Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Old rivalry rekindled as the Stars play the Eagles in a crunch game today

Matches between Ghana and their Nigerian counterparts have never followed any established form. Be it at the junior or senior levels, whoever is lucky on the match day comes out victorious. Between the two, the Black Stars have been the biggest beneficiaries especially at the senior level.

Ahead of today’s (Thursday) crunch semi final game at the on-going African Nations Cup in Angola, players and supporters of the two countries have been entangled in a war of words over who will emerge the victor. Though the Black Stars have, on most occasions, found their way around the Eagles in such matches, it has never been easy and Ghanaians can only wish them well.

The last time the two teams played was at a similar tournament two years ago in Ghana when the Stars beat them by two goals to one. Nigerian had taken the lead in a penalty converted by striker Yakubu Ayigbeni. The Black Stars responded quickly and Manuel Agogo (not part of the present squad) scored the winning goal that took Ghana to the semi finals of the tournament.

Prior to the 2008 meet, the two met at the semi final state in Senegal in 1992 and there too, the Super Eagles took the first lead but ended up losing to the stars by two goals to one. Skipper Abedi Pele and Prince Polley were the goal scorers for Ghana.

The 1992 and 2008 squads had much more experienced players and quality, contrary to what pertains at the moment. The current stars have eight players from the Under 20 squad. There is no Sulley Muntari, John Mensah, Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah and John Painstil.

Among the list it was only Essien who joined the team but was forced to leave the camp following an injury he is reported to have sustained at training. Apart from Richard Kingson, Hans Adu Sarpei, Eric Addo, Asamoah Gyan and Matthew Amoah, the remaining players in the squad are tasting their first experience at such a big stage. Going into the tournament, critics complained about the strength of the team because it was short of the so-called ‘big boys.’

Some sports commentators virtually rubbished the team. Others described them as ‘childish’ and a team that lacks the needed experience to even go beyond the group stages. The criticism was more pronounced after their first game against Ivory Coast which they lost by three goals to one.

The team however managed to pick up the pieces and beat Burkina Faso by a lone goal scored by Andre Dede Ayew in a match people claimed the team escaped through the skin of their teeth.

Going into the quarter final game against Angola, very few people had faith in their ability to progress through the stage. On paper Angola looked more purposeful and determined than the black stars. They had scored an average of two goals and considered five as against a team that had scored only two goals with three against from two matches.

The stars however went into the game against Angola as the underdogs and after 90 minutes, a lone goal scored by under-fire striker Asamoah Gyan was enough to silence the home crowd.

On paper the Super Eagles boast of quality as compared to the black stars. They have deadly strikers in the persons of Peter Odemingwe and Obafemi Martins and anytime the two should have their games on, opposing defenders always fumble holding them in check.

The Black Stars have however proven that names don’t play football. Their sheer determination has been a huge panacea to get them to the semi’s and most Ghanaians are confident history will again be on the side of the stars after 4pm today.

Bagbin under fire over new appointment

His nomination as a Minister of State did not come as a surprise to us at the dailyEXPRESS, but ever since news broke Monday night, Majority Leader in Parliament Alban Sumani Kingsford Bagbin’s appears to be having to explain the new development with many including his political opponents proffering a view.

While some say President John Mills’ decision to take Mr. Bagbin out of parliament would ultimately weaken the legislature, others say it is a reward for his recent criticism of the Mills administration. The proponents of a weakened legislature argue that as one of the most experienced parliamentarians, the Majority Leader together with his colleagues, E. T. Mensah who is the Majority Chief Whip and John Tia, the Deputy Majority Leader should have stayed over at parliament.

Among the three, Mr. Bagbin has attracted more media attention with some analysts and colleague MPs insisting that as a key proponent of strengthening parliament, his acceptance of the President’s appointment betrays his commitment to the institution of parliament.

Mr. Bagbin who for eight years was the Minority Leader in Parliament and currently the Leader of the House has been nominated by the President as Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing to replace a fellow MP, Albert Abongo who has been sacked by the President in his first ministerial reshuffle.

The Majority Leader is among leading members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), who like Party Founder Jerry Rawlings openly criticised the Mills administration, with Mr. Bagbin calling for a reshuffle.

“There are weaknesses here and there… so I think there are areas that we need as a government to look into and maybe try and invigorate them with some new faces that could assist to get things going,” he told Accra based Citi FM late last year.

