and Rev. Palmer Buckle became the mouthpiece of the silent majority. The Standard and its editor took it upon themselves to courageously fight for liberty and freedom for Ghanaians. For instance when John Kugblenu (editor of the Free Press) died in 1984, a week after his release from detention no paper was able to report it. It was Rev. Palmer Buckle and the Catholic Standard who mastered courage to report Kugblenu’s death.
Despite the threat to his life, Rev. Buckle did not budge. He actually developed a martyr’s complex, putting the interest of Ghanaians above his own life. He continued to highlight the brutalities of the regime while at the same time punching holes into the PNDC’s populist propaganda. As a result, Rev Buckle and the Catholic Standard became the target of the PNDC. In fact the agents of the PNDC became incensed and were more ever determined to eliminate the vociferous reverend minister. As Baffour Ankomah observed in his article ‘Ghana’s culture of silence’: “In November 1985, the same Catholic Standard [and Palmer Buckle] antagonised the government with a series of down-to-earth editorials. The editor, Revd Dr Palmer Buckle, became a target, but when government soldiers moved in for the kill, they mistook another priest for Revd Buckle. The priest’s body was found at the Choker beach near Accra the following morning.”
The killing of the priest by regime’s forces was not the first time a man of God, had been killed by the PNDC. Three years before that tragedy, a similar tragedy had happened in Kumasi.
According to Ankomah, the PNDC declared “February 7, 1982 a national day of prayer — every Muslim, every Christian was to pray and ask for God’s blessings on Ghana, especially for rains and prosperity which we needed badly. It was a solemn day. But it so happened that a major in the armed forces stationed in Kumasi, entered a church building where national prayers were being said to ask the congregation to come out to assist in filling potholes on the road in front of the church. A misunderstanding ensued. The major pulled a pistol. He was disarmed by a policewoman in the congregation who suffered a bullet wound in the face as a result. The gunshot so alarmed the congregation that they threw their Christianity out of the window and killed the major….When the news of his death reached the Kumasi Barracks, the Commander ordered his troops into town in pursuit of the fleeing murderers. A reign of terror was unleashed on the near one million residents of the city. For close up to a week, both the innocent and the guilty were arrested, several of them summarily executed, without trial. The pastor of the church was captured three days later and shot. The soldiers sadistically tied his mutilated body to the back of one of their trucks, dragged it along the road from the Barracks to the centre of town (some two miles away), left it to public view for more than eight hours, and finally set fire to it before the eyes of the bemused and frightened inhabitants. Some of the soldiers even ran to the hospital where the policewoman had been admitted. They found her in bed, having just come through a major operation. They shot her in the hospital bed, forcing all the other patients in the ward to flee for their lives. The soldiers then chased the surgeon who performed the operation around the hospital. Fortunately he was able to escape and flee the country. Later, the Commander of the troops came out publicly to say he had no regrets for the week’s incidents — the tyranny, the killing of innocents — and that if they had to do it again, they would.”
That is a short history of the PNDC and the Clergy in the 1980s. The PNDC became the NDC in 1992.
Fast forward to 2010-2016 and the story is almost the same except this time the names of the perpetrators (NDC) and the victims (Rev. Prof Emmanuel Martey of the Presbyterian Church and Rev Dr. Mensa Otabil) have changed.
In the last five years or so, the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rev Martey, and the founder of the International Central Gospel Church, Pastor Mensa Otabil, have taken on the mantle of leading the LORD’s sheep spiritually as well as ensuring their socio-economic well-being, something which is in line with the Gospel of Christ.
Both reverend ministers have constantly urged past and present governments to administer the country prudently to ensure that Ghana does not remain marred in poverty and underdevelopment. They have also criticised the governments for putting the interest of their parties’ elites above that of Ghana and Ghanaians especially the misuse of public funds and corruption. Their admonitions and criticisms have not sat well with the NDC elites who are the beneficiaries of the economy. The anti-clergy forces, anti-development forces, and pro-corruption forces in the NDC have mobilised against the reverend ministers with the same venom as those who attacked Rev Palmer Buckle under the PNDC.
Recently Rev Otabil asked Ghanaians not to be happy with minimals but rather strive for better things: “We can’t just be happy because a road has been tarred. We can’t just be happy that we didn’t have electricity now we have electricity. We can’t be happy with minimals…citizens must have an appetite for better”. He added “We have to wrest the nation back and control it as citizens of this country and that is the challenge I want to put to you. You have to dare to dream to take our nation back…We have to battle, we have to fight, we have to wrest the destiny of our nation from incompetence and from people, who have determined to run us to the ground…I’m not saying take it back from one party to give it to another party; I’m saying the citizens must take their country back and run their own country” the Pastor said.
