A Leopard can’t change its skin: PNDC versus Rev. Charles Palmer Buckle, NDC versus Rev Martey & Otabil

The Catholic Standard, before it was banned by the PNDC government of Jerry John Rawlings in 1985, was Ghana’s oldest private newspaper, owned by the Catholic Church of Ghana. The editor of the Catholic Standard during the PNDC era was Reverend Dr. Charles Palmer Buckle, the present ArchBishop of Accra.

It will be recalled that when the PNDC ousted Dr. Hilla Limann’s PNP government in 1981, the PNDC carried out several anti-democratic and human rights abuses against many Ghanaians including journalists, chiefs, traders, politicians, judges, university lecturers, ex-police and army officers, trade unionists, members of the clergy and ordinary citizens. For example apart from the murder of the three high court judges and an ex-army major in 1983, the regime also arrested and detained Kwesi Pratt and Kwaku Baako before being freed later on.

On 22 June, 1982, the publishers of the Free Press, Mr Tommy Thompson, his editor, Mr John Kugblenu, and Mike Adjei a senior writer of the paper, were all imprisoned without trial for penning editorials critical of the PNDC regime. After a year in detention the three were freed but John Kugblenu died a week after his release. In February 1985, the news-editor of the Pioneer newspaper together with Baffour Ankomah (the editor of Pioneer in Kumasi from 1983-6 and the New African magazine current editor) “were arrested and detained at Gondar Barracks in Accra accused of publishing ‘false reports’ about an assassination attempt on the life of Jerry Rawlings in Kumasi”. For their crime their heads were shaved. They were also tortured before being thrown into separate guardrooms. They were later released.

Fearing for their lives, several journalists, unionists, business people, politicians and army officers fled the country. For example the editors of Palaver and the Echo fled Ghana. John Dumoga, who edited The Echo, fled to Nigeria by means of a refuse truck. Baffour Ankomah later fled the country after his article ‘Ghana, Marxism and lies’ incurred the wrath of the PNDC apparatchiks.

In 1985 three union members of the Cocoa Marketing Board in Accra were arrested and sent to Gondar Barracks. One of them was tortured to death there. Another Ahmed Pobee, who was then 35 years, was seriously injured after a soldier violently stamped on his manhood. Pobee was freed but later escaped to Lagos in Nigeria after attempt were made to arrest him for the second time. Those journalists who stayed maintained a low profile, stopped writing anything political or branched into sports writing. These activities by the PNDC around the country, imposed what became known as the ‘culture of silence’ on the entire population.

However these atrocities did not go down well with the Catholic Standard and its editor Reverend Dr. Charles Palmer Buckle and many of the private press in the country including Free Press, The Palaver, The Echo, the Pioneer, The Believer, the Ghanaian Voice and many others. As a result the private press and particularly the Catholic Standard and Rev. Palmer Buckle became the mouthpiece of the silent majority. The Standard and its editor took it upon themselves to courageously fight for liberty and freedom for Ghanaians. For instance when John Kugblenu (editor of the Free Press) died in 1984, a week after his release from detention no paper was able to report it. It was Rev. Palmer Buckle and the Catholic Standard who mastered courage to report Kugblenu’s death.

Despite the threat to his life, Rev. Buckle did not budge. He actually developed a martyr’s complex, putting the interest of Ghanaians above his own life. He continued to highlight the brutalities of the regime while at the same time punching holes into the PNDC’s populist propaganda. As a result, Rev Buckle and the Catholic Standard became the target of the PNDC. In fact the agents of the PNDC became incensed and were more ever determined to eliminate the vociferous reverend minister. As Baffour Ankomah observed in his article ‘Ghana’s culture of silence’: “In November 1985, the same Catholic Standard [and Palmer Buckle] antagonised the government with a series of down-to-earth editorials. The editor, Revd Dr Palmer Buckle, became a target, but when government soldiers moved in for the kill, they mistook another priest for Revd Buckle. The priest’s body was found at the Choker beach near Accra the following morning.”

The killing of the priest by regime’s forces was not the first time a man of God, had been killed by the PNDC. Three years before that tragedy, a similar tragedy had happened in Kumasi.

According to Ankomah, the PNDC declared “February 7, 1982 a national day of prayer — every Muslim, every Christian was to pray and ask for God’s blessings on Ghana, especially for rains and prosperity which we needed badly. It was a solemn day. But it so happened that a major in the armed forces stationed in Kumasi, entered a church building where national prayers were being said to ask the congregation to come out to assist in filling potholes on the road in front of the church. A misunderstanding ensued. The major pulled a pistol. He was disarmed by a policewoman in the congregation who suffered a bullet wound in the face as a result. The gunshot so alarmed the congregation that they threw their Christianity out of the window and killed the major….When the news of his death reached the Kumasi Barracks, the Commander ordered his troops into town in pursuit of the fleeing murderers. A reign of terror was unleashed on the near one million residents of the city. For close up to a week, both the innocent and the guilty were arrested, several of them summarily executed, without trial. The pastor of the church was captured three days later and shot. The soldiers sadistically tied his mutilated body to the back of one of their trucks, dragged it along the road from the Barracks to the centre of town (some two miles away), left it to public view for more than eight hours, and finally set fire to it before the eyes of the bemused and frightened inhabitants. Some of the soldiers even ran to the hospital where the policewoman had been admitted. They found her in bed, having just come through a major operation. They shot her in the hospital bed, forcing all the other patients in the ward to flee for their lives. The soldiers then chased the surgeon who performed the operation around the hospital. Fortunately he was able to escape and flee the country. Later, the Commander of the troops came out publicly to say he had no regrets for the week’s incidents — the tyranny, the killing of innocents — and that if they had to do it again, they would.”

That is a short history of the PNDC and the Clergy in the 1980s. The PNDC became the NDC in 1992.

Fast forward to 2010-2016 and the story is almost the same except this time the names of the perpetrators (NDC) and the victims (Rev. Prof Emmanuel Martey of the Presbyterian Church and Rev Dr. Mensa Otabil) have changed.

