Friday, August 24, 2007

National Orientation Programme Launched

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Friday, 24 August 2007

VICE-President Aliu Mahama on Wednesday unveiled two mascots in Accra to launch a national orientation campaign aimed at helping to achieve a defined national mission.

The mascots in wooden carvings, portray a man and a woman dressed in Kente kaba for the women and cloth in the national colours for the man.

The campaign, based on five principles, is under the auspices of the Ministry of Information and National Orientation and is intended to provide a direction for Ghanaians in a bid to build a better Ghana.

The principles are: “Proud to be Ghanaian”, “Patriotism and a Spirit of Ghana First”, “Can Do Attitude”, “Productivity and Accountability” and Dedication and Discipline” and the ministry has identified symposiums, seminars, regulation and legislation, animation, street theartres, dramas and documentaries among others forms of medium to propagate them.

Mrs. Oboshie Sai-Cofie, the sector minister described national orientation as “a process of transforming and formulating a culture that challenges each Ghanaian to do his or her best for himself/herself and for his/her country”

“The ministry does not view it as an ethical prescription to be memorised and recited at the click of a finger,” she said, explaining that at the core of national orientation is behaviour change which is not only a superficial change of attitude but a wholesome adoption of a different set of values and behaviours in order to re-order the directions of our lives.”

National Orientation, she noted is not a prescription for how Ghanaians must lead their lives nor a top-down command coming from the president or the government to the people.

It is a dynamic and evolving programme that would be strengthened by the input that it is expected to receive from every section of the country, adding that it calls for a collective effort of the citizenry to see it as their own and be part of it.

Mrs.Sai –Cofie said that Ghana already has cultures, unchanging and unchangeable ethical and moral precepts that the people believe, noting that the country’s traditions, cultures and institutions have helped to mould Ghanaians.

She stressed the need for Ghanaians to learn to focus on and respect the symbols that unite them as a nation, saying that the national flag, the national anthem, the coat of arms, national pledge and the national currency should be given their importance.

“In our everyday life, we should be courteous to one another. We should respect time and its value. We should learn to take pride in local dress and cuisine” she advised.

Mrs.Sai-Cofie said the kind of Ghanaian that is envisaged is one who holds dear, his or her positive cultural and traditional values, adding “We should also be identified by the food that we eat”

She pointed out that no one other than Ghanaians would make Ghana a better place; “once this concept is ingrained in our belief system, the national orientation process of believing in and dying a little for Ghana will be self- fulfilling”.

The youth of the country she said, are becoming alienated from their traditions and culture and are rather increasingly embracing foreign cultures as portrayed in their mode of dressing, exposure to foreign films and their attitude to elders.

She advised parents, teachers and all who share responsibility for the upbringing of the youth to endeavour to insulate them from negative habits and culture and inculcate in them the proper sense of discipline and decorum.

Ghanaians need to be imbued with the kind of national euphoria that gripped the nation when the Black Stars participated in the world cup in Germany last year, she stressed.

“We should therefore not allow divisive tendencies such as ethnicity, chieftaincy disputes and partisan politics, prevent us from realising the importance of putting our country first”.

Birth Certs Issuance To Be Automated

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Friday, 24 August 2007

The Births and Deaths Registry will start the issuance of electronically-generated birth and deaths certificates this year, says Awudu Yermiah, Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment.

The automation of the registration system, to issue electronic certificates with enhanced security features, is aimed at eliminating the influx of fraudulent registration documents in the system.

Speaking at the launch of the fourth Birth and Death Registration Day in Accra yesterday, Mr.Yermiah said the move also seeks to generate a database of registered events that would facilitate information sharing between the registry and other agencies.

The day is set aside to create awareness among the public about the need to build and sustain a viable civil registration system in the country. A national durbar to start the celebration will be held at Kpetoe in the Volta Region on September1.

This year’s celebration is on the theme: “Universal Births and Deaths Registration-Key to achieving Ghana’s Millennium Development Goals.”

Mr. Yermiah said that several social and civil rights of the individual, especially those of the child are dependent on the registration of births, from the start of life.

“The failure of the parent to fulfil their responsibility on the child’s behalf leads to the child’s existence not being officially recognised and thus overlooked in social development planning,” he said.

He said such children are not considered when essential policy and budget decisions are made and therefore are denied several privileges legitimately due them.

