Sepp Blatter: Fifa ethics committee like 'the Inquisition'

Suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter has compared the investigation into ethics charges against him to "the Inquisition".

Blatter, 79, made the claim in a letter sent to all 209 national football associations reiterating his innocence.

The Swiss was banned for 90 days in October, along with Uefa president Michel Platini. Both deny wrongdoing.

Blatter and Platini, 60, will have personal hearings with Fifa's ethics committee this week.

World football's governing body is investigating allegations that a £1.35m payment was made in 2011 for work Platini did as Blatter's adviser.

The term Spanish Inquisition is colloquially used to describe being asked questions which those facing them do not feel they need to answer.

In the letter Blatter says:

  • He has acted in his role with "complete loyalty and in good faith"
  • The payment to Platini was based on a "verbal contract"
  • His view is based on his "firm faith in justice"
  • He hopes 2016 will be a better year for Fifa

Blatter also criticised the ethics committee's process, accusing them of "seeking the maximum penalty and strengthening the public attitude" which leads to "prejudice".

He added: "This process brings to my mind the practices of the Inquisition."

Blatter and Platini's hearings will take place before the Fifa ethics adjudicator Hans-Joachim Eckert at an undisclosed location.

Both men will have separate hearings which, taken together, could stretch over three days and both are entitled to bring legal teams with them.

A verdict could come as early as 21 December.

Platini's bid to have his 90-day provisional ban from football lifted was denied by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on 11 December.

The Frenchman still hopes to be a candidate to replace outgoing president Blatter in the Fifa presidential elected on 26 February but can only stand if he is cleared.

Source: bbc.co.uk

Andre Ayew, two others contend for CAF Player Of The Year 2015

Ghana midfielder Andre Ayew has been named as one of the top three contenders for the 2015 African Player of the Year Award ceremony which will be held on Thursday, January 7, 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Swansea City winger will face competition from four-time African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure (Manchester City) and Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the topmost award.

This was unveiled at a press conference attended by CAF Excutive member Anjorin Moucharafou and Glo representatives on Monday, 14 December 2015 in Abuja, Nigeria.

Ghana youth international Yaw Yeboah and the Black Queen's player Portia Boakye have all been named as nominees in the Youth Player of the Year and the Women footballer of the year categories respectively for the 2015 Glo-CAF Awards.

The Black Stars who were runners up at the 2015 AFCON and All African Games winners Black Queens have all been nominated for the Team of the Year in their various categories.

The categories include; Women Player of the Year, Youth Player of the Year, Most Promising Talent, Coach of the Year, Referee of the Year, African Legend, National Team of the Year, Women National Team of the Year, Club of the Year, Platinum Award.

Below are the nominees for the various categories in alphabetical order;

African Footballer of the Year
• Yaya Toure
• Andre Dede Ayew
• Pierre Emerick Aubameyang


Women Player of the Year
• Gabrielle Onguéné, Cameroon
• Gaelle Enganamouit, Cameroon
• Ngozi Ebere, Nigeria
• N'rehy Tia Ines, Cote d’Ivoire
• Portia Boakye, Ghana


Youth Player of the Year
• Adama Traore, Mali
• Kelechi Nwakali, Nigeria
• Samuel Diarra, Mali
• Victor Osimhen, Nigeria
• Yaw Yeboah, Ghana


Most Promising Talent
• Azubuike Okechukwu, Nigeria
• Etebo Oghenekaro, Nigeria
• Djigui Diarra, Mali
• Mahmoud Abdelmonem ‘kahraba’, Egypt
• Zinedine Ferhat, Algeria


Coach of the Year
• Baye Ba, Mali, U17
• Emmanuel Amunike, Nigeria U17
• Fawzi Benzarti, Etoile Sportive de Sahel
• Hervé Renard, Cote d’ivore
• Patrice Carteron, TP Mazembe


Referee of the Year
• Alioum Neant, Cameroon
• Bakary Papa GASSAMA, Gambia
• Eric Arnaud OTOGO CASTANE, Gabon
• Ghead Zaglol GRISHA, Egypt
• Janny SIKAZWE, Zambia


African Legend
• Charles Kumi Gyamfi, Ghana
• Samuel Mbappé Léppé, Cameroon


National Team of the Year
• Cote d’Ivoire
• Ghana
• Mali U17
• Nigeria U17
• Nigeria U-23


Women National Team of the Year
• Ghana
• Cameroon
• South Africa
• Zimbabwe


Club of the Year
• USM Algers , Algeria
• TP Mazembe, DR Congo
• Orlando Pirates, South Africa
• Etoile Sportive du Sahel, Tunisia
 
 
 
 
Source: Ghanafa.org

Be part of the governance process of our oil resource

Natural resources are neither manufactured in the laboratory or grown on some specialized soil(s). If there is, then it will not qualify as a Natural Resource. The struggle to obtain natural resource is Global.

This is because of the value it has and it’s ability to transform the socio economic aspiration of most countries. But in the quest to make the most out of our resources, we the citizens together with all stakeholders must play our role diligently.

Oil is one of Ghana’s natural resources that must be better governed. We all need to be part of the governance process to ensure our oil changes our lives and generations to come.

The question is, how do we get involved? You and I may not be in positions to directly oversee to the optimum utilization of our oil money. But one thing is for sure. Our collective oversight and advocacy is a necessary platform to enhance the future transparency and accountability we seek in our oil governance.

Civil Society participation at different level in shaping frameworks and policies of specific industries are usually as a result of available information and how it impacts on society.   

Do you want to know where our oil money comes from? And do you want to know where it is spent?

Visit the most comprehensive premier data website www.ouroilmoney.org; which gives an in depth information on oil receipts, revenues, contracts, proposals and reports from 2011 to date.

The website www.ouroilmoney.org, is interactive, gives a quick feedback, shares views with users and provides data from sources such as Ministry of Finance, Bank of Ghana, PIAC and other Governmental Institutions.

Ouroilmoney.org is an initiative of Africa Centre for Energy Policy and Supported by UKaid.

Ghana's oil is our oil, don’t sit on the fence. Let’s get interactive on www.ouroilmoney.org.
 

Source: myjoyonline.com

Natural resources are neither manufactured in the laboratory or grown on some specialized soil(s). If there is, then it will not qualify as a Natural Resource. The struggle to obtain natural resource is Global.

This is because of the value it has and it’s ability to transform the socio economic aspiration of most countries. But in the quest to make the most out of our resources, we the citizens together with all stakeholders must play our role diligently.

Oil is one of Ghana’s natural resources that must be better governed. We all need to be part of the governance process to ensure our oil changes our lives and generations to come.

The question is, how do we get involved? You and I may not be in positions to directly oversee to the optimum utilization of our oil money. But one thing is for sure. Our collective oversight and advocacy is a necessary platform to enhance the future transparency and accountability we seek in our oil governance.

Civil Society participation at different level in shaping frameworks and policies of specific industries are usually as a result of available information and how it impacts on society.   

Do you want to know where our oil money comes from? And do you want to know where it is spent?

Visit the most comprehensive premier data website www.ouroilmoney.org; which gives an in depth information on oil receipts, revenues, contracts, proposals and reports from 2011 to date.

The website www.ouroilmoney.org, is interactive, gives a quick feedback, shares views with users and provides data from sources such as Ministry of Finance, Bank of Ghana, PIAC and other Governmental Institutions.

Ouroilmoney.org is an initiative of Africa Centre for Energy Policy and Supported by UKaid.

Ghana's oil is our oil, don’t sit on the fence. Let’s get interactive on www.ouroilmoney.org.

- See more at: http://myjoyonline.com/opinion/2015/December-15th/be-part-of-the-governance-process-of-our-oil-resource.php#sthash.hLHBmXSc.dpuf

Disturbances delay commercial salt refining in Volta Region

Mr Mahendra Nuthalapatin, Managing Director of Kensington Industries Limited, has lamented about delays in commencing commercial salt refining by his Company in the Kpedzakope-Adina salt enclave in the Volta region, due to problems with the local people.

The latest problem took place on Wednesday December 2, during which a group of people torched the company’s excavator and tipper truck, accusing the company of destroying their heaps of salt and salt winning areas

The Company has ceded 300 metres each of its concession to the people of Kpedzakope and Adina, but the people of Kpedzakope say they need a bigger area because salt winning is their mainstay.

The Company, with 7,000 hectares salt concession in the Kpedzakope and Adina salt enclave in the Volta Region, has its 200 metric tons a day capacity refinery to produce food grade salt for export and domestic markets   standing idle.

“For two years the huge potential of the refinery has been idle, Mr Nathalapatin told a meeting of the Volta Regional Security Council (REGSEC) whose members led by Helen Adjoa Ntoso, Regional Minister, were at Kpedzakope following the latest skirmishes.

A total of 15 people were said to have been arrested in connection with the disturbances in which the Keta Divisional Police Commander was said to have narrowly escaped being killed but with a head injury.

The Company was said to have lost six of the 15 years for which it was to operate the concession.

The REGSEC meeting with management of the company was to assure them of the commitment to create a peaceful atmosphere for the company to operate in.

“We are bringing foreign direct investment and 500 direct employment opportunities including a transport Company,” Mr Nathalapatin said.     

He said the Company which was operating in Nigeria and several African countries, was attracted to Ghana because of the peaceful atmosphere and the immeasurable potentials for commercial salt production.

“We want to do peaceful business, and not fight the people,” Mr Nathalapatin said.

He said some African countries, including Ivory Coast, were ready to provide a competitive atmosphere for the Company to operate in.

Mr Nathalapatin said Nigeria provided a huge market for Ghana’s salt.

“As Dankote brings cement to Ghana so we also take salt to Nigeria,” where he said local production of food grade salt could meet only half of the demand which had to be made up with imports.

He said his company planned to build a jetty from where salt could be shipped to Nigeria.

Mr Nathalapatin took the REGSEC members round its refinery and machines, and assured them that the Company would co-operate with and transform the lives of people in the area.

Ms Ntoso assured the Company of the government’s commitment to create a peaceful atmosphere for the Company to operate in.

Addressing the people of Kpedzakope, she said the government would be tough on rising violent tendencies in the Ketu South Municipality.

Ms Ntoso said the Volta Region had been craving for foreign direct investments, and must therefore,   encourage rather than frustrate investors who had decided to locate in the region.

She, therefore, advised communities in the enclave to use dialogue and lawful means in resolving their differences with the only investor in the area.

Source: myjoyonline.com

Adomi Bridge to re-open this weekend

Commuters on the Accra-Ho road can heave a sigh of relief following news the iconic Adomi Bridge is expected to be reopened to traffic this Saturday.

According to the Asuogyaman District Chief Executive, Apim Darko, work on the bridge is near completion and workers are putting finishing touches to it ahead of this weekend.

“I can confirm that work is almost complete. About last week we had a site meeting and there is every indication that they have finished with the work.”

“They are cleaning up the place and putting finishing touches to it,” he added.

Mr Darko went on to state the bridge will be open to traffic immediately after it is commissioned by President John Mahama this weekend on Saturday December 19.

He said, “The commissioning has been scheduled for Saturday the 19. We are expecting his Excellency [President Mahama] to come and then commission so we can start using the bridge again.”

“The bridge will be opened to traffic immediately after President John Mahama commissions it,” he continued.

The Adomi Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic to allow major rehabilitation on March 14, 2014.

The aftermath of the closure of the bridge saw drivers and passengers facing various problems in their efforts to commute between the Eastern and the Volta regions of the country.
There were technical problems with one of the two pontoons purchased by the Ministry of Roads and Highways to convey vehicles, people and goods across the Volta Lake further complicating the once simple commute across regions.

The idea to construct the Adomi suspension bridge in 1957 was necessitated by the need to link the Volta Region some parts of the Eastern Region that were cut off from the rest of Ghana.

Prior to the construction of the bridge, travelers to and from those parts Ghana had to cross the Volta Lake on boats at Senchi.

The Adomi Bridge was therefore built across the Lake at Atimpoku up north of Senchi in 1956 to ease the burden of travelers.

The bridge was designed and completed by William Brown, of the engineers Freeman Fox & Partners.

Source: citifmonline.com

Commuters on the Accra-Ho road can heave a sigh of relief following news the iconic Adomi Bridge is expected to be reopened to traffic this Saturday.

According to the Asuogyaman District Chief Executive, Apim Darko, work on the bridge is near completion and workers are putting finishing touches to it ahead of this weekend.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2015/12/15/adomi-bridge-to-re-open-this-weekend-2/#sthash.PBNNJcjJ.dpuf

Ghana Revenue Authority launches New Income Tax law

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has launched a new income tax law to replace the Internal Revenue Act.

The implementation of the new tax, Act 896, 2015, would take effect from January 2016 and would seek to address the narrow and distorted tax base of the old Act.

Mr George Blankson, Director-General of the GRA, said sensitisation and education programmes would be carried out after the launch to enhance public understanding of the Act.

He explained that the integration of the revenue agencies in 2010 necessitated the need for the harmonisation of administrative and new tax laws.

“The Income Tax Act is therefore part of the process of the reorganisation of the tax laws known as the tax law projects,” he said.

While some provisions in the old Act were maintained in the new law, other sections have been modified and new provisions introduced to make compliance easy for taxpayers.