He also defended the criticisms of Jerry Rawlings noting that “I think that it is good for the country and I want to encourage the former presidents, whether Kufuor or Jerry, to keep coming up with criticisms because they have a store of experience and knowledge that is needed for the country.”

Some say his nomination is a demotion, in view of the fact that as Leader of the House he was in charge of the legislature and will now be an appointee of the president, when approved by parliament. His years of experience in parliament is not in doubt and he has been credited as one of the few MPs whose presence in the leadership gives the House some creditability in the wake of severe public bashing over its handling of some serious national issues.

During the controversy over the ‘dodgy approval’ of the retirement package for former members of the executive which some senior members of House including Information Minister-designate John Tia, were defending, Mr. Bagbin was among the few who held contrary views. He was infact critical of some of his colleagues as well as former President John Kufuor for attempting to smuggle a document into the house in order for it to be approved.

Critics of the new role the Nadowli West MP is expected to play however say he has been offered a position in the executive to shut him up especially because he had in the past criticised the government.

But Mr. Bagbin says the decision is entirely that of the President, adding that it is another opportunity for him to serve the country in a different capacity.

Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Minority Leader, who had in the past questioned the non-inclusion of Alban Bagbin and others in the ministerial appointments of President Mills, is now complaining about his colleague’s nomination. He says the decision to remove his colleague from the leadership of the House has serious implications for leadership of parliament.

He has also raised questions about what he claims is the President’s interference in the leadership of the house. This follows media reports suggesting that Interior Minister Cletus Avoka and the Minister for Youth & Sports Rashid Pelpuo would be taking over as Majority and Deputy Majority Leader respectfully after the President relieved them of their positions.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Naija in search of their Offshore President

Speak to any Nigerian anywhere in the world and the first thing on his mind is the whereabouts of his president, Umaru Musa Yar’Dua. He is missing, that is the likely response one may get. He is off in Saudi Arabia recuperating from a heart related sickness, creating a vacuum in the seat of presidency in Abuja.

‘Our president is missing and anybody who chances upon him should bring him to us in one piece,’ reads a recent placards as demonstrators took to the streets to express their anger about his absence. ‘We are tired of this offshore president,’ yells another protestor.

Naija people are pissed especially for the many excuses coming from the seat of government. ‘Is this sick man still alive,’ is one of many questions Nigerians are asking.

"Enough of the offshore president and a people's constitution now" says a protestors last Thursday.

Then from nowhere, the BBC pulled a fast one by interviewing the ailing president. He spoke in both English and Hausa to his people. His voice sounded very weak, ugly and pale. The president is indeed not healthy.

Rather than end speculation about rumours making rounds that the president is dead, the interview fuelled the existing speculation. ‘It’s not him,’ some people said. The claim is that the voice has been tempered with.

‘Let’s go with our own video camera and record him,’ some activists have suggested. There are constitutional implications to his absence as the vice president, Jonathan Goodluck, can’t sign any bill because he has not been given the directive. He has no power to act in that respect!

Analysts fear of an impending constitutional crisis that might motivate irritant within the military to take up arms-Naija people are averse to military rule but are still not ruling out the possibility of such. After all the same characters at the top motivate those soldiers to seize power so they can get whatever that they want.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who endorsed Umaru’s presidency, is even tired of his absence and had called on him to resign. He said there was "a path of honour and morality" for an office-holder unable to deliver because of his health.

He denied that he had been irresponsible when choosing his successor, AFP news agency reports.

"To say that I, Olusegun Obasanjo, deliberately picked somebody who is an invalid, is the height of insult," he said.

In 2007, he put Mr Yar'Adua, who was known to suffer from a kidney complaint, forward as the ruling People's Democratic Party's presidential candidate when his own attempts to run for a third term floundered.

However, Obasanjo believes the time has come for his hand picked president to step down and put his mind into resolving his health issues.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Uncle Sam eavesdropping?

Man: hello sweetness, I hope you are doing really great. I miss you

Woman: you miss me, huh? I miss you too. So what are you doing now?

Man: I’m talking to the love of my life----and I really miss her more than anything.

Woman: hahahahaha....I miss you as well and wish I could kiss you anywhere.

Man: ooh gosh, that really sounds sweet to hear. Do you know what I’ll do to you?

Woman: I don’t know unless you tell me---are you naked?

Man: certainly I’m naked and feeling very honey-hahahahaha.

Woman: you are really getting me into the grove with your heavy and dark voice-errr- That voice tastes smooth like dark coffee.

Man: I’m blushing real bad awwww-baby.

Woman: hahaha, man blushing-wish I were lying innocently in your arms.

