Thursday, July 7, 2011

I’ll bring Ghana back where it belongs — Nana Konadu

NANA Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, a former First Lady and the President of the 31 December Women’s Movement, says her decision to lead the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is not because of what she will gain, but because of what she plans to give back to the party and the country.
She has stated that because every government was given birth to by a political party through its manifesto, such a government must not be seen to be straying from the ideology, policies and the programmes of the party, an act the former First Lady accuses the current NDC government of doing.
The female presidential aspirant, who is contesting the sitting President, Professor J.E. A Mills, who is in his first term of office, maintains that her quest for the presidency is based solely on the fact that she is a die-hard NDC member who has the capacity to rejuvenate the party by pursuing a grass roots agenda.
Throwing more light on her decision for contesting the sitting President who is in the same party as she, Nana Konadu told traditional rulers in the Asogli Traditional Area in Ho on Tuesday, May 31, 2011, that, “When we won the last election, we wanted the NDC to pursue an agenda that would enable the party to perpetuate the development of our country and the development of its people but we can see that the party is withering like a flower. It is dwindling and almost collapsing”.
She poured her heart out to the chiefs and queens when she said, “Members of our party are actually defecting to the opposition. Whoever heard of a party in government having its people defecting to the opposition? Something is wrong,” she maintained.
She explained that she did not just get up to contest but she took the decision after “Members of the party came together; the youth came together; elders came together; they have talked to our founder; they have talked to a lot of our colleagues here; they have talked to me for almost a year; they were putting a lot of pressure and I accepted to be a candidate for the NDC”.
The former First Lady stepped down as a Vice-Chairperson of the party to enable her to contest the election scheduled for July 8 to July 10, 2011 in Sunyani, the Brong Ahafo regional capital.
Nana Konadu stated that there was a clear indication she was on the right track due to the huge air of rejuvenation that had flooded her party since she decided to contest President Mills.
She has, therefore, described as erroneous the assertion that it was improper for her to contest the presidency because her husband had been a President before.
She stressed that it took a certain level of vibrancy to be able to win elections from a determined political party like the New Patriotic Party (NPP), adding that surveys conducted on the NDC clearly show that “if we don’t change the candidate we are going back into opposition”.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic on June 16, 2011, Nana Konadu, who spoke through her Spokesperson, Mr Kofi Adams, expressed her preparedness to unite the NDC if she emerged as the presidential candidate of the party at its July congress.
She noted that the ugly situation where some leading party members broke away from the NDC after congresses would be a thing of the past under her administration as the flag bearer of a party which her husband formed in 1992.
She pointed out that the party had always been the loser whenever such leaders, as well as ordinary members, resigned or defected to other political parties.
Leading members of the party such as Mr Kofi Asante, Dr Obed Yao Asamoah, Goosie Tandoh, Bede Ziedeng and Ms Frances Essiam resigned from the NDC to either form their own political parties or join others.
Nana Konadu had made it clear several times that she was contesting for the position to lead the party to strengthen its structures, as well as provide sterling and inspiring leadership for the country.
To put her words into action, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings made history on May 3, 2011 when she became the first female to have pick nomination forms to vie for the flag bearer position of a political party in Ghana.
After picking the forms, she told the crowd that was waiting outside, “I will bring Ghana back to where it belongs.”
Nana Konadu later presented the forms to her husband and Founder of the NDC, former President Jerry John Rawlings, at the Ridge office of the former President, where he congratulated her, saying the task ahead would not be easy.
“We will be fighting all the way through and we’ve got to remain very vigilant,” said the former President, whose statement put to rest the perception that he was not in support of his wife’s ambition.
To put her intentions to action, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, on June 1, 2011, returned her nomination forms to the executive of the party in Accra.

