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Opinions of Friday, 27 January 2012

Columnist: Appiah, Kofi

P.R.A.A.D. And Others Neglected And Relegated To The Dustbin ? Part 1

Many African governments have shown absolute apathy to very vital documents that are of importance to society and humanity but the question of keeping such documents in the archives and applying proper supervision for posterity has always posed many problems since time immemorial. Gone were the days when secretaries and clerks in government departments and establishments stack type - written and/or hand-written documents in either flat or box files and kept them in steel cabinets in the regional capitals of Ghana, with those at the district levels rather being kept in wooden cupboards with or without keys or security padlocks. Nobody there and then thought about fumigation to prevent rodents and insects from feeding on such documents. This archaic practice has gone on for ages and perhaps would be a century old by now. But even now that civilization has dawned on Africa and Ghana’s position should have excelled to take the frontline stage, you go to the seat of government at the Osu Castle, in Accra for example, the best one could perhaps see would be steel cabinets with combination locks, nothing new and strange, the only exception being tags reading ‘Confidential’, ‘Private’ or ‘TJ’, i.e. ‘Temporary Jacket’ stickers pasted in front of the said cabinets. Unlike the African practice where most of our cherished and treasured documents are still kept in poor unkempt files in weak and rusty cabinets, unmindful of the attendant risks – documents exposed to readership by all manner of visitors and strangers who are not supposed to come into contact with such documents etc., the civilized western world are far advanced and have gone ahead with record keeping of every available contents of valued documents on the compact discs i.e. C.D. for security and posterity. Most unselfish European scientists and inventors who thought of the importance of posterity, tried to document their inventions and God-given knowledge for use by the rest of the world. One wonders whether the saying that ‘if you want to keep some vital information from an African, then just put it into writing or publish it in a book form’ and leave it on a table, nobody cares a hoot about it because it is a known fact that most Africans including Ghanaians do not fancy reading books to enhance the little knowledge endowed by God to be abreast with time.
NEGLECTED AREAS
The author has been saddened by the fact that since Ghana’s Independence in March 1957, many government and quasi-government departments/agencies have never been mindful of the way security documents are kept for safe and longer periods. Governments have since then come and gone without any one being mindful of keeping documents and security ones even for posterity. Do not make a mistake. Please take a ride or stroll to the Ghana Survey Department adjacent to the 37 Military Hospital; just try to request that you want to have a chat or audience with the head of that department, and you will be amazed to see some files of land documents that are littered on the floor some of them date as far back as 1937. They belong to private individuals and still lie on the bare floor; not only that, continue to the main general security offices of the Lands Commission Secretariat near the El Wak Stadium, in Accra where all lands invested in the Government of Ghana and their vital contents in the form of indentures and site plans also belonging to Ghanaians owners and foreigners who own lands/properties in Ghana from as far back as the 1930s or even before then are being stacked on shelves in this room. This Computer Age, one would say Christ Almighty with exclamation! Now that Information and Communication Technology reigns supreme almost all over the world, do we as a nation have to import the Indians and Singaporeans and possibly, the Malaysians who started off with us in the 50s on the hard green turfs but have now leapt ahead of us because they did not treasure in coup d’etats and totally abhorred tribalism, favouritism and nepotism; and these enabled them to be at the forefront of the ICT globally whilst Ghana, with the abundant natural and human resources available at our command and moreover, incomparable to none in Africa, still limp from the doldrums in the background. This is precisely because we are very greedy, envious of ourselves and selfishly gluttonous. Perhaps, the schedule officers do not know that the documents they hold in trust are the genuine ones that they usually rely on as reference documents in times of litigation at the law courts and financial houses. The writer would like to further request readers to trek on to the far corner of the city centre to the Lands Title Deeds offices just by the Customs & Excise Headquarters (now the Ghana Revenue Authority) in Accra. The atmosphere is not far from anything impressive; the value is still the same. Why? How come? The author does not want to point any accusing finger at any particular government but at least if it could dawn on anybody in government with brains to think about the severity and importance of all these vital agencies and attach special importance to the very documents being kept in their custody, then Ghana could go places but the files are just left there at the mercy of the weather and rodents and/or moths. The usual October rains that normally cause great havoc to lives and properties in Accra would one day bury them all, since we do not see anything wrong with decentralization of government machinery; everything from Accra to Zuarungu is to be headquartered here, why? You mark my word. It was unfortunate that there was no camera in my possession otherwise I would have snapped some shots to serve the purpose for which this article implies. Some of the documents at the Survey Department that were half torn, ripped off or eaten up by cockroaches from respective files were begging for ICT reforms, but who cause am? Very pitiful sight indeed, yet, we pride ourselves as the Gateway to Africa! Nonsense to the highest order, isn’t it?