Man: hold on sweetheart, it appears somebody is listening to our conversation.

Woman: who is listening to our conversation, it’s only us on the line-or you are in the room with another woman

Man: hahahaha, you sure know nobody will ever take your place. No one be like you-wish I could sing for you something Psquare.

Woman: don’t patronise me. Anyway who is listening to our conversation—because it’s only us?

Man: yeah I know but I have a feeling somebody is listening to our conversation. The truth national security has gotten all of us to register our sims.

Woman: ooh my gosh! So they heard all of that we said, huh.

I’m not sure how one would react should he fall into such a situation. The national security operatives in the country say they are going ahead to get all mobile companies in the country register their customers, keep the data and as and when it becomes imperative for them to use them, they put in a request. However, not everyone is pleased with the directive lawyers especially are the ones leading the pack in this direction.

They say the security apparatus should go to court and obtain an instrument that will give their exercise some legitimacy. Again, it will allow citizens to interrogate that as well. But that is not something the security chaps will accept. Larry Gbevlo Lartey, a retired colonel from Ghana’s Army, who heads the National Security appear to be telling those loud mouth lawyers to go to hell and rot.

He is not in any mood whatsoever to be caught in this law crap. Mind you he is a lawyer himself and does understand the ramifications that well. But that is not enough.

Seriously speaking, Ghanaians are averse with the name ‘National Security’ because of the way it was used in the past to harass and terrorise people. The truth is people were tortured and killed under the guise of national security. It was a home of terror and many military regimes used that to their advantage.

There is a certain history to national security and not everyone would be pleased to have them lead the pack in this direction. Let the National Communication Authority do that work, say critics.

Ghana to assist Haiti over earthquake disaster

Described as the worst natural disaster in recent times, last Tuesday’s earthquake in the former French colony of Haiti has left in its trail a massive scale of unspoken horror. Leaders across the world have been shaken by the quake and Ghana’s President, John Mills has on behalf of his people conveyed the sympathy of Ghanaians to the people of Haiti.

In a letter which was signed by himself, the President said he’s learnt with great “shock and deep sorrow” the event of January 12, 2009, and how much destruction that has caused to human lives and properties.

“While the scale of destruction is still being assessed, it is already clear to us in Ghana that a tragedy of huge proportions has hit your beloved country, the President said.

“I therefore hasten to express, on behalf of the People and Government of Ghana and in my own name, heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the People of Haiti and your Government for the incalculable losses your country has suffered in this natural disaster.”

President Mills also pledged Ghana’s readiness to contribute to efforts already underway to alleviate the sufferings of the people.

“We are marshalling our resources and will in due course make our modest contribution to your national effort at bringing relief and succor to the people of Haiti who have suffered great loss.”

Meanwhile, Liberia has given an indication that it will be donating US$50,000 as part of relief efforts to already underway. President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal has also pledged his country’s support to airlift as many Haitians willing to settle in Senegal, whom he believes had their roots from Africa.

A Rescue group from South Africa has also made its way there helping with the search for bodies trapped under huge concrete rubbles.

Arguably one of the most impoverished nations within the Caribbean Island, the first time Haiti experienced such an unspeakable scale of horror was in the 1940s and though this former French colony has been characterised by poverty and political upheavals, never has it witnessed a disaster of such magnitude.

Hundreds of thousands of people are said to be missing, most of whom are believed to be buried under collapsed concrete roofs. Especially in the capital Port-au-Prince, it is believed over two hundred students including their supervisors have been buried under a collapsed building.

Electricity, water supplies as well as communication links have been cut off therefore making it difficult for those outside the capital to be reached by aide agencies. According to reports especially from the BBC, relief items dispatched to the country are far less than required as the number of survivors in need of assistance continue to out-strip the items that continue to come in.

Survivors are said to be deeply traumatised and with most of them sustaining serious body injuries and in need of serious medical attention, reports indicate such persons are likely to die from their injuries. The BBC’s World Affairs Correspondent Mark Doyle on Saturday told the Newshour Programme, most survivors who are yet to receive any package are seriously fighting with the rest of their folks for the little aide that has come to them.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says his administration is getting in touch with world leaders including US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, to convey a meeting to raise funds to assist in efforts that will lead to the restoration of the country.

The Obama administration has meanwhile brought together former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush to deliberate on the way out regarding the raising of financial assistance to support the Haitians.