In the last five years or so, the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rev Martey, and the founder of the International Central Gospel Church, Pastor Mensa Otabil, have taken on the mantle of leading the LORD’s sheep spiritually as well as ensuring their socio-economic well-being, something which is in line with the Gospel of Christ. Both reverend ministers have constantly urged past and present governments to administer the country prudently to ensure that Ghana does not remain marred in poverty and underdevelopment. They have also criticised the governments for putting the interest of their parties’ elites above that of Ghana and Ghanaians especially the misuse of public funds and corruption. Their admonitions and criticisms have not sat well with the NDC elites who are the beneficiaries of the economy. The anti-clergy forces, anti-development forces, and pro-corruption forces in the NDC have mobilised against the reverend ministers with the same venom as those who attacked Rev Palmer Buckle under the PNDC.

Recently Rev Otabil asked Ghanaians not to be happy with minimals but rather strive for better things: “We can’t just be happy because a road has been tarred. We can’t just be happy that we didn’t have electricity now we have electricity. We can’t be happy with minimals…citizens must have an appetite for better”. He added “We have to wrest the nation back and control it as citizens of this country and that is the challenge I want to put to you. You have to dare to dream to take our nation back…We have to battle, we have to fight, we have to wrest the destiny of our nation from incompetence and from people, who have determined to run us to the ground…I’m not saying take it back from one party to give it to another party; I’m saying the citizens must take their country back and run their own country” the Pastor said.

These comments made Solomon Nkansah, the National Communications Officer of the NDC, to go ballistic. He accused Rev Otabil of anti NDC bias and inciting Ghanaians against the government and said the reverend is a threat to Ghana’s security. “Under the guise of the Bible, he says all sorts of things against those he is not in support of. But you know what; God is bigger than him and so whenever he says such things people don’t listen to him. I am ashamed and scandalised as a Christian that a man of God can speak like Pastor Mensah Otabil has done…These are the men who are a threat to national security and co-existence. Because you don’t support the NDC government, you are inciting the public against the government. During the NPP regime he didn’t preach this way, he rather preached with the Ghana flag, why is he preaching this way now. The last time it was generational thinkers, today it’s about revolt against minority rule. We can’t continue to countenance such worrying conducts of this Pastor.”

Rev Martey has also come under fire from the NDC elites for saying politicians have tried to buy his silence with money and position. “Politicians had tried all means to muzzle me, to get me but they can’t, they come with bribes, fat envelopes, $100,000…You cannot get me with corruption…Never ever should any politician or political activist go to a pastor or minister with money in order to influence him; if you do that you’ll be in trouble.”

Koku Anyidoho (NDC deputy secretary) and George Loh (NDC MP for North Dayi) have been verbally assaulting the reverend, accusing him of being an NPP apologist and a corrupt man of God. George Loh said “there is something wrong with the Most Reverend and we have to take a second look at him” implying that the man of God is mentally sick. Anyidoho castigated him and said he would deal with him.

It seems Anyidoho, Nkansah, Loh and those castigating the men of God have not learnt from the past mistakes of the PNDC which gave birth to their party the NDC. Such treatment of the men of God by the elites in the NDC does not augur well for the party. The men of God are Ghanaians in the first place. They pay their taxes as Ghanaians. Also government policies whether good or bad affect them, their families and their congregation. They therefore have every right to praise or criticise any government. Asking them to shut up will not help them to fulfil their calling as pastors.

In the Bible Elijah took on King Ahab and his wife Jezebel after they led a corrupt lifestyle and seduced the people of Israel to worship Baal. Jeremiah criticised Kings Zedekiah and Uzziah and warned them of the consequences of disobeying God. Isaiah, Ezekiel and many prophets criticised the kings whose corrupt lifestyle displeased God. When they did not listen, God punished the kings by allowing them to be carried away into captivity. For example God used Nebuchadnezzar to punish Jehoiachin King of Judah by carrying him into captivity. Nebuchadnezzar also punished King Zedekiah whose children Nebuchadnezzar killed right before his eyes. He also put out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him in chains and carried him to Babylon. God used Jehu to destroy the entire household of Ahab and Jezebel. He also used Pharaoh Necho to dethrone Jehoahaz and took him to Egypt where he died there.

The NDC elites should not act like Ahab and Zedekiah but must strive to build a better relationship with the men of God and God.

By Lord Aikins Adusei


ECG Privatisation: Privatising for who? The experience of Australia, UK

By Lord Aikins Adusei

The financial, managerial and technical challenges facing the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) have galvanised the apostles of privatisation, anti-state ownership of business and the neoliberal-free market capitalists to strongly advocate for ECG to be privatised.

Their argument is that selling ECG will make it more efficient, financially resilient and economically prosperous. ECG when privatised they argue, will bring huge benefits to Ghana in the form of security of power supply.

In other words power supply will be reliable and the current system of power cuts, blackouts and power rationing will be a thing of the past because privatisation will bring in additional capital, investments and technical and managerial talents.

In the long term prices will be stable or even fall and consumers will be happy. Taxes to government will increase and more jobs in the energy sector will be created. For the government of Ghana, money raised through the sale of ECG will enable it to increase expenditure, cut taxes or repay the nation’s debt.

At the same time privatising ECG will enable the government to access the $500 million Millennium Challenge Compact Funds promised by the US government.

But these are all illusions. In the first wave of privatisation that took place in Ghana in the 1990s, Ghanaians were told that the companies and individuals buying state owned companies would transform them into thriving enterprises providing Ghanaians with endless job opportunities and thus turning Ghana into a prosperous nation.

What they did not tell Ghanaians was that the IMF, the World Bank, the British and the U.S. governments through USAID were behind the push for Ghana to sell its assets as a condition for more loans. In other words these actors used Ghana’s poor financial situation to demand the dismantling of the state and its assets.