P.R.A.A.D
The Public Records Archives and Administration Department shares common wall with the Young Women Christian Association premises (Y.W.C.A.) opposite the Kriff Ghana Limited offices, near the Roman Cathedral, Accra. It is the only place in Ghana where records of all public and civil servants and some dignified personalities who have held civil and public offices in Ghana or elsewhere for, and on behalf of government, or in private practice, were submitted to them for keeps for posterity and reference purposes. The general records for civil and public servants, including civilians, the military and police, politicians, the judiciary, the clergy, businessmen, and all walks of life could be found there even though not on CDs but on files. The information relative to the E.R.T. Madjiteys, the Nii Amaah Ollenus, the Lt.-General J.A. Ankrahs, the Annie Jiagges, the former British Governors to the Gold Coast, the Kwame Nkrumahs, the Kofi Abrefa Busias, the Paa Grants, the Emmanuel Obetsebi Lampteys, the Ako Adjeis, the J.B. Danquahs, the Dzenkle Dzewus, the E.M. Debrahs, the Major Lampteys, the M.A. Otus, the S.J.A. Otus, the Mensah Sarbahs, the Joe Appiahs, the Sgt. Adjeteys of the 28th February Road fame and the positive defiance towards the British troops, the Dr. Alex Quayson Sackeys of the U.N. Presidency of the General Assembly, et cetera.
CASUAL VISIT
One casual visit to this prominent quasi-government offices for fact finding on Wednesday, November 12, 2011 where he had interaction with the schedule officer-in-charge, one Mr. Aryee, helped him to have informed opinion that the prevailing circumstance there relative to file keeping was not haphazardly placed on the floors; but conversely too, it was not quite different from the other agencies already mentioned above. The fact that the attitudinal specifications of the Ghanaian would never ever change even if he were to work on the moon, you create an office there for him, the value and environment would be the same. According to this officer, whose office was poorly served with half-dilapidated-window-type air-conditioner, formerly, the information as it were, was forth-coming; the information was somewhat submitted to the PRAAD reluctantly by the Establishments Secretariat now the Offices of the Ghana Civil Service. It was terribly below average. The OIC lamented that since 1980 or thereabout the OGCS has failed in its duty to compile and collate such vital information from the Ministries/Departments and Agencies and submitted it to the Public Records and Archives Administration Department; the Offices of the Ghana Civil Service Secretariat and the Public Services Commission have shown total neglect and irrelevance as if it has no significance but would like to use this medium to drum home that they should ensure they updated the PRAAD with the necessary ingredients to be abreast with time. It would be a big shame and complete naivety for one to visit such a place only to be told in the face that no available information exists on a file or on the CD for such a distinguished personality who once lived and toiled for Mother Ghana. Two outstanding personalities such as Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey of Achimota School and the black and white keys of the piano fame and say, George Ekem Ferguson, the first qualified Gold Coast Surveyor who probably helped with the country’s mapping with the British. The author stands for correction anyway. But one should visit there and ask of any known individual who one time or the other distinguished him/herself in either the civil/public service of Ghana; be he or she a civilian, public officer, academia, military or police, judge, legal luminary, professional, clergy, businessman or what before 1980, trust me, these half-fit, half-trained civil servants will show you where to locate the file or shelf to whip your appetite with the information you want. What therefore prevents the National Awards Committee from furnishing the parti -culars of the awardees to the PRAAD for the sake of posterity? This is one fine and free consultancy. The author wishes to implore all the Human Resource persons and departments of all private and public institutions to furnish this vital office with the information they deserve so as to keep such information updated. As long as most of them have served Mother Ghana in diverse ways, their back -ground should never be lost for point of references. Some of them too must have been trained with government money either abroad or locally so such personalit -ies should have their particulars furnished with the PRAAD to encourage the youth to also aspire to greater heights. As already indicated, their offices are located near the Cathedral. The irony is that this OIC recalled the time when he had the singular honour to visit Britain where he was shown documents on some of the British famous individuals he never thought would be available but were made available to him with just the press of the button; the relevant information that characterized such personalities were for grabs and easy comprehension. Part 2 to be continued. By Kofi Appiah email: kofiappiah2002@yahoo.com
PART 2 – Continue from the last edition that appeared . . . .