Also, the United Nations has recorded massive loss of staff and properties. The UN representative in Haiti, a Tunisian national died in the quake. Other staff members are also missing and chances of them being rescued alive do not exist.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cabinda disaster (1)

Ghanaians are very passionate about football, but have the weakest heart to accept defeats. That is their habit. Speak to any Ghanaian football fan about a game involving any of their national teams and the answer one gets suggests the legs of their opponents will be tied to a log. They simply are dismissive of their opponents.

The outcome however is that they end up with bad eggs all over their faces. Not once, not twice but on several occasions, Ghanaian football fans have seen their faith in their teams buried in disappointments. Ahead of their game against the elephants of Ivory Coast last Friday (15-01-01) in the on-going Orange Cup of Nations in Angola, soccer fans were optimistic the Black Stars will wallop the elephants. As usual, their optimism was hinged, firmly, on a similar tournament in Ghana in 2008 when Ivory Coast, then tournament favourites, were convincingly beaten by the Stars.

The two played for the third place spot and the Black Stars won by 4 goals as against the 2 scored by the Ivoirians. On the back of that historical victory, football fans condemned the Ivoirians of the Didier Drogba’s, Kolo Toure’s, Yaya Toure’s, Salomon Kalou’s and the like, ahead of the game. Ghanaians were sure the match was done and dusted. Despite the inexperience of most of the players, because a good number of them were drafted from the Under 20 level, Ghanaians were still optimistic of victory. I’m not a big fan of the stars and had even predicted they’ll lose against the elephants.

Most of my friends branded me as not being patriotic. That is their opinion and was not going to have any disagreements with them over that. After all I exercise the right to support which team I think is good. I’m not going to be led astray by this patriotism thing to support a team that has no focus and plan. Unfortunately that is what Ghanaians are deliberately trying not to accept. The team is simply a comedy of errors. Anyway back to the match against the elephants.

The news, as most of you might be away, is that the elephants humbled the walked over the Stars by thrashing them. The elephants beat them by 3 goals to 1. Even the consolation goal was via a penalty. Soon after the whistle was over, soccer fans, and which is synonymous with football fans, the blame game began. The players and their technical handlers were tongue roasted by soccer fans. I actually heard one young man cursing the goalkeeper Richard Kingson, for his poor performance.

Rather than accept that their team was not good enough and should do something about it, they rather went out and about, like children who have lost their way in a huge Shopping Mall, cursing anybody they find convenient to blame. It’s true the goalkeeper has lost his plot because for two years he’s not played in any competitive game for his club.

The truth is that Richard Kingson in not even within the reserves of his club, Wigan.

The next game is on against Burkina Faso on Tuesday and I’m more than convinced people will be calling for the head of the Serbian, Mr. Milo.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ghana most irreverent journalist celebrates birthday.

He is Ghana’s most irreverent journalist, according to former Information Minister Oboshie Sai-Coffie. Not many people would be that much happy to be referred to in such terms, but not Ato.

It has become his trademark and the least opportunity he gets on air, he uses it. His commentary on issues especially in the newspapers could be both pleasant and unpleasant depending on which of the colours you believe in.

Ato Dadzie turned 33 a week ago today. Days before his birthday, he has been telling his colleagues at Joy Fm of his admiration for plasma television.He got his dream for a plasma television come through when his colleagues surprised him by presenting to him a brand new plasma television. Led by morning show host Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah,they interrupted the newspaper review segment, which, arguably, is one of the high points of the show and asked him to repeat what he hard earlier wished for himself. He said he wanted Plasma Tv and suddenly and to Ato’s own surprise, Kojo announced to him that he’s got his wish fulfilled.

He said the morning show team got in touch with some friends who willingly contributed money to get him the television.One of them lawyer Ace Ankomah, incidentally, was the first to wish Ato a ‘happy birthday’ on his Facebook page.

Ato made some few remarks and admitted it was an experience and an equally humbling experience. He requested for American gospel artiste Don Meon’s ‘When It’s All Been Said and Done.’

He also got Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, one of Ghana’s most celebrated journalists, to play ‘happy birthday’ for him from his saxophone.

Later in the afternoon, a lunch party was thrown for him by Efua Houadjeto of Image Consortium,

and he invited 15 of his friends to eat, drink and sing ‘happy birthday’ to him. The voices that sang happy birthday for him were really tawdry.

Prior to the cutting of the birthday, Ato was in his elements and got everybody laughing. First was the announcement that the television is

‘pay per view.’ He got everybody cracking with laughter. When Freddy, one of his best buddies, got him a card, he decided to read the content to the hearing of everyone.

