Tag: Dark Faces at Crossroads


The Blame Game among the Two Major Political Parties in Ghana

Blaming one another for a particular problem or crime committed has been very rampant and prevalent in Ghanaian politics. Those in authority, most of the time, shirk their responsibilities while blaming others for not taking full responsibility in certain situations until things begin to go wrong. Since 2010 this blame game has been unprecedented in Ghanaian political history. This attitude, which is very recent, impedes trust, creates inter-party suspicion and dampens the spirit of democracy and fair play. This article will discuss the blame game not only among the two major parties, but also among certain individuals and personalities within these parties.

 

Bernard Allotey Jacobs, the Central Region Communications Director of the NDC already began to blame the opposition NPP for the worsening Ga chieftaincy crisis and all the disputes bedevilling the Ga state in 2012. According to Allotey Jacobs, the former president, John Kufuor and his NPP, broke the peace and tranquillity of the Ga state by poking their noses in the Ga state chieftaincy affairs. As if to strengthen or confirm Allotey’s suspicion and mistrust of Kufuor and his NPP, a palace coup which culminated in a raid of the stool house of the Ga traditional council and a subsequent installation of a rival Ga Mantse, tilts suspicion of active involvement towards NPP. The NPP vehemently denies this claim and refuses to accept the blame by Allotey Jacobs.

Chairman Wontumi

Chairman Wontumi

A recent blame game occurred when the Ashanti Regional chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Bernard Antwi Boasiako aka “Chairman Wontumi”, was arrested and detained for allegedly assaulting the MP for Manhyia North, Collins Owusu Amankwah, and the constituency secretary, Felix Ibrahim. The police station was besieged by hundreds of NPP supporters and admirers of Chairman Wontumi who had been refused bail and was remanded in police custody. The blame game suddenly resurrected. The fourth deputy speaker of ECOWAS parliament, Simon Osei Mensah, accused the state of being behind Chairman Wontumi’s detention. It was also on everybody’s lips that the Ashanti region’s Police Command acted on the instructions of Flagstaff House to detain Chairman Wontumi. The underlying aim of President Mahama and the NDC, according to  Simon Osei Mensah, was to brand NPP as a violent party. Was it right to blame the government in this assault case? People argued that if the government did not have a hand in this, why would it bring in the military to guard the premises of the Regional Police station in a mere assault case?

 

The intermittent power outages that engulfed Ghana under NDC rule was the worst that ever index1happened to Ghana. The President, John Mahama, refused to accept responsibility for what became known as dumsor, but blamed the NPP for the current deficit in the nation’s energy supply. The NDC alleged that the NPP did not take the issue of power supply seriously throughout their eight year rule from 2001 to 2008, because they failed to give the needed attention to the energy sector.

President John Mahama has embarked on regional tours to give account of his stewardship during the past seven years. In between the tours he held a press conference where he made excuses and blamed all others except himself for the current charges his government is facing with regards to excessive corruption, utility price hikes, micro-finance fraud, power crisis, falling educational standards and poor national security. Concerned groups including Progressive People’s party (PPP) were greatly disappointed with President Mahama for shifting blame of his incompetence to others and also for his unimpressive account at the press conference of his stewardship.

 

President Mahama

President Mahama

Governments are elected to power primarily to solve the challenges and the developmental problems of the country irrespective of which political party caused the problem. However, in this country of ours, the two major political parties have continued to blame each other for one fault or the other. Due to this unfortunate blame game, successive governments have abandoned projects began by rival parties during their terms of office. Instead of continuing the uncompleted projects of the previous government, the ruling government shirked its responsibility. President Mahama and his NDC cannot continue to blame their predecessors after seven years in power.