These comments made Solomon Nkansah, the National Communications Officer of the NDC, to go ballistic. He accused Rev Otabil of anti NDC bias and inciting Ghanaians against the government and said the reverend is a threat to Ghana’s security. “Under the guise of the Bible, he says all sorts of things against those he is not in support of. But you know what; God is bigger than him and so whenever he says such things people don’t listen to him. I am ashamed and scandalised as a Christian that a man of God can speak like Pastor Mensah Otabil has done…These are the men who are a threat to national security and co-existence. Because you don’t support the NDC government, you are inciting the public against the government. During the NPP regime he didn’t preach this way, he rather preached with the Ghana flag, why is he preaching this way now. The last time it was generational thinkers, today it’s about revolt against minority rule. We can’t continue to countenance such worrying conducts of this Pastor.”
Rev Martey has also come under fire from the NDC elites for saying politicians have tried to buy his silence with money and position. “Politicians had tried all means to muzzle me, to get me but they can’t, they come with bribes, fat envelopes, $100,000…You cannot get me with corruption…Never ever should any politician or political activist go to a pastor or minister with money in order to influence him; if you do that you’ll be in trouble.”
Koku Anyidoho (NDC deputy secretary) and George Loh (NDC MP for North Dayi) have been verbally assaulting the reverend, accusing him of being an NPP apologist and a corrupt man of God. George Loh said “there is something wrong with the Most Reverend and we have to take a second look at him” implying that the man of God is mentally sick. Anyidoho castigated him and said he would deal with him.
It seems Anyidoho, Nkansah, Loh and those castigating the men of God have not learnt from the past mistakes of the PNDC which gave birth to their party the NDC. Such treatment of the men of God by the elites in the NDC does not augur well for the party. The men of God are Ghanaians in the first place. They pay their taxes as Ghanaians. Also government policies whether good or bad affect them, their families and their congregation. They therefore have every right to praise or criticise any government. Asking them to shut up will not help them to fulfil their calling as pastors.
In the Bible Elijah took on King Ahab and his wife Jezebel after they led a corrupt lifestyle and seduced the people of Israel to worship Baal. Jeremiah criticised Kings Zedekiah and Uzziah and warned them of the consequences of disobeying God. Isaiah, Ezekiel and many prophets criticised the kings whose corrupt lifestyle displeased God. When they did not listen, God punished the kings by allowing them to be carried away into captivity. For example God used Nebuchadnezzar to punish Jehoiachin King of Judah by carrying him into captivity. Nebuchadnezzar also punished King Zedekiah whose children Nebuchadnezzar killed right before his eyes. He also put out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him in chains and carried him to Babylon. God used Jehu to destroy the entire household of Ahab and Jezebel. He also used Pharaoh Necho to dethrone Jehoahaz and took him to Egypt where he died there.
The NDC elites should not act like Ahab and Zedekiah but must strive to build a better relationship with the men of God and God.
By Lord Aikins Adusei
Email: politicalthinker1@yahoo.com
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ECG Privatisation: Privatising for who? The experience of Australia, UK

The financial, managerial and technical challenges facing the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) have galvanised the apostles of privatisation, anti-state ownership of business and the neoliberal-free market capitalists to strongly advocate for ECG to be privatised.
Their argument is that selling ECG will make it more efficient, financially resilient and economically prosperous. ECG when privatised they argue, will bring huge benefits to Ghana in the form of security of power supply.
In other words power supply will be reliable and the current system of power cuts, blackouts and power rationing will be a thing of the past because privatisation will bring in additional capital, investments and technical and managerial talents.
In the long term prices will be stable or even fall and consumers will be happy. Taxes to government will increase and more jobs in the energy sector will be created. For the government of Ghana, money raised through the sale of ECG will enable it to increase expenditure, cut taxes or repay the nation’s debt.
At the same time privatising ECG will enable the government to access the $500 million Millennium Challenge Compact Funds promised by the US government.
But these are all illusions. In the first wave of privatisation that took place in Ghana in the 1990s, Ghanaians were told that the companies and individuals buying state owned companies would transform them into thriving enterprises providing Ghanaians with endless job opportunities and thus turning Ghana into a prosperous nation.