In the new act, specific provisions that guide the different methods and time for payment, including tax payable by withholding, tax payable by instalment and tax payable by assessment have been spelt out to improve and facilitate tax compliance.

Mrs Mona Quartey, Deputy Minister of Finance who launched the new income Tax law said it is complex and user-unfriendly, necessitating the need to replace it with a new Act, which encapsulates international best practices.

“The new act has reorganised the residual provisions in Act 592, simplified it and made it user-friendly, while retaining provisions that are peculiar to income tax administration,” she said.

Mr Quartey said the growth in the business environment calls for a tax administration that is abreast of changing trends.

The acting Deputy Commissioner of the Policy and Programme Unit of the Domestic Tax and Revenue Division of the GRA, Mr Edward Gyamerah, said provisions have been made for income tax exemptions.

“As part of the policy to broaden the tax base; interest paid to an individual is excluded from income that is exempted from tax. This is taxed at a concessionary rate of one per cent as a final tax,” he said.

Pension, he indicated is now included as an exempt income.

A Board Member of the GRA, Mr Ralph Tufour, said Ghanaians must attach urgency to taxation and urged potential and regular income earners to fulfil their tax obligations.
 
 
 
 
Source: Peacefmonline.com

Bill Kennedy: NBA referee reveals he is gay after Rondo insults

Veteran NBA referee Bill Kennedy has revealed he is gay after being the subject of homophobic insults from Sacramento guard Rajon Rondo.

Kennedy was confronted by Rondo after ejecting him on two technical fouls during the game between the Kings and Boston Celtcs in Mexico on 3 December.

"I am proud to be an NBA referee and I am proud to be a gay man," said Kennedy, an official for 18 seasons.

"My actions were out of frustration and emotion, period," tweeted Rondo.

"They absolutely do not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone."

The Sacramento player was banned for one game for his actions.Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo responded on Monday to the reports of his confrontation with Kennedy

NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated: "I wholeheartedly support Bill's decision to live his life proudly and openly.

"Throughout his 18-year career with the league, Bill has excelled as a referee because of his passion, dedication and courage. Those qualities will continue to serve him well both as a game official and as a positive influence for others."

Kennedy, 49, has officiated 1,056 NBA games and 68 play-off contests, including five NBA Finals matches. He also worked at the 2010 World Championships and 2012 London Olympics.

He added: "I am following in the footsteps of others who have self-identified in the hopes that will send a message to young men and women in sports that you must allow no-one to make you feel ashamed of who you are."

Kennedy is the second NBA referee to announce being gay after Violet Palmer made the same declaration in 2014 upon marrying her long-time partner.

Source: bbc.co.uk

By-election: NDC retains Amenfi West seat

Forty-one-year-old Economist Eric Afful of the National Democratic Congress has been elected as the Member of Parliament for the Amenfi West constituency in the Western region.

Afful polled 15,806 provisional votes to retain the seat for the NDC while his main contender Mr. Paul Derkyi, 43, a lawyer representing the opposition New Patriotic Party had 13,079 of valid votes cast in Tuesday’s by election.

The by-election follows the demise of the National Democratic Congress Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Mr John Gyetuah.

The Amenfi West Constituency is one of the oldest constituencies, since its creation, the constituency after the country returned to constitutional rule in 1992, has always voted for NDC until 2003 when the then NDC member, Mr Kofi Asante resigned as MP.

The by-election led to Agnes Samfo winning the seat for the NPP for the first time. The seat returned to the NDC in the general election in 2004 until the demise of Gyetuah.

Source: starrfmonline.com

Chelsea: Cesc Fabregas says players must justify 'big wages'

Chelsea's players need to justify their "big wages" and start playing like "big players", says Blues' Cesc Fabregas.

The floundering Premier League champions are only one point above the relegation zone after Monday's ninth defeat of the season, at Leicester.

After the game boss Jose Mourinho said his "work was betrayed" by his players.

"If you are a big player, and paid like a big player, you must play like a big player and behave like a big player," said Spain midfielder Fabregas.

"I am not saying you can't have a bad season and bad games but the attitude must be spot on.

"We must always be at the top of our games, and the behaviour has to be better than what we are seeing right now from every single Chelsea player."
Chelsea are 16th with only 15 points following the defeat by table-topping Leicester.

Relegation is a possibility - Nevin

In Premier League history, when teams have had 15 points from 16 games, they have finished, on average, in 17th position - one place above the drop zone.

Mourinho says he does not believe the Stamford Bridge club are in a relegation battle.


"You have to be realistic about relegation," said Nevin. "Absolutely do not ignore it. When you lack confidence, that can spread through the team and it all can go against you.However, former Blues winger Pat Nevin told BBC Radio 5 live that the Portuguese should not "ignore the concept" of going down and that injuries could make it "even more difficult" to avoid being dragged into a "battle" to avoid the drop.

"I don't think they'll go down, but don't bury your head in the sand. It's a possibility so don't ignore it.

"I didn't think they'd be down there after 16 games. What about 20 games? What about 23 or 24? Then you start thinking about it."

Fabregas, speaking at a Facebook question and answer session, added: "Right now is not the time to think of where we might finish, we've been saying it almost all season."

source: bbc.co.uk

We are on course to develop Ghana – President Mahama

“Ghana is on the path of recovery and our medium term prospects of becoming an upper middle income country are brighter now than ever in the history of our country.”

The above was how President John Dramani Mahama on Tuesday night summed up his assessment of the development prospects facing the country, as he rendered account of what his government has been up to in pursuit of bettering the lot of the people.

The occasion was the ‘Accounting to the People Forum’ held at the State Banquet Hall in Accra to account for the stewardship of his administration, and said the developments, as captured in a book, ‘Accounting to the People’ “represents meaningful, measurable and veritable improvements in the lives of our people.”

He said “development occurs within space and time and so very often it’s not easy to comprehend that development is taking place because if you live in, say Chorkor, and there is a hospital being built in Nungua, you might not have the consciousness that healthcare is improving.

And so what I’ve tried to do with this book is to bring an overview of what we’ve been doing in the whole country over the period of our governance. Accounting to the people brings together in one space and volume, major highlights of what we have achieved so far as a government.”

He also wished Ghanaians Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance.

The above was how President John Dramani Mahama on Tuesday night summed up his assessment of the development prospects facing the country, as he rendered account of what his government has been up to in pursuit of bettering the lot of the people.

The occasion was the ‘Accounting to the People Forum’ held at the State Banquet Hall in Accra to account for the stewardship of his administration, and said the developments, as captured in a book, ‘Accounting to the People’ “represents meaningful, measurable and veritable improvements in the lives of our people.”

He said “development occurs within space and time and so very often it’s not easy to comprehend that development is taking place because if you live in, say Chorkor, and there is a hospital being built in Nungua, you might not have the consciousness that healthcare is improving.

And so what I’ve tried to do with this book is to bring an overview of what we’ve been doing in the whole country over the period of our governance. Accounting to the people brings together in one space and volume, major highlights of what we have achieved so far as a government.”

He also wished Ghanaians Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance.

Achievements

President Mahama observed that if there was any particular area that had enjoyed enormous investments, it should be in health infrastructure.

“The number of hospitals that we have built or are building, or are in various stages of construction, are phenomenal. From regional hospitals to district hospitals, to polyclinics, to specialized hospitals, there are so many of them,” he said, all in an effort to improve the quality of healthcare.

He said having operated the National Health Insurance Scheme for a while now, it would not make sense if one had the NHIS card but has no facility to visit for care. In such an instance, he said the cost of travelling long distances to access healthcare could be avoided if the facilities were close enough, adding also that by adding more infrastructure, healthcare has been brought to the doorstep of the people.

The president said work was ongoing on two teaching hospitals, four regional hospitals and 14 district hospitals and over 30 health centres.

He also said five additional polyclinics have been completed while 15 other polyclinics for the Eastern and Central regions have just been approved by Parliament.

President Mahama said 1,260 CHIPS Compound have been built across the country. The number of health training institutions have also been increased from 25 in 2005 to 95 in 2015 in order to train more qualified health personnel. Student intake into these training institutions also moved up from 12,000 to 23,000 over the same period.

On the NHIS, he said in 2008, utilization (number of visits made by patients holding NHIS cards) was 9.3 million. In 2014, the number went up to 29.6 million.

And so when people say that the national health insurance scheme has collapsed, he does not get it.

“We are treating far more people today than ever have been treated in history", he said

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Are we serious as a nation?

An amount of 3, 649, 004 Ghana cedis of oil funds allocated for the re-branding of Metro Mass Rapid Transit buses generated huge controversy in Parliament yesterday.

 Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu says the allocation is unacceptable and a waste of resources.

“The branding of each bus costs 31, 000.00 cedis and this is too huge and unacceptable,” he asserted.

The Member of Parliament for Suame constituency quoted the figures from the 2015 annual report on the Petroleum Funds.

The amount captured under the annual Petroleum Fund is meant to brand 116 MMRT buses with pictures.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu questioned government’s priorities especially when key sectors of the economy are underfunded.

The issue however could not be addressed by the Transport Minister Dzifa Attivor when she appeared before the legislators. She claimed said she did not have the details of the re-branding at hand and promised to make it available to the House at a later date.

The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho said the matter has been referred to Roads and Transport Committee in parliament for review.

Presenting the Roads and Transport Committee’s report to the house, Chairman of the Committee, Theophilus Tetteh Chaie said the 2015 approved budget for the Ministry and its agencies were drastically revised downwards to GH 50,047,963 by the Ministry of Finance from GH 179, 767,991.

Accra-based Citi FM Mr. Chaie as saying the reason for the revision was because “the expected revenue inflow was particularly affected by the slump in the international oil price.”

He added that the “committee however could not review the 2015 ceiling for the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) item since the mid year review did not specify the reduction for the Ministry.”

Source: myjoyonline.com

An amount of 3, 649, 004 Ghana cedis of oil funds allocated for the re-branding of Metro Mass Rapid Transit buses generated huge controversy in Parliament yesterday.

 Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu says the allocation is unacceptable and a waste of resources.

“The branding of each bus costs 31, 000.00 cedis and this is too huge and unacceptable,” he asserted.

The Member of Parliament for Suame constituency quoted the figures from the 2015 annual report on the Petroleum Funds.

The amount captured under the annual Petroleum Fund is meant to brand 116 MMRT buses with pictures.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu questioned government’s priorities especially when key sectors of the economy are underfunded.

The issue however could not be addressed by the Transport Minister Dzifa Attivor when she appeared before the legislators. She claimed said she did not have the details of the re-branding at hand and promised to make it available to the House at a later date.

The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho said the matter has been referred to Roads and Transport Committee in parliament for review.

Presenting the Roads and Transport Committee’s report to the house, Chairman of the Committee, Theophilus Tetteh Chaie said the 2015 approved budget for the Ministry and its agencies were drastically revised downwards to GH 50,047,963 by the Ministry of Finance from GH 179, 767,991.

Accra-based Citi FM Mr. Chaie as saying the reason for the revision was because “the expected revenue inflow was particularly affected by the slump in the international oil price.”

He added that the “committee however could not review the 2015 ceiling for the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) item since the mid year review did not specify the reduction for the Ministry.”

- See more at: http://myjoyonline.com/news/2015/December-16th/govt-spends-over-36-million-on-re-branding-of-metro-mass-buses.php#sthash.5qzSoyvr.dpuf

Really? NPP's Invincible Forces on rampage at NPP HQ

NPP's internal security, Invincible Forces, have chased away supporters of a parliamentary aspirant Nii Noi Nortey who stormed the party headquarters Wednesday afternoon.

The forces wielding machetes went on a rampage and chased away the party supporters as well as journalists who had come to cover the commotion.

The party supporters had come to protest a potential decision by the party to re-run the Klottey Korle NPP primary.

The results of the primary last August which went in favour of Nii Noi had been challenged in court by lawyer Philip Addison who was a defeated candidate in the primary.

Nii Noi obtained 393 votes to floor the two other contestants, Philip Kojo Addo Addison and Samuel Nii Adjei Tawiah who garnered 22 and 19 votes respectively.
 

Photo: A victorious Nii Noi in August after the primaries

Mr Addison and Nii Adjei Tawiah had boycotted the process because they wanted the elections to be postponed. Only 440 out of 850 delegates were present at the time of the vote leaving 410 unable to exercise their franchise.

The party had agreed to resolve the issue out of court and is considering a re-run.

But supporters of Nii Noi Nortey who won the primaries stormed the headquarters to pressurize the party against taking the decision. They believe such a decision will go in favour of a sore loser, Philip Addison.

But mayhem broke out as the Invincible Forces descended on the protesting party supporters. A windshield of a stationary car belonging to a private individual was smashed.

Joy News' Afreh Nuamah reports there is heavy police presence following the incident. He pointed out, there are about 10 police vehicles and more than two dozens of heavily armed police officers at the Asylum Down premises of the NPP Headquarters.


Source: myjoyonline.com

 

Petroleum Commission confident bridging skills gap in oil and gas industry

The Petroleum Commission is confident the launched Ghana Upstream Sector Internship Program (GUSIP) would help bridge the skills gap in the oil and gas industry to the benefit of the economy.