There is strong evidence that Mr. Jerry Rawlings and the PNDC resisted pressure to sell state owned-companies. But the IMF, the World Bank, the Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher administrations piled on the pressure using several tactics.

A message from the White House to USAID representatives instructed that they should make sure Ghana sold everything.

Needing cash and unable to raise it at home, the National Democratic Congress party which replaced the PNDC went on a selling spree selling both performing and non-performing companies alike. By 1999 almost 70 percent of state owned assets had been sold. While majority of the state-owned companies sold went to Ghanaians, most of the high valued ones were sold to foreigners. As Prof Antoinette Handley of University of Toronto observed in 2007: “Of 212 divestitures, 169 were sold to locals. This may look like a high figure, but the firms sold to locals were overwhelmingly the smallest, least valuable firms and, in terms of value, may have comprised only ten percent of the total” [1].

One of the sectors of the economy which saw rapid privatisation was the mining sector. The most valuable company in the mining industry was the Ashanti Goldfields Company. For decades the company was controlled by the British firm Lonrho with Ghana having little to no shares at all. Lonrho needed to extend its leases in the 1960s and so it agreed to grant the Ghanaian government 20 percent share in the company to allow the leases to be renewed. When Acheampong’s military government took over power in 1972, it realised how Ghana had been shortchanged. How could Ghana which owned the gold be having only 20 percent shares while a foreign firm controlled everything? the leaders asked. Therefore, Acheampong seized another 35 percent for Ghana, bringing Ghana’s total shares to 55 percent.

However, in 1994 the Rawlings led-NDC government privatised AGC by selling 39.8 percent of its shares. Ghana received more than $454 million from the sale of AGC. What happened to that money is a story for another day. However, Ghana subsequently became a minority shareholder with only 15.2 percent shares in AGC when the NPP replaced the NDC in 2001. Ghana Consolidated Diamonds Limited and other mining firms were also sold.

How did the privatisation of AGC and the mining sector benefit Ghana and how will privatisation of ECG benefit the country? Several reports by the World Bank, United Nations, and Bank of Ghana have revealed that the privatisation of the mining sector has been detrimental to the economy and the welfare of the people of Ghana particularly the communities and farmers in the mining areas. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in 2003 for example, mineral exports from Ghana generated $893.6 million but Ghana got only $46.7 million or just 5% while the companies took the remaining 95% or 846.9 million [2]. Similarly, The UK based The Economist magazine reported that: “Gold accounted for 40% of [Ghana’s] exports in 2008, with a value of $2.2 billion. But the government received only $116m in taxes and royalties from mining firms” [3].

In 2003, the World Bank (the chief advocate of privatisation in Ghana) acknowledged that Ghana has not benefited from mining activities in terms of revenue, employment, infrastructure development and environmental sustainability and urged Ghana’s leaders to take steps to reverse the trend but nothing happened. Using very diplomatic words the World Bank wrote that:

“It is unclear what gold mining true benefits are to Ghana. Large scale mining by foreign companies has high import content and produces only modest amounts of net foreign exchange for Ghana after accounting for all its outflows. Similarly, its corporate tax payments are low due to various fiscal incentives necessary to attract and retain foreign investors. Employment creation is also modest given the highly capital intensive nature of modern surface mining techniques. Local communities affected by large scale mining have seen little benefits to date in the form of improved infrastructure or services provision because much of the rents from mining are used to finance recurrent, not capital expenditure. A broader cost-benefit analysis of large-scale mining that factors in social and environmental costs and includes consultations with the affected communities needs to be undertaken before granting future production licences” [4].

The suffering and agony of farmers and local communities affected by large scale surface mining and who have seen little benefits of mining to date was captured in a study by a Ghanaian scholar Jasper Ayelazuno in 2011. One female farmer from Dumasi in the Western Region told him:

“There is one important thing for us as peasant women in this village that I must mention. We are not educated to get a different job so we depend solely on our land. When we go to the forest, we can fetch firewood free for our own energy needs and to sell for income. But what has the Ghanaian state done? It has given all our land to the white man to mine for gold; and not to do underground mining but surface mining, destroying all our arable lands. In the midst of all this, I cannot say the state of Ghana is good to me or responsive to me. On top of that, the Ghanaian state has given the white man the authority to do whatever they want to us: I have my own land and I cannot have access to it; my water sources (the streams) have been polluted, etc. Up till date, the Ghanaian state has not come to our aid, either to check these mining activities or to provide us with potable water since the mines have polluted our water sources. For me, there is nothing that the Ghanaian state can do for me to view it as a responsive state; so both the past and present government have not helped us” [5].

Since the days of privatisation, more than 50,000 farmers have been displaced by the mining companies who continue to refuse to pay satisfactory compensation to the farmers. While a cocoa farmer could earn $25 a year from a single cocoa tree, mining companies only pay about $8 per tree when they cut the cocoa trees for their mining operations. The economic life of a cocoa tree is between 40 and 50 years [6]. This means most cocoa farmers lose between $1000 and $1250 per a cocoa tree. If this is multiplied by 50 or 100 cocoa trees the financial loss to a farmer could be between $50,000 and $125,000. This injustice is allowed to happen to cocoa farmers because of the mining companies’ closeness to Ghana’s elites. These facts and realities are hardly acknowledged  by the torch-bearers of ECG privatisation.

The privatisation of ECG will not be different from what is happening in the mining sector, in fact its impact on Ghana may be far more severe because of electricity’s strategic role in the economy. ECG is a strategic asset, meaning it constitutes a vital part of Ghana’s economy and hence its security. For instance, a private company distributing electricity could decide to sabotage the economy by failing to distribute power to critical sectors of the economy.

One of the reasons why there are constant fuel shortages in Nigeria is due to the fact that import of petroleum products is controlled by few private companies and individuals who sometimes hold the country to ransom by failing to import and distribute fuel. They sometimes create artificial shortage to force prices up just to increase their profit margins. It is this energy and economic security fears which has led Prime Minister Theresa May of UK to kick against China’s involvement of the Hinkely Point C nuclear power project.

