Tag: New Patriotic Party (NPP)


Incoming Ghana government gives cocoa sector chance of fresh start

Ghana’s incoming government could give the country’s $2 billion cocoa industry a boost if it installs a more transparent executive at industry regulator Cocobod and implements reforms, industry sources said.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) said its priority is to push annual cocoa output in the world’s second-biggest producer above 1 million tonnes when it takes power in January under President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo using a series of fresh measures.

A big issue is the role of Cocobod chief executive. Industry officials said CEO Stephen Opuni’s position is vulnerable because he publicly supported President John Mahama who lost the Dec. 7 election.

Traders and buyers credit the regulator for maintaining the premium quality of Ghana’s cocoa and increasing the guaranteed minimum price paid to farmers to 70 percent of net free-on-board but they say greater access to Cocobod is crucial.

“For the last two years, it has been very closed and very difficult to meet with Cocobod,” one senior Ghana cocoa operative said in a comment echoed by several others.

Cocobod plays a unique role both regulating the sector and exporting beans through its Cocoa Marketing Company as well as distributing fertilizer, pesticides and seedlings.

Few were willing to speak openly for fear of antagonizing Cocobod and some said that in itself reduced accountability. Buyers said they were unwilling to challenge the regulator for fear of damaging business relationships.

“Nobody dares to stand up to Cocobod,” said one buyer, who declined to be named.

Cocobod CEO Opuni did not respond to requests for comment.

FILE PHOTO: Cocoa beans are pictured in Ghana’s eastern cocoa town of Akim Akooko September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Kwasi Kpodo/File Photo

Ghana accounts for up to 25 percent of global cocoa supply and the industry also contributes around 7 percent of GDP as well as up to one quarter of the country’s export earnings.

The NPP has established a transition team but is yet to name a finance minister, one of whose statutory roles is to oversee Cocobod.

Its manifesto outlines policies including re-activating mass spraying, replanting farms with high yield trees, improving local processing and compensating farmers for diseased trees.

The party will “ensure that farmers receive increased producer prices plus bonuses high enough to encourage them to produce more cocoa for export (and) ensure that the value that farmers receive for their produce is not diluted by depreciation of the cedi against the dollar”.

FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY

Industry sources calculate Cocobod controls around half a billion dollars in funds per year, and must therefore increase its financial transparency and move towards depoliticising its dealings with farmers.

Several farmers said supporters of the outgoing National Democratic Party government gained better access to seedlings and inputs in the run-up to the vote than supporters of the opposition. Cocobod denied this.

At the same time, the regulator’s promise of free fertilizers, pesticides, spraying and seedlings had discouraged private sector participation and made farmers unhealthily dependent on free products rather than buying on the market.

“It’s not an effective system. It’s expensive and in the end not all farmers have access to these kinds of products. Because of the free elements the farmer has no opportunity to buy if he would have wanted to,” one senior market source said.

Others said it would be better if Cocobod’s role was reconfigured to focus solely on regulation, opening space for the private sector.

Ghana’s cocoa production peaked in the 2010/11 season at more than 1 million tonnes, dipped to under 750,000 tonnes in 2014/15 season before rebounding slightly last season.

One senior cocoa analyst said current production was running around 10,000 tonnes higher than the same point in the previous season. It would fall back in January and February but the mid-crop was expected to be strong, the analyst said.

However, the country needs to improve productivity per hectare. A step towards this is to map the size of each farm and count the number of farmers to get a more precise figure than the 800,000 that is often mentioned.

“We are looking forward to seeing all the things they (the NPP) have been promising,” Nana Johnson Mensah, a chief farmer of Western region south, told Reuters.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ghana-cocoa-idUSKBN1481Q5

Me Firi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_Ghana)

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