1 Sep 2017

'Galamsey': Trading Life For A Quid

Water is life because the human body consists of about 70% water. It must, however, be known that not any water is life. It is only clean and safe water that can give life. Polluted water does the opposite. Polluted water is not just water that looks physically dirty. It is also water that may contain strong chemicals such as arsenic, mercury, lead, DDT, cyanide and other chemicals substances that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Illegal miners use some of these chemicals in their activities without proper regulations. These minerals eventually get washed into and pollute water bodies.
Some (if not all) of these overzealous money scavengers lack knowledge of the dangers associated with these chemicals of the trade.
Image - Illegal miners in Ghana
Illegal mining is popularly called 'galamsey' in Ghana. Image Courtesy: Citifmonline
We complain about the destruction of water bodies due to 'galamsey' activities. We blame Chinese nationals for coming to destroy our environment with heavy-duty equipment. We threaten to deport them but, after their government intervenes with a loan facility, we allow them to continue and pretend we are working on it.

My question is, where do the Chinese nationals pass to enter into our country with their heavy-duty machines? How did they get access to the land? How come, without any exploratory work, they are able to identify our mineral deposits right away?


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If we are serious about fighting illegal mining, why did we make it acceptable for Ghanaians? Don't Ghanaian nationals use cyanide and mercury in mining? It is no wonder we are still struggling very hard to bring the 'galamsey' menace under control.


We have 'Special Forces' who only show up on independence day to partake in march pasts. I am wondering what we keep the so-called 'Special Forces' for while we have a threat to life at hand. Remember, water and life are inextricably linked. A threat to quality water is a threat to life. The 'galamsey' menace is more dangerous than terrorism. It has the potential of automatically shutting down everything.


So, congrats to the Akufo-Addo government for deciding to crack the whip on this menace which threatens our very existence. We hope the verve with which this anti-galamsey agenda was pursued would be sustained.

6 Jul 2017

Ghana's "Democrazy"

Democracy seems to be Ghana's problem. Politicians are more concerned with winning elections than doing the right thing. This is why indiscipline is gradually taking over our society. People do all manner of things and go scot-free in the name of democracy. Corrupt officials get away with their booty because there is a ghost called "due process". Political party fanatics can intimidate people at will and are sure to go unpunished because their party is in power. These overzealous ones often forget that they can't win power alone. They forget that other people played a part in bringing their party to power.

We have graduates picketing almost on a daily basis at no other place than the ministries to pressurize the government to post them. These same ones will be seen there again in a year or two, after being posted, to demand payment of salaries. For how long must this continue?
Image - Ghana flag
Image Courtesy IEA Ghana

Why won't we allow the government do the right thing? Have we lost trust in the government? If the government tells you that there is no money for extra labor because it is still struggling to deal with the numbers already employed and you force them to employ you under duress, why do you complain again when you are not being paid? Why do we find it difficult to trust our leaders?

The leaders are also to take part of the blame for allowing themselves to be pushed around as if they know not what they are about. If you kowtow to people's requests instead doing a professional job because there are elections to win at all cost, this will be the result. Why must it always be about the next election? Could it also be that our leaders are deceiving us concerning the state of the national kitty? If not, how come they are always able to grant financial clearance for people to be employed after picketing?


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Why must unemployed graduates march to a ministry to picket because they want the government to employ them? And because the government always yields to such pressures it has become the norm of the day. Some even go to sleep and spend days there. Election-minded ministers who are afraid of losing the next election will then push them into the workforce knowing very well there are not enough funds to pay them salaries.

How long would this craze continue? Is this how we plan to develop our nation?

26 May 2017

African Union: Where Is The Unity?

Africans just observed the African Union Day on 25th May. This day is observed annually to mark the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which has metamorphosed into the African Union (AU). The objectives of the union include fostering greater unity among its members, defending the sovereignty of its members, accelerating the political and socio-economic integration of its members, etc.


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Image - African Union logo
Image courtesy Wikipedia

However, from the time I began recognizing this day and the summits that accompany it, I have always seen divisions at such meetings. People take entrenched positions on issues and are often unwilling to back down on such positions. A compromise is never reached on any issue.

One would wonder why a union can be so disunited. That all of its members are still on their own. Every country does whatever it thinks makes good sense without recourse to a supposed union.


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The political and economic invasion of Africa has assumed an alarming proportion. The Chinese have found a new dumping ground for their inferior goods. The Americans and Russians now have a new market for their weapons. The many the wars, the more guns would be sold. Examples of such incidents were the events that led to the notorious and uncouth invasions of Ivory Coast, Tunisia, and Libya.

Surprisingly, no African leader uttered a word to condemn these Western-backed actions. Ghana's late President John Atta-Mills was asked about his opinion on the Ivory Coast invasion by France and he jokingly told the reporter in the local Fante language, "Dzi wo fie asem", meaning he should mind his own business. And that appeared to be the stance of all African leaders at the time on that issue.

Yet, these leaders will not spare any opportunity to drink beer together at a supposed union meeting whose legislations are not binding on any country.