P.R.A.A.D. AND OTHERS NEGLECTED AND RELEGATED TO THE DUSTBIN ?
Could such innovative institution be established here for the young ones to emulate instead of chasing and tormenting ordinary harmless civilians and legislators with uniformed police at the floor of the House of Parliament during the STX debates; the BNI officials as well as amateur and untrained police wielding AK47 rifles; ready-to-fire-armoured vehicles and tanks positioned at the entrances of our university campuses to intimidate and cow stubborn and recalcitrant demonstrating students into submission. How relevant and important do our governments think such sights contribute to the national economy; and are they a great dis-service to the younger ones now or not? How come that some of our metropolitan assemblies and their nincompoops fancy demolishing people’s kiosks and houses at unholy time of 0200 hours when every normal human being is supposed to be at rest in bed? The odd hours that Opuni’s Food and Drugs Board has been harassing and tormenting herbal houses and premises of pharmaceutical companies such as the Semanhyia, Kinapharma and a few others like the Oheneba Health Care Centre are very primitive and suggestive enough as well as indicative that Ghana were still one of the colonies in the Stone Age era. The leadership of institutions like the BNI, Food & Drug Board, the Ghana Police, the National Security, the A.M.A. et cetera should bow their heads in shame because some of them behave unnaturally as if they wash their faces from the chin to the eye brow instead of the natural way of ‘top to bottom’. Some people even wonder whether the so-called doctors of letters actually obtained their degrees genuinely and by accredited institutions of higher learning abroad. The author requests that the FDB led by the Opunis should solicit the franchise from the Almighty God to arrange for legislation that no Ghanaian should breathe at all or to levy taxes on fresh air so that the Mills-Mahama Administration would go down in history (the Guinness Book of Records) as the first ever nation in the world to run a better government on taxes from ‘natural air’. These and many more are very barbaric bestial behavior of gargantuan proportions; and undoubtedly, they are not exactly the kind of institutions and structures Prez. Barack Obama in his wisdom from a civilized world came down to preach to Prez. Mills and his cream and bunch of arrogant, half-baked swindler team of ministers sometime in July 2009. By the current exposure and revelation of Hon. Martin Amidu, some of his colleagues explicitly condoned and connived with Alfred Agbesi Woyome to defraud the Nation by false pretences of this unthinkable and unprintable amount of money without sweat. Come to think about someone like Woyome who has never worked let alone deserved such astronomical and colossal payment from a supposedly ‘Yoomo gbe Ga’ Minister of State with doctorate accolades. Do the initial four compromise accomplices have any grounds to be acquitted and set free even if the law sometimes referred to as an ass by legal brains is undertaken by an interested party who decides to pursue this legal battle in any competent court of jurisdiction? Do Mrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu, the first to be accused for championing the cause of the Woyome Gate Scandal; the second on the charge sheet is the Chief of Staff, Mr. Henry Martey Newman, who flatly and impudently kept a blind eye on this sensitive financial loss to the State and possibly, inadvertently concealing such scandalous incident from the sight of the presidency; and the third, the ever-dyed hair Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, who either failed to cross-check with the facts and figures in the whole scenario because he thought almost all Ghanaians were stupid fools and daft to be able to detect the fraud hence the connivance; and the fourth, Hon. Ebo Barton Odro, MP for Cape Coast who also thought he could capitalize on his parliamentary immunity as a legislator to speak his mind to defend the indefensible, have any grounds to be set free in the courts? Your comments are most welcome. I hope Ebo is not the son of the late Ishmael Barton Odro, the one-time Principal Assistant Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister, at the Osu Castle in the 70s who I knew very well otherwise, if he were the one, it will hurt me greatly. This is what one expects to be done here instead of nothing at all. What actually put the writer on his toes in amazement and astonishment was the very Royal Seal and Scroll that Her Royal Majesty, Her Excellency Elizabeth Regina II, Queen of Great Britain & Ireland, personally signed to proclaim independence to Ghana and delivered to His Excellency Lord Listowel, the last Governor-General of the Gold Coast, who later hand-delivered to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, first