It has been a while since I presented you with my opinions over happenings within the country, Ghana. Not because there is nothing to speak about, but mainly because there has been so much happening that by the time you are almost set organizing your thoughts, another issue pops up, taking more prominence and eventually shifting the public discourse. I have decided to present my opinion on four issues that have dominated the discussion in the public space. These issues would bother on the Kidnapped Takoradi girls who have been confirmed dead, the Ayawaso West Wuogon Commission Report, Corruption and the current dimensions on the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).
Missing Takoradi Girls
This subject of the missing Takoradi Girls had dominated our nation for over a year. Since the missing of these girls was reported in the media, several angles of their stories were reported by the media from various narrators.
Indeed, their missing, and the public discussion therefrom, were mainly occasioned by the speed at which the Canadian citizens were rescued after they were reportedly kidnapped in Kumasi in June 2019. Report can be found on bbc (https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-africa-48547503). Until their rescue, many Ghanaian had almost forgotten about these kidnapped Takoradi Girls as the media had not given them much publication months after their initial interest in the subject.
Soon after the successful rescue of the kidnapped Canadian girls, there were growing demands from the general public on the Ghanaian Government to intensify efforts equal to those used in the Canadian girls rescue to rescue those missing girls of Ghanaian parents on whose behalf the government and the president exercises power. These growing demands led to the security officials making statements of assurances. For instance, the National Security Minister, Mr. Bryan Acheampong is reported by ABC News Ghana to have indicated that the missing girls would be found as their whereabouts were known to government, (https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Missing-Takoradi-girls-will-be-found-Bryan-Acheampong-755684).
Not only him, even before the rescue of these Canadian girls, somewhere in April 2019, the Director General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, Mrs. Maame Yaa Tiwa Addo Danquah, made the greatest of assurances to the families of these missing girls and the Ghanaian public. She was emphatic in her presentation to the effect that the Service was aware of the whereabouts of these girls and that they would soon be rescued and reunited with their families, (https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/ghana-news-takoradi-kidnapped-girls-we-know-where-they-are-cid.html). This statement gave the entire nation some hope, and to the families, a great sigh of relief that in no time, they would see their children who had not been seen for many months.
It came as a total disappointment that when pressure mounted for the police to follow up on their promise to the nation and the families of these girls, the same Director General of the Ghana Police Service’s Criminal Investigations Department, Mrs. Tiwaa Addo Danquah came back to eat back her words and indicate that her initial assurances were meant to provide hopes for their rescue, (https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/i-said-the-takoradi-girls-have-been-found-to-give-hope-to-family-cid-boss.amp.html).
It came eventually as a shock to the nation and the families that in about August 2019, bones of these missing girls were reportedly found in a septic tank in the house of the suspect in a story that was just waiting to bring closure to these whole saga of their whereabouts. The Daily Graphic reports (https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/police-retrieve-skeletons-suspected-to-be-that-of-3-missing-takoradi-girls.html). These bones were carried by the Service for DNA tests to prove their relations to the missing girls. In September, 2019, the Police Service broke news to the families that the DNA test of the bones collected from the septic tank confirmed those of their daughters, bringing closure to their hopes of ever seeing their daughters a year after they were kidnapped, (https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/police-retrieve-skeletons-suspected-to-be-that-of-3-missing-takoradi-girls.html).
The drama that greeted the entire kidnap and operations to rescue these girls exposed our nation greatly to some major security challenges. The assurances that came through the security and the unfortunate results that proved that their reportage and assurances were made at a time these girls were already dead, leaves much to be desired. The nation deserves better, and people in authority ought to be guided.
There were several calls on the Director General of the CID, Mrs. Tiwaa Addo Danquah to have resigned her position after this gross failure in a matter that had the entire nation waiting based on her assurances. Indeed, her assurances actually inspired the president to give assurances to the families of the missing girls in July when he visited the Western Region on a tour of the Region (https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2019/July-25th/police-working-hard-to-find-missing-taadi-girls-akufo-addo-assures.php). Having led this huge embarrassment on the president, and the entire security setup, it was expected that she would be motivated to resign over failures, but that is yet to happen.
Ayawaso West Wuogon
Ghanaians, as early as 31st January, 2019, were greeted with the worst form of political violence in a by-election under the 4th Republican Constitution at Ayawaso West Wuogon following the demise of the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area Hon. Boakye Agyarko. As early as 9AM local time, there were reports of gun shots and injuries on innocent Ghanaians by operatives who were severally reported as vigilante foot soldiers of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) who have found their way into the state’s security. This led to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) announcing a pull out of the race, leaving the NPP candidate Miss, Lydia Seyram Alhassan as the only contender who was later declared winner with some 19% voter turnout, (https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/politics/ghana-news-gunshots-at-ayawaso-west-wuogon-by-election.html).