President Mahama must accept the full responsibility of hardship and misrule during the past seven years of NDC rule. He dares not shift the blame to anyone else. He has been in power for the past seven years but he creates the impression that he has been at the helm of affairs for only three years. The reason why many hold on to this assertion is that he was a Vice President under a weak and sick president so he was virtually in control. He boasts openly as the architect behind every good thing that was done during the past seven years while frowning upon anything bad that is attributed to him and the NDC. Who then is President Mahama blaming for all the hardships and the bad things that have gone on and continue to go on?

 

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Abuakwa North in the Eastern Region, J. B. Danquah

J. B. Danquah Adu

J. B. Danquah Adu

Adu, was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant. Bernard Antwi Boasiako (Chairman Wontumi) came out to blame President Mahama for the death of Joseph Boakye Danquah Adu. His reason for blaming him stemmed from the fact that instead of President Mahama coming on air to express his shock and condolence at the sudden departure of the Abuakwa North MP, he happily and remorselessly went to the social media, Twitter, to scribble haphazard message of condolence to the bereaved family. The obvious question raised by concerned citizens of Ghana was the reason behind the President’s use of Twitter to express his shock and condolence. The question is: how many Ghanaians use Twitter? Chairman Wontumi argued that President Mahama did not announce Prof. Mills’ death on Twitter and therefore in much the same way he should have issued a statement for this tragic death. Undoubtedly Twitter is faster but he could at the same time have issued a prompt statement on air.

Stan Dogbe, a professional journalist and presidential staffer, was also blamed for master-minding the premature death of JB Danquah Adu. Asiedu, the young man who was arrested by the police, was alleged to have mentioned Stan Dogbe’s name. A journalist at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Mr Yahaya Kwamoah, recorded a conversation between Stan Dogbe and a colleague. Stan Dogbe pursued Yahaya and wrenched the digital recorder from him and destroyed it. If what the journalist recorded did not implicate him, why then did he destroy the evidence? According to Stan Dogbe, what he was discussing with his colleague was a strategy on how to break the news to the family of the death of Samuel Nuamah, the Ghanaian Times correspondent at the Flagstaff House. His explanation can be likened to what Macbeth described as “a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing.” Ghanaians would have believed him more if he had allowed the recording to be played on air rather than destroying it.

The Vice President, Amissah-Arthur, has constantly been blamed for refusing the people of Central Region to visit him in his office. He denies this as a concoction coming from the imagination of hungry and desperate people who want power by all means. There was deep mistrust between two groups in the NDC, the Young Cadres Association and the Fante Students Association. The former blames the latter for leaking vital information of the party. They are branded as very mischievous and deceptive.

It is important for both parties, the NDC and NPP, to realize and accept that no government will ever be able to complete all the development projects they begin and therefore it is important and imperative for parties who take over from the incumbent to avoid blaming their predecessors for incompetence but continue and finish the uncompleted project, in the interest of Ghana’s development. Former President Rawlings embarked upon the construction of the Keta Sea Defence Wall. However, according to Malik Kwaku Baako Jnr., the Editor in Chief of the New Crusading Guide, Rawlings deceived Ghanaians into thinking that his government was going to construct the wall but rather supervised over an era of embezzlement of the monies allotted to the construction of the wall. Kufuor in his eight years in office continued and completed the Keta Sea Defence Wall without any blame to ex-President Jerry Rawlings.

ex-President Kufuor

ex-President Kufuor

President Mahama on the other hand triggered a political controversy of achievement in the Volta Region when he said the NPP did nothing for the region. This claim was too hard for ex-President Kufuor to swallow so he hit back and accused President Mahama of dishonesty. Apart from taking upon itself to complete the Keta Sea Defence Wall, the NPP government says it undertook several developmental projects of all kinds including repairing all dilapidated buildings along the beaches and strengthening the ground there to prevent erosion.

 

Indeed Ghanaians are not in any good mood to accept this blame game between these two major political parties. What Ghanaians need from these political parties are concrete steps that can be adopted to alleviate our hardships and propel us towards conscious development of our beloved country, Ghana.

By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads

Do Citizens of Brong Ahafo deserve this treatment? What next?

