Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why the African Union should be scrapped.

This coming Saturday marks the 50 anniversary of the formation of the AU(OAU) and activities with respective to that will be observed in different parts of the continent and possibly the west. As a young student reading about the AU (OAU) in relation to the works done by the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Kenneth Kaunda,Azikwei, Julius Nyerere and millions of ordinary Africans who gave up their lives to achieve liberation for their respective countries, I was left with great sense of pride-a pride that people were more than willing to give up their lives for the good of their country and the rest of the continent. But a little over a decade down my years, the scale of reality about the AU continues to become clear to me;it has become an impotent body of corrupt dictators that should be scrapped. One of the key reasons for rebranding the AU, thanks to funds from Maummar Gaddafi of blessed memory, was to advance the economic wellbeing of the millions of Africans on the continent, promote human rights and ensure equality before all. Sad to say not even a scratch of those has been achieved. In short, they have lost the essence of the very goals they set themselves fifty years ago. Today, the very goals of economic emancipation are only understood by them. One should take a closer look at the opulence often displayed by AU leaders during meetings and the answers will be clear. Here in West Africa for example, one does not need a soothsayer to tell him about the sordid and depressing living standards of their people. I was in Niger about 2 years ago filming for a documentary and the scale of poverty was to glaring to ignore. Beggars had lined up the streets from both sides begging for a coin. It was as if they had been deliberately brought there for a special occasion. Mothers, fathers, children, young and old were all begging so they can feed. Their sad lives contrast that of their political leadership, most of whom live extravagantly. The blessing of oil has failed to impact the lives of millions of their nationals scavenging from dawn to dusk the basic ingredients needed in this life. Not only Niger but Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria and until recently Ghana, have all failed to use the oil benefits to improve the lives of their people. Maybe for Ghana one can say it’s too early but looking at how the leadership is managing the resources, I honestly doubt if even a drop could be used to fix deteriorating infrastructure. The AU has become an assembly of opportunists who are busy stealing from their people and stashing them abroad. The billions stashed away in foreign banks by African leaders cannot be ignored, desperately as most of them try to deny that sub-culture. Somalia, a member of the union, has become a banana republic. The AU is in no position to resolve its own conflicts. How AU leaders sat down and allowed NATO and its allies to invade Libya, create the mess, murder Gaddafi and leave the country in a mess still intrigues me. The AU’s failures are many and eventhough I don’t intend to list everything, I’m confident that the union has lost the fire power and should be scrapped.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Covering the Election Petition

I honestly don't remember most of arguments but I still have a fresh idea of when exactly the ongoing election petition case started. I had in December 28th, 2012 covered a press conference addressed by the New Patriotic Party presidential candidate Nana Akufo Addo at the Alisa hotel. It was on that said day that Nana Addo and his runningmate Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia and party chairman Jake Obetsebi Lamptey finally filed their petition at the court to contest the outcome of the 2012 presidential election results. The whole venue was very much crowded by party supporters, making it hard for most journalists to have access. But the security officials did well in ensuring every journalist invited managed to secure a place. It was at that meeting that Nana Addo said they have filed and were ready to hit the court. The entire room erupted with loud cheers, and the phrase: 'Let My Vote Count' rang alongside it. I was forced to ran a live commentary on radio, cracking up on twi-local Ghanaian language-to the best of my knowledge. I knew I was going to cover the court from that time. How long was the case going to last and how long was I going to spend in the courtroom? That was the basic question ringing inside my head for days.Being the first of its kind, almost everyone in my office was buzzing with enthusiasm; 'i wish i could come with you,' a colleague told me. I said 'yea' maybe we could do this today. Typical of Ghanaians, the first day was full of media blitz, it was as if the entire life of Ghanaians depended on the case-mind you it was even the initial stages when lawyers from the various sides had to agree and disagree on many issues. Finally the court decided to set aside two main issues for the case to begin. Then there was the angle of live telecast. Was it going to happen? I was very much confident It was not going to happen, after all recordings are not even allowed. However, on the eve of the first sitting, I was informed, through a colleague, that the chief justice had agreed for the proceedings to be televised. It was pretty much awkward, especially when the judges themselves had made it clear they were not going to allow even projectors to be used by the petitioners. We all turned up on the first day and the OB Van of the national broadcast had setup, waiting for the various parties and the judges to walk. Presiding Judge William Atuguba informed the various lawyers of the presence of the cameras and asked for their opinion. They all agreed. The rest they say is history. I have not blogged in a long while but I'm going to make it my daily job to update followers of some of the side issues that take place in court. I'm not a lawyer so I don't intend to pretend to know the law. I'll express positions akin to the simple form lawyers process the issues for us to appreciate. Until then, enjoy your evening.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vigilante media?