Many industry players have expressed concerns about the lack of personnel with the requisite technical skills set for the development of the industry.

Human Capital Manager for the Petroleum Commission Edward Appiah-Brafo explains to JOY BUSINESS the Internship Program should boost job-creation opportunities in the sector.

According to him, the commission also has some concerns regarding number of people taking management courses and said “it is infact a big concern for the commission and the commission has stepped up its communication efforts in educating Ghanaians that the alacrity with which they go and pursue oil and gas management courses or anything management with oil and gas attached to it is not the antidote to the shortage of skills in the industry.”

Mr. Appiah-Brafo spoke with JOY BUSINESS at the maiden application assessment of candidates for the Ghana Upstream Sector Internship Program where about 200 successful graduates are to be selected for internship in the upstream oil and gas sector after the assessment.

To emphasise his point that the industry needs a lot more technical personnel as opposed to those with management backgrounds, he indicated that “the people that are here are not writing for management positions. They are writing for technical and entry level positions like supply chain, procurement, logistics, petroleum engineering, geoscience, oil and gas accounting, etc. and these are all at the entry level.”

About 200 successful candidates would be given first-hand training in oil companies in the country and beef up their training and capacity building efforts. The programme is aimed at creating and boosting employment opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
Source: myjoyonline.com

Michel Platini to boycott Fifa ethics hearing on corruption claims

Suspended Fifa vice-president Michel Platini will boycott an ethics committee hearing into allegations of corruption on Friday.

Lawyers for the Frenchman, who is also president of Uefa, believe the "verdict is already announced".

He is accused of receiving a £1.35m "disloyal payment" from Fifa president Sepp Blatter - who is also banned and facing ethics charges over the claim.

Both deny wrongdoing and were due to have personal hearings on Friday.

Blatter, 79, has compared the investigation against him to "the Inquisition", while 60-year-old Platini's attempt to lift his 90-day provisional ban from football denied by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on 11 December.

A verdict could come as early as 21 December, although both men could then submit further appeals.

Platini still hopes to be a candidate to replace the outgoing Blatter in the world football governing body's presidential election on 26 February - but can only stand if he is cleared.

However, he has expressed his "deepest outrage" at what he considers an attempt to prevent his candidacy.

In a statement issued on behalf of Fifa's ethics judges on Wednesday, Platini was told his case will be dealt with "independently and in an unbiased manner".

Platini's lawyer, Thibaud d'Ales, has previously said he believes Fifa's ethics investigators have recommended an "excessive" lifetime ban.

The Football Association said it would find it "difficult" to support Platini's bid to become Fifa president, even if he is cleared by the ethics committee.

Source: bbc.co.uk

Barcelona's Messi, Neymar & Suarez fail to make Uefa XI

Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Neymar have been left out of Uefa's Champions League group stage XI,  despite the pair contending for the Ballon d'Or award.

Luis Suarez, Barca's top scorer with five goals in Group E, also missed out.

The forward trio scored 10 goals between them as Barcelona became the first to qualify with 14 points.

Dynamic trio

Messi, Neymar and Suarez have scored 46 goals between them in all competitions this season

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, Zenit St Petersburg's Hulk and Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller make up Uefa's attacking unit in the 4-3-3 formation.

Ronaldo, last year's Ballon d'Or winner, scored 11 goals during Madrid's group campaign.

Messi only played three matches in the opening stage, scoring three goals, after missing seven weeks of the season with a knee injury.

There is Premier League representation in the XI, with Chelsea's Willian and Manchester City's Raheem Sterling in midfield.

Brazilian Willian scored five goals, while England international Sterling grabbed three, with two coming in the final group game against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Champions League XI
 
Source: bbc.co.uk

Qatar hunters abducted in Iraq desert by gunmen

Gunmen have kidnapped at least 27 Qatari hunters - including members of the ruling family - in a desert area of Iraq near the Saudi border, say police and the local governor.

The attackers were driving dozens of four-wheel drive vehicles when they swept into the hunters' camp at dawn on Wednesday, officials said.

They struck near Layyah, 190km (118 miles) from regional capital, Samawa.

A wide-scale search has been launched for the attackers, police say.

The Qatari foreign ministry released a statement saying it was working with the Iraqi government "at the highest security and political levels... to find out the details of the Qatari citizens' abduction and work on their release as soon as possible".

It said they had been hunting with official Iraqi permission - though Iraq's interior ministry accused the hunters of failing to abide by its instructions to remain inside secured areas.

The aim of the abduction was "to achieve political and media goals", the interior ministry said.

The remote area where the incident took place is highly tribal in nature and a Shia region, reports the BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut.

The Shia political parties which dominate the Iraqi government are highly critical of Qatar's role in supporting Sunni rebels in Syria - so this is bound to be a serious diplomatic incident, he says.


Analysis: Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent

Iraq is one of several countries frequented by Gulf Arab huntsmen and falconers as they search for prey that either does not exist in their own countries or which has been almost hunted to extinction there.

Their favoured prey is the Asian houbara bustard, akin to a small turkey, and to find it and other similar species Gulf hunters often travel to Morocco, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

They take with them their prized falcons, typically peregrines, sakers and lanners, which are expertly trained to home in on their quarry at high speed. According to a former CIA officer, in 1998 a CIA-run sniper team in Afghanistan observed Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda followers gathered at a camp near Kandahar but they were ordered to take no action for risk of harming the Emirati hunters who were with them.

Other Gulf hunting expeditions have even extended as far as the Central African Republic in search of big game.

Two Iraqi officers providing security for the party were also taken by the gunmen but later released, officials said.

No details were provided on which members of the Qatari royal family were among those held.

Wealthy practitioners of the ancient sport of falconry from various Gulf states often travel to the area at this time of year.

The hunters had been escorted by Iraqi security forces but they decided not to engage a large number of gunmen, a police colonel from Samawa - the capital of Muthanna governorate - told Reuters.

"We are talking about at least 100 gunmen armed with light and medium weapons," he said.

More than 12 years after the US-led invasion and occupation, Iraq is still plagued by violent crime and militant attacks.

In September, 16 Turkish construction workers were freed a month after being kidnapped in the capital, Baghdad, apparently by Shia Muslim militants.

Falconry was an important skill for Bedouin hunters in the harsh deserts of Arabia and Syria and has been around for thousands of years.

But the Asian houbara bustard (or MacQueen's bustard) - a likely target of the kidnapped hunters - only came to prominence as a favoured prey in the 1970s, when lavish hunting trips became popular, and when the availability of four-wheel-drives and guns prompted a sudden decline in the species, which is now threatened.

The bird's popularity may be partly explained by its elegant plumage and because some consider its meat to be an aphrodisiac.

Arabs' pursuit of the Asian houbara has caused tension elsewhere. There has been growing hostility in Pakistan, where Gulf Arab hunting parties were until recently regularly granted permission to bring in falcons to hunt the Asian houbara despite a ban on locals hunting - and sometimes killed thousands at a time. Amid a conservationists' outcry, two months ago Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered a total ban on hunting of the species.

Source: bbc.co.uk

Facebook amends 'real name' policy after protests

After passionate and at times angry pleas from various vulnerable communities, Facebook has announced it is to amend its controversial "real name" policy.

On Tuesday the site said it was to test new tools that allowed people to share any special circumstances they felt meant they could not use their real name.

The tool is intended to help people who may have suffered domestic abuse, or in cases where their sexuality could put them in danger.

However, Facebook stood firm on insisting people use "real names" in all but the most unusual situations.

"We require people to use the name their friends and family know them by," the company said.

"When people use the names they are known by, their actions and words carry more weight because they are more accountable for what they say.

"We're firmly committed to this policy, and it is not changing.

"However, after hearing feedback from our community, we recognise that it's also important that this policy works for everyone, especially for communities who are marginalised or face discrimination."

Intense pressure

The company is also adding a new tool for reporting fake names, requiring anyone who is reporting another user to provide more context for their complaint.

Facebook said it received hundreds of thousands of reports of fake names every week.

"In the past, people were able to simply report a 'fake name' but now they will be required to go through several new steps that provide us more specifics about the report," the company said.

"This additional context will help our review teams better understand why someone is reporting a name, giving them more information about a specific situation."

Image copyright Getty Images

Image caption Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was criticised for his remarks on the policy

The social network had faced intense pressure from rights groups over its hard-line stance on real names.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg was heavily criticised after he suggested that people that use two names, or have an alias, showed a "lack of integrity".

Drag queens

Last year, prominent drag queens in San Francisco had their Facebook accounts deleted as they were deemed to be violating the real name policy.

After considerable uproar, including a planned protest outside Facebook's headquarters, the company acknowledged that it had been a mistake to delete the accounts, but said it faced a challenge in verifying people on the network.

It argued that insisting on real names played a role in preventing bad actors on the site and had made people more accountable for what they posted.

"The stories of mass impersonation, trolling, domestic abuse, and higher rates of bullying and intolerance are oftentimes the result of people hiding behind fake names, and it's both terrifying and sad," the site said.

"Our ability to successfully protect against them with this policy has borne out the reality that this policy, on balance, and when applied carefully, is a very powerful force for good."

A group of civil liberties organisations and rights groups formed the Nameless Coalition which has been leaning on Facebook to change its policies.

The new tools announced on Tuesday fall short of the group's complete suggestions, but representatives from Facebook met members of the Nameless Coalition at a public event in San Francisco.

Source: bbc.co.uk

#ZumaMustFall: South Africans march to demand President Jacob Zuma's resignation

Twitter hashtag #ZumaMustFallMarch was trending at number one in South Africa on Wednesday (16 December) as thousands took to the streets to demand that President Jacob Zuma resign from his post. The ANC, Zuma's ruling political party, has come out in defence of the president.

The anti-Zuma protest was led by the Unite Against Corruption group, who also led the #FeesMustFall campaign in October. People in Pretoria, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg took to the streets, insisting that corruption has worsened in South Africa since Zuma came to power in 2009. The march coincides with the public holiday, Day of Reconciliation, which is to encourage national unity.

President Zuma caused nationwide anger last week when he dismissed Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with Desmond van Rooyen. The move resulted in an immediate dip of the country's rand currency against the US dollar.

Zuma then dismissed van Rooyen four days later, replacing him with veteran finance minister Pravin Gordhan. However, protesters were not satisfied, insisting that he should have foreseen the consequences.

Johan de Meyer, spokesperson for the Unite Against Corruption Campaign, said: "The issue at heart is that the President has broken his trust with the nation because he didn't put the nation first as he pledged when he became president in the first place."

A survey conducted by Ipsos revealed that Zuma is currently South Africa's least favourite government leader, with less than half of adults in the country believing that he is doing his job very or fairly well.

As people came out to protest, the ANC said that while they supported the people's right to demonstrate, they did not share their views that Zuma should resign. "We are aware of the marches organised for the Day of Reconciliation. They all have rights, they are citizens of this country. We obviously do not support their call at all as the ANC," said Deputy Secretary Jessie Duarte.

Source: yahoo.com

The Daily 202: Anger won and Rubio lost last night’s debate

THE BIG IDEA:

— “Like all of you, I’m angry” is how Carly Fiorina began her opening statement. That sentence encapsulates not just last night’s two-hour debate in Las Vegas but also the entire Republican nominating contest thus far. Donald Trump himself was largely a non-factor in the candidates’ fifth and final showdown of 2015, but Trumpism was the dominant, animating force inside the Venetian Theatre.

Reaganesque the rhetoric was not. Trump catapulted to the top of the polls and has stayed there for six months now because he tapped into deep-seated anger and frustration of the conservative base that the country is slipping away from them. Chasing the front-runner’s success, the other leading candidates each tried to varying degrees to show that they get it, that they, too, are mad as hell and want to take the country back. There was little effort to play to the higher angels of the American consciousness. Instead, in the wake of attacks on Paris and San Bernardino, it often felt like the candidates were preying on the electorate’s fear, anxiety and sense of vulnerability.

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There is near consensus this morning that no one had a breakout performance. “In the end there were no outright winners,” Dan Balz declares in his analysis. “Negative exchanges — in word choice, tone, put-downs and facial expressions — dominated the debate,” the New York Times says in its analysis.

— The dominant storyline coming out of Vegas is Ted Cruz vs. Marco Rubio. That is the lead of every story in every major newspaper after the widely-anticipated and hoped-for Cruz vs. Trump throw-down did not materialize. There’s a lot to like about the Cruz vs. Rubio narrative: Two Cuban Americans, sons of immigrants, first-term senators, elected as tea party darlings, from the Sunbelt, both 44, etc., etc., etc.

— While the overnight coverage is somewhat mixed, it is more likely than not that Rubio will come to be regarded as the loser of the matchup. There are three reasons for this:

1. Immigration was reframed as a national security issue, which means Rubio’s 2013 bill has once again become a serious anchor. The Florida senator deftly avoided answering for conservative apostasy on comprehensive immigration reform during the previous debates. Last night, facing a pile-on, he struggled to defend his position. His argument sounded procedural and Washington-esque. Meanwhile, his opponents smartly – and without being rebutted – linked the Gang of Eight immigration effort with broader concerns about ISIS and terrorists infiltrating the homeland.