Her profile
Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings was born on the November 17, 1948 in Cape Coast in the Central Region. She schooled at Achimota School, where she met her future husband, Jerry John Rawlings.
She continued at the then University of Science and Technology, where she read Art, specialising in Textiles. She was a student leader and an executive of Africa Hall, her hall of residence.
In 1975, just three years after graduating with honours from the University of Science and Technology with a bachelors' degree in graphic design, she earned an interior design diploma from the London College of Arts.
She pursued her education into the next couple of decades, acquiring a diploma in advanced personnel management from Ghana's Management Development and Productivity Institute in 1979 and a certificate in development from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration in 1991.
Nana Konadu got married to her ‘sweetheart’ Jerry John Rawlings, an Air Force officer in 1977. She gave birth to her first child, Ezanetor Rawlings in 1978. Two other daughters and a son followed later; Yaa Asantewaa, Amina and Kimathi.
Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings came into the political limelight when her husband became Head of State briefly in 1979 and then from December 31, 1981 to January 6, 2001. She has been the president of the 31st December Women's Movement since 1982. The 31st December Women's Movement is a non-governmental organisation with the aim of projecting the interest of Ghanaian women irrespective of their social and economic standing. In 2009, she was elected the 1st Vice Chairperson of the NDC at a congress in Tamale.
In 1995 she received honorary doctorate degrees together with her husband at Lincoln University in Lincoln, Pennsylvania.
Realising Agyemang Rawlings’s "charm" and "substance," the New York Amsterdam News reported that she was praised by Ghana's permanent representative to the United Nations, Mr George Lamptey, when he said, "For the past 12 years she has stood by her husband in the struggle to restore Ghana”.
When not busy with her family or at work, Agyeman-Rawlings enjoys swimming, reading, dancing, camping, and collecting dolls from around the world. She also devotes time and money to such charitable causes as the National Radiopathy Project, Friends of the National Zoo, and the Ghana Girl Guides Association, to name a few.
When interviewed in Africa Report in January and February, 1995, Mrs Rawlings recalled that in the early 1980s, a few women approached her wanting to form a women's organisation and after a few meetings, little happened.
She said that after asking the women what they wanted to do as an organisation, "It was clear that we had to start with things that would earn money to develop their communities in the social sector.
Most of the women wanted things like water."
Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings spent time listening to women who came to her with their problems. Her movement taught some Ghanaian women how to generate income and save money for community projects. It encouraged them to become part of the decision making process in their villages, and explained policies of health and education.
The movement also offered an adult literacy programme to teach women to read and write — except that majority of the women could not do that. In addition, early marriages among female children were discouraged and programmes were offered on nutrition and immunisation.
In 1991, through the efforts of the 31st December Women Movement, Ghana became the first nation to approve the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child. The movement also played a crucial role in the adoption of an "Intestate Succession Law," which is applicable to the survivors of anyone dying without a will. Traditionally, Ghanaian women had little or no rights of inheritance upon the death of their husbands. The new law provides a standard of inheritance.
Nana Konadu’s movement helped some village women to become involved in the electoral process.
"We literally just pounded it into them until they realised, hey, we don't want any of these people who are living outside our areas to come and stand in our areas to be elected," she said in Africa Report. "A lot of women are now on committees in their villages and districts, some are chairing the committees.... I can only say we've made a lot of impact, and I can see from the self-esteem and near arrogance of the women that now we've actually been able to break through this thick wall," she said.
Pointing to the area of finance as one of their problems, Agyemang- Rawlings told Africa Report: "Most of the western embassies said we were just a political group and they didn't take time to listen. It took a lot of time just getting people to understand.... The more women enter politics, the better the world will be, because we don't think of wars and who is going to manufacture arms and who is going to kill the next person. We want to form linkages, network, and make the world a better place to live in."

If you’re in Sunyani, welcome (Graphic Showbiz)