The Brongs have always been excited and proud of Mahama for choosing a wife from the region. However, their love, trust and confidence for Mahama were badly shaken when the president disappointingly failed to help frustrated customers in the region whose accounts with three micro-finance companies were frozen through no fault of theirs, as a result of closure of these banks by the government and the Bank of Ghana. They have vowed that if their brother and son-in-law, President John Dramani Mahama, does not intervene to hasten the release of their monies locked in the frozen accounts, they will turn Nkoranza and the other affected areas into a living hell for government employees. The banks that were closed down include DKM and God’s Love micro-finance companies. They were closed down in May 2015.

cocoa farmers in Brong Ahafo

cocoa farmers in Brong Ahafo

Let me give a brief history of the Brong Ahafo region. The region was created on 4th April 1959 by the Brong Ahafo Act No.18 of 1959. The Act defined the area of the Brong Ahafo Region to consist of the northern and the western parts of the then Ashanti region. It also included Prang and Yeji areas. Before the enactment of the Act, these two towns formed part of the Northern region. Brong Ahafo region has a vast amount of rain forest, timber trees and cocoa farms. Their serious approach to farming has created many rich men and women in areas like Berekum, Dormaa, Nkoranza, Techiman and Kintampo. Many Brongs who travelled to Germany, USA and other countries in the late 70s and 80s were heavily sponsored by these rich cocoa farmers and when they became successful they bought Mercedes Benz and other luxury cars for these farmers who sponsored them. The Micro-finance companies went into these areas because of the riches in the area and the unsuspecting innocence of the people.

These micro-finance companies announced an incredibly high interest rate of 50% on any amount one saved. The people began to open accounts with the financial institutions. Many customers, including farmers, businessmen and women, politicians and students lodged vast sums of money into the accounts with the hope of retrieving 50% interest on their savings. One weeping customer confessed that he savedghana_cedi GHc2.5million which was money sent to him by his brother living abroad, to use for the storey building he intends to build. Other customers had saved between GHc3000 to GHc15million! Yet Bank of Ghana could not alert the customers that no bank can pay 50% interest to customers. According to some of the customers, they were encouraged or lured to save there because of the encouraging recommendation of these companies by the first lady, Mrs Lordinna Mahama – an allegation she flatly denied. To the utter disbelief of customers, the Bank of Ghana closed down the three micro-finance companies and all accounts were frozen. The establishment and closure of these institutions clearly revealed the incompetence and deliberate refusal to oversee or supervise these financial institutions. As a result they took undue advantage to operate illegally as they failed to comply with the terms and conditions stipulated in their licences. They also failed to hold sufficient assets to meet their liabilities to depositors. The former Governor of Bank of Ghana and the officials allowed the micro-finance institutions too much room to operate and therefore must be held responsible for making these unsuspecting customers worst affected by their actions and inactions.

 

It was a red-letter day for the people of Brong Ahafo, especially the customers, who were badly shaken. The customers could not contain the shock and it was confirmed by the MP of Berekum East that three customers collapsed and died.

wpid-nigerian-banks-are-financially-stable-cbn-channelsThis unfortunate situation has created general poverty and frustration for the people in the affected areas. In Nkoranza alone, about 90% of people living there had deposited their monies with those micro-finance companies. Pupils and students are the worst sufferers in the affected areas. Most of them remained at home due to the inability of their parent’s to pay their fees. Farmers in these areas who saved heavily in these companies can no longer invest in their farming businesses, and even when they fall sick they cannot go to hospital because all what they worked for have been locked in these accounts. They have no hope of getting their monies back. Out of worry, frustration, hardship and poverty they have threatened to invoke curses on both the government and government workers if their accounts are not released.

 

Concerns have been shown by many including the Brong Ahafo regional security council. The latter held series of meetings with Bank of Ghana and the micro-finance companies in a move to resolve the crisis. How far did all the meetings go? Those desperate customers still have no idea when their monies would be released to them. Eric Opoku, the Regional minister, also added his voice while supporting the position of the Regional Security service (REGSEC). He called on the Bank of Ghana to consider de-freezing the accounts of the aggrieved customers and the affected companies. Why is Mahama and his government so silent and adamant? At what point will the president intervene?