“Border security is national security, and you know one of the most troubling aspects of the Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight bill was that it gave President Obama blanket authority to admit refugees, including Syrian refugees, without mandating any background checks whatsoever,” Cruz said. “Now, we’ve seen what happened in San Bernardino. When you’re letting people in, when the FBI can’t vet them, it puts American citizens at risk.”

Cruz is way better at one-liners than Rubio. When Marco said that Ted’s position was not all that different from his own, Cruz shot back that this was “like suggesting the fireman and the arsonist have the same record, because they were both at the scene of the fire.”

2. Rubio lost some of his outsider cred. He came across like a member in good standing of the Republican establishment.

The Floridian has tried hard to be all things to all people this year. He wants to be the bridge candidate. He’s won over billionaires who vocally support gay marriage at the same time that he aggressively courts an Iowa constituency focused on promoting traditional marriage. He’s tried to poach Jeb Bush donors one day and to make inroads with Trump backers the next.

As a result of this, Rubio has lost his tea party mojo. Though he slayed Charlie Crist in 2010, and has hardly voted for anything besides immigration during his single Senate term, he’s increasingly perceived by voters as part of Washington.

His attacks on Cruz sounded like exactly the sorts of things that a career politician would say. By invoking a Mark Levin column and Saul Alinsky, Cruz basically called Rubio a liar but in ways that will play with the base.

3. Rand Paul being on the main stage wound up working to Cruz’s advantage because he kept Rubio on the defensive. The Kentucky senator, who barely avoided being dropped into the undercard debate, burnished the Texan’s point that the USA Freedom Act was a middle-ground compromise. But he was most useful as a foil to attack Rubio as “the weakest of all the candidates on immigration.”

“If we want to defend the country, we have to defend against who’s coming in, and Marco is — has more of an allegiance to Chuck Schumer and to the liberals than he does to conservative policy,” Paul said.

Source: The Washington Post

I Don’t Own Merchant Bank; I Won’t Buy A Bank Or Construct Mall…- Ibrahim Mahama

Those with the firm belief that the Chief Executive Officer of Engineers and Planners Company Limited, Mr. Ibrahim Mahama owns Merchant Bank now Unversal Merchant Bank, West Hills Mall and other Malls in the country should revise their notes.

Mr. Mahama has stated emphatically that Merchant Bank now Universal Merchant Bank does not belong to him as Ghanaians have been made to believe.

There was hue and cry in the run-up to the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Equity Fund.

Prior to the take-over of Merchant Bank’s 90% shares by Fortiz for GHC 90 million, members of the NPP, found it extremely intriguing that government could turn down bids from multinational companies which offered a higher sum for a lower percentage shares.

The sale of the bank developed into a running debate and majority of NPP MP’s openly voicing out their views. They raised several points but their centralized message was that the sale of Merchant Bank to Private Equity Fund, Fortiz, was simply a fraudulent deal.

Months after the acquisition, it was later re-branded to Universal Merchant bank.

Speaking on Okay Fm’s Ade Akye Abia Morning Show, the E&P CEO intimated he will not buy a bank or construct shopping Malls because these two ventures are not profitable enough for a businessman like him to engage in.

If I have money, I won’t buy a bank or build shopping malls; those are not profitable ventures. If you deal with a bank, you ask yourself why the banks exist…Merchant bank is not for me; you can go and ask the workers. You can ask the owners of Merchant Bank; I have nothing to do with the bank,” he stated.

Touching on the news of his indebtedness to Merchant Bank, Mr. Ibrahim Mahama said as at the time some NPP members accused him of collapsing the Merchant bank as a result of the $68m debt he owed the financial institution, some of his friends in the opposition party were indebted to the bank to the tune of $200 million.

He reminded his accusers to note that he didn’t go in for the loan during his brother (President John Dramani Mahama's) tenure as President, but rather during the era of former President Kufuor.

"...I urge those attributing my tireless efforts to make it in life...my ability to win contracts and access loan facilities...to the position of my brother, President John Mahama...to cease forthwith," he said.

Whiles stressing that he has already repaid the loan facility he took from Merchant bank, Ibrahim Mahama indicated that he has developed a thick skin which makes him immune to such negative stories about him.

I have paid my debt to Merchant Bank and they are even asking me to come and transact further business with them again but I told them no...I told them I would be interested in banking with them when John Mahama is not the President of Ghana…even if I bank with you, people will say I own the bank, so for now, I don’t want to,” he stated.

Source: peacefmonline.com

Economy Has Shrunk

For the first time in 14 years, Ghana’s economy has shrunk and growth has declined from 8.4 percent in 2009 to 4.2 percent currently, Prof Gyan-Baffour, Member of Parliament (MP) for Wenchi has indicated.

He disclosed this on the floor of Parliament during a debate on the 2016 Budget.

Prof Gyan-Baffour said such negative growth in the wake of oil resources had significantly affected the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and per capita income.

“Mr Speaker, according to the Bank of Ghana data on page 213 of this budget, the economy is shrinking. The GDP was $39.517 billion in 2011; it went up to $41.459 billion in 2012 and $48.678 billion in 2013 and has since started falling to $38.775 billion in 2014 and further down to $36.068 billion in 2015,” he emphasised.

He also pointed out that with an increased population and shrinking GDP, the per capita income has reduced from $1,884 in 2013 to $1,346 in 2015, stressing that the budget’s theme of ‘Consolidating Progress towards brighter medium term’ should change to ‘Consolidating mediocrity and incompetence.”

He said government has mastered the art of borrowing such that the country’s total debt has ballooned from GH¢9.5 billion to GH¢93 billion in seven years with most of the borrowed money going into consumption instead of investment as indicated by the IMF.

The MP said industries had suffered greatly under this government, especially in the wake of the current power crisis.

“Mr Speaker, positively transforming the economy will mean adding value to our raw materials that is converting bauxite into aluminum, gold into trinklets, producing more chocolate from cocoa and the rest.”

He also added that government could also increase the fiscal space by revisiting the Oil Revenue Management Act and re-organizing EDAIF into a commercially viable bank to support manufacturing and export.

Source: Daily Guide

Ghana’s Economic Growth Depends On The Private Sector- Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong

2015 has been a prosperous year fir the Jospong Group of Companies and to show appreciation, the group held its annual thanks-giving service to thank the Lord for successes they have chalked.

The event which was held at the Group’s headquarters at Nmai Djorn in Accra brought together representatives from several other companies outside Jospong Group, including state officials.

This years’ service was on the theme: “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that you have brought me thus far”.

In an address, Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, Chairman of Zoomlion and Jospong Group of Companies, urged government to put the private sector on top of its priority list, to ensure sound economic growth.

To the renowned business magnate, Ghanaian entrepreneurs, if offered the needed support, would achieve tremendous success both locally and internationally.

“Our experiences have convinced us that the Ghanaian entrepreneur is capable of achieving world-class success across all sectors when adequately supported,”
Dr. Siaw Agyepong said.

He said the success of Zoomlion and Jospong Group shows that the private sector is capable of ensuring the socio-economic development of the country if given the space to operate.

He said “as Americans build America so will Ghanaians build Ghana….if we are one, with one language and one mindset, nothing we imagine will be impossible. With the right mindset, the private sector can team up to build a Better Ghana.”
Given the current economic conditions, Dr. Siaw Agyepong said it was imperative for the private sector to work towards drawing synergies in the sector for the development of the nation.

He said a healthy collaboration between the private and public sector is also imperative to the economic development process.

“It is worth mentioning at this point that we have so far enjoyed great support and cooperation from the public sector in general, especially from Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, MMDAs and other government agencies,” the chairman said.

Dr. Siaw Agyepong commended management and staff for their commitment to meeting the company’s goals.

Julius Debrah, Chief of Staff, who was the guest speaker, heaped praises on the Jospong Group of Companies for its good works in the country.

He said the thanksgiving service held by the company was appropriate, urging the management of the company to continue the annually event.

Mr Debrah commended former President Kufour for supporting Zoomlion since its inception in Ghana, urging politicians to support the private sector to grow in the country.

“We should make sure that the private sector becomes the engine of growth irrespective of the political party in power. Let’s celebrate our own and support it to grow for the good of the nation,” he said.
Joseph Siaw Agyempong said in 2016, two million waste bins would be distributed to homes in a bid to curb littering and enhance quick waste collection efforts.

The company hopes to distribute two million waste bins every year from 2016.

Source: peacefmonline.com

AMERI Group Reacts To VG's "False And Slanderous" Publication...Threatens Court Action

UAE-based Ameri Group LLC, embroiled in a controversial contract arrangement with the Government of Ghana, has refuted claims it engaged in a dubious deal in the provision of power barges for the country to solve the current energy crisis.

VG, a Norwegian Newspaper, published last week there could be a possible inflation of the cost of the Ameri Power plants by more than 200 million dollars.

The tabloid article further claimed Ghana is paying $510 million for ten power turbines when the market value of the turbines is $220 million.

But in a strongly worded statement issued today and signed by His Royal Highness, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Dalmook Juma Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Emirati Company and a member of the ruling family of UAE, the company rejected the report as “false and malicious”.

Threatening to sue the Norwegian newspaper for publishing "falsehood" about its agreement with Ghana, Ameri said claims by the paper that the price of the ten turbines it purchased for Ghana had been inflated were simply calculated to tarnish the company’s image.

"In response to these allegations, Ameri Group has already retained international law firms to review our legal rights and use them against this slanderous act of the newspaper. Based on their legal advice we will reserve all rights to file a defamation case against VG in Norway on the basis of these unfounded false allegations and accusations....

...Moreover, Ameri Group and its subsidiaries, reserve the rights to protect it business through every means available to it including taking any legal action towards anyone who tries to malign its business or its goodwill," he said.

The statement further indicated that the said Umar Farooq Zahoor, who VG claimed in its publication to be wanted for financial crimes in Norway and Switzerland, is not the same Farooq who signed as witness for Ameri when the agreement was sealed. 

"The article in VG shows that allegations against Mr. Farooq were raised in Norway of some fraud which was committed in 2010. This is patently false as, in 2010, Mr. Farooq was residing in Dubai as a legal resident since 2005 and had not been to Norway since. In fact, the person the tabloid interviewed who has accused him has already been convicted of the same fraud by the courts in Norway and is currently in jail. During the tenure of his employment, Mr. Farooq was never wanted or alleged of any crime/fraud in any part of the world," Sheikh Ahmed Bin Dalmook Juma Al Maktoum said in the statement.



Read the full statement below


AMERI GROUP LLC REJECTS FALSE AND MALICIOUS CLAIM MADE BY VG OF NORWAY AND REMAINS CONFIDENT IN ITS BUSINESS

Ameri Group LLC duly incorporated under the laws of United Arab Emirates with a registration number 1143904 and also registered with the Chamber of Commerce of Dubai UAE under membership number 240056 with office address in Emgate Building Sheikh Zayed Road Dubai UAE signed a BOOT agreement with the Government of Ghana on February 10th 2015 for a 250 MW fast track power project in Takoradi.

Ameri Group LLC is soley owned by is His Royal Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Dalmook Juma Al Maktoum, member of the ruling family of Dubai UAE. Ameri Group LLC develops energy projects on the continent of Africa and elsewhere. Recently, Ameri Group contracted to supply emergency power to the Government of Ghana.

An article published by a tabloid newspaper called VG from Norway, made false and slanderous accusations regarding the emergency power project agreement executed between Ameri Group and the Government of Ghana. Ameri Group stands by it’s agreements with the Government of Ghana and believes that we have assembled a world class team of developers to accomplish the job on time and on budget. Joining us on the project is the Greek EPC Contractor, METKA.

The tabloid article targets Mr. Umar Farooq, only wrongly portraying him as the owner of the company, but also tries to malign his character. Moreover, it states that Mr. Farooq attempted to swindle the Government of Ghana Through this transaction by inflating the price of the contract. A ridiculous claim since the contract was agreed upon by the Ministry of Power and thereafter, ratified by the Ghana Parliament with full pricing transparency.

Another falsehood is that Mr. Farooq, on his own caused the transaction to occur. It is a matter of record that the sole owner of the above mentioned company is His Royal Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Dalmook Juma Al Maktoum, member of the ruling family of Dubai UAE.

The VG story also purports that this transaction was done quickly and out of the public view, yet as the record shows the above mentioned agreement was duly signed on 10th of February 2015 between Ameri Group LLC, represented by His Royal Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Dalmook Al Maktoum in his capacity as Chairman and the Minister of Power, the Honorable Dr. Kwabena Donkor for the Government of Ghana. Mr. Farooq simply signed the agreement as a witness.

Tel.: 97143262228, Fax.: 97143262262, Emgate Building, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE E-mail: contact@amerigroup.ae, www.amerigroup.ae

Mr. Umar Farooq served as CEO of Ameri Group until August 2015, was never a shareholder nor a partner in the company, Mr. Farooq resigned as CEO in order to pursue other bigger business opportunities.

Mr. Ziad Barakat was appointed as CEO of the company and is working in this position to date.

The article in VG shows that allegations against Mr. Farooq were raised in Norway of some fraud which was committed in 2010. This is patently false as, in 2010, Mr. Farooq was residing in Dubai as a legal resident since 2005 and had not been to Norway since. In fact, the person the tabloid interviewed who has accused him has already been convicted of the same fraud by the courts in Norway and is currently in jail. During the tenure of his employment, Mr. Farooq was never wanted or alleged of any crime/fraud in any part of the world.

