Friday, May 21, 2010

Ghana’s fanciful employment figures

“There are lies, damned lies and statistics” – Mark Twain

For all the noble efforts of successive governments, the population of the Republic of Ghana remains guesswork, estimate ranges from 20 to 26 million people.

More than few eyebrows were raised when a Minister in the government’s propaganda outfit, Ministry of Information (those in opposition think of it as more of dis-or mis- information), claimed that the one plus year old President Mills government has succeeded in creating one point six million – yep, 1.6m, jobs.

Whilst government mouthpieces went to town to trumpet this apparently unprecedented achievement, those opposing the government scoffed and use some very uncharitable and (unprintable here) words.

Many arm-chair psychologists, who knew about such things, opined that the young minister had imbibed too much from the potent brew common in his part of the country. Many are those who blamed it on his youthful exuberance that comes with childlike eagerness to please authority figure.

To get the low down on things, I went to the ministry at the Ministries area of Accra and spoke with the government Chief Spin Doctor.

“By taming the almost embarrassing joblessness problem, your government certainly deserves a huge applause.”

“Thank you, my brother. I wish more of our citizens show the same patriotic zeal like you. You see, governments all over the world are peopled by human beings like you and I. We also need to be appreciated. We don’t mind to be criticized when we erred, but we should also be praised when we get things right.”

“But one million, sorry one point six million, jobs created within one year, that is hugely impressive. That means you have managed to put about seven percent of our people to work (depending on whose figure we are using). And all within the first year of your administration! That certainly deserves huge kudos.”

“It is not as hard as people thought. The problem here is that our people are so used to governments not performing. They are so used to politicians not keeping election promises that they have become totally cynical…”

“Do you blame them?”

“No, no, it is not a matter of blaming them. We are not in the blame-game business, not at all. I was just explaining that because past governments have failed to deliver does not mean that the Mills Team will also fail. Mr. President is a man of integrity who keeps his words. Don’t forget that he’s also an upright Christian.”

“What is that supposed to mean? I don’t remember that the last time Ghana had a Muslim or a Traditionalist as president.”

“No, no! There are Christians and then there are Christians.”

“Let’s not get into intractable religious arguments, what is the population of Ghana?”


“How many people do we have in Ghana?”

“Why, you are directing your question to the wrong person. I am the PR Chief here and not the government statistician.”


“Yes! I don’t see the relevance of the question.”

“The relevance is that many people I talked with have problem with the figure you released about job creation. Most of them are of the opinion that a nation that does not even know its population cannot make any credible statistical pronouncements.”

“Put that down to the skepticism our people have developed over the years. Not that I’d say that I blame them. Years of unkempt promises by our leaders have deadened our people’s perception of what good governance is all about. Team Mills is set to change all that.”

“With all due respect, sir, we are not in the soap-box here. You haven’t answered the question of how we could know the figures of job created when we do not even know how many we really are.”

“Why should that be so daunting, my friend? It is simple arithmetic, really! My three year old daughter should be able to add it up.”

“Oh, three year old counting to 1.6 million, she might yet make the Guinness Book of Records. That’s just by the way, sir. What figures would your three year old daughter be adding together to get that grand sum of one point six million people put into employment by your government?”

“And with due respect, I must say that I find these inquisition rather juvenile. It is a just simple matter of tabulating the figures provided by all the agencies, organizations, companies and other bodies with which the government has had dealings since the inception of our administration.”

“And they came up with the figure of one point six million created jobs?”

“That and more. You see, the government is focused, very focused on our agenda of creating a Better Ghana. We do not allow the antics of our detractors to shift our attention.”

“Wow! Do you mean to tell me that you have created more than one point six million jobs?”

“We are talking about ancillary and other stuffs. Surely the grand total will be magnificently higher. We deserve great kudos rather than all these endless inquisitions by our political enemies.”

“I am sorry you felt that way, but most Ghanaians find such figures simply fantastic. They also wonder why such massive job creation is not reflected in diminished number of young people braving traffic accidents in scorching sun to sell bric and bracs from Europe, Asia and America. We also do not see any industrial or manufacturing factories employing any tangible number of Ghanaians. And one point six million people earning and spending will also reflect positively on the income, and we are simply not seeing that. Are we not talking phantom figures, sir?”