President of the Republic of Ghana on the occasion of our independence at the Old Polo Grounds from fading. Mr. President, please ensure that special care is given to this revelation otherwise, by the time one could say Jack, where are you, the ‘Royal Seal or Scroll’ that constitutes our body and soul as a Nation Ghana luckily, is still in its original form and could either be laminated or put in a glass frame to prevent the royal signature from fading to allow a foreign aggressor with this hindsight from invading us as their former colony because we would have no evidence then as genuine occupants/settlers of this door-shaped country called Ghana to litigate at The Hague if such a disastrous incident ever happened to us as a nation. Believe you me, if this valuable document should get stolen, or collateralized by the officers there for some of the Woyome Gate money or worst still, burnt to ashes as is often the case in Ghana – unnecessary rampant fire outbreaks here and there, we would be doomed and unable to repudiate the cost in any material terms for the struggle by the Big Six, and it would be a useless effort as a wild goose chase to render such a pain-staking journey and ordeal by our forefathers to be in vain. It is a pity that I am a Ghanaian but cannot say that I am a Togolese, please don’t ask me why. Most Ghanaians are envious of the well to do and not until this canker of pygmy type of jealousy is obliterated from our national psyche, we would never ever progress as a nation not even if we matched neck to neck with Saudi Arabia in oil production.
UNEMPLOYED YOUTH/GRADUATES
Somebody should do me the favour to draw my attention to any country on this planet Earth where we have a genuinely constituted and registered corporate body of Unemployed Graduates. It is unheard of anywhere, but if there were any at all, Ghana has set the pace for others to follow. There may be different bodies but the one involved with graduates from our tertiary institutions makes the whole position a grave and serious one. How come that our government should go in for loans/grants from the Breton-Woods Institution and decide to collateralize our oil and the loans with the lives of our unemployed youth from getting employed. Certainly, no decent government would do such a thing at the peril of the lives of its citizens. This wicked machination could only be practised by very hypocritical leaders such as Egya Atta and John the Revelator who could change their skins overnight like the chameleon and pretend to be holier than the Pope at the Vatican City. Even though the elapsed time has not yet come about, there are indications that party supporters have been offered jobs through the backdoor. Ah Professor, worehaw me, worehaw me, to wit, you this troublesome professor, you cross me at all corners to make sensitive appointments as told by His Excellency Prez. Mills; and it is a glaring example for all to see. Earlier on, I posed some questions as to why and how come that such important government or public offices should have filing systems dated as pre-colonial era as the word ‘colo’ itself depicts. There are sizeable number of unemployed computer literate youth who would not bother to collect say, Gh?100.00 or ?1,000,000.00 per month instead of staying home to computerize all the available information on the CDs at the various places mentioned herein and that should not cost the government of the day anything astronomical rather than wasting such huge sums of money on frivolous trips and aeronautical charges and such other things like the purchase of ‘V.8’ 4 x 4 vehicles of no special importance to our economy. Engaging the youth and the unemployed computer literate graduates in these areas to update the information onto the CDs from the files lying idle on the dirty floors will save us a lot. The ‘how’ also is on the wastage of enormous amount of thousands of dollars spent on the purchase of vehicles for distribution to ‘serial callers’ to propagate the government’s abysmal performance so as to get entrenched to perpetuate itself in governance. Stupid isn’t it? How do the western countries recognize us as an African nation? Do most of them too not have rugged roads to ply on?