Moreover, the tabloid alleges that Mr. Umar Farooq, through the above agreement, has managed to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars by selling the project to the Government of Ghana at a highly inflated price. In fact as the Government of Ghana has already publicly stated: “The Ministry wishes to state that the agreement with AMERI is a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) agreement and not an outright purchase of generating plants” as the article falsely claims. In fact, the Ghana statement goes on to say “The Government of Ghana has not made ANY PAYMENTS to AMERI and will not be making any payments for the cost of the equipment”. Ameri Group has already invested hundreds of millions of dollars as direct foreign investment in Ghana which will be operational before the end of 2015. The Government of Ghana will only pay for the electricity produced and received on the national grid.

In response to these allegations, Ameri Group has already retained international law firms to review our legal rights and use them against this slanderous act of the newspaper. Based on their legal advice we will reserve all rights to file a defamation case against VG in Norway on the basis of these unfounded false allegations and accusations.

The UAE government enjoys a cordial relationship with Ghana and its people, and as evidence to that have invested hundreds of millions of dollars as direct foreign investment in the country. Following the same footsteps, Ameri Group was encouraged to invest in setting up a brand new power plant for the Government of Ghana to overcome the energy crises the country is going through.

This project that we have almost completed will make a difference to the common Ghanaian people, enhancing the life of everyday people who are currently stranded being unable to run their business because of the lack of energy. Having this electric power coming online will also contribute to the economic growth of Ghana and further strengthen the relationship between two countries.

Tel.: 97143262228, Fax.: 97143262262, Emgate Building, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE E-mail: contact@amerigroup.ae, www.amerigroup.ae

The UAE government hosts a number of conferences specifically to promote the African continent to the rest of the world. There has also an increased traffic between UAE and Ghana in the past few years, which is a clear sign of both countries respecting each other’s nationals. We would never enter into a deal if it was not done with full transparently, honesty to ensure our integrity.

I, as member of the Royal Family of Dubai, will continue to follow my Government’s policies looking into opportunities that would help and support the cause and uplift the lot of the common man by creating job opportunities.

Moreover, Ameri Group and its subsidiaries, reserve the rights to protect it business through every means available to it including taking any legal action towards anyone who tries to malign its business or its goodwill.


Dubai, December 15, 2015.

H. H. Ahmed Bin Dalmook Bin Juma Al Maktoum

Member of the Ruling Family of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Chairman of Ameri Group LLC.

 

Source: peacefmonline.com

NPP: Mac Manu leads Nana Addo’s campaign team

A former Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Peter Mac Manu, has been named as campaign manager of the party’s campaign team to spear-head Nana Akufo-Addo’s third time bid to be president of Ghana.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Okere, Dan Botwe who is a former General Secretary has also been added to the campaign team.

This was revealed to Citi News by a Deputy General Secretary of the NPP, Nana Obiri Boahen on the sidelines of the party’s National Executive Committee meeting held on Wednesday.

Below is the rest of the members on the campaign team which will be out-doored at the party’s upcoming conference in Sunyani.

Boakye Agyarko

Ken Ofori Atta

Sammy Awuku

Johnn Boadu

And all national executives of the NPP

Source:citifmonline.com

Afoko, Agyepong, Crabbe deserved suspension – NPP elder

A member of the National Council of Elders for the New Patriotic party, Dr Joe Amoako Tuffuor, has said the suspended members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) were not beyond expulsion from the party.

Dr Amoako Tuffuor made these claims while responding to Kwame Mpianim who was earlier calling for unity within the party.

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Stop suspensions in NPP, form campaign team - Kwame Pianim
Kwame Pianim, speaking to the media on Tuesday, insisted the NPP should move on from all the bad blood and stop the unnecessary bickering.

 Mr Pianim further emphasized the need for the NPP to channel its energy into forming a formidable campaign team to devise strategies to wrestle power from the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC).

He feels the problems in the NPP appear to have been compounded by the suspension of the party’s National Chairman, Paul Afoko, General Secretary, Kwabena Agyepong and Second Vice Chairman, Sammy Crabbe for misconduct.

But Dr Amoako Tuffuor on Eyewitness News, disagreed with Kwame Pianim’s sentiments.

He pointed out that people should respect the decision of the party’s Disciplinary Commission to suspend some party members for misconduct.

“A party like NPP is guided, is protected, by its constitution and this constitution has structures.All that I’m saying is that people must respect the decisions of the disciplinary committee and the structures that exist within the party and when we do that, what will happen is that we give everybody a fair hearing,” he said.

Dr Amoako Tuffuor, drawing up a hypothetical situation, said ignoring the presence of “a double agent” will be to the detriment of any party.

“Supposing you find somebody as a mercenary and a double agent sitting within your party and then the party’s rules catch up with them and you fell they should all be pardoned and let’s work together you will end up not winning any election because you dot know what their intention is.”

Source: citifmonline.com

 

Ibrahim Mahama returns fire; I won’t stop taking gov’t contracts

The CEO of Engineers and Planners, Ibrahim Mahama in an exclusive interview with Citi News says he has developed a nonchalant attitude towards critics who claim he wins government contracts because of his brother President John Mahama.

According to him, he doesn’t care how his detractors accuse him of unduly benefiting from state projects because of his affiliation with the president.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Citi News’ Franklin Badu Jnr, Ibrahim Mahama said he will continue to work for the state when his service is needed.

"I will work for the state, I am entitled to it. I voted and I am entitled to anything any Ghanaian is entitled to. I don’t know why politicians will couch me into fear, no".

Ibrahim Mahama has in recent times been in the news for allegedly being involved in the Ameri Power deal which brought ten turbines into Ghana.

Following reports by a Nowergian Newspaper that Ameri Power might have short-changed the country for charging about twice the amount for the turbines, the NPP accused Ibrahim Mahama of benefiting from the deal.

But Ibrahim Mahama denied the claim saying he was only contracted by the Volta River Authority (VRA) to prepare the place for the turbines; a work he had long completed and been paid.

Click below for the full interview:

https://soundcloud.com/citi97-3/ibrahim-mahama-speaks-exclusively-to-citi-fm

 

Source: citifmonline.com

Samuel Eto given first managerial chance

Former Cameroon captain Samuel Eto'o has been appointed interim player-manager at Turkish side Antalyaspor.

The 34-year-old striker, who joined the club on a three-year contract in June, has been given three matches to impress at the helm.

He takes over from Yusuf Simsek, whose contract was terminated by mutual consent on 7 December.

Antalyaspor will make a decision about whether to give Eto'o the role permanently after the winter break.

Eto'o will be guided and assisted by Mehmet Ugurlu, who is the club's technical director, as the Cameroonian takes his first steps into management.

The move is an unexpected one the former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea player, who has been involved in a number of controversial and damaging disputes with his country's football federation as well as with team-mates.

One of his former international team-mates, Patrick M'boma, admitted he was "surprised Eto'o has gone into management so soon".

But he revealed Eto'o, who he played alongside in two Africa Cup of Nations-winning sides, has long-held ambitions in that area.

"I know it was in his plans to be a manager - he told me many years ago," M'boma told BBC Sport.

"But from what I know he has no experience. I hope he will be a good manager but I do not know.

"He has the personality and the knowledge, but I am not sure he will have the patience. If he can improve on the areas where he is weak he could be a success."

Source: bbc.co.uk

Jose Mourinho: Chelsea sack boss after Premier League slump

  Chelsea have sacked manager Jose Mourinho seven months after he led them to the Premier League title.

The 52-year-old Portuguese had been in his second spell at the club, taking charge in June 2013.

Chelsea finished eight points clear last season and won the League Cup, but have lost nine of their 16 league games so far and are 16th in the table, one point above the relegation places.

Mourinho's final match was Monday's 2-1 defeat at leaders Leicester City.

Pep Guardiola, Guus Hiddink, Brendan Rodgers and Juande Ramos have all been touted as possible successors.

He leaves with Chelsea just a point off the relegation zone and 20 points behind Leicester.

Champions League qualification via one of the top four spots in the Premier League looks highly unlikely.

However, the Blues are through to the last 16 of European football's biggest club competition, where they will face French champions Paris St-Germain in February and March.

Mourinho only signed a new four-year contract on 7 August and is Chelsea's most successful manager.

He won three Premier League titles, two of those in his first spell between 2004 and 2007.

The Portuguese has also won the FA Cup, in 2007, and the League Cup three times - in 2005, 2007 and 2015.

Troubles on and off the pitch

Jose Mourinho watches on as doctor Eva Carneiro runs onto the pitch at the Swansea game in August

It has not only gone wrong in the Premier League for Mourinho, he has also had his issues off the pitch.

A 2-2 draw with Swansea on 8 August was overshadowed by a fallout with his medical team, in particular club doctor Eva Carneiro.

Carneiro had her role downgraded after Mourinho said his medical staff were "naive" for running onto the pitch to treat attacking midfielder Eden Hazard.

She eventually left on 22 September and is now taking legal action against Mourinho and the Blues.

Mourinho also received a suspended stadium ban and £50,000 fine for claiming referees were "afraid" to award his team penalties in a 3-1 home loss to Southampton in October.

He subsequently had to serve a one-match stadium ban and pay a £40,000 fine for his behaviour during a 2-1 defeat by West Ham, when he spoke to referee Jon Moss at half-time.

 What now for Mourinho?


It is unlikely he will be out of management for long, given his record of success at Chelsea and other top European clubs.

He guided Porto and Inter Milan to Champions League glory in 2004 and 2010 respectively, then led Real Madrid to the Spanish La Liga title in 2012.

At 52, he is still some way from retirement age, but he has expressed a wish to coach the English and Portuguese national sides at some stage in his career.

In fact, he claimed he turned down the chance to become England boss when Steve McClaren was sacked in 2007.

Mourinho has a proven track record of bringing success over the short-term but doubts will remain over his ability to build a dynasty.

Will that make his candidature less appealing to the kind of club he is used to managing, such as German giants Bayern Munich, rising French stars Paris St-Germain or Premier League duo Manchester United or Manchester City?

What now for Chelsea?

 The Blues may be struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table, but they are still in the Champions League and both domestic cups, while achieving European qualification is not impossible.

The key for any new manager is improving the morale of a talented squad that has underachieved this season.

Players such as Hazard, Diego Costa, Willian, and Oscar were key to Chelsea winning the league title but performances have fallen well below the heights they reached last year.

After the 2-1 defeat by Leicester Mourinho said he felt his "work was betrayed" by his players, and midfielder Cesc Fabregas has said it is time for everyone to step up.

"If you are a big player and paid like a big player, you must play like a big player and behave like a big player," said the Spain international.

source: bbc.com

IMF chief Lagarde to stand negligence trial in France

IMF chief Christine Lagarde is to stand trial in France for alleged negligence over a €404m ($438m; £294m); payment to a businessman in 2008.

She was finance minister in President Nicolas Sarkozy's government at the time of the compensation award to Bernard Tapie for the sale of a firm.

Mr Tapie supported Mr Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election.

Ms Lagarde's lawyer described the court's decision as "incomprehensible", and said the IMF boss would appeal.

In a statement she said she had "always acted in this affair in the interest of the state and in respect of the law", according to AP.

Mr Tapie was once a majority shareholder in sports goods company Adidas but sold it in 1993 in order to become a cabinet minister in Francois Mitterrand's Socialist government.

He sued the Credit Lyonnais bank over its handling of the sale, alleging that the partly state-owned bank had defrauded him by deliberately undervaluing the company.

His case was later referred by Ms Lagarde to a three-member arbitration panel which awarded the compensation, causing a public outcry.

Investigators suspect he was granted a deal in return for his support of Mr Sarkozy.

Earlier this month, a French court ruled that Mr Tapie was not entitled to any compensation for that sale and should pay back the €404m with interest.

Five-day deadline

France's Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) decided that Ms Lagarde, 59, should be tried on the charge of "negligence by a person in position of public authority" over the compensation case, iTele TV channel and the Mediapart website reported on Thursday.

A court spokesman later confirmed the decision.

French media said the CJR investigation magistrates declined to follow the recommendation of another court which last year decided not to pursue the case.

"It's incomprehensible," Ms Lagarde's lawyer Yves Repiquet told iTele. "I will recommend Mrs Lagarde appeal against this decision."

A spokesman for France's attorney general said Ms Lagarde would have five days to appeal, once the court decision is made public on Friday or Monday.

Meanwhile, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said the organisation - which represents 188 member nations - "continues to express its confidence in the managing director's ability to effectively carry out her duties".