2 May 2017

Christmas Christians

Last night, the Catholic church was filled to capacity and overflowing. People had come to church more than they normally do. They are not the "wise men" who traced a star to the manger Jesus laid. They always go at a time Mother Mary is still in labor. Even Muslims come to church and participate actively in most of the things done that day.

I was amazed when I saw one Muslim singing some of the hymns and reciting the prayers. I thought to myself, "Maybe, he is a converted Christian." And this was not the first time Muslims went to the Catholic church on Christmas eve in Sandema. They always do.


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Image - Christmas begins with Christ
Image Courtesy: thankGodforJesus.org

The issue is people who have been properly integrated into the Catholic church and its doctrine who, as if they've just been released from prison, flood the church only during festive periods. These are Catholics who have been baptized and confirmed and can partake of the holy communion. They go there and their main objective is far from worship or to give praises. They even go partake of the communion without examining their conscience. Some even go there drunk only to make unnecessary noise and distract others. Mind you, these people are not strangers to the church. They know the circumstances under which partaking of the communion can be forfeited. Yet, they gladly do it with some kind of pride.

My confusion here is, why do some people show up in church only on festive occasions such as Christmas, New Year's day, and Easter? What is preventing them from showing up for the rest of the 365 days in the year? It is surely not just work, although some types of work can make it difficult for you sometimes to be present at church. An example is the nursing profession. But nurses tend to be regular at church than most these folks who enjoy weekends.

What might be the contributory factor(s) to this trend of religious behavior among latter-day Christians?

27 Apr 2017

Vigilante Groups: Breeding Lawlessness For The Future

Ghana has been hailed as a beacon of democracy in Africa. Having conducted several elections 'peacefully' and transitioned smoothly between governments, Ghana has really set a pace for the rest of West Africa in democracy. However, this pace may soon close and even be overtaken by other countries if the issue of vigilante groups is not addressed timely.

Vigilante groups in Ghana are creations of political parties. Political parties in opposition often lose trust in national security institutions because they believe the security agencies are doing the bidding of the party in power. They will therefore not want to have anything doing with these "compromised" institutions, especially when it comes to party security. These groups are then formed to serve their own security needs.

These groups often consist of unemployed youth who have no educational qualification. They believe their party can help them secure jobs when they win power. However, these guys are often disappointed for lack of qualifications. They then tend to vent their anger on people with requisite qualifications who have been chosen to positions they hitherto thought were reserved for their members.
Image - Delta Force members of NPP
Members of the pro-NPP Delta Force after raiding the Ashanti regional security coordinator's office.
The political parties, upon winning power, find it difficult to disband these vigilante groups. They then become a threat, not only to their party but to other innocent citizens as well. Any political appointments including security decisions without their consent are greeted with violent acts of vandalism. These uneducated guys feel they have enough experience to advice the government on security issues.

If we continue to practice our democracy with this vigilante group madness we will soon reap the fruits thereof; terrorism. There are countless examples we can learn from. Nigeria, Somalia, Egypt, etc. easily come to mind. If we pretend that nothing is wrong with these groups now because they serve our political interests, we should not cry when peace eludes us in the near future.

27 Mar 2017

Appointments Committee Or Assurances Committee?

Parliament's committee which scrutinizes political appointees before they can be sworn into office seems to be losing focus. This committee is tasked to assess nominees for competencies based on the offices they are being designated and to approve or reject same if they do not meet the laid down criteria. But, over the years, it appears the relevance of the committee is waning. This must be a big worry to all concerned Ghanaians.


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I believe some of you will agree with me that this noble committee is turning out to be a platform to embarrass opponents who were once vociferous during the campaign season. I still recall Hon. Fiifi Kwetey's experience in 2009, when he was appointed deputy finance minister and had to face this committee. At the vetting, several questions were asked about certain comments he made in the past which the then majority in parliament deemed inappropriate and false, especially with his "Setting the records straight" press conferences. He tried explaining himself out but the minority wouldn't take any of his explanations. He was made to appear a liar in the eyes of the public.
Image - Parliament House, Ghana
Parliament of Ghana. Image Courtesy: Ghanaweb
In 2013, the minority in parliament abstained from the vetting because they believed the elections were not fairly conducted. They wanted to sue the president and were, therefore, not going to participate in what they believed to be an 'illegality'. The majority then had to vet their own ministers who all sailed through smoothly.


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The 2017 vetting of ministers, with both the minority and majority in full swing, has not been without hiccups. From the Senior Minister, Hon. Osafo-Maafo, to the Gender Minister, Hon. Otiko Djaba, it has not been smooth sailing. At Ms. Djaba's vetting, one could easily recall the 2009 experience of Hon. Fiifi Kwetey. Ms. Otiko Djaba had made some unsavory comments against the then president, H. E. John Mahama, for being "wicked and evil". The minority demanded she apologized to the former president. She refused to do so, explaining that those words were not insults but a description of how the former president handled the SADA 'rot'. This has not gone down well with the minority, with some threatening to sue her in court for not doing the mandatory national service. For your information, some ministers have been approved unanimously, some of whom have also not done their national service.

