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Opinions of Tuesday, 16 March 2004

Columnist: Annor, Joseph

Is it sinful for the President to pay farmers ....

.... the appropriate price for cocoa? Can mass spraying of cocoa crops increase the yield?

Ask my three-year clever boy the questions above and he would probably be able to give you the appropriate answers. Yet, the NDC politicians because of hypocrisy are pretending that they do not know the answers to these questions and as a result making mockery of themselves.

The two decades of Rawlings (P)NDC dictatorship and economic mismanagement left the Ghanaian economy in absolute shambles, declined and precarious state. Despite that Mr Kuffour and his NPP Government are trying their best to turn the shambolic Ghanaian economy around, several NDC activists continue to insult not only the policies of the NPP Government, but also the President personally. A case in point is an unfortunate recent referral of the President as "dumb" by Tony Aidoo, who cannot bridle his tongue and just speaks without thinking about it. I understand that Mr Aidoo was a lecturer at Capecoast University before Rawlings turned him into a politician. Despite all these experiences, he is still not mature and alters any word that comes into his mouth. Yes, the mature President has responded and he states that he would work on his presentation, although, that should not be strange because I definitely know that in Australia chief executive officers of multinational corporations and so forth access the services of speech therapies to coach them in their presentation styles, despite that most of them speak only English language and hold degrees from some prestigious universities. In fact, I have attended such a course and the emphasis was mainly on pronunciation and I am ready to send the CDs and materials to President Kuffour if he wants me to do so, as they are really helpful. But what I want to tell Mr Aidoo is that he should understand that the President is past student of Oxford one of the best in the world. Further, as the President point out he should talk like a mature person in order to have respect.

Further, I read with much to my chagrin that Mr Victor Smith of NDC could boldly state that President Kuffour is encouraging smuggling by paying Ghanaian cocoa farmers good prices for their products, as that has encouraged Ivorians to smuggle their cocoa to Ghana. Mr Mosquito also accused President Kuffour over the same issue (although without the smuggling aspect) in Parliament, but he was forced to retract his statement at Parliament, as he had no data or proof to back his claim. I will like to point to the NDC members that in their desperate attempt to discredit the President for political gains, they need to be extremely careful. It seems very absurd, unpatriotic and immature for a Ghanaian to accuse the President of encouraging smuggling just because he has deemed it necessary to pay our hard working farmers the price that commensurate their hard labour. I guess any patriotic Ghanaian would understand how our farmers suffer in the village. Yes, I know what I am talking about because during my school days, especially, in primary and secondary school periods, I assisted my parents on their cocoa farmers, and one of those farms was in a village where the father of Osei Kwame (Despite of Peace FM), was the chief.

Even after completed my "O" Level and was waiting for my results, I worked with one of the government organisation, which was commonly known as "cocoa project". In the village most farmers live in very poor conditions and struggle. However, because of votes, Mr Smith has accused the President for paying the farmers what they deserve. This shows that NDC will go all way to discredit the President even when he is doing the right thing. But what they fail to understand is that it shows their immaturity, because those who effectively, make these statements are insulting our farmers, who have provided about one third or more of foreign exchange since independence. I believe Mr Smith who made such unfortunate and childish statement without any proof does not have any experience of what cocoa farming is like. He has probably lived his whole life in some cities like Accra and for that matter, he does not appreciate the hard work that our farmers are doing and out of ignorance and hypocrisy accuses the government for rewarding the farmers. It is not strange to me because during the NDC era they stripped of the Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board of its role as the primary purchaser of cocoa in Ghana and the Ahwois and others set up their own private companies to easily earn huge profits and became billionaires. Strangely, they were not vetted for acquiring billions of cedis but they sat on vetting committees to probe Ghanaians who had genuinely acquired only 50,000 cedis just as recent as 1980s. Invariably, they used some of the wealth they acquired at the expense of the country to buy some minor gifts for our farmers in the village to induce them for their votes.