Bernard Tapie: A French saga

1993: Credit Lyonnais bank handles sale of Adidas, in which Bernard Tapie is a majority stakeholder, to enable tycoon to pursue ministerial career under then Socialist President Francois Mitterrand

1993-2007: Mr Tapie claims Credit Lyonnais undervalued Adidas and that he was cheated; lengthy court battle ensues

1994: Bernard Tapie's highly indebted group collapses and is wound up by Credit Lyonnais

2007: Mr Tapie switches support to conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in presidential election. Finance Minister Christine Lagarde intervenes in Tapie case to order binding arbitration

2008: Special judicial panel rules Mr Tapie should receive damages of €404m; Ms Lagarde decides not to challenge ruling, prompting public outcry

2011: Public prosecutor recommends judicial investigation into Ms Lagarde's decision to order arbitration

2013: Ms Lagarde is questioned by magistrate and her Paris apartment searched. Mr Tapie is placed under investigation by prosecutors investigating corruption claims

2014: French prosecutors open formal investigation of negligence into Ms Lagarde

3 December 2015: A court orders Mr Tapie to pay back €404m with interest


Ms Lagarde replaced Dominique Strauss-Kahn as IMF managing director in 2011.

Mr Strauss-Kahn - also a former French minister - resigned following his arrest in New York on charges of sexual assault that were later dropped.

Source: bbc.co.uk

 

Burundi crisis: African Union 'won't allow genocide'

The African Union, discussing the situation in Burundi, says Africa will "not allow another genocide to take place on its soil".

There are concerns that the recent deadly violence could spiral into civil war and possible ethnic conflict.

Last Friday, 87 people were killed in clashes in the capital, Bujumbura, the army said.

Protests in Burundi began in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office.

AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui has tweeted that the "clear" message coming from the AU is that the "killings in Burundi must stop immediately".

The government has said there is no threat of genocide.

The AU's peace and security council has been discussing sending an AU force to Burundi.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said on Thursday that "Burundi is at bursting point, on the very cusp of a civil war" which could have "ethnic overtones" similar to past conflicts in Burundi.

Mr al-Hussein has been asked by the UN Human Rights Council to send independent investigators to Burundi, the AFP news agency reports.

An AU fact-finding mission returned from Burundi on Sunday and in its preliminary findings it said "members of the team heard reports of arbitrary killings, torture and the "arbitrary... closure of some civil society organisations and the media".

Ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in the 1990s claimed an estimated 300,000 lives.

President Nkurunziza is the former leader of a Hutu rebel group, who has been in power since a 2005 peace deal.

Both the government and the opposition are ethnically mixed.


Timeline - Burundi crisis

  • April 2015 - Protests erupt after President Pierre Nkurunziza announces he will seek a third term in office.
  • May 2015 - Constitutional court rules in favour of Mr Nkurunziza, amid reports of judges being intimidated. Tens of thousands flee violence amid protests.
  • May 2015 - Army officers launch a coup attempt, which fails.
  • July 2015 - Elections are held, with Mr Nkurunziza re-elected. The polls are disputed, with opposition leader Agathon Rwasa describing them as "a joke".
  • November 2015 - Burundi government gives those opposing President Nkurunziza's third term five days to surrender their weapons ahead of a promised crackdown.
  • November 2015 - UN warns it is less equipped to deal with violence in Burundi than it was for the Rwandan genocide.
  • December 2015 - 87 people killed on one day as soldiers respond to an attack on military sites in Bujumbura

Source: bbc.com

Rapper Azealia Banks charged with security guard assault at New York nightclub

Azealia Banks has been charged with assaulting a security guard at a New York nightclub.

The rapper is accused of assault, disorderly conduct and harassment (in the second degree), according to Detective Annette Shelton.

It's claimed Azealia Banks was being escorted out of the club when she became verbally abusive and started punching a 28-year-old female.

The detective also says the star allegedly bit the woman on her breast.

The incident is said to have taken place while Azealia Banks was attending a private party at Up & Down nightclub in New York's Meatpacking District.

Earlier this year she had to explain why she'd used the term "white face" in a tweet - an offensive term in America.

The rapper also cancelled a number of gigs in the US last month saying she was "busy at work".

Source: bbc.com

'Don't discuss me at Congress' - Paul Afoko wants injunction

Suspended New Patriotic Party (NPP) Chairman Paul Afoko is in court seeking an injunction on any discussion to remove him from office at Saturday’s extraordinary congress in the Brong Ahafo region.

In an ex-parte application filed at the Human Rights Court against his party, Paul Afoko argues a decision to remove him if taken will cause him irreparable harm.

This because he is already in at the Accra High court to overturn his indefinite suspension handed him last October. He has sued the party and is praying the court to set aside his suspension and also stop Freddie Blay from holding himself as the acting chairman of the party.

This suit filed last November is yet to be determined even as the NPP heads for congress.

Paul Afoko says "that in the event that I am removed from office and I eventually win this case, I cannot be compensated by damages especially when my tenure in office is for a 4-year term".

Hundreds of NPP delegates are set to meet in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region for the party’s crucial extraordinary delegates congress. The NPP will outdoor its campaign team for the 2016 election.

Peter Mac Manu has been chosen to lead the flagbearer Nana Addo’s campaign in the election. Also on the team is MP for Okere and former General Secretary, Dan Botwe.

Former Chief Executive of Data Bank, Ken Ofori Atta will lead the logistics team with support from party stalwart, Boakye Agyarko.

But to Paul Afoko, there is more to the congress than meets the eye.

In his writ, Afoko says the NPP "are preparing feverishly to purportedly remove me from office as the National Chairman by getting all these people invited for this conference to endorse my removal from office during the conference notwithstanding the pendency of this suit"

He, therefore, wants the court to stop any discussion or decisions involving or relating to him.

Paul Afoko has insisted his suspension was without recourse to due process.
Source: myjoyonline.com

Sub-Saharan Africa’s commodity export gains declining – Moody’s

Despite efforts by Sub-Saharan Africa countries to diversify economies and accumulate buffers, their commodity exporters remain vulnerable to commodity price shocks, according to a Moody’s report .

“The most recent collapse in the prices of oil, copper and iron ore, amongst others, has slowed growth significantly, increased fiscal and external imbalances, and weakened currencies,” the ratings agency said in a report released December 11.

Other highlights in the report are:

In general, the region’s oil exporters have been affected more than metals and mining exporters. Among Moody’s rated SSA commodity exporters, Angola, the Republic of the Congo and Gabon have the most oil-reliant economies.

Despite diversification efforts, the region’s economies are less diversified than it was two decades ago. Export diversification and economic complexity are lower among SSA oil exporters than among peers in developing Asia or Latin America.

 Fiscal and current account balances bear the brunt of the commodity shock. In several African frontier markets, the share of foreign-currency denominated debt has risen and there has been an increase in international bond issuance. Angola, Ghana and Zambia are among the most affected countries.

Recent sovereign rating actions in SSA reflect weakening trend growth, widening twin deficits and rising uncertainty about the capacity of the governments to consolidate their finances.

Source: myjoyonline.com

Political Analyst: NPP Can Win 2016

Contrary to claims by some bigwigs of the New Patriotic Party and their assigns that the suspension spree in the biggest opposition party will sanitize the party and prepare it for victory in the 2016 elections, a political science lecturer with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Dr Samuel Adu-Gyamfi, thinks otherwise.

According to Dr Adu-Gyamfi the spate of suspension in the NPP has further deepened the cracks in the party ahead of next year’s elections, stressing that “I will only agree that the NPP could be winning power next year by some divine intervention, but not on scientific basis as a result of what is happening in the NPP now.”

Commenting on last week’s suspension of NPP’s General Secretary, Kwabena Agyapong, and 2nd vice chairman, Sammy Crabbe, on Kasapa fm, the political science lecturer said it will be total shock to see the Dankwa-Busia-Dombo tradition winning the 2016 elections with the deep seated divisions within the party.

He insisted that building a formidable force that embraces all persons within the elephant family is what will bring the party into shape ahead of the 2016 elections.

The NPP last week suspended Kwabena Agyepong and Sammy Crabbe indefinitely. The decision was taken after the National Executive Committee of the party met over the Disciplinary Committee’s recommendations regarding the two.

The recommendation by the DC came after some party members filed petitions of misconduct against the two who they claimed contested what was supposed to be the party’s decision regarding the suspension of its national chairman, Paul Awentami Afoko.

While some NPP heavyweights and supposed neutral social commentators like Dr Lloyd Amoah and Dr Amoako Baah have applauded the decision, insisting that it will restore discipline in the party to win the 2016 elections, Dr Adu-Gyamfi disagreed.

According to him the NPP can only make significant gains in the November 2016 elections if it retired the unpopular Asante/Akyem hegemony being played within the party

He fears the ‘Asante/Akyem’ hegemony which traces its route from the past, cannot be the vehicle to bring growth into the party.

Insisting that there will always be confusion lurking in the party unless the party ostracizes Asante/Akyem rivalry in the party, Dr Adu-Gyamfi stated “the Asante/Akyem hegemony is history within the NPP but that cannot thrust up the party.”

In related development, founding member of NPP, Kwame Pianim has charged the leadership of the biggest opposition to halt the suspension of party bigwigs, stressing that party should focus on moving forward towards Election 2016 and by concentrating on forming its campaign team.

Speaking to journalists in Accra on the problems in the party, the celebrated economist said he was a “broken” man and “frustrated over the troubles” in the NPP which according to him, should be prepared to take over the affairs of state since in his view, the ruling NDC was showing it was incapable of solving the problems of the country.

Source: The Al-Hajj

DJ Bryte

The Hitz Banger!

Vladimir Putin praises 'outstanding and talented' Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as "a very outstanding person, talented, without any doubt".

The Republican has repeatedly praised Mr Putin's macho style and policies towards Syria, on the campaign trail.

The Russian president brushed off concerns about Mr Trump's controversial proposal to ban Muslims from the US.

He said Russia was ready to work with whoever was elected the next president.

"It is not our business to determine his merits, that is up to US voters," Mr Putin told reporters after his annual televised news conference. "But he is the absolute leader in the presidential race."

"He is a very outstanding person, talented, without any doubt." New York billionaire Mr Trump has spoken warmly about Mr Putin's tough approach to foreign policy in the past.

Read more from: http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-35124280

Source: bbc.com

 

Police detain two members of NPP’s Invisible Forces

The Accra Regional Police Command Thursday detained two members of the New Patriotic Party over a chaotic incident at the party’s headquarters yesterday.

It may be recalled that party’s private security personnel (Invincible Forces) at the NPP’s Asylum Down headquarters went on rampage on Wednesday, chasing journalists, some party supporters and destroying property.

A detailed document containing evidence was presented to the leadership of the party as police gave them a 24-hour ultimatum to produce the suspects.

Accra Regional Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Afia Tenge told Joy News her outfit is determined to get to the bottom of the matter.

“We had the leadership of the NPP being led by John Boado [Acting General Secretary] and they came with the two persons that they identified in the photograph, and as I speak to you they have reported to the police...” she told Joy News’ Kwakye Afreh-Nuamah.

She said investigations have begun into yesterday’s violent incident and suspects would be charged accordingly.

She called on persons with any evidence about what happened on Wednesday to assist the police in their investigations.


Source: myjoyonline.com

Ghana: EC to use professors as returning officers in 2016

Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei says the EC would consider the use of lecturers and professors as returning officers in the 2016 general elections.

This has become necessary following some irregularities which occurred in the 2012 elections where some electoral officers appeared to be uninformed about their duties, thereby destroying the beauty of the elections.

Ghana’s West African neighbor, Nigeria adopted the use of professors in the country’s 2015 election held early this year, which has internationally been touted as credible, free and fair.

Former Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Muhammadu Jega this week told Joy FM the use of lecturers and professors as returning officers during elections secured the integrity of the electoral process.

“In the two elections that we conducted in 2011 and 2015 where they [lecturers and Professors] played these roles, not a single person had been accused of any fraudulent activities in the discharge of their responsibilities,” he said.

Addressing Members of Parliament Thursday about preparation towards next year's election, Ghana’s EC Chairman told the House Ghana is likely to follow the way of Nigeria, Joy News Emmanuel Anteh reported.

Mrs. Charlotte Osei said the professors would be deployed to man coalition centres, whilst national service personnel and selected civil servants would be engaged for the polling stations.

But some Members of Parliament especially from the Minority side, Emmanuel said, are skeptical about the use of the national service personnel fearing they might be induced.

Meanwhile, Political Science Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr. Ransford Gyampoh does not seem to be impressed by the idea of resorting to the use of professors.

He is unsure of their availability at the time of the elections, noting that the “professors [would be] busy doing research”.

He urged the Electoral Commission to go beyond professors and lecturers, and rather use persons who are “committed and prepared to do the work”.

Earlier, Mrs. Osei had told Parliament the commission wants the date for presidential and parliamentary elections moved from the December 7 to November 7 to allow for more time between elections and inauguration on 7th January.

She said a Legislative Instrument to give legal backing to the proposal is at an advanced stage.

The EC chairman has also been speaking on concerns over the sanctity of the voters’ register.

Commenting on the proposed date for the election, Dr. Ransford Gyampoh said it is a laudable proposal for electoral reforms.

He believed it will give ample time in handing over power in case of change of government especially when there is a runoff.

 He however believed the proposal is just one of many proposals that ought to be implemented before next year’s elections.

It is his prayers that those ones too are accepted and implemented timeously to cure any suspicion during the elections.


Source: myjoyonline.com

Ghana: EC Boss goes ‘mad’ in Parliament over budget cut

The Chairperson of Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei lamented to Parliament on Thursday about how her Commission has had their budget for the conduct of the 2016 election hugely cut down by the Finance Ministry.