The card was not plasma television but, hey, he was glad he got it anyway.Even before the meals could be served, each guest was handed out a warm hotel to clean the hands before either tucking the fingers or spoon into the slices of chicken and octopus that later followed.The rice and beef sauce was great as those who ate that said. I settled for rice and fish sauce and I must confess it was tasteful as well. I had a great lunch and though lot more of the food was latter brought in; everyone had had a good time. The wine was great. The cake was also wonderful.

The lunch was hosted at Foodies, owned by Peggy Azumah-Nelson, wife of Ghanaian legendary boxer Azumah Nelson. Her place is a perfect hideout for a romantic date.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ghana civil servants face TV ban

Ghana's president has risked a backlash by banning civil servants from watching TV at work - just as the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament begins.

The information ministry said it was "unfortunate" that President John Atta Mills's directive had come into effect at the same time as the tournament.

The government is worried that workers are becoming addicted to Nigerian soap operas and Latin American telenovelas.

It comes months after civil servants in Nigeria were hit with a similar ban.

'Love of football'

Ghana's Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa told the BBC's David Amanor that punishments for breaking the rule would range from a telling off to a disciplinary committee.

Despite being information minister, Mr Ablakwa said he never watched television at work.

And he stressed that the directive covered working hours - 0800 until 1230 and 1330 until 1730 - so civil servants could watch football outside of those hours.

"We're not so sure that this directive will so much affect Ghanaians' love for football or ability to follow football matches," he said.

"Within working hours, we're supposed to be working."

Ghana's Black Stars play their first match on Friday against Ivory Coast.

The TV ban is in force in ministries, departments and agencies, but it does not affect hospital wards, waiting rooms and receptions.

Source: BBC

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The beautiful nonsense of the National Youth Employment Programme.

It was from Ghanaian novelist Ama Ataa Aidoo that I first heard the phrase ‘beautiful nonsense’ when commentating on her literary works at a forum. She was disgusted about the ineptitude of African leaders who know the right things but fail to do them in order to improve the lives of their people.

Here in Ghana, there are lot more things happening that certainly fit the phrase. There are many but I intend dwelling on one. And that one is the National Youth Employment Programme.

It’s one programme that was meant to provide job alternatives for most unemployed youths in the country, but has been shrouded in one controversy or the other over none payment of salaries and wages to those engaged in the scheme.

Several of them are busy engaged in helping out our police to control traffic especially in major city centres. They are doing a great job. I wonder how a murky traffic jam environment such as the main central market of Makola would be without them. The programme was introduced by the John Kufour led administration which is still running under this current administration.

That certainly is a good sign, at least on the face value, especially when one considers the history of this country and the change of government. So, it’s worth praising the current administration for maintaining the programme. A lot more unemployed youths in the country had been employed through the scheme and most of them working in various disciplines in the country; teachers, janitor workers, traffic wardens etc.

The programme has achieved certain notoriety not because of its quality but the controversy of unpaid wages and salaries hanging around its neck. Even as I write this article, employees are still fighting for their unpaid salaries running into more than three-four months. Even before Christmas, some of those employed in the northern part of Ghana threatened to vote out this government if they are not paid their salaries.

They wondered how they were going to celebrate the occasion when they have no money in their pockets. Sitting back and listening to them on the radio, I felt very sad and weak.

Especially because this same issue of unpaid salaries and wages in arrears for three-four months is coming back again. I remember when the New Patriotic Party was in power employees under the programme had to wait for months to get their money. Those not successful also took their concerns to the media before a fraction of their salaries were paid to them.

They openly wept, across the country, and called on the various media houses to get the government to pay them. It was a tough thing, I must confess. That for more than three months people employed under the programme were left hanging in the cooler while officials heading the programme drive away in posh cars, hopping around town pretending everything is under country and that the agitated workers would be paid.

I remember an interview on Joy Fm Super Morning Show between then Deputy Information Minister Frank Agyekum (now Kufour’s spokesperson) offering as to why salaries for the employees had not come. He claimed people even serving in the administration had not been paid by the government and had to rely on stipends to survive. His explanation rather infuriated people and callers lambasted him.

He was tongue roasted by almost every caller who called into the programme and he was left with bad egg hanging all over his face.

While the workers were still agitating for their pay, reports of massive corruption within the system were also making rounds. Allegations of party sympathisers or serial callers collecting money as employees were flying around town. No proper explanation was given to that allegation.