From the perspective of the Ghanaian state, the ultimate aim of electricity privatisation is to give consumers lower prices, promote efficiency and reliability, and drive better investment decisions.

But the experience of Australia, United Kingdom and the United States which have embarked on electricity privatisation tells the opposite story. In the United Kingdom, the privatisation of electricity has resulted in six big private energy companies dominating the sector including British Gas, Npower, Scottish Power, E.ON, EDF Energy, and Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE).

The profit-making motives of these companies leading to high prices have made electricity unaffordable for many companies, households and families. As a result, thousands of people die of fuel poverty every year especially during the cold winter and hot summer months. Between 2012 and 2013 over 31,000 died [7] while in 2014 over 15,000 people died [8]. Some families have to choose between food and heating and lighting their homes. Despite the presence of well-developed consumer advocacy groups and media campaigns, energy is the second most important factor after housing rent that takes away a large chunk of people’s income.

In Australia where some states have privatised electricity, Prof John Quiggin, an Economist at University of Queensland who spent 20 years analysing electricity privatisation in Australia points out that in states in Australia where electricity is privatised, “Privatisation has produced no benefits to consumers, but has resulted in large financial losses to the public”.

Privatisation has resulted in dramatic rise in electricity prices as well as serious customer dissatisfaction and complaints. He observed that “Privatisation, corporatisation and the creation of competitive electricity markets were supposed to give consumers lower prices and more choice, promote efficiency and reliability, and drive better investment decisions for new generation and improved transmission and distribution networks. [Instead] prices have risen dramatically. A secure low-cost supply has been replaced with a bewildering array of offers, all at costs inflated by a huge expansion in marketing” [9].

His findings which is contained in a report titled “Electricity Privatisation in Australia: A Record Failure” include the following:

Prices— have reversed their declining trend, and are highest in privatised States. Since the NEM [National Energy Market] was introduced, prices from 2005 have risen sharply.

Quality — customer dissatisfaction has risen markedly since the NEM, profoundly for privatised States, where complaints to the relevant energy ombudsmen have grown from 500 per year to over 50,000’. ‘Reliability— has declined across a wide range of measures in Victoria [state], notwithstanding increased “physical audits” and expensive financial “market incentive” programs.

Efficient investment — has not occurred, as the pricing mechanisms have not delivered coherent signals for optimal investment.’ ‘Efficient operation— resources have been diverted away from operational functions to management and marketing, resulting in higher costs and poorer service…The NEM and privatisation have reduced real labour productivity, as employment and training of tradespeople have been gutted and the numbers of less productive managerial and sales staff have exploded.”

Consumers bear the cost of private owners’ debts— ‘In privatised States, customers’ bills include the cost of almost 10% per annum interest on the corporate owners’ debt on the electricity assets. This compares to government borrowing costs of closer to 3%. The NEM has mimicked these exorbitant borrowing costs to all customers.’ Private owners are receiving unjustifiably high rates of return based on the low investment risk — ‘The high rates of return to private owners for the low investment risk is unjustifiable and irresponsible. The private owners of price-regulated distribution assets have outperformed almost all investment classes, by making post-tax real rates of returns close to 10% annually since 2006.’

The examples from Australia and United Kingdom indicate that privatising ECG could deepen socio-economic inequality because affordability rather than access and needs will be the rule. Private companies, who will put profit-making above everything else, will use price increase as a strategy to make huge profits. They will expect Ghanaians to bear the cost of their investment through price hikes. Not all consumers in Ghana will be able to afford the huge price hikes. Electricity could even become a luxury commodity allowing those with the means to buy to live, leaving those without the means to live without it, with serious socio-economic consequences for them and their families. As Ghana seeks the best way to produce and distribute electricity, policymakers must know that privatisation is not always the answer and in Ghana’s case will be unbeneficial.


[1] Handley, A. (2007) ‘Business, Government, and the Privatisation of the Ashanti Goldfields Company in Ghana’ Canadian Journal of African Studies, 41:1, 1-37 (see pp 8 and 12)

[2] UNCTAD (2003) ‘Economic Development of Africa: Rethinking the Role of Foreign Direct Investment’ http://unctad.org/en/Docs/gdsafrica20051_en.pdf (see page 50)

[3] The Economist (2010) ‘Carats and sticks: mining in Ghana’ The Economist, 3 April 2010.

[4] World Bank (2003) ‘An assessment of the performance of Mining in Ghana’; http://lnweb90.worldbank.org/oed/oeddoclib.nsf/docunidviewforjavasearch/a89aedb05623fd6085256e37005cd815/$file/ppar_26197.pdf  (see page 23)

[5] Ayelazuno, J (2011) ‘Continuous primitive accumulation in Ghana: the real-life stories of dispossessed peasants in three mining communities, Review of African Political Economy, 38:130, 537-550’ (see pp. 544-5),

[6] Tickner, V. (2008) ‘Africa: International Food Price Rises & Volatility’, Review of African Political Economy, 35:117, 508-514 (see page 4)

[7] The Telegraph (2013) ‘Energy row erupts as winter deaths spiral 29 per cent to four year high of 31,000’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/elder/10474966/Energy-row-erupts-as-winter-deaths-spiral-29-per-cent-to-four-year-high-of-31000.html

[8] The Independent (2015) ‘Fuel poverty killed 15,000 people last winter’ 30 April 2015 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/fuel-poverty-killed-15000-people-last-winter-10217215.html

[9] Quiggin, J. (2014) ‘Electricity privatisation in Australia: A record of failure’ 20 February, 2014

Can Ivory Coast’s Nightmare today, Be Ghana’s Tomorrow?

By Lord Aikins Adusei

In 1989 Liberia suffered a very devastating civil war. So violent was the war that by 1996 it had killed 200,000 of the 2.4 million people living in the country. About 750,000 people fled the war and became refugees in neighboring countries. Internally between 1 and 1.2 million people were displaced, creating a complex humanitarian emergency in the country.