SUNYANI, the capital of the Brong-Ahafo Region will this week-end shake. It will certainly change from its usual quiet atmosphere to a hot spot where all attention will focus.
This is because, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has chosen the city for its delegates’ congress scheduled between tomorrow July 8 and Sunday July 10 at which about 3,000 delegates will elect a flagbearer for the 2012 general election. President John Evans Atta Mills and the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, are vying for the flag-bearership position of the party.
In addition to the delegates, other people who are expected to move to Sunyani for the event are dignitaries, observers, party supporters as well as the media. These people are going to add up to the about 90,000 residents in the municipality.
Sunyani is a seven-hour drive from Accra linked by a first-rate highway from Kumasi. A quiet but interesting municipality, Sunyani has over the years been a place where many people, especially first time visitors have felt welcome. It has also been a home of many strangers. Many public servants have made it their permanent abode after retirement from active service.
Nana Asor Bosoma Nkrawiri is the Omanhene of the Sunyani Traditional Area and Nana Yaa Nyamaa II is the Ohemaa.
One thing that stands out is the relative neat environment of the city as well as its calmness. Another thing is the relatively low price of food items, transportation and accommodation that one finds in the city.
Well known as the home of quality fufuo, visitors have the luxury of sampling from many of the local fufuo bases in town. Some of these are Good Mark (opposite the former GNTC building), Woaye Afere (behind the former Rex Cinema), Berlin Spot (close to the Residency roundabout), Priory (after Cocoa Village), Leo’s Kitchen (on the Kumasi Road) and Sweet Touch (opposite the old lorry park).
Others are Surprise (on the Dormaa Road), Mandela (close to the first roundabout), Jakosa (behind the Jubilee Park), Supreme (behind the Law Courts) and many more smaller eateries dotted all over the city and most especially in and around the old market which is a walking distance from the Coronation Park where most the congress action will take place.
Sunyani is an especially interesting place to be, at this time that the weather is so cool and there is green all over. The city is close to many other big and famous towns such as Berekum, Bechem, Abesim, Dumase, Fiapre and if one wants to drive a bit farther, Dormaa, Wenchi and Techiman. It boasts of being perhaps the only town that has its Zongo located right in the middle of town.
Sunyani features a thriving economy. The society is predominantly agrarian with approximately 48 percent of the population engaged in agriculture production. About 24 percent of the population is employed in the service sector, followed by commerce and industry which employ 15 percent and 13 percent of the populace, respectively.
Historically, Sunyani was an outpost camp for elephant hunters during the 19th century. The name Sunyani derives from the Akan phrase 'Sono dwae' which means a place where elephants are butchered. In 1924, the British colonial government designated Sunyani as a district headquarters. Following the construction of a road connecting Sunyani and Kumasi, Sunyani became an important hub for the distribution of cocoa, kola nuts, and staple foods such as maize and yams. Other common food items available in Sunyani are plantain, cassava and cocoyam.
Currently, Sunyani is a home to both the regional administration and the municipal assembly. Many of the region's tertiary institutions are also based in the city; which are Sunyani Polytechnic, the College of Renewable National Resources and the Catholic University.
Several of the country's best primary and secondary schools can be found within Sunyani and its suburbs, including: St. Mary's; Holy Spirit; Wesley's; Divine; Twene Amanfo Secondary Technical School; and Don Bosco Vocational Technical Institute. Attracting students from throughout the region and beyond, is the highly ranked Sunyani High School and St. James Seminary.
Mr Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sunyani East, with Sunyani as the constituency headquarters.
Although considerably smaller than nearby Kumasi, Sunyani is growing rapidly and is home to modern communication facilities which include fixed telephone and fax lines, pay phones, mobile phones, Internet and e-mail services. Additionally; postal services are available in the form of post office, as well as expedited mail services provided by EMS (Express mail service), DHL and FedEx.
The city’s growth is boosted by the its high-quality water supply. Water sources include pipe borne water, bore holes, hand-dug wells, rain water and water from streams, rivers and springs. Sunyani is provided with electricity by the Volta River Authority.
The city has a number of financial institutions including a branch of the Bank of Ghana, two Ghana Commercial Bank branches, Barclays Bank, Social Security Bank, Agricultural Development Bank, National Investment Bank and lately Stanbic Bank, Sahel Sahara Bank, Ecobank, Zennith Bank as well as six rural banks, a number of credit unions and insurance institutions complementing the financial service provision of the city.
The city also has three hospitals, one of which, Sunyani General Hospital, is a state-of-the-art health facility, which opened in 2003. There are also about 10 private clinics and a number maternity homes which operate in Sunyani.
The Sunyani airport, which was opened on 13 July 1974 is still operational. Due to runway length limitations, the airport is suitable only for use by medium range aircraft, and generally only connects passengers to the Kumasi and Accra airports .
In recent times, tourists are beginning to venture to Sunyani in greater numbers, attracted by the areas of natural beauty surrounding the city. Such visitors can take advantage of the city’s three 3-star hotels and rated hostels. As already mentioned, a number of guest houses and restaurants can also be found in the city.
Among the city’s attractions is the Cocoa House, a high rise building that dominates the Sunyani skyline. The building houses the headquarters of several regional offices including the Graphic Communications Group Limited.
There are also five radio stations which are Radio BAR which is owned by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Sky FM, Space FM, Dinpa FM and Ark FM where like other places, residents take advantage of their existence to have their say on both local and national issues.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cabinet identifies sanitation a major problem