The problem of delay salary payments still lingers on until the government left office. Current coordinator of the programme, Abuga Pele, is still offering explanation why those whose monies are in arrears had not been paid. It’s the question of Deja Vu.

It makes sad commentary for one to still hear the same problems happening even under this new administration.

Is Abuga Pele and his colleagues at the secretariat telling Ghanaians they have no possible mechanisms to resolve this problem?

I remember visiting the northern part of Ghana in 2007 during the severe flooding. After following victims of the devastating flood, I decided to take time off and speak to teachers at a primary school. One of the teachers, a female, was almost in tears as she narrates to me how she has not been paid for more than five months. It was heart breaking, to say the least.

It made me question the seriousness of the people we put into leadership positions and their determination to bring economic relief to the vast majority of Ghanaians who are still struggling to keep body and soul together.

Again, there is also the question of social security for the employees. That has never been on the card for the authorities to consider. The employment laws specify that anyone engaged in an employment but paid social security contribution however in this case, it’s the government that is violating the very law it has enacted.

Nothing is more humiliating in life than be put in a situation where one can’t access a job. It’s a burden that weighs heavily on the mind.

In his New Year’s message to President Mills made a passionate appeal to Ghanaians for them ‘to die for Ghana.’

“I want the youth in particular to emulate the fine example of the Under-20 football team. The Under-20s made us proud; they brought us glory and honor by winning the World Cup. This they did through sheer determination and a willingness to die for our country. My brothers and sisters, this is the kind of spirit which should move us in whatever we do.”

Unfortunately for the president, there are lot more people in this country who are not willing to be beaten in the name of Ghana let alone die for it.

How in the name of justice and fair play could an employee of the National Youth Employment Programme who has not been paid his salary for more than three-four months die for this country?

The International Migration Organisation recently published a report suggesting that the percentage of Ghanaians leaving the country has been on the rise. Not only doctors and nurses are leaving, the report said, but teachers from the various tertiary institutions.

Especially the Polytechnics continue to report of positions that have been abandoned by lecturers who had left in pursuit of better life elsewhere out of this country.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Aftermath of attack on Togo: bandit group handed cheap publicity.

For Africans, the Nations Cup provides an opportunity for us to show off our avalanche of talents splashed around the biggest clubs in the world. Every two years is for the CAN and despite recent outbursts by some European football clubs-especially the English to the effect that the calendar for the tournament should be reviewed.

They can go to hell, has always been the phrase in rebuttal. You pay the cash and so what? After all we develop the talents for you to come and take them away. The contributions of African players in the big leagues can’t be under estimated.

When Angola was handed out the CAN after African football authorities had done their assessment, people raised vey little objections. It’s true Angola had gone through decades of civil war and parts of the country are popular with landmines.

There are scores of amputees to prove this-but life still goes on. Thankfully after the death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, the government decided it was time to sit around the table and talk to moderate elements within the UNITA ranks. That final act brought silent to the guns, so most people say. However not everyone was happy.

The people of Cabinda, a small enclave stashed between the nostrils of DR Congo and Angola and said to be home to vast oil fields, are unhappy with Luanda. They want to be independent and control their own destines. Luanda will however have none of that. Oil, like blood, is life and Dos Santos, the president, would not let that happen. Over his dead body.

He needs the oil cash to stay in power till death.

The Nations Cup was a good opportunity to tell the world Angola is free from the war and that he is in charge. That all rebel elements are just making noise without any real power of their own. Well, he got all that wrong. A fractured arm of the group Flec(Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda) saw an opening in the Nations Cup.

They ambushed travelling Togolese team officials and players heading off to the tournament village in Cabinda and after only 5km off the border, the machine guns started blazing. When the guns went dead, three people had lost their lives with two others seriously wounded. The rest of the squad were left traumatised. Angola was suddenly in the news again for all the wrong reasons.

Why Cabinda? Was the question most people began asking. Flec rebels however were excited they had made their strongest statement. They splashed serious eggs on the face of Dos Santos, as former BBC journalist Lara Pawson, who spent several years in Angola, said. She knows Cabinda very well and despite that, she’s never failed to travel through that part of town without the help of some of the rebel leadership.

Flec has made a statement and forever in the history of the tournament, their names will forever be remembered.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Come again, Mr. President.