During the Liberian civil war Côte d’lvoire or (Ivory Coast) played several key roles in fueling the conflict. First, it was from Côte d’lvoire that Charles Taylor invaded Liberia on 24 December 1989. Second, Ivorian politicians and businessmen colluded with and supported Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) to wage his war of aggression against Samuel Doe and the Liberian state by illegally providing weapons to Taylor. Third Ivorian officials also allowed Ivorian territory to be used by Taylor to export timber, diamond and other products illegally taken from Liberia.

William Reno author of “Liberia and Sierra Leone: Competition for patronage in resource-rich economies” observed that “in the logging industry, for example, Taylor invited investment from a Liberian timber association located across the border in San Pedro, Côte d’Ivoire. The five members of this association paid ‘taxes’ in the order of a quarter million dollars each during 1991–92. They also took over state-like functions, visibly directing ‘tax’ payments to local officials, financing NPFL operations, and providing local utilities. These operations, which included participation from Ivorian officials across the border, tapped into a lucrative transit trade in timber exports and arms imports”.

Registering their displeasure about the involvement in the Liberian civil war by the Ivorian elites, New Democrat, a daily newspaper in Liberia wrote in 1995 that “for over five years, Ivorian politicians and businessmen have rejoiced at Liberia’s nightmare”. Ivorian politicians and businessmen did not only look the other way while their neighbor was being destabilized, they also physically collaborated with Taylor and other rebel groups, supplying them with weapons and allowing them and their criminal associates and networks to export their illegally acquired minerals, timber and other economic goods through Ivory Coast.

The support Taylor received from Ivory Coast and his subsequent successes in capturing large part of Liberia enabled him to sponsor the creation of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone, a rebel group whose atrocities against the civilian population has not been matched anywhere in West Africa.

However little did the Ivorian politicians and businessmen know that Liberia’s security nightmare which they helped to create and profited from would one day come to haunt and hurt their country. It all began when some of the weapons the Ivorian elites helped to ship to the rebels started finding its way back into Ivory Coast. Sold on the black market, the weapons were used to commit crimes and set the stage for the crisis in Ivory Coast. La Voie, a daily newspaper in Abidjan wrote in 1995 that the negative consequence of the weapons Ivorian officials allowed into Liberia “is the rise of crime rates thanks to the weapons we are supplying to Liberian rebels, and which are in turn sold on the Ivorian black market by these very same Liberians”.

In September 2012 Ivory Coast accused Ghana of allowing loyalists of former president Laurent Gbagbo living on its soil to overthrow the government in Abidjan. Cherif Moussa, Ivorian Army spokesman was quoted by Associated Press as saying “Our positions in Noe [the Ivorian town bordering Ghana] were attacked by gunmen coming from Ghana…In reaction, our men killed four attackers and five of them were arrested.” The allegations were collaborated by a leaked UN Report in October 2012 which found that Ivorian dissidents living in Ghana have established a “strategic command” with the aim to overthrow Quattara’s government. Similar allegations were made by Ivory Coast against Liberia in June 2012 after seven UN Peacekeepers were killed on the Ivorian side of Liberia-Ivorian border. Ivory Coast threatened to invade Liberia with Defense Minister Koffi Koffi saying: “These people came from the other [Liberian] side of the border. They are militias and mercenaries…We must go to the other [Liberian] side of the border to establish a security zone. We will clean up and secure the zone. This will be done, of course, with the agreement of the two countries.”

However, whether the allegations of abetment of crime are true or false this is not the time for Liberia to pay back Ivory Coast for the thoughtlessness of her leaders, neither should the past sins of Ivorian politicians and businessmen provide any justification for Ghana to allow her territory to be used by dissidents to destabilize Ivory Coast as has been alleged by the UN.

As a matter of fact the continued insecurity in Ivory Coast has political, economic, diplomatic and security implications for Ghana. For example there is a higher possibility that if the insecurity in Ivory Coast worsens and if the dissidents are allowed to operate from Ghana the violence could spillover into Ghana which will put life and economic activities (including oil production) in the border area in danger. It could also harm diplomatic and bilateral trade relations between Ghana and Ivory Coast. Cooperation on a number of traditional security and non traditional security threats including weapons proliferation, terrorism, piracy, climate change, food security and other transnational threats could be harmed. Most importantly it could put on hold efforts to amicably resolve the dispute over oil and gas resources along the Ghana-Ivorian border. Ghana’s image abroad as peace-loving and democratic country could also be damaged badly. The instability also has the potential to sow the seed of mistrust and suspicion between the governments in Accra and Abidjan, a situation which could harm regional integration efforts.

President John Mahama’s statement in the UN in which he promised not to allow Ghana to be used as a technology to destabilize Ivory Coast is assuring. Also welcoming is the denial by Ghana’s Foreign Ministry that Ghana is not supporting any group to destabilize her neighbor. These comments indicate that the government of Ghana recognizes that Ghana stands to benefit strategically from a stabled Ivory Coast than a crisis ridden neighbor.

However, the Ghanaian government must go beyond promises, pledges, assurances and denials. Accra must demonstrate that it has the intent, capability and willingness to deal with any individual or group whether Ivorian or Ghanaian who might want to exploit the Ivorian situation to their advantage. Put differently the officials of Ghana must translate their words into action by, as a matter of urgency and of necessity, swiftly deal with any Gbagbo backed elements in Ghana who might want to use the hospitality of Ghana to foment trouble in Côte d’lvoire. Every effort must be made by the Ghanaian government to deny those elements any resources: human, munitions, financial and intelligence which could enable them to carry out their diabolical plans. This will send a clear and convincing message to the Ivorian government that Accra is not in cahoots with Gbagbo supporters living in Ghana.