British Prime Minister David Cameron last week rekindled an old flame. Not exactly in the romantic sense. But it was something that angered majority of Ghanaians who considered it a threat. Mr. Cameron had told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Britain will cut aid to countries that push for anti gay laws. He did not mention Ghana by name but everyone knew he was talking to us (Ghana), Malawi and Uganda. Both Uganda and Malawi abhor the practice. Whilst Uganda has an existing law that makes it mandatory for gays to be jailed for a decade, Malawi is holding up two openly gay couple who got married and subsequently had to go into hiding, until they were flushed out.

Britain reacted swiftly by calling its Ambassador back to London for a full brief. They cancel a €19 million support to them, a fund desperately needed to shore up an economy that continues to hang on weak financial legs. More than 50 percent of that country’s economy is supported by Britain and the rest coming from tobacco production and other natural resources which are struggling, thanks to on-going global meltdown. However, the case of Ghana is different. The constitution is silent on same sex marriage. Perhaps we got ourselves into this position following persistent and open condemnation of gay persons by religious bodies, individuals and holier than thou persons who used all the invectives on those involved.

The Christian Council of Ghana especially demanded a public statement from politicians about gay rights. At a press conference more than two months ago, General Secretary of the council Reverend Fred Degbe (incidentally a lawyer) said any political party seen to be endorsing gay rights will not get their votes. Other members of the council also followed their comments with full page advertisements in the state owned newspaper, calling on their members to shun the company of ‘SINNERS AND PERSONS DESTINED FOR THE LAKE OF FIRE.” A member of the Council of State and a minister of the gospel said accepting gays means Ghana will be inviting ‘God Damnation onto the nation.’

I wonder why God has not brought damnation onto countries like America, Britain, Germany and many other countries where gay people have the right to exercise their sexual freedoms. Ironically, these are the same countries our leaders continue to travel to to beg for money. Are we not aware we are using gay monies to fuel our economy? Others also made very serious comments in support.

As if that was not enough, the Western Regional Minister Paul Evans Aidoo directed the security agency to hound any person suspected to be gay. It was a reckless threat that meant any idiot could go ahead and attack somebody he or she suspects of being gay. It was unfortunate. Subsequent to his threat, David Cameron also made his country’s position known. “YOU PERSECUTE THEM YOU DON’T GET MY MONEY.” As of 2010, Britain gave Ghana an amount of £80million to shore up the economy.

It is meager but for a country like Ghana, it means a lot to us.; we can construct more public toilets and the rest will go into the private pockets of politicians. That has been the culture all these years. So far, the arguments or whatever so far expressed by religious bodies and individuals have been done out of emotions and pure religious bigotry. Since Mr. Cameron’s threat to cut aid to seemingly anti-gay countries, I have taken the pain to scan through different radio channels and the outpouring of condemnations and threats directed at gays have been hot and harsh.

Every single person who got the opportunity to speak on the radio proceed to issue threats to gay persons. One caller actually referred to them as ‘ANIMALS who should be doused with fire.” The presenter and his hosts laughed over the issue and added their own version to it. I was horrified. The media that ought to be at the front exercising some level of responsibility virtually became a good platform to propagate vigilante messages against gays. An aunty of mine who is a lawyer and human rights advocate had suffered enormous abuse for speaking out against such barbaric posture and hypocrisy coming from the clergy.

Like me and many others, we have been horrified by the level of hypocrisy the religious bodies continue to exhibit. They preach compassion and yet cannot exercise one towards people whose sexual preference is different from theirs. What most of them are pretending to see is that right inside their churches, the gays and lesbians are there, they make financial contributions for the pastors to drive in those expensive cars and take those foreign trips.

