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Opinions of Sunday, 23 September 2018

Columnist: Colin Essamuah

Will the $2 billion change anything?

Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

Early this year, in January to be precise, I wrote a piece about the then-ongoing brouhaha surrounding the television license fee that the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation had been mandated to collect from owners of TV sets in Ghana under the title ‘’Is our GBC for sale?

Since then, I have also written about the threats to media freedom exhibited by most of our governments, both elected and unelected in our 61 years of independence as a nation.

Current happenings show clearly that threats to media freedom and control of our airwaves have now escalated to endangering our sovereignty as an independent country by our own government elected and sworn into office to guard it for succeeding generations.

This week, there was news about our government getting ready to hand over our television spectrums to a Chinese company to manage.

I must say that if that is the case, then our current government does not believe in the political independence of this country.


Way back during the presidency of the late Professor Mills, if my memory serves me right, in 2010 and 2011 thereabouts, Kosmos Energy wanted to sell or offload its stake in our Jubilee oil fields to ExxonMobil but that was vigorously opposed by the Mills government.

The argument of our government then was simple and straightforward; that we get to choose or approve of those who want a stake in our natural resource and that Ghana preferred to invite Chinese companies to participate.

It was not only diversification of our trading and investment partners but an ideological community of interest with the Chinese.

I remember as clear as yesterday, the then opposition NPP was apoplectic with a fury that we would disdain our ‘‘natural’’ Western trading and development partners and bring in a communist regime to partake of the oil resources of Ghana.

Even the Christian Council was dragged into this debate with the accusation by the council that we were abandoning our traditional trading partners for new strange friends who cannot be expected to have the best interests of this country at heart.

The council barely stopped at describing China as a heathen country.

We wait to see if Chinese companies would be invited to take part in the construction of the proposed national cathedral.

The NPP is now in power, and engaging the Chinese in so many things without as much as a perfunctory apology to Ghanaians for this 180-degree turnaround.

Older Ghanaians will remember that Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia, then the leader in exile of the opposition United Party, appeared before an American Senate Committee that America should not assist the President Nkrumah government with loans and technical assistance to construct the Akosombo Dam in 1963 because he was running a communist government in Ghana etc.

History has proved him so spectacularly wrong.

China has been a communist one-party state since 1949 without the semblance of any of the liberal freedoms we take for granted in this country.

The opposition National Democratic Congress is social democratic, a far cry from the official Chinese ideology. On the other hand, through aggressive state capitalism, China has grown extremely wealthy and seeking to increase its global influence using good old and trusted imperialistic methods now considered passe in the world.

Many other developing countries are seeking wealth and comfort for their peoples by forging their own independent paths to a happy life for their citizens.

The ruling NPP touts it belief in democratic freedoms ad nauseam.

We are being surprised every day with the happy official consumption of policy thinking and practices condemned only two years ago as signs of incompetence and being brazenly invited to offer admiration and praise.

Now, thanks to the valiant efforts of Ningo/Prampram Member of Parliament, Sam George, we all have become aware of a letter written by a low-ranking Chinese official to our Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, that the validation of the digitisation deal is a condition precedent for the bauxite $2 billion barter deal that our government expects to raise from China to finance its infrastructure agenda.

This letter was signed in April this year, meaning and inferring that other prior and following correspondence have been signed or exchanged regarding the virtual sale of this country and its resources to a country bent on a larger foothold in Africa and eroding our sovereignty that the people of this country are unaware of.

What does China need control of our media spectrum space for, and what is its connection to the bauxite barter arrangement?

Do Ghanaian journalists appreciate the mortally dangerous circumstances they would be forced to operate in if this happens as is the case in China? This letter is a direct attack on our sovereignty, nothing less.

It is akin to the Austria/Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia which thrust the world into the First World War in August 1914.

Today is President Nkrumah’s birthday, celebrated as a holiday.

I am completely persuaded that Nkrumah was a man of the left, and a major African participant in the Cold War.

There was no way in heaven or hell that this brazen surrender of our exclusive control of our national resource would have been countenanced by him.

Because he knew and fought for independence for Ghana and for Ghanaians to be respected and be considered the equal of any other nation on earth by owning and managing our resources ourselves.

It is long past the time that our current government acted as if it knew and accepted its core mandate.