My experience has shown me that a lot of these cocoa farmers were not able to look after their children at secondary schools during the time of PNDC regime, unless they were lucky to have very big farms. Thanks to God and my parents that despite the odds which was against me, I was probably among the only few in such situation who was able to make it to Legon, and finally, to Australia to complete Masters degree and professional qualification in Accounting. Against this background, I appreciate what our farmers stand for and it is unfortunate that they sometimes struggle for decent meals, let alone being able to send their children to secondary schools and so forth. Yes, it is only those who have never suffered before who can dare make such annoying comments. Even the governments of advanced countries such as United States and Australia (where I have lived for 15 years) go a bit further to substantially provide various forms of subsidy to their farmers. So what is strange with President Kuffour paying farmers what they deserve, that NDC is making unnecessary noise of it, to demonstrate their immaturity and insensitivity to our farmers?

I just want to point out to the NDC members that before they accuse the President of any wrongdoing they should check their facts well. They are accusing the President that he has said what is abomination, by claiming that his government's policy of mass spraying of the cocoa farms helped to increase cocoa production. They (NDC activists) in their ignorance argue that the President's claim has a flaw, because cocoa cannot be planted and grown to produce yield within a year, therefore, there must be something else accounting for the increase in the cocoa production. Unfortunately, some of them have simplistically appealed to the smuggling argument as the possible cause for the cocoa bumper harvest.

Well, I want to make it known to Mr Smith and other NDC activists that their argument is very simplistic and childish and made in ignorance. Although, I did not continue to study Agricultural Science after form three at secondary school, yet I do not think I need a degree in Agricultural Science to appreciate that an effective spraying of every crop will potentially increases the crop's yield. The simple reason being the spraying effectively eradicates the fungus and other diseases of the crop and if all things being equal, the crop will produce better yield than if it were not sprayed. In fact, common sense should tell us this and Mr Mosquito should know this better, as he was formerly a Deputy Agricultural Minister. I understand he managed to buy a tractor from the ministry he was a minister, just before NDC handed over, and whether the transaction was transparent or not, only God knows, although, the transaction clearly presents a problem of conflict of interest.

When I was doing my national service after form six (introduced by Almighty Rawlings) and just before going to Legon for my bachelor's degree, I made several tomatoes farms and my experience showed me that it is not only a matter of using insecticide and fungicide, but also the type or brand that a farmer uses potentially affects how well crops perform, assuming all other factors stay constant. So, if Mr Mosquito is not aware of this simple reasoning and fact, then it leaves much to desire how he was made an agricultural minister. Yes, he needs to learn in humble and that will help him to succeed in his farm that he managed to buy the agricultural ministry tractor for. So, all that I am saying is that Messrs Smith and Nketia should be aware that you do not only have to plant more cocoa trees to increase your yield, as both natural and chemical factors can significantly affect the yield of the same cocoa trees. They should interact with the farmers to learn before they open their mouths, if they lack this basic knowledge.

Thus, to tell me that effective spraying of cocoa farmers cannot increase the yield indicates that the person is either immature, dishonest, hypocrite or simply lacks knowledge. It is strange that a former Agric Minster would fall into such trap, it is no wonder that the country retrogressed in everything during the NDC reign. Really, we need to honour Mr Courage Quashiega and his team at the Ministry of Agriculture, his boss the President and all those who in diverse way assisted our farmers to have effective cocoa spraying. NDC thinks that it only has the legitimate right to rule Ghana. Please stop insulting our farmers because it is by their hard labour that the country Ghana has survived up to this date despite the corrupt and stinking 20-year rule of NDC.

Just as I am writing this article I received email from a friend and once again, Mr Nketia has made his diabolic lies against the President by claiming that the President wanted to kill him and three other MPs, a claim which he would never be able to substantiate and must be held responsible for it. After all, his master has not been able to tell who killed Ghanaian women, although he claims to know the culprits long before he handed over the presidency.

Everything of Kuffour is bad. Even when Kuffour constructs road, you drew the plan. Where were you for twenty years that the plans were never translated into road constructions? As one Ghanaian Minister said vehicles do not run on papers (plans) so please allow the President to do his work, as if wishes were horses, beggars will ride them. I was in Ghana last year and saw with my own naked eyes some constructions projects that the President and his government are doing such as Tetteh Queshie roundabout, Accra Kumasi road, to name a few. Conversely, I also saw with my naked eyes some of the buildings that Rawlings demolished because the owners happened to be political opponents and I was really shocked and felt we still lived in medieval and dark ages.