Their contributions ensure the pastors live comfortable lives, eat well whilst most of the flocks struggle in the sun for their daily meals. I’m not the one to pass judgment on the sexuality of people but if indeed gays and lesbians are destined to go to hell, then whoever has not sinned before must let the first stone slip off his fingers.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wiki-Weeks in Ghana

It’s been two weeks already…..and the whole of Ghana is talking…talking about leaks from diplomatic circles that appear to be making life uncomfortable to some politicians and high profile journalists… to some it’s just gossips…gossips that should be thrashed…but for others it’s an important leakage that should be allowed to flow---and depending on where you stand, it works. Especially politicians are the hardest hit, with some of them said to be angry-angry not only at themselves but the founder of the leaks, Julian Assange. The Australian who is described as a ‘nomad’ in media circles has not been a good friend in the eyes of those whose conversations have been recorded by cables from the US embassy. The US are really looking for him…and I want to believe the likes of Hanna Tetteh, Mahama Ayariga, Fiifi Kwetey, Kwesi Pratt, Ben Ephson and a lot more other personalities mentioned in the cable wouldn’t mind tearing him apart should they get hold of him. He has embarrassed them. They had a bottle of wine with some pretty US embassy officials and that alone was good enough for them to leak as much information in their bellies as possible. Most of those caught in the leak are said to be choked by the volume of things they said…some say they could not remember just because the alcohol was too sweet and too much… the ones so far released are just ‘peanuts.’ A quarter of it could break the back of the country…and there will be no survival.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Press confabs!

I hate press conferences. I really really hate them. as a journalist, I have never delighted myself in them. They are fertile grounds for chitchatting and yawning about silly things. Especially if you live in a country like mine (mind you I’m Ghanaian and I love my country), then you’ll understand what I mean. It’s a waste of time to attend any press conference in this country. the amount of time one is kept sitting down and patiently or impatiently waiting for a so-called ‘HONOURABLE MINISTER’ is nauseating, to say the least. I have been to a few but never enjoyed them.

There are too many talks with much I do about nothing ending. You often here politicians and their cohorts blab about anything that comes to mind, thinking they are doing their job. I have made a switch back to radio after more than three years of working as a newspaper journalist. I have been to two press conferences and in all of them, I have turned up very early, thinking the programme will start on time.

The tradition in the past had always been about delays. However, I was looking for a completely new culture of attitude especially from ministers who are so much obsessed with honorability titles. My first press conference was at the education ministry and after keeping the journalists waiting for more than an hour, the minister appears and the first thing he said was an excuse as to why he is late to the program. Even before that, his public relations officer had come in with a rather stupid explanation. He was laughing between his saggy teeth, and that got me upset. But I maintained my cool. After all I was not going to go back to my editor, telling him I did not cover the assignment because the minister was either late or his spokesperson offered a rather mundane explanation. So I sat there and covered the program. I even did an interview with the minister at the back of the main program.

Then on Tuesday morning after the editorial meeting, I was assigned another press conference. The ministry of works, housing and water resources is to give an overview of the ministry since 2009 till date. It was half past time, I was told. So I dashed off to a nearby chopbar(call it restaurant) and grabbed a plate of rice and fish. I hurriedly consumed the food thinking I was going to be late if I eat at a snail pace.
I didn’t even wait for the last food to sink when I dashed off like a rabbit, flagged down a cab and jumped into it-I was gone to the ministry. The programme had not started. I had arrived earlier than the scheduled time but my fears were confirmed following another hour long delay. The said 10:30am never happened.

After sitting down for an hour, I started getting upset, went out to pick a phone call from a colleague in the office who wanted to know what was happening. He was shocked when I told him the program had not started. I had barely come off the phone when the minister, Alban Bagbin, walked in followed by other officials from his ministry.
He took his seat to be introduced by John Tia, the information minister. After offering some few remarks he introduced the minister. The first thing I was expecting him to say was to apologise. But he will not. He greeted the journalists and when the response he got appeared to be weak, he asked if ‘you had not eaten.” That was very rude from him. the message I got was that he saw the many journalists as poor and hungry fellows who are not so much interested in the information he was about offering but the financial handouts to be given at the end of the program. He knew some of us-soli collectors, no doubt.

He started off his presentation and after the long talk just shuffling through slides; he ended the statement, took his seat and invited questions. Annoyingly, he decided not to answer one of the questions put to him by a colleague journalist about a housing deal-STX-deeply stashed in controversy. His explanation was that anyone interested in the deal must come over to his office for the answers. What arrogance!

This was a man who was busy criticizing the president just because he had not been given any position in government. But soon as he got it, he went to sleep, insisting it’s a bad habit to be eating and talking at the same time.
I guess you catch the drift?

Friday, May 27, 2011

BE BOLD for what, Nana Konadu?

When former first lady Nana Konadu finally outdoored her campaign to contest the sitting President, John Mills, for the ruling National Democratic Congress presidential ticket, the phrase ‘BE BOLD’ was printed on t-shirts that had her effigy. Her billboards also carry the same phrase. Hardly does anyone speak about her without mentioning the phrase, Be Bold, before the rest follows.