On deaths registration, he expressed concern about the reluctance on the part of family members to register the death of their relatives.

“Non registration of deaths and the indiscriminate interment of human bodies is a practice that should be discouraged and checked with the force of legislation available to us,” he said and explained that not only does that contribute to the loss of information on deaths but also has a serious effect on health and issues affecting the environment.

He therefore urged the various districts assemblies to ensure that all burial grounds, whether private or public, are registered and controlled in order to check these shortfalls.

Mr. Yermia said vital registration data remains an indispensable tool for national development planning and policy formulation and it is therefore unacceptable that such a registration system in Ghana is performing below expectation.

He said during the third Births and Deaths Registration Day launched last year, it was noted that births registration coverage had improved from 51 per cent to 67 per cent, though death registration coverage was still around 24 per cent.

He said expectations were that the situation would improve further but unfortunately, it slipped to 54 per cent coverage for births and 23 per cent for deaths due to lack of registration centres, adequate logistics, and motivational packages for volunteers.

The deputy minister said the ministry is considering the possibility of enlisting volunteers of the National Youth Employment Programme to undertake the registration this year while efforts are being made to address the other constraints.

He urged Ghanaians to report births and deaths that occur in their communities for registration in order to guarantee civic rights and relevant demographic parameters for national development.

Monday, August 20, 2007

GO BEYOND TRADITION - Palmer Buckle Tells Media

By Stephen Kwabena Effah
Monday, 20 August 2007

THE Most Rev.Charles Palmer-Buckle, Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Accra, on Saturday prescribed a new set of duties for the Ghanaian media: "to form, in-form and trans-form" the Ghanaian Society.
Addressing the 12th Ghana Journalists Awards Night in Accra on the theme: "Ghana @ 50: Safeguarding democracy through the media", he urged the media to go beyond their conventional role of informing, educating and entertaining in consonance with contemporary challenges and future trends.

"The duty of the media today is to form, in-form, and trans-form the individual as well as the Ghanaian society. It is the duty of the media in my opinion to aid all other state, public and private institutions to form, inform and transform our human capital into Ghana, a nation of Freedom and Justice," he said.
He explained that, although the duty of the media is to inform, educate and entertain, a casual look at the media landscape “make you question the veracity of this truism.”

He wondered whether the Ghanaian media is really educating, informing and entertaining its readers, listeners or viewers, adding that if so, “good or bad news?

Archbishop Palmer-Buckle therefore urged the media to aid all other institutions to form, inform and transform the human capital of the country.

He advised the media to “help form especially our children and youth, not to deform them”, adding whatever is put out to the public should “help form, mould the character and personality of the child, the student and the young ones”

“It is our responsibility to make sure that whatever goes for media consumption is wholesome and will give strength of character to our children, our youth and to society as a whole”

As Ghana ends its 50th anniversary, he said the media should help transform the image of the country and the image the Ghanaian has for his fellow Ghanaian.

“It is quite painful to see how Ghanaians seem to have rather very little self-worth and confidence, and turn to run everything Ghanaian down for anything foreign,” he pointed out
Archbishop Palmer Buckle tasked the country’s media to bring about a true democracy that engenders the total well-being of all Ghanaians, especially the oppressed and marginalised.

He said: “By your choice of vocation or profession in the media, God puts into your grasp a very powerful tool, which is the word,” to bring development to the people.

He urged media practitioners never to take lightly their onerous responsibility, saying “you wield an instrument that is very powerful, creative, active and even dangerously deadly.”

Rev.Palmer-Buckle, whose address was mainly based on the Biblical perspective, asked journalists in the country to see themselves as “prophets”, saying “you are indeed like the prophets of the old, who gave voice to God so that his word could reach those to whom it was destined.”

He underscored the need for journalists to reflect on their profession and carry the good news to liberate the oppressed, set captives free, as well as bring hope to the poor.

As the fourth estate of the realm, he said, media practitioners are expected to be the conscience of the nation, the watchman that the Lord God has placed on the watchover of Ghana to watch over the citizens of the nation.

“The media practitioner in Ghana today must be a person who is guided by nobility and the quest for virtue, particularly, by the supreme good of the people to whom he or she has been sent,” he advised.

