Saturday, 24 November 2012

Help me choose my dissertation!

Ok guys, I have to do a Master's dissertation. As I'm doing African Politics at SOAS, I can cover West Africa and know that there will be someone who actually knows what I'm talking about, which was not the case in my undergrad.

Trouble is I have to choose a topic. Here are the choices of things I've considered writing about:

1. The West African Brain Gain: Young Africans (by birth, or immediate descent choosing to head back to West  Africa and set up a life there, often choosing to take the corporate route rather than working for an NGO, perhaps because they see the continent differently).

2. J K Siaw (the life, rise and fall of Joshua Kwabena Siaw in relation to the political landscape of Ghana, from pre-independence to the PNDC regime and pushes for democracy).

3. The AFRC regime (the motivations, justifications and actions of the AFRC regime in 1979. How this changed Ghana's course of development and how it still lingers over present-day Ghana, if it does.) (Prehaps a comparison to similar/contemporary regimes in Nigeria)

4. Transition to democracy in Ghana and Nigeria (motivations, consolidation, successes, failures)

This isn't something you can just glance at and pass on by, I would really really appreciate your input on which you would like to read if you had to or which you think is least explored and in need of exploration.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

NPC - not a political party but key to elections.

Type in "NPC ghana" into google and let me know what you get. The first link will be for the National Population Council established in 1989 to advise the government on improving the lives of Ghanaians through  effective population management.

A couple of links below you will begin to find websites pertaining to news about the National Paralympic Committee. There's not much on these guys. In fact I reckon if I asked you to tell me below who Alem Mumuni or Anita Fordjour is, you'd be slightly tempted to google them. The above two are paralympians as you might have guessed. They are just two of a squad of 4. Four. Perhaps for me the four bravest Ghanaians I will ever read about because they've received no government backing. The government seems only to arrive AFTER the medals have been won.

The London Olympics/Paralympics really opened my eyes to many things. As a Londoner I must admit I had to come to terms with the fact that the Olympics/Paralympics had arrived, were changing lives, raising profiles and there was nothing my negativity will do to get London's tax money back. The way the UK rallied behind Team GB in the Olympics was inspirational and as a Londoner and a Brit, I felt that community spirit as I spoke to colleagues about how "Our Team" was doing. As a Nigerian, I felt the patriotism as I had to defend the Nigerian basketball team after the USA match. And I felt the national shame as a Ghanaian, thinking 'did I ever see a Ghanaian athlete in the entire 2 and half weeks, where were the boxing medals we expected?'

With the arrival of the Paralympics I felt all those patriotisms again. Nigeria as of Day 2 sat 10th on the table with 4 medals including 2 Golds. Much more than their able-bodied counterparts. Team GB was slightly behind target but nevertheless ahead of the USA (and that's really all that mattered, I muted my TV when 'The Star-Spangled Banner' played). Ghana we never heard much from, but I'll tell you what, I'm proud of them anyway. They were let down (them and the rest of their African counterparts) by mismanagement led by celebrity-chasing politicians. I will not cease in my mission to have more sports recognised and played in Ghana. Key to this is having a greater variety of athletes and the recognition that anybody can be an athlete. People with disabilities must be given the opportunity to decide their own destiny supported by the government whom they elect. They are not second class citizens, they can contribute just as much as anyone else. I don't want to see men and women skating around on skateboards around Airport Residential begging for money using the skills and muscles that could win them the Sprint or Sitting Volleyball on a world stage.

So as the elections approach, think not just of yourself and what these parties can do for you, Ghana, but also of your fellow Ghanaians and who has a vision and political will to do something for them.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

IEA VP debate

In case you haven't caught it yet, here is the Vice Presidential debate:

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Tragedy of Melcom

I do not want to play the blame game so early after this tragic incident.Trust me, this is not something that anyone in their right mind should use to score points against anyone! When I first heard about it I feared for my mum's safety because Melcom is a well patronised company and I know that she goes into town often for many reasons. After finally making contact with my mother and thanking God for her life - she had intend to go their yesterday after missing opening hours the day before - I read more about the situation.

What startled me more than anything, more than those emotional pictures taken by Bob Pixel Photography, was the speed with which the Melcom company tried to distance themselves from responsibility. According to them they rented the place from a Mr. Nana Boadu and had been there for 10 months. Regardless of that, Melcom must take some responsibility for the incident as must the landlord and the city authorities. From what I know (Ghana rules may vary), tenants must do their own surveying of a property to point out any maintenance issues that arise. If at the point of signing everything is well, the tenant must be vigilant to make sure that the building is kept. The landlord - it being his asset afterall - must do the same. With this being a public building the need for these checks are even more paramount. It is clear, now, that this did not happen. I would expect a law suit from the government brought against Melcom and the landlord for negligence. People have lost family and loved ones unnecessary and must be compensated substantially by action brought by the full force of the government.

With that in mind it worries me that the President can come the the disaster scene, with no safety equipment on (no protective hat, or visible jacket) to speak on the negligence of safety procedures on the part of the authorites. The most ironic thing he has done in the past four years. The Mayor of Accra has also come out to say that the building had no permit, but if that is the case, how can he say this with a straight face? Everyone knew that the building was there so the Mayor must answer, if it did not have a permit, how was it allowed to stand for so long and then be occupied for 10 months by one of Ghana's most prominent stores. This wasn't a small illegal shack hiding in the shadows somewhere, it was a 6 storey occupied building that none of the authorities including the Mayor did anything about.