CABINET has acknowledged that the country lags behind in achieving clean sanitation as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
This is because, with barely four years to reach the MDGs’s target year of 2015, Ghana is among the countries “very off track” to halve the proportion of the population without access to improved basic sanitation.
Addressing journalists at a press conference on government business in Accra yesterday, a Deputy Minister of Information, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah, said since the MDGs represented only the “floor”, it meant a lot of efforts and multiple approaches ought to be applied if any meaningful progress was to be achieved.
Mr Ablakwa gave the assurance that the government would work hard to improve the sanitation conditions, adding that, “as the government works to deepen the middle-income status of the nation in line with the “Better Ghana” agenda, improving environmental sanitation is one sure way of success”.
He, therefore, called on Ghanaians to ensure that the environment was clean and urged responsible citizens in society to educate others who littered their surroundings.
The deputy minister said the Cabinet recognised the approval of the memorandum on a Strategic Environmental Sanitation Investment Plan (SESIP): 2011-2015 as crucial, adding the plan would provide the platform for the development partners to resource and assist the country to implement a direction and focus on government’s plan to tackle the sanitation challenge.
He explained that in addition to the issue of inadequate basic household sanitation, there was the need to improve all the other aspects of environmental sanitation, which included improving solid waste management, sewage and storm water conveyance, treatment and disposal of wastes, both liquid and solid, as well as provision of health care facilities.
He said the Cabinet had approved a request for tax and duty exceptions for the Northern Rural Growth Programme, which was in line with the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), and the exemptions border on VAT, NHIL, GCNet, Destination Inspection and ECOWAS Levy which amounted to US$512,758.
Mr Ablakwa touched on the government’s intention to create a wholly state-owned special purpose company with a reviewed contract to replace Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL).
He said the Cabinet also endorsed the recommendations of the committee on Finance and Economy, which included the need to build capacity, especially on staffing and remuneration; review the existing Public Procurement Act to facilitate the smooth implementation of PPP, and hold discussions with the development partners on procurement activities for project and programmes supported by them.
“Cabinet apprised itself on the general performance of the economy. Apart from being impressed, it also noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had approved Ghana’s 2011 programme,” he said.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

House of Chiefs to meet on Ga Mantse issues (Front Page)

THE National House Chiefs will today begin a two-day meeting in Kumasi to deliberate on the confusion surrounding the Ga Mashie chieftaincy affair.
The meeting, which will also deliberate on other issues, will try to find a way out of the controversies which have emerged in the Ga Traditional Area since an attempt was made to find a successor to the late Ga Mantse, Boni Nii Amugi II, who passed away six years ago.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the President of the National House of Chiefs, Wulugunaba Naa Professor J.S. Nabila, reiterated that the various groups in the Ga Traditional Area should exercise patience and allow the law to take its course.
He said the law must be respected, adding that since the case was before the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs, there was no need for the installation of other people.
“They should have waited for the outcome of the case,” he stressed.
So far, two other people have laid claim to the Ga Stool, while King Tackie Tawiah III, who was installed in 2006, is still in office.
On Saturday, June 25, 2011, the newly enstooled Ga Mantse, King Boni Nii Tackie Adama Latse II, was introduced at Amugi Naa, opposite the Ussher Fort in Accra.
Nii Latse, known in private life as George Adama Tackie Abia, works with Maersk Company, an international shipping company, as a shipping analyst and co-ordinator.
Another person, popularly known as Ayittey Canada, was also in the news some few weeks ago, claiming to be the rightful occupant of the Ga Stool.
The issue of who qualifies to be the Ga Mantse has been thorny since Nii Amugi’s death, with several people laying claim to the stool.
According to Ga State tradition, the kingship rotates among four Royal houses, namely, Teiko Tsuru We, Amugi We, Abola Piam We and Tackie Kommey We.
It is generally acknowledged that it is the turn of the Abola Piam We to enstool a Ga Mantse.
Meanwhile, the Spokesperson for King Tackie Tawiah, Nii Obi Abbey, has described the installation of a new chief as contempt of court.
He said the Ga Stool was not vacant and that before a new king was installed, there was the need to destool the occupant by preferring the necessary charges against him, noting that nothing of that sort had been done.
The latest twist adds to the number of chieftaincy disputes in several communities in the Ga State. Osu, Nungua and Tema are among communities embroiled in chieftaincy disputes.