In this regard more aggressive screening of the Ivorian refugees living in Ghana is needed to offer protection to genuine asylum seekers while flushing out criminals hiding inside their midst. Border patrols on the Ghana side of the border should be intensified to reduce any infiltration by people hell bent on toppling the government in Abidjan. If needs be the government of Ghana should consider moving some of the ten thousand and six hundred active land forces of the Ghana Armed Forces to the regions immediately bordering Côte d’lvoire to secure the border from any infiltration by the dissidents.

Intelligence (particularly human and technological intelligence) has a major role to play to neutralize any planned effort by dissidents to establish the so called ‘strategic command’ in Ghana. The various security and intelligence services in Ghana including military intelligence, Bureau of National Investigations should collaborate among themselves and with their Ivorian counterparts to deny the dissidents any operational capability in Ghana.

Serious cooperation and lines of communication should be established between the political leadership in both countries to discuss ways of finding lasting solution to the Ivorian crisis. Ghana must also work closely with regional leaders and with the government in Ivory Coast to share information about activities of Ivorians living in Ghana. Also Ghana and the leadership in West Africa must encourage Quattara to have genuine reconciliation involving all the people in the country. This could bring lasting peace to Ivory Coast.

While the above are being done, President Mahama must demand full report from the security and intelligence officials whose actions and inactions might have led to the UN indictment which has greatly brought embarrassment to the country. The report should explain what the security and intelligence officials knew about the subversive activities of the ‘mercenaries’ and how they acted or did not act to foil the activities of the ‘mercenaries’ before UN indicted the country. The president should take action against officials whose negligence and failures not only led the Ivorian authorities to close their side of the border but also caused the UN to indict the country.

The appropriate Parliamentary Select Committee(s) with oversight responsibility for the institutions charged with ensuring Ghana’s security, sovereignty and territorial integrity must do their work. Answers must be demanded from the Minister of Interior, the head of National Security Council, and the National Security Coordinator regarding the alleged use of Ghana’s soil for subversive activities by enemies of a foreign government.

Ghana must assure her neighbor both in words and in deeds that Ghana can be trusted when it comes to promoting peace, security and stability in their country. This is particularly important because of the economic and security impact that instability and insecurity in Ivory Coast is likely to have on Ghana.

This notwithstanding, the government of Ghana must abide by its international obligation to provide security, food and shelter to those Ivorians in Ghana who are genuine refugees and who want to seek asylum because their life might be in danger if they return.

By Lord Aikins Adusei

The Emerging Security Threats and Ghana Special Forces (Part 2)


By Lord Aikins Adusei

Does Ghana Need Special Forces?
West Africa where Ghana is situated occupies a strategically important position as a major energy supplier to the global energy market. Unfortunately the region is fast gaining notoriety and as a hub of militancy, terrorism, piracy, arm smuggling and drug trafficking. The growing threat from these sources demands a clear cut response to deal with them so as to redeem the region from its impacts. Ghana as ECOWAS state is not immune from such threats.

There is enough evidence to suggest that drug cartels in Latin America have taken advantage of the poorly patrolled shorelines of West Africa using large mother ships to carry tonnes of cocaine and then station them on high seas. Afterwards they would use smaller boats to break them up for distribution to West African countries for onward shipment to Europe and America. Part of the evidence indicates that the cartels are moving major components of their operations to Ghana and other West African countries. This increasingly use of Ghana and West Africa by South American drug cartels poses serious existential threat to the security, peace and stability of the country and also to the entire sub region. Observers of the West African criminal networks have noted that the drug cartels are becoming bolder and sophisticated in their operations emboldened by large the profits they are making from the drug trade part of which has been used to acquire sophisticated weapons to protect their illegal activities.

In 2007 the UN published a report titled “Cocaine trafficking in West Africa: The threat to stability and development”. The report reiterated the need for serious human and material resources to be mobilised to confront the cartels and their operations and free Ghana and West Africa from the menace of the drug problem.

Writing in the African Security journal in 2009 on the threat narco-trafficking poses to Ghana and the West African subregion, Kwesi Aning, security expert at Kofi Annan Peace Keeping Centre in Ghana noted that:

“This [narco-trafficking] is the new frontier of war and an attack on West Africa’s fragile states. A threat that is more insidious and dangerous than the conflicts that engulfed West Africa in the 1990s and early twenty-first century. This is because the increasing flow of drugs through West African States is beginning to undermine the state, through weakening its institutions, its local communities, and its social fabric. Narco-incomes are replacing the legitimate incomes, and in some instances are providing services previously the responsibility of the states. Incomes from narcotics are basically distorting and undermining economies. The drug trade now forms a major part of transnational criminal activities taking place in West Africa. A whole sub-region now serves as a major transit point for illicit drugs coming mainly from South and Central America and Southeast and Southwest Asia to final destinations in South Africa, Europe, and North America. Critical transit points in Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mali, and Niger are witnessing an onslaught of drugs passing through their airports, harbors, and porous borders”.

Dr. Aning emphasised that the “narcotics poses a serious and veritable threat to West African states and threatens to undo all of the hesitant but positive steps that have occurred in the past decade”.

Examples worldwide including Mexico and Columbia indicate that regular armies are not capable of defeating the often sophisticated, well-funded and heavily armed drug cartels. The critical question is whether Ghana’s regular armed forces can defeat the cartels who are using Ghana as a base for their operations. The evidence is that it is unlikely. The sophisticated manner in which the cartels are operating demands that a specialised unit within the Ghana Navy, Army and Air Force be established and equipped with the capabilities and assets to confront them.

Terrorism is a global problem and many armed forces are reforming themselves to respond to its challenge. West Africa and the Sahel region are also increasingly becoming a hot bed for terrorism. There are reports that AQIM or Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has plans to export terrorism to Sub Sahara Africa. Nigeria has become the latest casualty.

Already the governments of Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria have met to address the threat posed by terrorists. In January 2012 a similar meeting was held in Nouakchott by Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria. In Nigeria Boko Haram caught the Nigeria security forces unaware and it is fair to say that the armed forces and other security services struggled to mount a proper response to the Boko Haram challenge. The Federal government headed by Goodluck Jonathan came under serious criticism both home and abroad for not being able to deal with the Boko Haram threat. Part of the reason is that Nigeria armed forces appear not to have the specialised elite forces needed to deal with terrorism.