Yes, in western world it is the private sector that creates jobs, yet in our African countries, once you set up your business and you do not belong to a certain political group, you are an enemy of the state. Your assets are confiscated like that of Siaw or all impediments are put in your way to destroy your business such as Appiah Minka's case, for his "Apino" soap which was a household name and helped us during the hard times Ghanaians were using "don't touch me" and so forth. For instance, in destroying Appiah Minka's business the consequence was very devastating. I believe that any person with some little economics background (except maybe Messrs Victor and Asiedu Nkatia) should be able to analyse the devesting impact of the killing of businesses such as that of Appiah Minka by the Almighty Rawlings. For instance, in destroying Appiah Minka's business it is not only him and his family who suffered, but all people that he employed also lost their jobs and income. When people suddenly lose their jobs they may even engage in crime or they may suffer some form of depression and so forth. All the distribution and retail traders who mainly relied on his products also lost their jobs. The consumers also lost some reliable products and it was inevitable that foreign substitution would be imported with our little foreign exchange to fill the vacuum created. Yes, that is the chain of reaction of Mr Rawlings' hatred for Mr Appiah Minka. Many people are aware that many people suffered similar fates. Captain Kojo Tsikata (retired) has recently admitted before NRC that the (P)NDC regime abused citizens' rights in paragraphs 41 and 45 of his submissions. While he claims that all other regimes also abuse citizens' rights; everyone knows that that of the PNDC/NDC stands out conspicuously.

In fact, the destruction of businesses was not confined to only these prominent businesses. I was a student at Ghana Secondary School, Tamale ("Ghanasco") and Honourable John Mahama was a history master there when the soldiers burnt the Tamale market. The market women lost their stocks that they had attained in their working life or had obtained by means of credit and purchased with the loans that they had contracted. One thing I know for sure is that as students of Ghanasco we were accused that we set the market on fire and were pursued by the soldiers, but this was completely false. I still remember running away to hide in a near by factory called "Brick and Tile", beyond Nkrumah house. Has Mr John Mahama forgotten this incident or not? Whom did he blame as a teacher in Ghanasco for causing that, and whom does he blame today? Yes, because while he was a history master, his friend used to teach me Government and I also crossed several times at Legon, when he was doing I still hear that during the early days of the coup, there were excesses and Mr Rawlings is found of making references to such claims. That is completely nonsense, for whoever created the atmosphere for the excesses to happen should be held responsible, whether, he directed authorised the burning market or not. For he should have known that for overthrowing a constitutionally elected government, there was the possibility of anarchy emerging in the society. Look at for instance, the mysterious circumstance that Odifoa Asare was killed in Kumasi. Yes, of course, the burning of market was not confined only to Tamale, as the almighty Makola also succumbed to the same fate for no apparent reason. If Tamale market was burnt by Ghanasco students, then probably, some students of Accra also burnt Makola. Clearly, this was distasteful and insensible act, which caused some people to die as a result, because they suffered the profound shocks of their lives, for losing all their wealth. Ghana lost a significant percentage of its GDP during these years as a result of this deplorable and insensible act, and this certainly sent the country seriously backwards. Yet, those who claim foul of anything of Kuffour, defied their conscience and embraced Rawlings as a hero for destroying our scarce resources and trading stocks held by our market women. I know that time will definitely judge Mr Rawlings, he asked Kwei to ask for pardon to cleanse his soul although, he does not know where the tape is as you appear to claim that the deadman might have taken to the cemetery. Hmmm! Mr Rawlings, we believe you, despite that you had the whole Ghana under your belt and could have safely kept the tapes anywhere. Mr Rawlings, you should recognise that you need the soul cleansing and spiritual healing most, as no such magnitude of crimes committed under your regimes has ever happened in Ghana. Yes, we are all witness to your wife ("obatan") to cause the hair of someone's son to be shaved off with a piece of bottle for identification purpose that was very cruel.