Mrs. Osei said she proposed GHC1.2 billion as the actual cost for the conduct of next year’s general elections.

The amount, she noted, was hugely slashed by the Finance Ministry to GHc800 million causing a shortfall of GHc400 million.

Charlotte Osei would be conducting her first general elections as the boss of the EC since taking over from Dr. Afari Gyan.

Much is expected from her and the commission as the country is seen as an island of peace in a region of election-related disputes.

The slash in the budget of the commission, Adom News’ Parliamentary correspondent, said caused the EC to cut the number of polling stations from 30,000 to 29,000.

The former NCCE Boss also complained about the lack of offices for the Commission in the region.

Parliament is however yet to approve the budgetary allocations for the EC.

Source: ghanaweb.com

Ex-US defence chief blasts Obama on Syria

Former US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has criticised the Obama administration for lacking an overarching policy on Syria.

In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine (FP), Mr Hagel described long, tedious policy meetings that often concluded without decision.

The moderate Republican served as Mr Obama's defence chief for two tumultuous years from 2013 to 2015.

His tenure ended, he said, with backstabbing and character destruction.

Mr Hagel believes that a coherent US strategy for Syria still has not been fleshed out.

"The administration is still struggling with a political strategy, but Secretary Kerry is making some progress toward the right strategy," Mr Hagel tells the magazine, in reference to talks with Russian, Iranian and Arab leaders.

Mr Hagel's tenure in the Obama administration was marked by contention from the start.

Some of Mr Hagel's criticisms come across as minor or personal. "There were way too many meetings" at the White House, he says. And people there said mean things about him behind his back, "vilifying me in a gutless, off-the-record kind of way".

But his criticism of Mr Obama's strategy towards Syria and the fight against the Islamic State group is sharp - and is likely to resonate. In short, says Hagel: "We don't have a policy."

As Washington prepares to enter another election campaign, his remarks will provide fellow Republicans with yet more proof - from a trusted insider- that Mr Obama is a weak leader without a Middle East strategy.

Among those Mr Hagel had the worst relationship with was National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

He alleged that meetings chaired by Ms Rice, were long, frequent and fruitless.

"We kept kind of deferring the tough decisions. And there were always too many people in the room," he is quoted as saying.

He contrasted these meetings with those run by President Barack Obama, which he said were more effectual.

However, Mr Hagel seemed to be most critical of Mr Obama's Syria policy.

Joining his boss in opposing a large troop deployment to Syria or Iraq, he insisted however on a clearer diplomatic stance.

In particular, he pointed to an embarrassing Senate hearing, where he was grilled over whether the US would defend the rebels it was training and equipping in Syria from attacks by Assad forces.

"We had never come down on an answer or a conclusion in the White House," Mr Hagel told FP. "I couldn't say 'No'. Christ, every ally would have walked away from us in the Middle East".

In a memo penned a month later, Mr Hagel called on the administration to formulate a clearer policy. He said memo was not well received.

A month later, Mr Obama accepted his resignation amid reports of differences over policy.

Some have suggested that those antagonistic relationships may have led to Mr Hagel being pushed out.

The White House has declined a BBC request for comment on this story.

Source: bbc.com

Syria war: UN Security Council unanimously backs peace plan

The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution outlining a peace process in Syria.

The 15-member council reached rare agreement on the issue in a session in New York on Friday.

The resolution endorses talks between the Syrian government and opposition in early January, as well as a ceasefire.

The Syrian war, which is heading towards its fifth year, has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced millions more, the UN says.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, chairing the session, said the resolution sent "a clear message to all concerned that the time is now to stop the killing in Syria".

"The resolution we just reached is a milestone, because it sets specific goals and specific timeframes," he added.

The resolution calls for a ceasefire that should be implemented in parallel with the talks.

However, actions against groups considered terrorist organisations would not be affected. This would allow Russian, French and US air-strikes against Islamic State to continue.

One of the major sticking points so far has been which rebel groups should be considered terrorist outfits and consequently excluded from any talks or ceasefire.

The agreement demands that all parties cease attacks against civilians.

The resolution also makes no mention of the future rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia, an ally of Assad, has argued against his departure being a precondition for talks.

Source: bbc.com

Burundi crisis: African Union plans to deploy peacekeepers

The African Union (AU) has announced a plan to send 5,000 peacekeepers to protect civilians in Burundi, even without the government's consent.

The proposal was approved by the AU's Peace and Security Council but will need to get the backing of the UN.

On Thursday the AU said it would not allow genocide to take place in Burundi.

But Burundi said if the AU sent troops with the government's consent it would consider the move "an attack" on it.

Government official Philippe Nzobonariba told the BBC Great Lakes service that the legal process should be followed, and suggested that a peacekeeping force would be better employed in Rwanda.

Burundi has previously accused its neighbour of training rebels seeking to destabilise the country.

Unrest in Burundi began in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office. He survived a coup attempt in May, and secured a third term in disputed elections in July.

The proposal by the AU marks the first time it has invoked a rule allowing it to deploy a force without a country's consent, the BBC's Anne Soy reports from Nairobi.

The clause in the AU charter allows it to intervene in a member state because of grave circumstances, which include war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

The decision comes amid fears that violence could spiral into civil war and possible ethnic conflict.

Diplomatic moves to prevent a civil war in Burundi have recently accelerated with the UN, the European Union and the East African Community fearful of the impact of worsening violence both on the local population and the region.

At a special session convened at the US' request to discuss the conflict, the UN Human Rights Council resolved to despatch independent investigators to Burundi to probe abuses.

The government has said there is no threat of genocide.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said on Thursday that "Burundi is at bursting point, on the very cusp of a civil war" which could have "ethnic overtones" similar to past conflicts in Burundi.

At least 400 people have been killed, nearly 3,500 arrested and at least 220,000 people have fled the country since April, Mr Hussein said.

The worst spate of killings happened last Friday when 87 people were killed in clashes in the capital, Bujumbura.

An AU fact-finding mission returned from Burundi on Sunday and in its preliminary findings it said "members of the team heard reports of arbitrary killings, torture and the arbitrary... closure of some civil society organisations and the media".

Ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in the 1990s claimed an estimated 300,000 lives.

Mr Nkurunziza is the former leader of a Hutu rebel group, who has been in power since a 2005 peace deal.

Both the government and the opposition are ethnically mixed.


Timeline - Burundi crisis

  • April 2015 - Protests erupt after President Pierre Nkurunziza announces he will seek a third term in office.
  • May 2015 - Constitutional court rules in favour of Mr Nkurunziza, amid reports of judges being intimidated. Tens of thousands flee violence amid protests.
  • May 2015 - Army officers launch a coup attempt, which fails.
  • July 2015 - Elections are held, with Mr Nkurunziza re-elected. The polls are disputed, with opposition leader Agathon Rwasa describing them as "a joke".
  • November 2015 - Burundi government gives those opposing President Nkurunziza's third term five days to surrender their weapons ahead of a promised crackdown.
  • November 2015 - UN warns it is less equipped to deal with violence in Burundi than it was for the Rwandan genocide.
  • December 2015 - 87 people killed on one day as soldiers respond to an attack on military sites in Bujumbura.

Source: bbc.com

 

Libya militia chases away US troops

US forces flown to Libya to support government troops had to leave after landing because of demands from a local militia group, US officials say.

It follows reports that 20 US special forces troops, equipped with advanced weaponry, landed on Monday at an airbase in western Libya.

The troops chose to leave "in an effort to avoid conflict", a US Africa Command (Africom) spokesman told the BBC.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

The US forces had travelled to Libya in order to "foster relationships and enhance communication with their counterparts in the Libyan National Army", Africom spokesman Anthony Falvo told the BBC.

The soldiers left without incident, he added.


Source: bbc.com

Star Wars film breaks opening night box office record

The new Star Wars film has set a new opening night box office record in the US and Canada, industry experts said.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens made $57m (£38m) on Thursday night, beating the previous record of $43.5m held by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011.

Analysts say the space saga could become the biggest selling movie of all time.

The film also set a new opening day box office record in the UK and Ireland.

The £9.64m tally beat the previous best of £9.48m set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Midnight screenings on Thursday morning accounted for £2.4m of ticket sales.

Rentrak's Paul Dergarabedian, one of Hollywood's best-known box office analysts, said the film's opening night performance in the US and Canada "portends a massive and potentially record-breaking opening day and weekend for the film".

"The potential for The Force Awakens to ultimately break into the $2bn club worldwide is certainly in the realm of possibility," he said.

Jeff Bock, box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, added: "As far as breaking records go, it's the strongest candidate we've seen in a long, long time.

"It might join the $2bn club worldwide, and maybe, just maybe, be the highest grossing film of all-time."

Analysts expect The Force Awakens to make about $200m in the US and Canada over its opening weekend, a total that could challenge the record Jurassic World set earlier this year.

The latest instalment in the dinosaur theme park franchise made almost $209m in its first three days on North American release in June.

In the UK, some chains have increased their prices for the film. Odeon, for example, has imposed a ticket surcharge of up to £2.

The same tactic, coupled with the decision to open the film on a Monday, enabled Spectre to set the record for the biggest opening ever at the UK and Ireland box office.

Analysts say The Force Awakens opened on Thursday so would have to perform staggeringly well over the weekend to top the latest James Bond's film's £41.3m debut, which was calculated over seven days as it opened on a Monday.

According to industry journal Screen International, though, such an outcome "remains a distinct possibility" given the film's current box office performance.

Skyfall, the previous James Bond film, is currently the highest-grossing film at the UK and Ireland box office, having made almost £103m domestically.

Two million tickets were booked in advance of the Force Awakens release, setting a new record for advanced ticket bookings in the UK and Ireland.

Directed by JJ Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens returns to "a galaxy far, far away" some 30 years on from the action of 1983's Return of the Jedi.

The film sees original trilogy stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher reprise their Han Solo and Princess Leia roles alongside younger franchise newcomers.

Source: bbc.com

US spending bill lifts 40-year ban on crude oil exports

US politicians have approved a measure to lift the 40-year ban on crude oil exports.

The move is part of a $1.1 trillion (£738bn) spending bill approved by the Senate on Friday that will fund the US government until 2016.

Oil prices rose on Friday following several weeks of falls, as the markets cope with a glut of crude.

US West Texas Crude gained 1.1% to $36.38 a barrel, while Brent rose 0.7% to $37.32 a barrel.

US oil producers will now be able to sell crude to the already saturated international market.

The bulk of US oil comes from shale producers. Production and exploration companies argued the ban - imposed during the Arab oil embargo in the mid-1970s - was outdated and unnecessary.

Opponents claimed that lifting the ban would lead to the loss of oil refining jobs and would be bad for the environment.

As a trade-off for lifting the ban, the spending bill includes tax breaks for solar and wind power and a pledge by Republicans not to block a $500m payment to the UN Green Climate Fund.

President Obama signed the bill into law on Friday.

The global glut meant that lifting the ban was not expected to lead to significant US exports for months or even years, but could give producers extra flexibility.

George Baker, head of Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, said: "Now that we have levelled the playing field, the United States finally has an opportunity to compete and realise our nation's full potential as a global energy superpower."

Tom O'Malley, executive chairman of refiner PBF Energy, claimed that lifting the ban would lead at least one oil refinery on the US east coast to close.

"This is a crazy thing to do. Once you lift it, it's hard to reverse it," he said.

Source: bbc.com

Guus Hiddink in Chelsea talks about manager's job

Former Netherlands boss Guus Hiddink is set to become Chelsea's interim manager following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

The 69-year-old Dutchman was at a London hotel on Friday, holding discussions with Blues officials.

But he is not expected to be in charge for Saturday's visit of Sunderland, with Eddie Newton and Steve Holland overseeing the side.

Hiddink, who has already had one spell as Chelsea boss, winning the FA Cup in 2009, is yet to sign a contract.

The Blues are currently 16th in the Premier League table, just one point above the relegation zone after losing nine of their first 16 games.

Mourinho was sacked as manager on Thursday, just seven months after guiding Chelsea to the Premier League title.

Hiddink won six Dutch league titles and the European Cup across two spells as PSV Eindhoven manager.

He has also coached South Korea, Australia and Russia before leading Chelsea to FA Cup success in 2009.

He took over at Stamford Bridge in February 2009, replacing Luiz Felipe Scolari, and shared the role with his job as Russia manager.

Since then, he has endured unsuccessful spells as manager of Turkey, Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala and the Netherlands.

He stood down as Netherlands boss in June, with their Euro 2016 qualifying hopes already in disarray.

The Dutch eventually failed to reach the finals, finishing fourth in their group, behind Czech Republic, Iceland and Turkey.

Meanwhile, Chelsea captain John Terry has described Mourinho's exit after 30 months in charge as a "sad, sad day".

Terry led Chelsea to all three Premier League titles under Mourinho, in addition to an FA Cup and three League Cups.

"Going to miss you boss," Terry wrote on Instagram.

"The very best I have ever worked with, unbelievable memories together. Thank you doesn't seem enough."

Terry's comments contrast sharply with those of Blues technical director Michael Emenalo,

In the wake of Mourinho's sacking, Emenalo talked about a "palpable discord between manager and players".