“You see how people continuously lump apple and oranges together to get pine-apples! Have you ever considered the simple fact many of those young people you see selling on the streets might also have a second or even a third job, and that selling on the street is just supplemental to their main job or jobs?”


“Don’t look so skeptical, my friend, it is known to have happened?”


“Yes, yes sir! I can tell you as a matter of fact that I was doing three jobs during my student days in Britain. I was a cleaner in the morning, transformed into a factory worker in the afternoon and at night yours truly was morphed into a security man and in between winks I had to study for my exams. And please don’t let us talk about doing oral presentation on ancient grannies who have lost all their marbles.”

“Hmm… Why do I have the feeling that you are flying off a tangent. Ghana is not Britain; the question remains what evidence do you have to support your assertion that over a million jobs have been created by your government?”

“Why do I have the feeling that you came here with pre-conceived ideas and that you are simply not prepared to listen? Ask yourself how many infrastructural projects are presently ongoing in the country and how many hard-working Ghanaians are engaged there. You can also strain yourself a bit to find out how many roads are been constructed; don’t imagine that Martians are doing the jobs there either. And certainly it is bona-fide Ghanaians who are engaged in the gigantic rural electrification projects that are taking place across the land. How about the revamped agricultural sector, how many Ghanaians are engaged in striving to provide the foods that adorn our tables…”

“I thought that most of the foods we eat are imports. Rice from Thailand, unwholesome chicken and turkey stuffs from Holland, mad-cow parts from Britain, swine feet from Brazil, tomato paste from Italy…”

“Don’t be such a killjoy, sir. Do you know how many tractors this government has procured for our farmers?”

“I am afraid that I do not have the figure.”

“You see! If only people will do a little original research. And why do people always forget that our beloved county will soon join the league of oil producing country?”

“How does that add to the figure about job creation when it is said that only few jobs will be actually created in the oil sector?”

“Said by whom?”

“Oil exploration and exploitation is a very specialized field and it requires specialists few of whom are Ghanaians…”

“But are you not forgetting about the support staff, cooks, gardeners, houseboys and you don’t expect all the oil workers to hit town with their wives, they certainly will need…”

“Are you really counting prostitution among the your supposedly created jobs?”

“Why are you looking so aghast? What’s so odious about it?”

“You cannot be serious, sir! Counting Ghanaian prostitutes among your much touted job creation figures!”

“So what if those drilling our oil find our women beautiful, comely and are prepare to engage their services? What on earth is wrong with that? Or are you suggesting that our neighbours should be allowed to collar that lucrative segment of the down-stream part of the oil industry?”

“I rest my case.”

The logic of violence

“There's a natural mystic blowing through the air;
If you listen carefully now you will hear.
This could be the first trumpet, might as well be the last:
Many more will have to suffer,
Many more will have to die - don't ask me why.
Things are not the way they used to be,
I won't tell no lie;
One and all have to face reality now.
'Though I've tried to find the answer to all the questions they ask.
'Though I know it's impossible to go livin' through the past -
Don't tell no lie.”
–‘Natural Mystic.’ Bob Marley

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
“Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
- ‘The Second Coming,’ William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Do you know the number one problem we face in this country?

Why do I have the feeling that you’re going to tell me?

Don’t take that attitude with me, OK?


Methinks that as a writer you’ll be interested to learn a few tricks, as they say.

I am all ears.

We don’t know how to take advantage of potential economic situations. Take it from me; that’s our numero uno problem in this country. We sit, literally and figuratively, on pure cash mine without realizing it. And that’s a biggo biggo problem in my books.

What are you talking about?

You don’t mean that I’m not making myself clear?

Not to me. Or maybe I am not just reading you. What are you carrying in that bulging folder you’re cradling like a prized possession?

Of course, they are prized. Highly prized! They are newspapers clipping I have gathered in the last few weeks to show how our people failed to take adequate advantage of the prevailing situation in our dear land?

