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.