Ghanaians, dare I say it, we need to get angry about some things. Genuinely put pressure on people to do their jobs properly. The floods came last year and the authorities found someone to blame. Fires break out and then there's "the regulations aren't being upheld", disease has a mild outbreak and "regulations aren't being upheld" buildings collapse and "regulations aren't being upheld". Meanwhile when we realise this, post-incident, no one is held accountable, no one loses a job, loses money (by way of compensation), loses freedom (jail time for death by negligence, I think is fair). It must suck being the President of a nation that doesn't implement or follow any rules and doesn't face any consequences in the aftermath. You would think that after 4 years of being Vice President and then President of such a nation, JDM would put his foot down and start changing things for the better. I'm tired of Ghanaians dying because our government is too lazy to manifest the simple law of karma on regulation shirkers!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

30 to go

There are 30 days to go until Ghana decides it's next President although if it is as close as last time, we might have to add a fortnight to that countdown. America has chosen to move forward with the incumbent and just like last time the NDC find themselves mimicking the same message "stay with us, there is more to do, but we are the best to do it". Whether that message rings true to Ghanaians this year is still yet to be seen.

I know who I would vote for if I was able to vote and that doesn't mean that I support them 100%, but I believe that this is the year that Ghanaians are going to stand up and say, "we voted you in, but that doesn't mean we will remain silent for the rest of the 4 years". I really see civil society taking a more active role in shaping government policy. It's now not just about holding up someone's manifesto of years gone by and marking them solely against what they once said they were going to do, it's about requesting things of your MPs and President during term and seeing a significant response to your request. We don't need anymore "re-elect us and it will happen", we need "we have heard you, and we have acted" and I think the Ghanaian public is now in the position where this is the type of leadership they want.

A good example of this would be Ghana Decides. This is an authentically grassroots movement that really took off in their iRegistered campaign garnering celebrity support and really catapulting a discussion forum in that campaign on why it is good to register. The average Ghanaian was given a voice and we could all see how well they responded to that. Things have become murkier for politics in Ghana since the death of President Atta Mills. There is a big possibility that President Mahama could benefit from a sympathy vote, or perhaps those who thought it was a done deal, will be spurred to cast their vote for him just to make sure. That is all very good for democracy as long as it comes from the people.

The IEA encounters and debates have been an eye opener. Not only via the content of these events, but the fact that they appear to be the only platform upon which Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates are held to account. That in itself tells us much about the strength of our democracy and I think much needs to be done within the next four years to hold more personal and challenging interviews with the media and not just the traditional media, but New Media also. I had the pleasure of watching Abu Sakara's intimate Hangout with Ghanaians at home and abroad. I posed a question to him and whilst he did not directly answer it, his response gave me a greater insight into the type of person and leader he is and President he would be. That, strengthens the countries democracy, not simply pre-written scripts read out to debate questions in front of a distinguished and invited audiences.

There is 30 days, and one IEA debate left to go before Ghana decides. Anyone who thought one particular party had sealed the deal or were guaranteed victory or deserved victory for what ever reason should see how quickly opinions can change in the space of a week. Last Monday this was a battle between two giants in the political arena. 9 days later the CPP have managed to squeeze through the gap and make themselves real contenders for this race. I sympathise with Mr. Hassan Ayariga, as it seems he was judged more on his English than his vision. In 9 days his party has managed to vindicate him a little as Madam Matrevi performed relatively better in the VP debate. But if so much can change in just 9 days, think what could happen in the next 30. If the NDC and NPP become broken records and forget that there are other parties involved in this race who they just might need in a run-off (which is more than likely) they might just see the arrogance of being a big party become their undoing. Ghana decides.

The People's IEA debate

The twittersphere goes crazy when there's an IEA encounter or debate going on. It has led to a couple worldwide trends coming out of Ghana. That's a big feat considering how small Ghana is as a country and how even smaller it is amongst the internet population.

All the top bloggers and simply interested Ghanaians all have something to say as to the quality of the answers given. I do too! So I was thinking, we should all take a question that you think wasn't answered well, or that you have another answer for, take 3 minutes of your time and record an answer to it. 

Essentially this is an expansion of the "If I were President..." question in the Ghana Decides Tag.

For instance, in the IEA VP debate I felt the question concerning women, children and disabled could be answered better. So I will post a video saying what I would do (if President/VP).

This is just to gauge where people stand ideologically. Often the jargon at these events is too removed from the ordinary person, so I want to help make this election the result of a 2 way conversation between the electorate and the politicians.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Dark Horse: Dr. Abu Sakara

This is an expanded version of Dr. Abu Sakara's views without the unnecessary NDC-NPP war of words which clouded the IEA Debate. Before watching this I knew that Dr. Abu Sakara would be influential in this years elections but I didn't realise that he could really be a contender. If Ghanaians know what's good for the country, the CPP under Dr. Abu Sakara will no longer be the 3rd party in the country, but top 2. He  appears to me to be a visionary.

Before anyone complains about my endorsement of Dr. Abu Sakara, I am still non-partisan, but it is clear who won the IEA debate and that the debate showed the top 2 parties to be broken records. They did not all step up to the mark and that is a shame. The reward goes to he who tries.