Could Atta-Mills be a messiah as claimed by the Palaver?

Since President Kuffour defeated NDC presidential candidate Atta Mills to assume the presidency of the Republic of Ghana, the NDC top officials have used lies and all foul tactics to discredit President Kuffour and his government. The former president in particular has exploited this mischievous tactics in very excessive manner. However, any honest person knows that they are doing this out of jealousy. The NDC party does not know democracy and this was demonstrated in the way they treated Dr Kwesi Botchey supporters within their own party during their congress to select the presidential candidate for the party at Legon. We were also all witnesses to how many people were killed or gone missing, including the high ranking judges during the PNDC era. As Ghanaians would recall Professor Atta Mills in June/July 2003 criticised Mr Kuffour and his government in his press conference that he is incompetent. Also, the professor is said to have as late as 17 July 2003 criticised the NPP Government in a meeting of NDC supporters at Ashaiman that the government is insincere and ''it does not speak the truth.'' Yes, I wonder why the Professor should dare to say that, since there appears to be evidence to suggest that if anything at all, he is the one who is insincere and he appeared to have demonstrated his insincerity, dishonesty and incompetence at University of Ghana in 1986 as a lecturer and as I will shortly elaborate below, perhaps it was not an isolated case.

In 1986, just immediately after the University of Ghana had reopened for its first term of the 1986/1987 academic year, I was in room 116 of Annex B of Akuafo Hall with some of the students (friends) who occupied that room. Suddenly, we heard a voice from outside the building calling "116, 116" as most visitors called to check if the students they were visiting were there before climbing the stairs of tall annex buildings. I was residing few rooms away from room 116, but was always found in room 116 in my spare time because I had attended the same high school with one of the occupants. When we heard the call we rushed to the balcony to see who was calling and strangely enough it was no body than Professor Atta Mills a senior lecturer from the University's Faculty of Law, significantly, all the two official occupants were law students so they really knew Professor Mills. Professor Mills chose not to come up but decided to talk from the ground. The Professor asked my friend to advise the late George Agyemang (who had completed his Diploma in Public Administration) because George had come to him that he was going to commit suicide because of the Professor. This part of the story (the Professor soliciting my friends assistance happened in front of me and I heard and saw the Professor, one of the only two occasions I saw the Professor in the University of Ghana, the other being when he came to Accra Hearts of Oak training at Legon at a park behind Legon and Sarbah Halls). George had advised the Professor during their encounter that he was staying with my friend on campus. When my friend later asked George Agyemang why he had gone to make the threat to the professor, George Agyemang disclosed that the Professor deliberately failed him the subject that he taught in the final year.

Yes, there is no doubt that George Agyemang was initially failed the subject taught by the Professor. When I came to Ghana I happened to meet another friend who also came from the United States, and he was the closest friend of George Agyemang on campus, and he confirmed that George Agyemang had told him the story too. The questions that I want the Professor to answer for all Ghanaians are:

1. George Agyemang claimed that he deliberately failed him. Could the professor tell us whether the claim made by George Agyemang that the Professor deliberately failed him is true or not? If it is true then of course Ghanaians should know who became their Vice President during the hopeless NDC regime and who wants once more to become their President after failing in his first bid against the indefeasible President Kuffour?

2. If he did not deliberately fail George Agyemang, then we would like the Professor to tell all Ghanaians, under what circumstances did George Agyemang fail the subject and that subsequent to his confrontation with the Professor, the Professor passed George and he was able to graduate?

While I cannot confirm which of the situation caused George Agyemang to fail the subject, what I can confidently state is that I was really at the balcony of room 116 of Akuafo Hall Annex B, when the Professor came to solicit the help of my friend to advise George Agyemang. I would be surprised if the Professor attempts to deny the issue since at least there are two persons who definitely are aware of the issue and there is also high probability of third person who is currently MP in Ghana, being aware, as he also occupied Room 116 of Annex B at the time. Further, the university records may also confirm the fact that George was initially failed the subject and subsequently passed, unless the university does not keep such records or the professor simply did not keep the records about the changes in the marks and so forth, which by itself would be unethical (I understand the subject was called Administrative Law but I cannot confirm the name).