Cesar Azpilicueta also called Mourinho's departure a "sad" day.

The 26-year-old defender added: "I would publicly like to thank Jose Mourinho for his contribution to this club and for everything he has taught me over the years.

"He will always be remembered. Thank you mister."

Source: bbc.com

Pep Guardiola decides Bayern Munich future despite Chelsea link

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola says he has made a decision over his future, while Thomas Muller is one of four players to sign new deals.

Guardiola's contract expires in June and he has been linked with Chelsea and Manchester City.

The Spaniard has told Bayern what he will do and is set to make it public following Saturday's game at Hannover.

Meanwhile, Muller, Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and Xabi Alonso have all extended their Bayern deals.

Forward Muller, 26, defender Boateng, 27, and midfielder Martinez, 27, have committed to the Bundesliga champions until 2021, with 34-year-old midfielder Alonso's deal taking him to 2017.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said the club had received offers for 26-year-old Muller, who was reportedly a target for Manchester United in the summer.

"I come from the area, I've been here 15 years and of course I'm delighted," Muller told Bayern's television channel.

"I am proud and happy that I have extended my contract."

Guarded Guardiola

Guardiola has led Bayern to two titles since taking over in 2013 and Spanish newspaper Marca reported on Wednesday that he has already told Bayern he will leave the club.

He could be a target for Chelsea, who sacked Jose Mourinho on Thursday and are set to appoint Guus Hiddink as interim manager until the end of the season.

"Kalle (Rummenigge) knows absolutely everything," said Guardiola.

"The club, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and I have said time and time again that we will say something after our final game in Hannover, and that's how things are going to stay.

"I'm just focusing on Hannover. I've been watching their games."

Source: bbc.com

Don’t rush to release hit songs - Rocky Dawuni

Ghanaian Grammy Awards nominee, Rocky Dawuni has advised musicians not to be in a rush to release hit songs adding that the impact of such hit songs are just for the moment.

According to him, it is always good to take your time in writing songs so that you churn out tracks that will linger on even when you old, songs that will impact lives and change society.

He went on to commend artistes like Shatta Wale, Stonebwoy and Guru for their good works.

When asked what he has to tell them, he said; “First of all, I would say they are doing well but I think it is better for an artiste to take his time when it comes to songs. Sometimes we are in a rush to release hit songs and those songs last just for the moment.

“Most of them are quick to jump on rhythms but for me I think it is better to exercise patience and deliver classic songs,” he said.

Talking about a personal experience, he said; “At a point in my career, I had a lot of people who wanted to take me on but in the end one of them came to me and advised me to take my time, study the arts of writing and today I am here, I went back to the drawing board and started doing my homework.”

Rocky Dawuni is a singer and songwriter who perform in the reggae genre.

Dawuni got acquainted with reggae in Ghana when he heard a military band performing one of Bob Marley’s compositions in Michel Camp, a military barracks.

Dawuni started the annual “Independence Splash” festival in Ghana. Up to 2011 Dawuni had recorded five albums. His sixth studio album titled Branches of The Same Tree has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in December 2015 for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.

Source: ghanaweb.com

Alhaji Grusah to sue GFA over Glo deal

The bankroller of King Faisal Alhaji Karim Grusah has threatened to sue the Ghana FA over what he termed the “premature termination” of the sponsorship deal with Globacom.

The Nigerian-owned telecommunication network had its sponsorship contract terminated as the headline sponsors of the Ghana Premier League over its inability to fulfil the financial obligations.

“I use the Globacom money as a collateral in bank in running King Faisal and till now the money has not been paid, how do you expect me to get money to pay back to the bank,” Grusah told Kumasi-based Nhyira FM.

“It’s the responsibility of the GFA to retrieve the unpaid monies to the Premier League clubs, I’m planning to take a legal action in the coming days against the football Association to retrieve our monies.”

Glo owes the GFA in excess of $6.5 million in a five-year deal signed in 2008.

He further stressed the FA should be very truthful and transparent in their financial and legal dealings.

Source: starrfmonline.com

Blay, Abankwa illegally operated NPP account; Akufo-Addo not cleared of £100,000 illegal payment – Ohene Ntow

Nana Ohene Ntow has revealed that the New Patriotic Party committee he chaired to probe some allegations of malfeasance in the top hierarchy of the party found the party’s acting Chairman Freddie Blay and Treasurer Abankwa Yeboah of illegally operating a party account.

“In the first place, the committee did not investigate the establishment of a secret account as Nana Akomea’s statement seeks to portray. Since we did not investigate a secret account, we could not have exonerated anybody for setting up a secret account.

“That was what was investigated, and the investigation did establish that the National Treasurer Mr. Abankwa Yeboah, and the 1st Vice National Chairman Mr. Freddie Blay illegally reactivated and operated this dormant account without authority from the Steering Committee, Finance Committee, nor indeed the National Executive Committee,” the former general secretary of the NPP clarified in a statement Friday.

The comments are in sharp contrast to earlier claims by the Communications director of the party that the Ohene Ntow-led committee cleared the two officials of all the allegations the operation of the account.

Former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party Nana Ohene Ntow also denied claims by the party’s communications director that a committee chaired by him (Ohene Ntow) has cleared the party’s flagbearer of some £100,000 illegal payment.

Nana Akomea told the media on Friday that the Ohene Ntow-led Committee investigated claims that the money was paid to Nana Akufo-Addo for some engagements without authorization by the party.

But in a statement, Mr. Ohene Ntow said the substantive of the monies paid or otherwise to the former attorney general was not broached by his committee.

“I have to state further that the Committee did not investigate any allegation of a disbursement of any One Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling (£100,000) from a party account to the 2016 flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo. The committee therefore could not have issued a clean report on a matter it did not investigate”.




Below are details of the statement


December 18, 2015

REACTION TO NANA AKOMEA’S STATEMENT ON THE REPORT OF THE AD HOC COMMITTEE OF THE NPP NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

My attention has been drawn to a statement issued by Nana Akomea, Director of communications of the New Patriotic Party, which statement comments on the Report by the Ad Hoc committee instituted by the Party’s National Executive Committee to look into the Financial Administration of the Party, Issues related to fees received for the 2015 Parliamentary Primaries and other Financial Matters. Ordinarily, since the statement by Nana Akomea is to all intents and purposes an official statement of the party, I should not respond to it. However, in view of the fact that the said statement by Mr. Nana Akomea sought to cast a slur on my person and on my integrity as a professional and also Chairman of the said Committee, I am compelled to state the facts of the matter.

1. In the first place, the committee did not investigate the establishment of a secret account as Nana Akomea’s statement seeks to portray. Since we did not investigate a secret account, we could not have exonerated anybody for setting up a secret account. The issue was about the unauthorized reactivation of an existing BUT DORMANT Account.

That was what was investigated, and the investigation did establish that the National Treasurer Mr. Abankwa Yeboah, and the 1st Vice National Chairman Mr. Freddie Blay illegally reactivated and operated this dormant account without authority from the Steering Committee, Finance Committee, nor indeed the National Executive Committee.

2. I have to state further that the Committee did not investigate any allegation of a disbursement of any One Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling (£100,000) from a party account to the 2016 flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo. The committee therefore could not have issued a clean report on a matter it did not investigate.

3. The impression being created by Mr. Akomea’s statement that all disbursements from the Ecobank account were solely for the Talensi by-election is false.

The committee did not audit the disbursements from the Ecobank Account as both the National Treasurer and the National Organizer failed to provide the committee with any receipts on their expenditures on the Talensi By-Elections.

4. The impression being created by Akomea’s statement that the recommendations contained in my minority report fall outside the committee’s Terms of Reference is false.

5. The impression being created that the recommendations contained in my minority report are not supported by the evidence adduced before the committee, and that I possibly cooked up those recommendations out of a vacuum is also palpably false.

First of all, the committee’s Terms of Reference consisted of Nine items not Four, as Mr. Akomea’s statement claims. The Nine-Point TOR are as follows:

1. To establish the total amount collected as fees for the 2015 parliamentary primaries;

2. To establish the bank account(s) into which the fees were lodged;

3. To determine the disbursements out of those accounts and the purpose for those disbursements;

4. To establish the approvals of those disbursements;

5. To investigate the cause(s) of the impasse between the National Treasurer and the National Chairman/General Secretary;

6. To ascertain how the dormant Bank Account at the Trust Towers Branch, was reactivated, and how it was operated;

7. To investigate the circumstances under which the National Treasurer entered into a contract with Textgenesys Limited for the collection of Membership Dues and Monies that have accrued from the process;

8. To investigate any other matters which , in the opinion of the Committee, are relevant to its work;

9. To submit Recommendations to forestall any such occurrences in the future.

DISBURSEMENT FROM ECOBANK ACCOUNT

The committee did indeed establish that some of the disbursement from the Ecobank Account went into the Talensi by-elections. However, it was also established by the committee that a chunk of the money from the Ecobank Account were illegally used to purchase Treasury Bills as well as to establish a call Account, all without proper authorization.

In his evidence to the committee the National Treasurer, Mr. Abankwa Yeboah admitted that his decisions to reactivate the Ecobank Account, purchase a Treasury Bill and establish a call Account for the party were all unilateral and without appropriate authorization. Obviously, it is based on this and other evidence that came before the committee that the minority report submitted by my good self recommended disciplinary action and sanctions against the National Treasurer.

The committee established that the 1st National Vice National Chairman, Mr. Freddie Blay illegally authorized the disbursements from the Ecobank account, and also wrongly usurped the office of the National Chairman. It therefore stands to reason that my recommendation that Mr. Freddie Blay is sanctioned could not have been baseless as the Akomea statement seeks to imply.

A close look at the committee’s Terms of Reference shows clearly that Item 9 states and I quote:

“To submit Recommendations to forestall any such occurrences in the future”

With reference to the above-stated item on the committee’s TOR, I am at loss as to how any fair-minded person could suggest that it was beyond the committee’s remit to recommend anything, more so sanctions and disciplinary action where appropriate.

It is based on the evidence that came before the committee and on our findings that I proposed the following recommendations which the other four members of my committee raised objections to:

RECOMMENDATIONS

The work of the committee has revealed very deep seated acrimony, animosity and a major factional divide within the party. Unfortunately, this situation is being exploited by some party members and leaders to the detriment of party unity, cohesion and internal harmony. Matters have not been helped by an apparent lack of effective enforcement of discipline. In an effort to deal effectively with the party’s current situation, the following Recommendations are being proposed:

1. That Article 17 of the Party’s Constitution be operationalized and the Finance Committee be mandated to immediately draft Financial Regulations to supplement the provisions of the constitution on the party’s financial management.

NB: The Finance Committee representative who appeared before the committee told the committee that his committee had already drafted proposals for such Financial Rules and Regulations for the party, ready to present same to the National Executive Committee. We recommend that the necessary action must be expedited on the said proposals for implementation.

2. The National Council should arrange an introspection meeting of all National Officers at which all fears and suspicions would be laid bare and all grudges brought into the open for a no-holds-barred discussion. It is recommended that this meeting is facilitated by professional psychologists and counselors before the end of the year.

3. The National Chairman should ensure that henceforth the group decision making principle which underpins the party’s constitution is adhered to.

4. That the National Treasurer is referred to the National Discipline Committee for the appropriate sanctions for gross misconduct, indiscipline and for arrogating to himself powers that he is not constitutionally mandated to exercise, particularly with respect to his unilateral decision to reactivate a dormant account of the party and operate same, as well as for unilaterally entering into a so-called contract with Textgenesys and enforcing same against the decision of the party’s Finance Committee.

5. That the 1st Vice Chairman is referred to the National Disciplinary Committee for the appropriate sanctions for gross misconduct in view of his usurpation of the powers and functions of National Chairman even in situations that the National Chairman is available in the jurisdiction and is ready, willing and able to perform his functions as National Chairman.

6. That the National Treasurer is ordered by the Finance Committee to provide the it with documentary details of the revenue that has accrued to the party from the Textgenesys text fund raising activities to date.

7. That the National Treasurer who purchased a Treasury Bill and established a Call Account on behalf of the party without proper authorization, and the 1st Vice Chairman who improperly authorized the above transactions, are ordered by the National Executive Committee of the party to furnish it with the original copy of the Treasury Bill Certificate, as well as original documentary details of where the Call Account is held and the current status thereof.

8. That in view of the rather serious allegations made by Mr. Baah Achamfuor against the Immediate Past General Secretary, Mr. Owusu Afriyie and the Immediate Past National Treasurer, Mad. Esther Ofori of financial impropriety, the National Executive Committee institutes investigations into those allegations to establish the facts thereof.

9. That the former National Chairman, Mr. Peter McManu, is ordered by the National Executive Committee of party to explain in writing, the circumstances under which he opened or caused to be opened a party account at the Trust Towers Branch of the Ecobank and how it was run without the knowledge of the then General Secretary, the then National Treasurer nor indeed the Steering Committee.

I will just stop short of providing all the details of the evidence that was adduced before the committee, as well as all the findings. I believe that if we as a party do not want to wash our dirty linen in public, we should learn NOT to be the first to throw mud at the other person.

Signed

Nana Ohene-Ntow


Source: Starrfmonline.com