I still do not understand what exactly you’re talking about.

Let me ask you a question.

Go ahead.

What is Ghana, our beloved homeland, known for?

Ah, we used to be called the Gold Coast; that was before the multinationals depleted our gold reserves. We are also noted for playing an entertaining type of football.
We also gave the world a UN Sec-Gen. We…

Stop there, my friend? Who give a fig about a UN SEC whatever? I mean what credentials do our leaders brandish when they tout us to the world as the ‘Gateway to Africa?’

They say that we are a peaceful, foreigners-loving people.

And has that resulted in any appreciable level of tourists swarming our shores?

You’re asking the wrong person; I am not in the tourism trade.

Forget whether or not you’re in tourism. Another question: what type of news about Africa sell in western media?

That’s easy; the usual staple: corruption, war, epidemic, violence.

Now you know what I mean that our people lack the singular capacity to take strategic advantage of tactical situations?

No, I don’t.

Ok, let me ask you another question: what news have dominated the Ghanaian media in the recent past?

I must admit that I do not keep tally.

Worry not, my good friend. That’s why I brought this folder. Take a look. Here:
“Over 50 students were reportedly rushed to the Techiman Holy Family Hospital last night after they reportedly collapsed when teargas was fired by the police to halt an outbreak of violence at an inter-schools sports festival Saturday. The clashes which occurred at the Techiman Secondary School started when students of TESS accused their counterparts from Tuobodom Secondary Technical School of destroying school property after the games. Students of six other schools who were camped on the Techiman Secondary School Campus had to run for cover to avoid injury.”
“ -

“ “Police in the Northern Region have intercepted a bus-load of a cache of ammunition allegedly belonging to some prominent politicians in the region. The Northern Regional Police Command is yet to release the names of the politicians involved. Based on intelligence information, police officers conducted a search Saturday night on a bus with registration number ER 3336X which was travelling from Kumasi to Bunkprugu Yonyoo. The police retrieved military accoutrements including 80 9mm rounds of pistols and 178 rounds of AK 47 ammunition concealed under the driver’s seat.

The Northern Regional Police Public Relations Officer, Chief Inspector Ebenezer Tetteh told Joy News the driver, Abdalla Yaro, 28, and his mate Ibrahim, 20, would be arraigned before court on Monday for illegal possession of weapons. Chief Inspector Tetteh said some top political figures are alleged to be behind the smuggling. “The Northern Regional Police Command has been receiving intelligence information about some prominent politicians in the North who want to smuggle some arms and ammunition into the area.”-

“ “Mamprusis in Bawku are accusing government of always taking sides with their Kusasi counterparts. The Mamprusi’s in Bawku defied a national security ban on Saturday and went ahead to celebrate the Damba festival. A directive was issued on Thursday to suspend Saturday’s festival due to the fragile nature of security in the town.

There were concerns by National Security that celebrating Damba could erupt into violent clashes between Kusasis and Mamprusi. But the Mamprusis, who claim the ban was politically motivated, went ahead with the celebration. The leader of the Mamprusi group, Alhaji Seidu Kalifa, told Joy News there were indications government took sides in the matter. Why should government stop us from celebrating our custom when he has allowed the Kusasis to perform theirs?” he asked. However, the Kusasi’s insist, by going ahead with the festival, their Mamprusi brothers undermined the authority of Bawku Naaba.” -

“ “Twenty one houses have been set ablaze in Kambatiac in the Bunpkurugu Yunyoo ,district of the Northern Region by some angry youth. The youth, said to be settlers from the Gbankoni ethnic group were angry over failure by the elders of the town to allocate them land on which to build their houses. Six people are said to have been injured in the attack and are receiving treatment, an eye witness confirmed to Joy news. The spokesperson to the Northern Regional Police Commander told Joy News' Evans Mensah that Thursday's attack is a deterioration of an old rivalry between the groups. He said police have been dispatched to restore peace in the” -

“ “The chief of Shigu, a suburb of Tamale in the Northern Region, was reportedly killed by unknown assailants Monday, March 22 at about 7:30 pm. The police have confirmed the incident and say they are investigating it. Joy FM’s Northern Regional correspondent, Mahama Shaibu, reports the slain chief had visited a friend and on his return, some unknown people ambushed and hacked him from the neck.