Thus, it seems that whether the Professor failed George deliberately or unintentionally, he is not qualified to rule Ghana. If he failed him deliberately as George claimed then his moral and ethical principles are seriously questionable. On the other hand, if it was unintentional then the incident still leaves much to Ghanaians to desire. How could such an experience lecturer at the time either mark the examination script wrong (bearing in mind that it was a law paper and for that matter, an essay type of questions which marks are to considerable extent given on subjective basis) or record the marks wrong? I believe that even if the second scenario was the true case it would really demonstrates the incompetency of the Professor and the fact that he could not be trusted to lead Ghana. This means that in one way or the other the Professor appears not to be competent and/or honest to rule a nation of about 18 million and get things right, if by comparison Dr Mills could not have been able to properly look after students of a very smaller number with less significant responsibility without blemish, then he does not appear to have the credibility and qualities to become the President of Ghana.

In relation to the former President Rawlings, I read with much derision some of his behaviour and comments since Mr Kuffour came to power. It is really absurd and childish for former President to state that he was aware of those who committed serial killings of women in Accra during his reign and yet, with all the autocracy that he demonstrated to Ghanaians during his 20 years rule, he could not expose those culprit or suspects, let alone bringing them into justice. How could Rawlings tell Ghanaians that his opponents, whom 15 of them are presently ministers of Kuffor's government could commit this serious crime and yet he did not bring them to book. Mr Rawlings who ruled Ghana with iron hands, is certainly fabricating stories and no one should take him serious.

I even get seriously upset to read about his request for a lie detector and chemical interrogation. If he knows that these technologies are reliable, why did he fail to provide them to the numerous of people that during his reign they were sentenced to death and various prison terms and stripped of their assets without any legal basis. As an average Ghanaian is aware, these people were tried in "Kangaroo Courts" such as the Citizen Vetting Committees set up by him and presided by some of his agents such as Kwamena Ahwoi. Yes, Kwamena Ahwoi has now been silenced after continually accusing the NPP government without taking into account a statement I understand he himself made to the Law students when we were at Legon, that if you know there is cotton wool in your anus you don't jump over fire. Yes, since he was reminded of the business operations of his family and his role in the (P)NDC last year he has simply shut up. Now, if Rawlings is asking for a technology to prove his case then clearly, it demonstrates how hypocrite he is. As Nana Ankomea, the Information Minster recently said Rawlings' claim is full of contradictions and lies. According to Mr Ankomea while Rawlings is insisting that some members of NPP Government exterminated the women, Dr. Josiah Aryeh, the General Secretary of NDC claims that the bodies of the women were imported from mortuaries in the Republics of Togo. Who is telling the truth here, is it Rawlings or Aryeh? I believe you guys should shut up with your lies, as Ghanaians are not interested in lies again. Could Mr Aryeh tell us why the guards at the various respective boarder posts failed to notice this illegal trade and if not whether the NDC government ever dismissed or took any action against any of the Ghanaian boarder guards for this illegal trade? Could he also explain to Ghanaians whether there was any claim in the media of Togo suggesting that people had not been able to account for their deceased relatives for burial, and if there was any suggesting that they had been sent to Ghana?

Yes, Ghanaians have every right now to compel Mr Rawlings to disclose where and when he got his information. I know he will refuse to tell us because he does not know where about of the tape he personally recorded when he was the head of state, and appears to claim that the dead man has taken the tape to the cemetery. It is not surprising that some minded women demonstrated to request the former leader to disclose the names of the persons he is talking of. A friend told me in Ghana that if you want to lie make sure that 'there is window attached to your lie so that in case you are detected you will be able to escape through the window' in other words if one is lying, at least, he should leave some room for people to give him benefit of doubt. Unfortunately, Messrs Rawlings and Aryeh have not been able to make this provision for themselves and they are caught as liars as the suggested technological detector is not a good window for Rawlings to escape through.