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Did someone notice or hear on air alongside with me on last Thursday morning’s ‘Dwaso Nsem’ programme on Adom FM hosted by ‘Mamoud’ Adakabre Frimpong Manso at about 0830 hours on January 4, 2012, when the presenter tried to get to the bottom of the problems that had arisen as a result of dysfunctional equipment that had rendered one particular facility impotent and in trying to sift some vital information from the current CEO of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, one Prof. Ohene Adjei as to how and why there have been many handicaps at the Hospital since assuming the mantle of leadership; the ensuing tone from his response proved that he was not a well cut intellectual. As a result of the ‘gargantuan’ (apologies to Hon. Martin Amidu, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice) taxes from the Ghanaian tax-payers the government was able to construct such that magnificent edifice with helicopter facility to airlift emergency and accident victims in around Kumasi to Accra and vice versa; this has been left to rot or rendered inoperative. Hear that shameful professor without any invention, not even toothpicks to his credit, because toothpicks imported into Ghana are produce from Malaysia so, for Prof. Ohene Adjei, the incumbent CEO of the hospital to give an answer to a question posed by the radio host, that governments go and governments come, in a nutshell, therefore meant that his government has come so Dr. Nsiah Asare should go hang, nothing more, nothing less. In effect, if his government had lost power, he should be allowed to enjoy the largesse and bourgeoisie lifestyle to join in the free-for-all booty of the national cake. But Prof. Dr. Nsiah Asare, in whose tenure as CEO of KATH tremendous shape was given to equip and beautify that medical facility, could not shy away his patriotism but to offer his services as a sign of a good patriot and extend an olive branch. Try as he did, Prof. Ohene Adjei would not budge despite that he had offered to help on any national call whenever the need arises to keep the prestige of the hospital aloft. But as fate would have it, his kind gesture was repulsed by this envious charlatan of a professor like mosquito repellent as if lives and limbs in and around the Kumasi Metropolis in particular, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, the Northern, the Upper East and Upper West regions as well as parts of Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and northern Togo in general were not important to national economy. Any attempt and sensible suggestions including emergency call-ups for him Dr. Nsiah Asare, proffering to offer his services to save human lives and enhance the national kitty by his contribution would not appease this Prof. Ohene Adjei man but was purely rebuffed and turned down on partisan lines because this incompetent never-to-learn-successor who was bent on making sure that the healthcare delivery system for the central and northern parts of the country was brought on its toes for he never cared a hoot about that. And such are the wicked and ‘nuisance’ personalities who would always find solace and comfort under the umbrella; no wonder such are the suitable bedfellows of Mr. ‘Egya’ Atta because he prefers him to be trumpeting his course at all times and everywhere. Is it naturally a truism that ‘Twins’ by our Ghanaian traditional set up never have any access to inheritance, or become heir-apparent to traditional thrones/stools? Again, for Hon. Martin Amidu, the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to personally go to the law courts in respect of the unlawful payment by the State to ‘fraudster’ Agbesi Woyome of this unprecedented amount of money is an indictment on the part of the Mills-Mahama Administration and if any person or group of persons should venture to stand up with chest out and be bold to defend this shameful fraudulent act of the millennium, will compel the author to brand such persons as ‘inward looking bunch of crooks’ who have paraded themselves as wolves in sheep skin to prey on the vulnerable in society to share the booty. It is the humble prayer of the writer that His Excellency does not play the ostrich to be obstinate in this sordid affair, otherwise, whatever conceivable avenue that comes his way would be employed to solicit global legal advice to get to the bottom of the case so he should call his obstreperous propagandists like the Okudzeto Ablakwas, the Baba Jamals, the Omane Boamahs, the Kobby Acheampongs, the Felix Ofosu Kwakyes and their likes to halt the exhibition of their very shameful characters on the airwaves to cease fire. Before the curtain is drawn down, did I hear that ‘Kookoo ase ni DCE for Amansie Central, (Jacobu near Bekwai, in Ashanti), Robert Bernard Fokuo, that he had undertaken upon himself to go round his district propagating his paymaster’s falsehood to the chiefs and people that the youth who had attained the age of 18 and were bent on registering for this year’s elections would be compelled to pay lampoon etc. Is that the ploy to reduce the NPP’s majority there? Shame unto you, Kookoo ase kuraseni krakye, you are an apology to the Mills-Mahama Administration. Finally, my plea is that anybody with current knowledge of the mystery surrounding the inheritance of Twins in our traditional set up should keep me posted as this is totally beyond my comprehension. A word to the wise therefore is in the north. I am done.
By Kofi Appiah - email: kofiappiah2002@yahoo.com