Following the public outcry, a three-member commission of enquiry was formed to find the facts and to make recommendations on the facts ascertained thereof. The Emile Short Commission did its work, and presented their report to the president in March 2019 (http://www.ghana.gov.gh/index.php/media-center/news/5481-emile-short-commission-presents-report-to-president-akufo-addo). Following calls from the general public, the President issued a White Paper on the report and caused it to be published in September 2016 exactly upon the expiration of the constitutionally mandated 6 months duration.
The White Paper among other things, dismissed the critical recommendations and eventually rubbished the Short Commission’s report which was televised before the general public by renowned statesmen and woman. You can download copy of the White Paper following this link (https://starrfm.com.gh/2019/09/download-govt-white-paper-on-aww-commissions-report/). This posture confirmed the fears of many who expressed their reservations over the outcome of the Commission of Enquire proposed to be established in February, 2019. Indeed, the opposition National Democratic Congress, in firming up their doubts, boycotted the Commission and refused to participate in its activities (https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.modernghana.com/amp/news/915022/ayawaso-violence-ndc-to-boycott-emile-short-commi.html). That notwithstanding, the party allowed individuals in their personal capacities to exercise discretion on whether or not, they would attend to the Commission.
Indeed, the Hon. Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Samuel Nartey George, who was seen abused in video footages that made the rounds, attended upon the Commission and gave his evidence before the Emile Short’s Commission. It came as a surprise to many that the Government’s White Paper rejected recommendations that the security officer seen in the video assaulting the Hon. Sam George did so as a defense to provocation for which reason the government would not accept recommendations that he should be tried and punished (https://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2019/September-19th/bloody-by-election-sam-george-attacker-walks-free.php).
In addition, one Ernest Akomeah, also known as Double, a known NPP vigilante operative, and who openly admitted having been recruited from Circle where he plied his mobile phone trade and was given only three weeks training (https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Short-commission-I-entered-National-Security-after-3-weeks-training-Double-728283) and yet was fit to be deployed on such a highly professional exercise, was recommended for prosecution. Over a month since the Emile Short Commission’s report was published, Government remains mute on the way forward.
The conduct of government brought about criticisms which reveals a premeditated plan to hide behind the Commission and the power of government to issue White Paper that is backed by law, to exonerate party operatives who have found their way into national security and are operating dangerously with state power on their side. Many have questioned the need to waste the taxpayer’s money on outcomes of a commission whose report government clearly had a position on. Indeed, the Government’s White Paper sought to undermine the work of the Commission as it presents that the Commission deviated from the terms of reference set out for their operations.
Ayawaso West Wuogon remains one unfortunate political scar on the forehead of Ghana’s political journey that would be referenced for a very long time to come. Meanwhile, government has a lot to do to allay fears that it deliberately infiltrated the security services with the likes of ‘Double’ to entrench its stay in power.
The subject of corruption has become too common under the administration of President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo. Indeed, since assuming power, a few weeks after he was handed power, the first ever corruption scandal was reported from the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport company (BOST) where some 5 million litres of fuel was reported to have been contaminated and disposed of through means so alien to government procurement processes. Indeed, in May 2019, BOST report indicated that the event of the contaminated fuel sold out to Movenpina was criminal (https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2019/may-2nd/movenpina-zup-oil-contaminated-fuel-saga-criminal-bost-report.php). This was one of the first, if not the first scandals to hit the Akufo-Addo Government. Unfortunately, the president, in the midst of investigations, cleared the officials of any wrong doing.
This single conduct, gave the clearest indication of how the President intended to handle issues of allegations of corruption against his appointees. His appointees took the view that the president would be frontally dismissive over allegations of corruption made against them as they realized he would present to the people of Ghana, a clear indication that his government is made up of angels who could not be corrupt.
Earning the title ‘Clearing Agent’ was not out of hatred for the President, nor out of nowhere. His approach in dealing with allegations of occupation against his officials, cut him across as a president who was ready and willing to clear his appointees in all matters of corruption.
Indeed, the famous Cash for Seat, which was a clear case of extortion from expatriate business men for an amount of $100,000 for a seat close to the president involving the Trade Minster and his Deputy, which was cleared by the president at the time Parliament was not done with its enquiry, giving tone to the Majority side of Parliament of the president’s intended outcome, was unfortunate, and one of the reasons for the accolade ‘Clearing Agent’.
Again, from among the lot, reference can be made to his statement that cleared the current Deputy Information Minister, Mr. Pius Enam Hadzide of wrongdoing following the established visa fraud involving Ghana during the Australian Cup in Good Coast Australia at the time he was the Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports. In that scandal, Ghana was involved in Visa racketeering, issuing visas to people who had no business holding such visas. It was established that the said incident occurred, but the president was in a hurry to clear Mr. Hadzide of wrongdoing, citing a committee report that the public is yet to see (https://www.gbcghana.com/1.11634534). Today, Mr. Hadzide remains an avowed defender of the Akufo-Addo’s Government over corruption scandals because he is himself a beneficiary of corruption cover-ups.
Then came the issue of ‘Galamsey’ in which the Secretary to the Inter-ministerial Committee that was supposed to check illegal mining was caught on video receiving monies in a video documentary by international awards winning journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas in a bid to offer them cover to mine illegally. The president yet again presided over the matter and cleared the said official of any wrongdoing, again citing a report that the public has not been allowed to see.