I even get sick with some NDC people who are claiming that members of Kuffour administration know who killed Ya Na and others. Despite the effort that the President is embarking on to bring peace to the area, they are only interested in retribution and when they talk of retribution it means those they think committed the crime, although they do not have evidence to support that. Even before investigation started, they had started pointing fingers. If they know how to point fingers, then they should also point at Rawlings for it has been suggested that his comment caused the Dogomba-Nanumba war several years ago. Yet, he continues to make such inflammable comments all the time. Further, why can't the NDC members ask Rawlings to disclose those he claims, they killed the women.

I wonder why people are still following Mr Rawlings after all these years of torture, suppression, deceit, corruption and so forth. I came to Ghana recently and I was shocked to notice some of the buildings that I was shown that he ordered for their demolition because the owners opposed him. Clearly, this man should not be followed for he has never had any good plans for Ghana. I still remembered how in those days Rawlings hid behind the so-called 'revolution' and ordered for the burning of various markets ("the burning bush") such as markola in Ghana. I was in lower form six at Ghana Secondary School, Tamale ("Ghanasco") by then and one day all that I heard and saw was every student was running away for his life including the ladies in the women dormitory. It later emerged that there were a lot of soldiers on the campus because Tamale Market was burning and they accused students from Ghanasco to have done that, so they came in with the intention to beat us. That was completely fabricated lies, for the soldiers themselves set the market ablaze and innocent students were pursued for nothing. All these went on under the regime of Mr Rawlings and the saddest thing is that some people have continued to suffer up to now since some of their stock they had accumulated through out their working life were either looted by those who set the markets ablaze or simply burnt.

I believe time and space will not permit me to elaborate on some of the crimes that were committed against Ghanaians under the shadow of Mr Rawlings' rule. Clearly, it is one of the deadly and harsh suppression ever experienced in Ghana. Until Professor Albert Adu Boahene was able to challenge Mr Rawlings when Professor Adu Boahene made his famous and bold speech at J. B. Danquah memorial lecture in the late 1980 to break the culture of silence, it was inconceivable for anyone to even constructively criticise Mr Rawlings. Corruption also went through the roof in Ghana during his reign especially, among his ministers that have become very rich.

I urge Ghanaians to be wary of Rawlings since he did not achieve any good thing for us. He came to destroy our good educational system only to educate his children in Europe. Yes, I know how expensive it is to study overseas. Rawlings should understand that God has assisted Ghanaians to sideline him forever and he should recognise that fact and think about himself to avoid dragging himself into problem because of his utterances and behaviour. After all, even the party you are said to be founding father has succeeded in striping you of some of the titles and positions you occupied. This should clearly serve as a good lesson for you, Mr Rawlings. I read the answers that Mr Rawlings gave to NRC quite recently, and I was shocked to note that he does not possess any of the videotapes requested by the NRC. My mum told me something when I was a child. She said any person (child) who frequently claims to have got money or something from outside (the ground) turns out to be a thief. In the same manner, Mr Rawlings need a lie detector before he can say the truth about the killing of the women and did not find it necessary as head of state to disclose those who killed the women, although he knew about it. The General Secretary of his party has already seriously contradicted and undermined his claim, yet the NDC members are still sticking to it, how childish and funny they are. Really, they are just destroying their integrity and respect. He now tells us that he has misplaced something which he personally or instructed his assistant to record. Let us laugh, because we are hearing funny things here.

One thing that I have for Ghanaians is that it is only by the grace of Jesus that we did not experience civil war during the early days of Rawlings regime. Now that we have passed that stage after almost twenty good years of Mr Rawlings despotic rule, he should now stay at the background. For he has already acquired more than his fair share of the national cake. After all Ghanaians are about 18 to 20 million population and there is no single person who is the only wise to lead the nation.

President Kuffour I encourage you to focus on the mission why God chose you for Ghanaians and never lose sight of it. For God has done a crushing, devastating and telling blow to Mr Rawlings and his followers once and for all. They have stumbled and may never resurrect.

Joseph Annor
Sydney Australia

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.