The media, he indicated, has the responsibility to ensure that whatever goes out for public consumption is wholesome and criticised the media for the prominence it has given to vice and crime in the country recently, saying “evil is very loud, but good, because it is normal and natural, it makes no news, no headlines”

“Sometimes, when I read some of the banner headlines of our dailies, like some two months ago, when it was all murder, cocaine, accidents, armed robbery, violence among chieftaincy factions,etc,I just asked myself, is it that really good image projection for the nation,? he said.

He urged journalists “not to teach vice inadvertently to our children and youth”, pointing out that too many bad news headlines about Ghana lead to discouraging fellow citizens, especially the young ones.

Archbishop Palmer-Buckle also asked the media to be circumspect with sensationalism and rather be more concerned about the “pusillanimous” spirits in society.

“It is our duty to weigh the ultimate result and impact of our publications vis-à-vis the greater good of the persons, the institutions and the nation at large in deciding what to inform the public with in our media presentations,” he said

Thursday, August 16, 2007

GJA Shortlists Award Winners

By Stephen K.Effah & Joyce Magan
Thursday, 16 August 2007

The Ghana Journalists Association yesterday announced a short-list of 10 journalists in both the print and electronic media as the award winners for its 12th Awards Night scheduled for this Saturday.

For the print media: William Asiedu of the Graphic Showbiz, Edmund Kofi Yeboah, Emmanuel Kojo Kwarteng, Kofi Akordor, all of the Daily Graphic, Anas Aremeyaw Anas of the Crusading Guide and John Vigah of the Ghanaian Times.

Peggy Ama Don-kor and Clare Ba-noeng-Yakubu both of the Ghana Television and Nana Aba Ana-moah of TV3 were shortlisted for the awards under the TV category, while Matilda Asante of Joy F.M. was the sole journalist shortlisted for the Radio category.

Announcing the winners in Accra, the Chairman of the Awards Committee, Kweku Rockson, said a total of 205 entries were received for the various categories, and described the selection process as "very tough" as the committee received some 2005 articles.

He said an objective approach was designed by the committee to assess all the entries received by creating an evaluation form for each of the committee members.

He said the criteria under which the committee awarded points were based on accuracy, balance, impact, background, ethical standard and language presentation.

He noted that clarity of voice, picture and sound quality, and technical issues including speeds and tracking were applied to radio and TV entries.

"For all categories, each entry was subjected to an in-depth scrutiny in order to determine whether it met the stipulated requirements," he indicated.

Mr.Rockson pointed out that the committee took no consideration of the fact that this year is the country’s Golden Jubilee, saying "much was expected of the entrants in celebration and recognition of the immense contributions of the mass media and of journalists to this country over the years."

NGOs To Evaluate Development In North

By Stephen K. Effah
Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Anational conference of civil society and non-governmental organisations is to be held in Accra in October to brainstorm and evaluate development investments in the three northern regions.

The conference will also discuss whether the three regions are getting the right support or not, or misappropriating funds received, or don’t have the right local commitment.

To be convened by Northern Ghana Aid, an NGO, the conference will be backed by a working group of professionals and experts who would use their expertise to support rapid poverty reduction in the three regions.

Mustapha Sanah, Executive Chairman of Northern Ghana Aid, said this when he called on the Managing Director of the New Times Corporation (NTC), Kofi Asuman, in Accra last Friday to present a copy of a blueprint to him ahead of the conference. The NTC publishes The Ghanaian Times, The Spectator and The Sporting Times.

The blueprint, developed by Northern Ghana Aid aims to set up the right strategies to help the development of the three regions through poverty reduction.

Mr. Sanah indicated that although a lot of money has gone to the three regions, the impact is minimal noting that even the people in the regions are skeptical about the fact that so much money has been pumped into the area.

He said that the poverty situation there continued to be serious and has been a major contributor to the migration of many northerners to the south.

He said the poverty situation should be seen as a "national crisis," and be treated as such.
He said his organisation has plans to institute a Northern Ghana Millennium Fund to support local initiatives in a renewed attempt to reduce poverty.

Mr.Sanah noted that although chiefs, the local assembly and unit committee members among others have good ideas, funding to implement those ideas has always been a constraint, adding that the three regions, Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions, have a huge agricultural potential to feed the whole country should the sector be given the required investment.

He commended the Ghanaian Times for the good work it is doing through its publication on developmental issues.

Mr. Asuman expressed worry about the situation in the north noting that in spite of the great number of NGOs there development still lags behind.