The issue of corruption has become so pertinent that even foreign diplomats have begun speaking up. The United States’ Ambassador to Ghana had had cause to speak up. Mr. Robert Jackson was reported to have charged the president to prosecute his corrupt officials as far back 2017 (https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Deal-with-corrupt-officials-US-Ambassador-to-Government-601745).
Then came the The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Ron Strikker who brought the Government’s attention to its drive of Ghana Bayond Aid and asked if the country could refocus on Ghana beyond corruption (https://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2019/September-6th/why-not-ghana-beyond-corruption-dutch-ambassador-asks.php). It must be noted that he came under severe attack from government machinery for that singular call, a call I consider to be appropriate. For instance, the various allegations of corruption and scandals which were counted at a minimum of 107, if quantified, could rescue this country from the economic dungeons bringing this country to a point where the meagre aid would be meaningless.
After him, came the Australian Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Andrew Barnes who opines that corruption is a problem in Ghana to the extent that he has had to keep up with it (https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/video-atheist-high-commissioner-wonders-why-corruption-is-a-problem-in-ghana.html). And what is much interesting with his observation that would make it difficult to reject by government is the fact that, we actually exported corruption in the visa racketeering scandal to the Gold Coast games in Australia, his home country. We have proved beyond boarders that our officials are capable of being corrupt even beyond our shores.
Corruption remain pervasive under the current administration, and to the extent that foreign diplomats have begun speaking up on same, government must have to sit up and deal with this social challenge.
Comprehensive Sexuality Education
The past week has been dominated by discussions on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in Ghana’s curriculum at ages as early as 4. This sparked wide fear among parents and religious bodies across the country with many fearing any such move would expose their children to same sex orientation among others.
Press statements and conferences on the subject matter abound on the internet. I will pull out just two for your reading pleasure. First is that of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council which called on the government to withdraw CSE (https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2019/october-3rd/churches-demand-total-withdrawl-of-comprehensive-sexuality-education.php). The second is a statement reported from the Office of the National Chief Imam (https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Drop-satanic-CSE-in-national-interest-Chief-Imam-785411).
In these two statements, there is a clear indication that the cultural and moral values of the people of Ghana must be respected and protected. Government had, over the past few days, after one exposé after the other was made in their frantic efforts at blaming everyone than themselves, come under severe public backlash with demands that this new curriculum must not get close to children of parents.
It must be established that reading across the objectives of the various international agencies that are funding CSE, there is a clear agenda targeted at adolescents and people younger. Adolescence is determined from between ages 10 and 19. If the objectives are currently targeting children below adolescents, then there is cause for worry. Undoubtedly, the Swedish Government is providing funding for what it captured as “curriculum-based CSE”, which clearly spells out the mode of administering the Comprehensive Sexuality Education to children including those of Ghana.
We have had contradictory positions from government officials key among them, the Minister in Charge or Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh. Perhaps unaware, he was recorded in a video in February, 2019 stating clearly that CSE would be introduced in September, 2019. He was soon to deny any knowledge of it, and to make claims that the said CSE has not been included in the new curriculum framework and Teacher Resource Packs handed to teachers. However, evidence on the ground points to the fact that teachers were indeed trained and remunerated over CSE, have been given resource packs that contains CSE, which are currently available in schools.
Again, what emerged was the fact that in 2019, the full budget document submitted to Parliament, on page 86, paragraph 369, contains a statement on CSE presented by the Finance Minister which clearly indicate government’s knowledge on the subject and its inclusion. One wonders how an unapproved topic had found itself into an approved curriculum.
Fast forward, the president has sought to give parents assurances that under his watch, same sex orientations would not be allowed to take hold. Many had expressed skepticism over his commitment to his words. In the past, he was emphatic that he would not run a government made up of family and friends, but his government actually consists of family members and business associates never witnessed near what he criticized in the past. He was also reported to state that he would not collapse ‘Galamsey’ but he has actually collapsed it and instituted stringent laws that would punish severely, anyone caught in the act.
Following his statement that same sex marriage and the legalization of same was “bound to happen” on Aljazeera in November, 2017 on “Talk to Aljazeera”, there were fears on what he actually intended. Even though sometime in April of 2018, he was offered a perform by the Global Evangelical Church to clarify his position, many fear how genuinely he is committed to his words especially after hinting that the emergence of a force would give rise to the legalization of same sex.
The crux of the matter is that, even if under his watch, same sex would not be approved, as it is obvious over 95% of Ghanaians including his Majority in Parliament would not want to have anything to do with its passing into law leading to him promising the nation, what would one describe moves to ensure that a curriculum is structured in such a manner than would provide room and tolerance for one’s sexual preferences which would in future bring into full force a change for the legalization of same sex many many years after he has left power? Would one not be right to say that his government gave the tacit approval to same sex legalization in Ghana? These are the genuine fears that Ghanaian parents harbour, and would require more than words to be allayed.