Prez Mills stresses need to avoid lawlessness in health delivery

PRESIDENT J.E.A. Mills has touched on the need to place premium on regulating the health sector, saying that without regulation, there is bound to be lawlessness leading to anarchy.
He stressed that where anarchy prevailed, there would be infiltration of untrained personnel, inability to deal with sub-standard practices and infamous conduct in the health fraternity.
“These will undermine efforts towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he stated.
President Mills said this in an address read on his behalf by the Minister of Health, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, at the opening of the 15th Annual Conference of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa (AMCOA) in Accra.
The four-day conference is on the theme, “Achieving the Health Related Millennium Development Goals: The Role of Regulatory Bodies”.
The primary purpose of AMCOA is to support medical regulatory authorities in Africa in the protection of the public interest by promoting high standards of medical education, registration and regulation and facilitating the exchange of information among medical authorities.
The President said health delivery in Africa was still a challenge and would continue to be so unless the people made definite efforts for change.
He talked about how developing countries, including Ghana, were struggling to make the level of progress that would lead to the achievement of the 2015 targets, adding, “Even though we have made some progress, our performance on the implementation of child survival interventions and efforts at reducing maternal mortality are lagging behind.”
President Mills attributed the challenges to weak health systems, lack of access to basic proven interventions, the large burden of endemic diseases, coupled with the challenges of malnutrition which continued to conspire to reverse some of the fragile gains so far made.
Giving background information on the formation of the association, a past Rector of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, Professor Paul Kwame Nyame, said 500 years after a legal onslaught on quacks on the medical field, the quacks still seemed to thrive and prosper, exploiting the ignorance of the peoples of Africa.
“It is imperative that you establish the mechanism which allows a timeous identification of bona fide practitioners from quacks, who sometimes claim forged foreign qualification,” he said.
The President of AMCOA, Professor Y. Mulla, lamented the fact that Africa was lagging behind in achieving the MDGs and added that medical councils should not be seen as book-keepers but entities to ensure quality healthcare delivery.
The Chairman for the event, who is the President of the National House of Chiefs, Wulugunaba Naa Professor J.S. Nabila, advised the participants to exchange ideas that would help improve healthcare delivery in their respective countries.

Eighty per cent of children have gum diseases— A study shows

STUDIES conducted by the health sector have indicated that 80 per cent of schoolchildren have gum diseases, while 20 per cent of them suffer from dental caries.
The study also showed that poor oral health is most prevalent among the poor and vulnerable with poor children four times more likely to have dental decay in early childhood.
The Minister of Health, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, made this known at the opening of the 20th Annual Dental Congress of the Ghana Dental Association (GDA) in Accra. The theme for the event was; “Comprehensive oral healthcare for all: Challenges and solutions”.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Health said, “to compound this problem, it is estimated that less than one in five children received even one preventive dental service in a year”.
He also pointed out dental diseases shared common risk factors with other diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
Those shared factors, according to the minister, included tobacco smoking, inappropriate diet, alcohol consumption, injuries, poor hygiene and exposure to ultra violet radiation.
He, however, indicated that the government was making efforts to reduce the trend adding, “We cannot achieve the aims of the “Better Ghana” agenda if we do not provide opportunities for good oral hygiene care”.
Mr Chireh said the Ministry of Health (MoH) had over the years, raised the profile of oral health within the health sector by emphasising its vital importance in all its programmes.
The President of the Ghana Dental Association, Dr Josephine Sackyefio, said apart from initiating treatment for patients, dental surgeons the duty to maintain the patients.
She said the MoH and the GDA had embarked on an accreditation of more health facilities to accommodate new and old dental surgeons.
However, Dr Sackyefio said the newly-accredited health facilities lacked basic logistics for effective oral healthcare delivery.
She, therefore, stressed the need for the provision of appropriate tools to all dental clinics in the country to enable them to provide the public with comprehensive dental treatment.

NIA to start distributing ID cards

Sat.June 25, 2011
THE National Identification Authority (NIA) will start the distribution of the national identification cards (Ghanacard) from July 4, 2011.
Only registered persons who are 15 and above will be given the cards personally after their fingerprints have been taken for verification. The exercise is free of charge.
The exercise, which is scheduled to begin from the Greater Accra Region, will proceed to the Ashanti, Central, Western and Eastern regions in that order.
They will be followed by the Volta, Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.
At a press briefing in Accra to announce the timetable for the distribution in Greater Accra, the Executive Secretary of the NIA, Mr William Ahadzie, said residents of the Okaikoi Sub-Metro would be the first to receive theirs under the first phase of the programme starting from July 4 to 10, 2011.
The exercise will continue in the various sub-metros as follows: Ablekuma South, July 13 to 19; Ablekuma North, July 22 to 28; Osu Klottey and Ashiedu Keteke, July 31 to August 6, and Ayawaso, August 9 to 15, 2011.
Other sub-metros are Ayawaso and Kpeshie, August 18 to 24; Kpeshie, August 27 to September 2; Ga East, September 5 to 11, and Ga West, September 14 to 20, 2011.
Phase two of the exercise will cover the Dangme East and West districts, September 23 to 29; Tema East, October 3 to 9, and Tema West, October 12 to 18, 2011.
Mr Ahadzie said registered persons should patiently wait for their turns and then report where they registered with their collection slips or the registration receipts for the cards, adding that those whose slips were missing would have to produce the identification cards used for the registration for their cards.
He stressed that there was the possibility that some people might not receive their ID cards, although they registered, due to faults on the cards, adding that such people would be given the opportunity to do another registration at a latter date.
The executive secretary indicated that the Ghanacard would be valid for 10 years and went on to state that people who lost, damaged or had their cards tampered with could apply for re-registration but at a cost.