President John Mills marked his first year in office with a press conference at the castle gardens on Thursday. The press conference was telecast live and almost everyone who watched it on TV or heard it on radio might be as much astonished as impressed with the president’s responses. Various questions were asked however, the question that appears to have created a storm is the President’s response to the famous ‘Muntaka’ case. Alhaji Muntaka, the Member of Parliament for Aswanse-a suburb in the Ashanti Region heavily populated by persons from Northern extraction, was forced to resign or otherwise following reports that he took his personal girlfriend to Germany on the ticket of the education ministry. Before that he had flown the same girlfriend, who was a secretary to majority leader of parliament Alban Bagbin, to watch an African football tournament in Ivory Coast. He was also accused of using the resource of the ministry to buy pampers and other items for his family, and spent huge sums of money on meat or ‘chinchinga.’ His case has become an albatross and when the President took turn to answer the questions from journalists, Muntaka’s case up again. There were those who thought the President didn’t deal with the issue very well and rather allowed the man to go without any kick in the ass. With all the questions asked at the press conference, the Muntaka case was the one that engaged almost everyone in the country. Responding to the question from one of the reporters that he-the president-didn’t handle the issue very well especially because it bothers on corruption, the president said it was not corruption but “indiscretion” on the part of the “youngman.” “We are not going to condone corruption where there is no evidence,” the president says. However not everyone was impressed, as well as myself. Honestly, one of the reservations I had with the answer was the President’s call for ‘evidence.’ I was shocked because the call for evidence was what most Ghanaians flagged former President Kufour on during his time as president. The current ruling government itself used that as part of its campaign to get the NPP out of government. It’s therefore surprising that President Mills will allow himself to be caught up in this ‘evidence’ thing. It’s important for President Mills to know that indiscretion could also lead to corruption and Muntaka’s case is one of such. I find it worrying the attempt by the president to play semantics by saying ‘forgery’ and ‘corruption’ are not the bedfellows. I wonder what interpretation could be given to the situation where a private secretary to an MP is represented as an official from a ministry.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The African to watch for 2010?

Honestly, I’m often fascinated by the continent called Africa. It fascinates me in many respects such that I wonder what makes the continent so unique: is it the massive corruption, poverty, looting politicians, military coups or the endless cycle of wars? I have spent a considerable period of time wondering what makes Africa so unique such that almost everybody-especially the West loves to talk about it with sarcasm embedded in disrespect. Those who get to have their soil on the continent praise it for its beauty, though most of them don’t mean it. Their praises are simply vain because they hide behind them to join the very corrupt leaders to loot the resources and stash them in their banks.

It has almost become a ritual that at the break of dawn into a new year, the rest of the world opens their eyes to see what’s new thing Africa could be capable of coming out with: Is Africa going to have another military coup or war or even the deliberate robbery of the peoples ballot? Such questions engage the mind of people and even me, with my small mind, often get to ponder over these questions. So who to watch for this year in Africa? That is what the BBC’s Africa ‘Have Your Say’ programme put to listeners on Wednesday. One of the guests on the show was my colleague journalist, blogger and friend, Ato Kwamena Dadzie. He is noted for his frank comments irrespective of how much that hurts. He abhors stupidity and calls a spoon by its name. He does not hide behind niceties to express himself. He has rippled feathers of Ghanaian politicians as well as pastors especially, and most of those who have tasted his comments have never been happy with him.

He has never been happy with most African politicians at least the ones who have made it their business to loot coffers while their people wallow in abject poverty. After saying all the nice things about some African politicians including Samir Nkrumah, daughter of Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah, Ato said the likes of Robert Mugabe, Hosni Mubarak as well as those dead including Omar Bongo are people he would expect to take a backseat off government.

Thankfully, Omar Bongo is gone but his son Ali Bongo who was fraudulently elected president soon after the death of his dad, according to Ato, should not plunder the resources of his people. It’s an open secret that Omar Bongo, then Africa’s longest serving dictator, plundered the resources of his people to such an extent that a French lawyer sued him.

Mr. Bongo was a very short man but his bank accounts were far taller than him. Ali Bongo has not stolen anything yet; at least since nothing has come to the attention of the world, and almost everyone prays it doesn’t happen. Robert Mugabe is not in the good books of Ato and he did not minced words.He says “Mugabe should take a long vacation” so Zimbabwe could kick its feet again from those glorious past.I’m also looking forward to 2010 with some names on my list. Certainly Jacob Zuma, South African President who has been busy marrying women rather than improve the lives of his citizens is not on my list.

My nephews and nieces are those i’m looking forward to especially Nii Armah Quaye who was christened at the Methodist Church during the Christmas period last year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The lounge debate:

I enjoy debate. Especially healthy debates that are held within the confines of decorum, where almost everyone involved makes his/her points strong without hitting below the belt. Or better still without drawing blood. The botched attempt by 23 year old Nigerian to blow up an airline on the eve of Christmas has provided the platform for all of us to say something.