Documents we have seen indicate that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have big plans for the entire Sub Sahara Africa region including Ghana. Given the fact that no country is immune from terrorism a wait and see approach to the terror threat may not help Ghana in the long run. It will therefore be in order if Ghana gets itself prepared now to establish Special Forces within the Ghana Armed Forces for the purpose of confronting the global problem of terrorism.

Militancy in West Africa especially in oil producing countries is a major problem. Almost all the countries in Africa where oil is being produced have seen some kind of instabilities and warfare; from Angola, to Congo, to Ivory Coast to Libya, to Nigeria and Sudan the examples are many. Ghana being an emerging oil producing country, the threats of few disgruntled individuals taking up arms and causing upset in the country cannot be ruled out in the long term. Already there is clear indication that weapon proliferation in Ghana (which could make instability in the oil producing part of Ghana possible) is growing and will give the country enormous challenge if it is not dealt with.

Writing in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies Kwesi Aning of the Kofi Annan Centre noted in 2008 that:

“While Ghana is generally perceived as a stable state, there are enough small arms in circulation to be worrying. In addition, there is increasing anxiety that the instability that has engulfed the West African region can impact negatively on Ghana if concerted endeavours are not undertaken to understand and map its proliferation of small arms. Critical indicators of the proliferation of small arms in Ghana are the daily reports of firearms-related criminal activities in all parts of the country, and the widespread availability and misuse of small arms, particularly pump action guns, shotguns, pistols and AK47s.”

Now take these weapons and send it to Takoradi, give it to few disgruntled people in the region and we will have major problems similar to the petrodollar-insurgency in Nigeria. In short the availability of these weapons coupled with other factors has the potential to affect the security of oil and gas production, transportation and supply effort of the country.

Research conducted in Takoradi and its environs indicate that the ingredients that have fueled the petro-insurgency in the Niger Delta also exist in Western Region. In Nigeria the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and other ethnic militias has been behind many of the attacks on oil and gas pipelines and other installations in the country. These attacks have sometimes affected gas supply from Nigeria to Ghana. The problem is that Nigeria’s regular forces have not been able to defeat the militants, a problem that forced the government to finally declare amnesty for the militants which reduced attacks on oil and gas facilities. But signs have appeared that the militants have resumed their activities.

As Ghana’s oil production surges the threat of attacks on oil and gas installations must be taken serious. The threats by the youth in Jomoro that they will cause mayhem if the gas plant is not established in their district should not be taken lightly.

Hostage taking of oil and gas workers is a major appetite for criminal syndicates seeking to profit illegally from the oil and gas sectors. In many parts of the world it has been the duty of Special Forces to eliminate the threats posed by hostage takers and kidnappers. Unlike Nigeria, Ghana today has not gotten to the situation where oil and gas workers are kidnapped on the daily bases, but to prepare for that day will not be a wrong thing to do.

From what is known in Nigeria about the failures to deal decisively with the militants the best team that can adequately response to threats against oil and gas infrastructures may be a specially trained elite force.

Another potential threat to Ghana’s oil and gas production ambitions comes from Ivory Coast which has declared its intention to contest oil and gas resources at the Ghana-Ivorian border. While the Ivorian claims can be settled peacefully through negotiation, arbitration or cooperation, confrontation cannot be ruled out when dialogue fails. The role of Special Forces in any modern war is of so strategic value that it cannot be reduced to party politics. In other words oil and gas production and supply come with it security challenges that cannot be ignored by any serious energy producing country.

Another threat Ghana must prepare to deal with is the activities of pirates. The number of pirates’ activities off the coast of the Gulf of Guinea including Ghana and West Africa is growing. Major oil tankers and cargo ships carrying oil and raw materials from the Gulf of Guinea to U.S. and Europe have come under serious attacks from pirates. According to reports the pirates usually come with fast speed boats with sophisticated weapons, hijack ships, demand money and cart away its goods. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Live Piracy map and Live Piracy Report indicate that Gulf of Guinea in West Africa is one of the key zones where ships are increasingly under threat of being hijacked by pirates. The activities of pirates are increasingly threatening shipping routes, and trade in West Africa including Ghana. The pirates’ activities not only threaten the lives of crew but also put business and trade (the lifeblood of the resource export economies in West Africa including Ghana) under threat.

On February 9th, 2012 at 04am local time four robbers armed with long knives boarded an offshore tug berthing at the Takoradi Port, in Ghana stole goods from the ship’s stores. The robbers threatened the watchmen who were on duty with long knives and escaped in a canoe with their stolen goods. Although the crew was safe and no casualties were reported the attack itself speaks volume of the threat that oil and cargo ships operating in Ghana ports and coastal waters face. What worries many experts and industry leaders is that the pirates are attacking ships further and further away from the coast leaving ships, their cargo and their crews very much vulnerable.

There are reports that shipping insurers in London are beginning to increase premium for ships operating in West African coastal waters including Ghana. Other reports also speak of oil and shipping companies asking NATO and Western governments to provide them with security to eliminate the pirates’ threat in West Africa and the Horn of Africa. If the pirates’ activities is allowed unchecked it will endanger business and trade activities not only in Ghana but also in the entire subregion.

What is important so far as Ghana is concerned is its national security, economic security, political stability, international trade, and protection of human life. The growing threat from drug cartels, arms traffickers pirates, militants, and terrorists to the security of Ghana and its neighbours shows that it will be difficult for Ghana to confront these threats without adequately developing its own special forces to deal decisively with them.

The key problem in Ghana is for the ruling government not to politicise the establishment of such elite forces and issuing threats to the effect that such forces will be used to deal with the opposition parties. For as soon as such threats are issued it degrades the importance of such a strategic national asset and weakens its standing in the eyes of the public.