 

President Mahama

President Mahama

The recent step taken by the Bank of Ghana to take DKM to court and put their hands on their properties does not convince the troubled customers. According to them, what the Central bank should have done even before these micro-finance companies could establish in Brong Ahafo was to have checked on how much money they were going to inject into their operation, whether these companies were legally and fully registered to commence business or not, whether these companies had beefed up their staff strength with persons with requisite qualification and, lastly, whether a competent board had been put in place. All these were not checked and before their illegal operations and diabolic intentions became known, they had swindled these unsuspecting customers of millions of Ghana cedis. Despite the customers’ mistrust of the Bank of Ghana, they see the action taken by the bank to be in their supreme interest which is geared towards protecting them from losing both their monies and interests. Despite all explanations the affected customers still believe that Mahama and his government have a hand in their plight.

 

The entire members of parliament of Brong Ahafo have expressed their regret over the plight of the Bank-of-Ghana-BoG-buildingcustomers in Brong Ahafo and the action of the bank which has brought sorrows to many and sudden deaths to three customers. The Brong Ahafo minister also added his voice and confirmed that the action of the bank has affected customers emotionally, economically and psychologically. The region’s MPs came together in one accord to put pressure on Bank of Ghana to speed up investigations so that affected customers can ultimately get their money back. However, Dr. Kwabena Twum Nuamah, MP for Berekum East, in his interview at Joy News said that the situation is terrible and that he sees no light at the end of the tunnel with many customers losing all their capital. He warned of a massive demonstration if nothing positive is heard from Bank of Ghana.

 

Despite these unfortunate incidents and the hardships brought onto the people with locked monies in those illegal financial institutions, the citizens of Brong Ahafo went back to their farms. The farmers, especially those in the Sampa area, harvested tons of cashew nuts. Foreign buyers were on the spot to buy tons of cashew nuts from the farmers. As if what the micro-finance companies did to the Brongs were not enough, the Ministry of Trade and Industry imposed a ban on raw cashew exports and said that they were going to buy and process them before exporting them. According to the ministry, this would add value to the product and create jobs in the area. What angered the farmers was the ridiculously low prices they were going to offer farmers. The foreign buyers have disappeared and tons of cashew nuts that could have reached foreign markets got rotten due to the ban imposed on the commodity by the Ministry.

 

Spontaneous and effective protests were launched by both farmers and MPs in the affected areas cashew-prices-009because apart from buying them at lower prices, the factories available have the capacity to process only 35,000 bags out of the 950,000 produced by the farmers. This means that what the foreign buyers could buy at a go will be left to rot. Serious concerns and threats were issued by the leaders of the cashew farmers. One of the leaders, Mr. Mumuni Issah, said that if the ban is not lifted by the end of May 2016, the processing plants will not be allowed to buy cashew from the region. This is because the farmers have invested a lot in the expansion of their farms and they will need enough money to pay for their loans and also money to ensure their livelihood and that of their families. But with only two processing plants available, and the lower price they give coupled with the Ministry’s inability to buy all the 950,000 bags, the farmers will remain impoverished as they are going to be at the mercy of the two processing plants. Luckily enough, the Ministry of trade and Industries could not contain the pressure from the farmers and the Brong Ahafo MPs and they finally gave up and lifted the ban.

 

The people of Brong Ahafo are no fools. The region has hardworking farmers who have greatly contributed to Ghana’s development in terms of food products, timber and bush meat. They should be held in high esteem and not be taken for granted. With the resignation of the governor of the Central bank, the prospect and hope of the affected customers to get their monies back have dwindled. The indifference of president Mahama and his government is not helping matters.

 

By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads
Email: stephen.owusu@email.com