The Shigu chief was enskinned by the chief of Sanarigu amidst protestations a few months ago. The family of the predecessor of the slain chief resisted the enskinment, arguing they had not performed the final funeral rites of the deceased’s successor. For them, enskinning a chief while his predecessor’s final funeral rites had not been performed was alien to, and inconsistent with, Dagbon customs and traditions. Reports say there is general fear in the area following the incident.” -

“ “Two people have been confirmed dead following clashes between two factions in Dankyira, a town near Amasaman in Accra on Tuesday. ASP Zingi spokesperson of the Greater Accra Regional Police Command blamed the clashes on “chronic land disputes” in the area. One of the victims, Joy news has learnt, is a local chief in the area, but the police are yet to confirm that. Tuesday’s skirmishes is the third in line of chieftaincy and land-related-violence which has claimed a total of six lives in parts of the country, this month. The first was the Tuobodom and Techiman chieftaincy crisis which claimed three lives. On Monday evening, a local chief in Shigu, a suburb of Tamale was also killed on his motor bike by an unknown assailant.” -

“ “We’ve become very political, chiefs are political, the police are political, everybody is political, that makes the life of everybody very difficult. As a policeman, your loyalty is to the state, as a military man your loyalty is to the state but we have a situation where you have party people in the military, party people in the police, party people everywhere. We need to depoliticise the institutions of state. Brig. Gen. Nunoo-Mensah expressed regret that the security services had been dangerously polarised along partisan lines. He said there has been dereliction duty on the part of many leading to the situation which was completely avoidable. “This situation we are in, in Tuobodom shouldn’t have reached where it is at the moment, it should have been dealt with quite rapidly within the locality.”
People are not doing their work and this is the biggest problem we face at the moment and also you’ve got so much politics as I said earlier, in what we do so that if something happen [people just] say this is not our man, this is not our party man. This shouldn’t be the case! If you go wrong, the law shouldn’t have any business in saying that ‘this man is not one of us’, he is one of us so the law shouldn’t deal with the person, the law should deal with everybody.” -

Now, my friend, you see what I mean that we are not taking advantage of situations.
You apparently have taken the time to do your research, but how does this translate into taking advantage of situations?

Ah, you’re still missing the big picture. If we touted and trumpeted ourselves as the most peaceful nation in Africa for years and yet the tourists, who we are told would transform our economy, refused to come. I say it is time we change gear.

By announcing ourselves as the most lawless, indiscipline and violent country in Africa? You can’t be serious, are you?

And why not, my good friend? The only successful people are those that use what they have to get what they want?

And what happened to sense of shame? You mean that we should self-flagellate ourselves because we want to invite western tourists?

You have to be dispassionate about these types of things, ok. This is not an emotional issue. We need raw cash to develop our under-developed economy, and you’re rather talking about sense of shame. Can we eat shame? Our leaders are daily patrolling the streets of Asia, Europe and America with begging bowls and you did not talk about sense of shame to them. In the name of developing our tourism potentials, we have turn ourselves into the world’s harlot. Our dear land is now considered among the world’s tourism for sex destinations. Pedophiles and pederasts have free rein in our land and you’re sitting here maligning my brilliant proposition.

Sorry that you felt that way, but try and peddle your stuff someplace else.

Nigeria: The Curse Of Reluctant Leaders

It is said that "ifs" are useless tools of historical analyses; but one cannot but wonder what the trajectory of the Nigeria nation would have been IF she been blessed with leaders with vision in the mold of Kwame Nkrumah, Lee Kuan Yew, or Mahathir Mohammed!

But there's absolutely no doubt that, given the sheer size of the country, a strong Nigerian leader with great vision would have altered the course of that country and, by implication, Africa's progression for the better.

IF at independence, the country had been blessed with a Chairman Mao or a Nehru or a Nkrumah, or a Lee Kuan Yew, today Nigeria would have been up there with China, Singapore, Malaysia, and India.