So here I was sitting at a lounge inside Frankies (is popular eatery at downtown Accra or the so-called Oxford street) with my buddies Mantse Aryeequaye, Sionne, Dedo and her cousin from Canada. They had already squashed some bottles of soft drinks when I walked in.

I had barely spent two minutes in my seat when the waitress at the bar put before me the menu. I did not even take notice of it because I was busy hugging Sionne who, at the time, was busy tucking into a bowl full of salads.

“How are you doing Anny,” Sionne said with a broad smile.

“I’m good at least so far as I don’t have any bombing devices in my underpants,” I said and everybody laughed.Sionne, myself as well as Mantse have a very funny way of addressing ourselves.Sionne loves the word and that’s how we’ve been addressing ourselves for more than a year now.

The mention of the bomb sparked the debate.

Mantse’s response was that the whole bomb thing is hoax hatched by ‘certain’ elements within the global security system to demonise a particular country.

His opinion was not shared by any of us, though we all agreed that both the US and UK ought to look through their own security networks and admit they failed.

We stepped up the debate and looked at the dynamics involved and ate around the other openings of the report.

Again, we also agreed that the inclusion of Nigeria in the list of countries to be profiled by

the US and Uk is unfortunate.

All of us agreed Nigeria’s inclusion was unfortunate.

The tempo of the debate moved into another gear when Akeffah

and Mantse slammed Obama

for doing nothing to justify the many expectations people had

invested in him.Especially Akeffah wondered how on earth Obama would be given a Nobel Peace Prize just when he appears to be moving troops to Afghanistan.

She mentioned the Abu Gharib prison to support her point that Obama is just continuing Bush’s policy.Suddenly Mantse came in to say Obama is just a ‘coward’ who is refusing to admit he hasn’t got the balls enough to end the Middle East crap. He again slammed Obama for his reticent stance towards Israel’s poor human rights record in Palestine.Sionne was not pleased but said nothing.Akeffah might have realised she had scrapped Obama’s political ball too hard and which didn’t go well with Sionne so she apologised. However it was Mantse’s comment that Obama is just a figure head working for ‘white supremacists’ within Capitol Hill that got Sionne to jump react strongly.

She disagreed with Mantse and insisted that though she did not agree with most of Obama’s policies, she does not think he is not the man in charge. Prior to that we had waded into the ugly past of Zimbabwe and both myself and Mantse agreed that most of the happenings in that country could be blamed on Britain.

I made the point that the Land re-distribution was a good thing and even made reference to the Lancaster Agreement which supported the need for the lands to be reverted back to most of the blacks in the country, after independence. I made the point that Mugabe can’t escape blame for the mess created but added that Britain must also take part of the blame.

Again, I also said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is not committed to the welfare of ordinary Zimbabweans. The MDC is in two parts: Morgan Tsvangirai’s side and that of Arthur Mutambara. The two fell out soon after moving most of their activities into South Africa ostensibly to escape persecution from marauding supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF.

Mantse again stirred another controversy when he said most exiled Zimbabweans just made things up to get comrade Mugabe in the bed light. Akeffah sprang off her couch and strongly objected to Mantse’s assertion that most of the exiles just made things up. Akeffah said she knew of friends from Zimbabwe who are now refugees. She cited the situation of a single mother with seven children to buttress her argument. Mugabe, according to Akeffah, started very well as a president but has now become paranoid.

The tempo of the debate slowed down a bit as we gradually moved the topic round and examined, again, America’s involvement in breeding dictators especially in Africa. The likes of Mobutu, Gnassingbe Eyadema, Savimbi and even Obiang N’guema of Equatorial Guinea are creations of the US. The latter continue to plunder the resources of his own country and yet America is happy with the leadership.

After three or so hours Dedo signalled it was time for us to leave. The last issued we talked about was the climate change summit in Copenhagen and how African leaders allowed themselves, unsurprising though, to be bullied into agreeing to ridiculous pointers in the final texts.

Myself and Mantse also took issues with some of the journalists who followed the president to the summit. Honestly speaking most of our colleagues need to educate themselves move on issues and even how to report events. With all the happenings around the summit, all that a reporter could tell Ghanaians in a report was that the ‘weather’ is ‘cold.’

If that is not ineptitude and foolishness what word is there for me to use?