Her key reason for entering the campaign, as she and her faithfuls have been telling us, is that the president, John Mills, has underperformed and needs to be changed before the party heads into the ditch. She therefore promised to restore hope into the party faithfuls or footsoldiers, and the larger Ghanaian.

Again, the decisions to run also include the following; John Mills’ inability to deliver the party from the clutches of shame, the rampant corruption within government, the inability of close friends of the Rawlings’ to grab ministerial jobs, he has not jailed enough people from the other camp-NPP.

She told her own party people and Ghanaians that she represents the best hope to ensure unemployed persons get the needed jobs so they can be in a good position to settle down as married persons.

Nana has started off her campaign in earnest but all that has come from her camp are full of rubbish, unfortunately to say. Her campaign has not been able to say anything sensible to assure the ordinary Ghanaian especially those dwelling in the slums that she will change their fortune. The messages so far coming from her camp are nothing but full of insults.

Sadly to say the insults have been directly at the sitting president, who has even been leveled as not only impotent but blind and a ceremonial president. Kondau’s campaign manager and Member of Parliament for Lower Manya Krobo, Michael Teye Nyaunu, met their own supporters but failed to tell them anything tangible.

Rather, Mr. Nyaunu, who has consistently denigrated the president even before the 2008 elections, said among other things that President Mills is BLIND. He claimed the president or the man he referred to as the ceremonial president (because the main guys running the presidency are Ahwoi brothers) can’t sign letters brought before him and that work had to be done for him.

According to Mr. Nyaunu, who appears pissed because he did not get any ministerial position, reduced President Mills to the level of a sightless person who can’t distinguish between day and night. He said the president can’t even tell the colour of his own clothes, let alone recognise the colours of the country’s flag.

Most people were shocked by his comments. I was personally shocked when I listened to him on the radio. Despite the fact that his voice was captured on the tape, journalists still gave him the benefit of the doubt and called him to clarify the statements. He stood on his ground and insisted John Mills is blind.

True to the phrase from his benefactor, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Mr. Nyaunu, in his boldness, repeated the same insults on the president. It was extremely distasteful to hear him speak in such idiotic terms. He sounded bold with his insults and listening to him, it was not difficult to tell this man has no decency to his own life nor his own children.

The so-called Be Bold campaign, in Nyaunu estimation, is about vilification. It has nothing to do with brining economic relief to the average Ghanaian. It is purely about insults and nothing else.

I honestly think that Ghanaians would prefer a seemingly sightless president to a pretentious presidential candidate who justified the shaving of the hair of a youngman man dating her daughter with BROKEN BOTTLES.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yutong Bus contest

I am struggling to remember the last time I wrote something on this page. The last bit of the first quarter of the year did not go as well as I had envisaged. I lost my mother, something that still hurts me. Though I have been trying to encourage myself to stay strong, It has not been easy. But I’m trying.

Despite the pain, I have had to spend time watching the country’s political landscape especially with respect to the power struggle within the ruling National Democratic Congress. President Mills has not had it easy from the Rawlings’ and their praise singers. He has come under fierce criticisms. His style of government has come under bashing from Mr. Rawlings and his friends. One of the bashings was that he is supervising a rather corrupt and uninspiring government; something Mr. Rawlings claims is in avariance with the ‘principles of June 4.’ So what did Rawlings do?

He got his wife to pick forms so she can challenge the president at the party’s congress slated for July. Not only that, President Mills was also equated to a Yutong Bus driver who ought to be changed because he has spent the last two years driving on the wrong side of the road, according to a certain Teye Nyauno, a protégé of the Rawlings.

He has said all the bad things about the government, to the extent that party foot soldiers who labored for the party during the periods of elections have been relegated to the background.

He was the one who likened the president to a Yutong Bus driver who should be changed because he is taking passengers through the wrong route.

In response to his criticisms, Vice President John Mahama also alluded to the fact that past driver of the Yutong Bus, an apparent reference to Jerry Rawlings, was given coffee to keep him awake, eventhough most people were not happy with his driving style.

He further said they had to prep up the driver at many occasions until he finally took the passengers to the trip, before handing over the wheels to a completely new driver.

Kofi Adams, spokesperson of the Rawlings, said Ghanaians don’t have the time to be serving the driver with coffee throughout the journey, if he is indeed tired. He said the only solution is for the driver to be change to ensure passengers are not sent into the ditch.

But others are asking if the driver’s mate, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, is qualified to drive a Yutong bus with over 22 million passengers onboard.
Ghanaians will know the answer by the first week of July.