What they did not tell Ghanaians was that the IMF, the World Bank, the British and the U.S. governments through USAID were behind the push for Ghana to sell its assets as a condition for more loans. In other words these actors used Ghana’s poor financial situation to demand the dismantling of the state and its assets.
There is strong evidence that Mr. Jerry Rawlings and the PNDC resisted pressure to sell state owned-companies. But the IMF, the World Bank, the Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher administrations piled on the pressure using several tactics.
A message from the White House to USAID representatives instructed that they should make sure Ghana sold everything.
Needing cash and unable to raise it at home, the National Democratic Congress party which replaced the PNDC went on a selling spree selling both performing and non-performing companies alike. By 1999 almost 70 percent of state owned assets had been sold. While majority of the state-owned companies sold went to Ghanaians, most of the high valued ones were sold to foreigners. As Prof Antoinette Handley of University of Toronto observed in 2007: “Of 212 divestitures, 169 were sold to locals. This may look like a high figure, but the firms sold to locals were overwhelmingly the smallest, least valuable firms and, in terms of value, may have comprised only ten percent of the total” [1].
One of the sectors of the economy which saw rapid privatisation was the mining sector. The most valuable company in the mining industry was the Ashanti Goldfields Company. For decades the company was controlled by the British firm Lonrho with Ghana having little to no shares at all. Lonrho needed to extend its leases in the 1960s and so it agreed to grant the Ghanaian government 20 percent share in the company to allow the leases to be renewed. When Acheampong’s military government took over power in 1972, it realised how Ghana had been shortchanged. How could Ghana which owned the gold be having only 20 percent shares while a foreign firm controlled everything? the leaders asked. Therefore, Acheampong seized another 35 percent for Ghana, bringing Ghana’s total shares to 55 percent.
However, in 1994 the Rawlings led-NDC government privatised AGC by selling 39.8 percent of its shares. Ghana received more than $454 million from the sale of AGC. What happened to that money is a story for another day. However, Ghana subsequently became a minority shareholder with only 15.2 percent shares in AGC when the NPP replaced the NDC in 2001. Ghana Consolidated Diamonds Limited and other mining firms were also sold.
How did the privatisation of AGC and the mining sector benefit Ghana and how will privatisation of ECG benefit the country? Several reports by the World Bank, United Nations, and Bank of Ghana have revealed that the privatisation of the mining sector has been detrimental to the economy and the welfare of the people of Ghana particularly the communities and farmers in the mining areas. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in 2003 for example, mineral exports from Ghana generated $893.6 million but Ghana got only $46.7 million or just 5% while the companies took the remaining 95% or 846.9 million [2]. Similarly, The UK based The Economist magazine reported that: “Gold accounted for 40% of [Ghana’s] exports in 2008, with a value of $2.2 billion. But the government received only $116m in taxes and royalties from mining firms” [3].
In 2003, the World Bank (the chief advocate of privatisation in Ghana) acknowledged that Ghana has not benefited from mining activities in terms of revenue, employment, infrastructure development and environmental sustainability and urged Ghana’s leaders to take steps to reverse the trend but nothing happened. Using very diplomatic words the World Bank wrote that:
“It is unclear what gold mining true benefits are to Ghana. Large scale mining by foreign companies has high import content and produces only modest amounts of net foreign exchange for Ghana after accounting for all its outflows. Similarly, its corporate tax payments are low due to various fiscal incentives necessary to attract and retain foreign investors. Employment creation is also modest given the highly capital intensive nature of modern surface mining techniques. Local communities affected by large scale mining have seen little benefits to date in the form of improved infrastructure or services provision because much of the rents from mining are used to finance recurrent, not capital expenditure. A broader cost-benefit analysis of large-scale mining that factors in social and environmental costs and includes consultations with the affected communities needs to be undertaken before granting future production licences” [4].