Blessed with leaders with vision, Nigerians would not today still be struggling with life's basics like inadequate food, erratic water supply, pitiable electricity supply and run-down infrastructures. Nigerians would be up there probing space and dreaming about sending an African astronaut to investigate the heavens.

Instead of wallowing in poverty like they currently do, Nigerians/Africans would also be world-class achievers with Nigerian/African scientists also inventing marvels to wow the world, and their industries would be churning out industrial outputs at neck-breaking speed.

Instead of our people selling dog-chains and old newspapers in the hot sun like they currently do, they would also be using their brains and talents to create the things that would improve their living standards.

The 21st century would not be referred to simply as the Asian Century but as Asian and African Century.

All these and much more would have been possible were Nigeria to have been blessed with leaders imbued with patriotic zeal, and who were prepared to put their nation's interests far above their personal and parochial interests.

Sadly, instead of all these laudable ideals and dreams, we have a country still being run by a cabal of very ruthless and totally otiose elite concerned only with the shameless pursuit of its capricious selfish interests.

A sad parade of utterly self-seeking political elite has ensured that a once promising nation blessed with huge human and natural resources continues to be the yardstick for economic underdevelopment.

A nation that is said to have earned over $400 billion from crude oil sales alone in the last 50 years still cannot provide adequate electricity for its people. A nation that exports 2-3 million barrels of crude lacks the capacity to refine enough for its domestic consumption -- Nigeria still imports refined oil!

Today, the country spends more money on the running of the machinery of the government than it does on education and health combined.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

For Nigerians Life is April Fool's day

Ha, my broda, long time no see, no hear, no nothing, haba! (Nigerian speak).

Don't be angry, o, my good brother. Na dis mountain no dey let us see the other mountain (West African saying).

But why did you forget to send me April Fools' jokes this year? You know how much I always look forward to those jokes from Naija (Nigerians slang for Nigeria).

I didn't forget, my good brother. I just didn't want to waste your precious time in telling you that Nigerians have long given up on such mundane matters like April Fools.

Ha, I thought our people have a good time concocting those rib-cracking tales.

Ha, my brother. I guess it is because it's been a long time since you last set foot on our shores. Naija of today no be the Naija you left behind last year (Pidgin English).

You meant that things have gotten so worse.

My, brother, make you no talk. (Pidgin)


You can say that again.

I thought we have seen it all; I didn't know that our country can still spring a few surprises.

Few, you say? Everything in our dear fatherland will continue to surprise any sane person. Tell me, in what other country will a president go missing for three months?


"President Yar'Adua left Nigeria on November 23 complaining of chest pains and has not been seen in public since. He is thought to be receiving treatment for a heart condition at a clinic in Saudi Arabia, but his absence has created a dangerous power vacuum at the top of Africa's most populous nation and one of the continent's biggest oil producers.

While observers warn of an impending constitutional crisis, the Government insists that business continues as usual. Delivering the annual new year address in the absence of the President, Goodluck Jonathan, the Vice-President, insisted: "The ship of state continues to sail."

(Source: From TimesOnline, January 7, 2010.)

Yes, I remember that one clearly, it was a national embarrassment.

That's not all, my broda. In what other country would the whole Senate be impotent in the face of such a grave constitutional crisis? Take a look at this headline:


Thompson Sekibo, a Rivers State senator, whose effort to get his colleagues to discuss the disappearance of President Yar'Adua from public view was frustrated by the Senate president, has said he will re-introduce his motion.

Mr. Sekibo had on Wednesday, during the Senate sitting, tried to get the Senate to investigate the uncertainty of President Yar'Adua's actual location since his return to the country.

"Nobody has seen him since he left; we can't continue to stay like this," Mr. Sekibo told NEXT.

(Source: From NEXT, March 4, 2010.)

No, I didn't hear about that one.

My broda, I say wait. In what other country would the signature of the president be forged with no one clued as to who did it and no one was arrested? I am not making anything up. Take a look at this:


Wise saying:

" Never use both feet to test the depth of the sea." - African proverb