As if the above are not enough, Parliament's Appointments Committee seems to be turning itself into an 'assurances committee' than a vetting committee. Many appointees who appeared before the committee are often asked questions like, "The ministry is blah blah blah. Can you assure this committee that when you are made the minister of blah blah blah, so-so and so will be done?" This appears to be one of the most used lines of questioning at the committee when it becomes clear they have nothing relevant to ask the nominees. What does the committee need those assurances for? What if the assurances are given and later the minister decides to do something different, would the appointment be revoked?

People are bound to change their minds when they get more and better information. So, a ministerial nominee with limited information about the ministry may decide to chart a new course after he or she gets more information. Hence, why ask nominees for assurances when you should be scrutinizing their academic and professional backgrounds, social backgrounds, misconduct, and so on?

23 Mar 2017

How Do You Know God?

Most Christians, especially pastors, claim they know God. But do you know what it takes to know God? God is our Father and we should desire to know Him every day. God wants us to know Him so we can serve Him better. He often reveals Himself to us in so many ways and forms.

It is common to hear so many pastors and preachers of the gospel claim that they know God. They often cite success in one endeavor or the other as a justification of their knowledge of God. What they forget is that God knows them, even before they were formed in the womb. That may be the reason why they are being blessed and not because they have so much knowledge of the workings of God and His kingdom.
Image - Knowing God
Do you really know God? What does it take to know God?

Paul the apostle admonished the Philippians;
"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death;" - Philippians 3:10.
Paul, a great apostle who experienced the power of God greatly and could talk to God directly, admitted that he still didn't know God as much as he should. If Paul, with the great influence he had over the church in his day and even today, could admit that he didn't know God, who else can claim much knowledge of God?


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God reveals Himself to us in different ways but we are often busy with our earthly lives that He goes unnoticed. God, therefore, allows suffering to befall us in order to know Him. Because of this, one person may know Him to be the Healer without knowing Him as the Great Provider. Another may know Him as the Great Provider without knowing Him as the Merciful.

Some people blaspheme about knowing God without having an experience of God's power in their lives. It takes a lot to know God. It takes suffering, sickness, poverty, financial crisis, joblessness, broken relationships, barrenness, disappointment, rejection and much more to know God.

It doesn't take only regular church attendance to know God. Saul was an Antichrist before God revealed Himself to him on his way to do evil at Damascus. It also doesn't take a reading of scripture alone to know God. You need obedience and commitment.


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The church is not a fashion show. What you wear to church has nothing to do with knowing God. God searches the heart and not the physical. Is your heart clean and free? A greedy heart and lustful eyes are neither clean nor free. Your financial contribution in the church means little to God. You can't bribe God with huge sums of money and gifts. Jesus admonished the rich young ruler;

"If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

So, don't feel too proud about anything. It's because God knows you. You're being blessed because God knows you, not because of your good works. You're healthy and everything seems to be going in your favor because God knows you. In all you do, say, and think, be guided by the one fact that it is because God knows you, not the other way round.

5 Feb 2017

Otiko Djaba's Defiance And The Politics Of Insults

Many Ghanaians who thought Ms. Otiko Afisa Djaba, Minister - designate for the Gender, Children, and Social Protection ministry, would apologize to former president John Mahama and put matters to rest were left dumbfounded when she appeared defiant. I personally think those statements were "campaign talks" and should have been laid to rest when she was confronted by members of the opposition at her vetting by the Appointments Committee of Parliament. I have a firm belief that Ms. Otiko wouldn't, on a normal day, describe the president as "wicked and evil" and refuse to apologize.
Image - Ms. Otiko Djaba
Ms. Otiko Afisa Djaba at the Appointments Committee vetting as
Minister - designate, Gender and Social Protection.


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However, Ms. Otiko had her own thoughts. If she had retracts and apologizes, what would people make of her credibility as a public officer if she finally assumes that office? Would people take her word for anything? Would anybody like to deal with someone who says one thing today and goes back on it the next day? She would have lost all trust and confidence in the public's eyes.

As we condemn her for those 'wild' comments about the former president, we should not turn a blind eye to what has been said of other past presidents and other political leaders. A lady once alleged former president J. A. Kufuor slept with her and some people rode on that to cast slurs on the former president because it served their political interests.

The current president, Nana Akufo-Addo, has been the most insulted of all political leaders in this country (according to my own research). All manner of unfounded allegations were labeled against him. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) communicators, led by senior journalist Kwesi Pratt, leveled so many allegations against Akufo-Addo including the Wikileaks cables. Those now trying to crucify Ms. Otiko never saw anything wrong with that line of politicking then.


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I don't believe that it is good to repeat the evil done yesterday today. People only condemn when things go against them. If the politics of insults is not what we want, we need not be hypocritical about it. We must take concrete steps to have it stamped out of our polity. Condemning one person today for insults and stepping into their shoes the next day is hypocrisy at its highest.