The suffering and agony of farmers and local communities affected by large scale surface mining and who have seen little benefits of mining to date was captured in a study by a Ghanaian scholar Jasper Ayelazuno in 2011. One female farmer from Dumasi in the Western Region told him:
“There is one important thing for us as peasant women in this village that I must mention. We are not educated to get a different job so we depend solely on our land. When we go to the forest, we can fetch firewood free for our own energy needs and to sell for income. But what has the Ghanaian state done? It has given all our land to the white man to mine for gold; and not to do underground mining but surface mining, destroying all our arable lands. In the midst of all this, I cannot say the state of Ghana is good to me or responsive to me. On top of that, the Ghanaian state has given the white man the authority to do whatever they want to us: I have my own land and I cannot have access to it; my water sources (the streams) have been polluted, etc. Up till date, the Ghanaian state has not come to our aid, either to check these mining activities or to provide us with potable water since the mines have polluted our water sources. For me, there is nothing that the Ghanaian state can do for me to view it as a responsive state; so both the past and present government have not helped us” [5].
Since the days of privatisation, more than 50,000 farmers have been displaced by the mining companies who continue to refuse to pay satisfactory compensation to the farmers. While a cocoa farmer could earn $25 a year from a single cocoa tree, mining companies only pay about $8 per tree when they cut the cocoa trees for their mining operations. The economic life of a cocoa tree is between 40 and 50 years [6]. This means most cocoa farmers lose between $1000 and $1250 per a cocoa tree. If this is multiplied by 50 or 100 cocoa trees the financial loss to a farmer could be between $50,000 and $125,000. This injustice is allowed to happen to cocoa farmers because of the mining companies’ closeness to Ghana’s elites. These facts and realities are hardly acknowledged by the torch-bearers of ECG privatisation.
The privatisation of ECG will not be different from what is happening in the mining sector, in fact its impact on Ghana may be far more severe because of electricity’s strategic role in the economy. ECG is a strategic asset, meaning it constitutes a vital part of Ghana’s economy and hence its security. For instance, a private company distributing electricity could decide to sabotage the economy by failing to distribute power to critical sectors of the economy.
One of the reasons why there are constant fuel shortages in Nigeria is due to the fact that import of petroleum products is controlled by few private companies and individuals who sometimes hold the country to ransom by failing to import and distribute fuel. They sometimes create artificial shortage to force prices up just to increase their profit margins. It is this energy and economic security fears which has led Prime Minister Theresa May of UK to kick against China’s involvement of the Hinkely Point C nuclear power project.
From the perspective of the Ghanaian state, the ultimate aim of electricity privatisation is to give consumers lower prices, promote efficiency and reliability, and drive better investment decisions.
But the experience of Australia, United Kingdom and the United States which have implemented electricity privatisation tells the opposite story. In the United Kingdom, the privatisation of electricity has resulted in six big private energy companies dominating the sector including British Gas, Npower, Scottish Power, E.ON, EDF Energy, and Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE).
The profit-making motive of these companies has led to unusually high prices of energy in the UK. According to Prof Benjamin Sovacool of Vermont University, USA, "from 2004 to 2012 domestic electricity prices increased by more than 75 percent [an increase of more than 9 percent a year] and gas prices increased by 122 percent with gas prices increasing 15 percent from 2011 to 2012". According to the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change "For several years prices have been the most influential factor in the movements in fuel poverty. Prices have risen at a rate well above that of income". This high energy prices has made electricity unaffordable for many companies, households and families leading to massive rise of households living in fuel poverty. Any time energy prices increase by 1%, more than 40,000 households become fuel poor. As a result, the number of households living in fuel poverty in all of UK has been rising steeply. It rose from more than 2 million in 2003 to more than 3 million in 2007 to more than 5 million in 2009. In fact, in 2009 about 18 percent of all households lived in fuel poverty and it has been estimated that as of 2015 more than 25 percent of households were living in fuel poverty [7].
Thus a combination of low household incomes,extremely high energy prices and high penalties for nonpayment of energy bills has made it difficult to contain the escalating rise in fuel poverty and its socioeconomic implications for millions of households. In fact, thousands of people die of fuel poverty every year especially during the cold winter and hot summer months. Between 2012 and 2013 over 31,000 died [8] while in 2014 over 15,000 people died [9]. Some families have to choose between food and heating and lighting their homes. Despite the presence of well-developed consumer advocacy groups and media campaigns, energy is the second most important factor after housing rent that takes away a large chunk of people’s income. Some families spend more than 10 percent of their monthly income on energy.
In Australia where some states have privatised electricity, Prof John Quiggin, an Economist at University of Queensland who spent 20 years analysing electricity privatisation in Australia points out that in states in Australia where electricity is privatised, "Privatisation has produced no benefits to consumers, but has resulted in large financial losses to the public".
Privatisation has resulted in dramatic rise in electricity prices as well as serious customer dissatisfaction and complaints. He observed that “Privatisation, corporatisation and the creation of competitive electricity markets were supposed to give consumers lower prices and more choice, promote efficiency and reliability, and drive better investment decisions for new generation and improved transmission and distribution networks. [Instead] prices have risen dramatically. A secure low-cost supply has been replaced with a bewildering array of offers, all at costs inflated by a huge expansion in marketing” [10].
His findings which is contained in a report titled “Electricity Privatisation in Australia: A Record Failure” include the following:
"Prices— have reversed their declining trend, and are highest in privatised States. Since the NEM [National Energy Market] was introduced, prices from 2005 have risen sharply.
"Quality — customer dissatisfaction has risen markedly since the NEM, profoundly for privatised States, where complaints to the relevant energy ombudsmen have grown from 500 per year to over 50,000’. ‘Reliability— has declined across a wide range of measures in Victoria [state], notwithstanding increased “physical audits” and expensive financial “market incentive” programs.
"Efficient investment — has not occurred, as the pricing mechanisms have not delivered coherent signals for optimal investment.’ ‘Efficient operation— resources have been diverted away from operational functions to management and marketing, resulting in higher costs and poorer service…The NEM and privatisation have reduced real labour productivity, as employment and training of tradespeople have been gutted and the numbers of less productive managerial and sales staff have exploded."
Consumers bear the cost of private owners’ debts— ‘In privatised States, customers’ bills include the cost of almost 10% per annum interest on the corporate owners’ debt on the electricity assets. This compares to government borrowing costs of closer to 3%. The NEM has mimicked these exorbitant borrowing costs to all customers.’ Private owners are receiving unjustifiably high rates of return based on the low investment risk — ‘The high rates of return to private owners for the low investment risk is unjustifiable and irresponsible. The private owners of price-regulated distribution assets have outperformed almost all investment classes, by making post-tax real rates of returns close to 10% annually since 2006.’
The examples from Australia and United Kingdom indicate that privatising ECG could deepen socio-economic inequality because affordability rather than access and needs will be the rule. Private companies, who will put profit-making above everything else, will use price increase as a strategy to make huge profits. They will expect Ghanaians to bear the cost of their investment through price hikes. Not all consumers in Ghana will be able to afford the huge price hikes. Electricity could even become a luxury commodity allowing those with the means to buy to live, leaving those without the means to live without it, with serious socio-economic consequences for them and their families. As Ghana seeks the best way to produce and distribute electricity, policymakers must know that privatisation is not always the answer and in Ghana’s case will be unbeneficial.
By Lord Aikins Adusei
[1] Handley, A. (2007) ‘Business, Government, and the Privatisation of the Ashanti Goldfields Company in Ghana’ Canadian Journal of African Studies, 41:1, 1-37 (see pp 8 and 12)
[2] UNCTAD (2003) ‘Economic Development of Africa: Rethinking the Role of Foreign Direct Investment’ http://unctad.org/en/Docs/gdsafrica20051_en.pdf (see page 50)
[3] The Economist (2010) ‘Carats and sticks: mining in Ghana’ The Economist, 3 April 2010.
[4] World Bank (2003) ‘An assessment of the performance of Mining in Ghana’; http://lnweb90.worldbank.org/oed/oeddoclib.nsf/docunidviewforjavasearch/a89aedb05623fd6085256e37005cd815/$file/ppar_26197.pdf (see page 23)
[5] Ayelazuno, J (2011) ‘Continuous primitive accumulation in Ghana: the real-life stories of dispossessed peasants in three mining communities, Review of African Political Economy, 38:130, 537-550’ (see pp. 544-5),
[6] Tickner, V. (2008) ‘Africa: International Food Price Rises & Volatility’, Review of African Political Economy, 35:117, 508-514 (see page 4)
[7] Sovacool, B.K. (2013) 'Energy and Ethics: Justice and the global energy challenge'
[8] The Telegraph (2013) ‘Energy row erupts as winter deaths spiral 29 per cent to four year high of 31,000’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/elder/10474966/Energy-row-erupts-as-winter-deaths-spiral-29-per-cent-to-four-year-high-of-31000.html
[9] The Independent (2015) ‘Fuel poverty killed 15,000 people last winter’ 30 April 2015 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/fuel-poverty-killed-15000-people-last-winter-10217215.html
[10] Quiggin, J. (2014) ‘Electricity privatisation in Australia: A record of failure’ 20 February, 2014

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