Therefore it is crucial that the generals and admirals in the Ghana Armed Forces adhere to the concept of military honour which stipulates that the professional soldier must be above politics meaning that, in domestic politics, generals and admirals should do well not to attach themselves to political parties or overtly display partisanship. Therefore as noted by Sam C. Sarkesian the doctrine of an impartial, nonpartisan, objective career service, loyally serving whatever administration or party that is in power must be religiously respected by the Armed Forces to avert a situation where one political party will be inclined to dissolve the Special Forces when they come to power.

Written by Lord Aikins Adusei
Email: politicalthinker1@yahoo.com


Aning, Kwesi (2008) “From ‘voluntary’ to a ‘binding’ process: towards the securitisation of small arms” Journal of Contemporary African Studies 26:2, pp.169-181

Aning, Kwesi (2009) “Perspectives on President Barack Obama’s Africa Foreign Policy” African Security, 2:1, pp. 66-67


The Emerging Security Threats and Ghana Special Forces (Part 1)



By Lord Aikins Adusei

The participation of Ghana’s Special Forces in the country’s 55th Independence anniversary has ignited debate as first whether it is necessary for Special Forces to be created and second whether it was necessary for the force to be showcased the way it was. It is the belief of this author that per the traditional and non-traditional threats posed to the country and the West Africa sub region it is indeed prudent for such a force to be created. As to whether it was necessary for the force to be showcased the belief is that it depends on the function and role the special force is supposed to play.

What are Special Forces?
The development of Special Forces has a long history. Great Empires of history were built with armies that had Special Forces established in them. In the old Testament of the Holy Bible we are told in 1 Chronicle 11:10-15 and 1 Samuel 25:13; 27:2 that within King David’s regular soldiers of 400 to 600 men there were 30 elite men who helped him to establish and consolidate his monarchy. These 30 elite warriors which included Joab, Yashobeam, Eleazar, Shammah and Abishai are known in military vocabulary as David Heroes (or haggibborim in Hebrew). Colonel Yasotay, an officer in the army of Genghis Khan, the great Mongolian Emperor, is reported to have told General Khan that “when the hour of crisis comes, remember that 40 selected men can shake the world”. Colonel Yasotay was referring to how during missions of national strategic importance or during military campaign, a small but specially trained elite force could change the dynamics and outcome of a complex and difficult situation far beyond any physical measure of their capability.

Special Forces (SF) are smaller secret military units within a country’s armed forces which perform specific assignments in furtherance of the objectives of the state. According to Alastair Finlan, an expert in Strategic Studies at Aberystwyth University UK, Special Forces represent a different kind of soldier who can operate overtly and covertly, not only on the battlefield and behind enemy lines, but also – when necessary – undercover within civil society. Anna Simons and David Tucker both defence experts at the Department of Defense Analysis of the US Naval Postgraduate School, write that Special Forces comprise of specific units with a range of different, but sometimes overlapping capabilities. Sergio Miller, a BBC researcher, adds that Special Forces are silent warriors who combine minimum manpower demands with maximum possibilities of surprise to achieve the impossibilities. They are strategic assets to their militaries helping regular and irregular forces to achieve overwhelming advantage over the enemy.

Many modern armed forces have Special Forces that carry out special and daring missions on behalf of the nation. However, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in U.S. and the successes of Special Forces during the Afghan and Iraq wars, there have been renewed interest and substantial growth in the number of Special Forces worldwide. It is estimated that there are now more than 70 countries worldwide with their own Special Forces. Since 1948 the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has relied on three well known Special Forces including Sayeret, Shayetet 13, and Shaldag.

In the British Armed Forces, Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) are very popular units which carry covert and special operations around the world on behalf of the British government. In the United States Special Forces units fall under the command of U.S. Special Operational Command (USSOCOM) and include US Navy SEALs; US Army Special Forces units (popularly called the Green Berets), US Army Rangers, Special Mission Units, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Civil Affairs (CA), Psychological Operation forces (PSYOP); US Air Force special tactics teams and fixed wing and rotary wing air assets.

In the U.S. for example Special Forces have transitioned from a marginalised force structure to a prominent and vital part of the strategy of the U.S. military. Jennifer D. Kibbe, Olin Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, notes that Special Forces have become an increasingly important weapon not only in the U.S. military but also in the broader U.S. national security arsenal.

Matthew Johnson of Missouri State University, points out that the growing importance of Special Forces has made them the force of choice to confront a broad spectrum of irregular threats that dominate the current security environment. According to Steven Lambakis, an analyst at the National Institute for Public Policy in Fairfax, U.S.A., Special Forces have become the force of choice worldwide because they have the ability to perform at different levels of conflict, independently and in conjunction with larger operations. Sergio Miller points out that Special Forces “succeed because they do the undoable. . . Special forces, quite simply, are an army’s joker hand”.

Why are Special Forces established?
Special Forces are established for specific reasons. Alastair Finlan quoted above has observed that the imbalance between the British and German Air Forces during World War II forced Britain to establish the Special Air Service (SAS) which went ahead to use unconventional methods and techniques to alter the strategic situation in favour of the British forces. He adds that the SAS was formed “because it appeared to offer a cost- effective means of redressing the balance using men armed with high explosives dropped off near their targets by lorry or jeep”.

Special Forces are also established to respond to unexpected situations such as unexpected attacks by enemy forces, kidnapping and hostage taking by terrorists, pirates and militant groups. Anna Simons and David Tucker quoted above observe that the US Army Rangers for example specialises in seizing airfields while Special Mission Units train specifically for hostage rescue and anti terrorism missions.

Stanislaw Kulczynski, a Lieutenant Colonel at the Polish National Defense Academy, notes that the functions and roles play by Special Forces around the world include but not limited to the following: 1 Conducting intelligence and reconnaissance missions including obtaining the enemy’s latest equipment, armaments, military plans, and taking prisoners, and conducting surveillance, reconnaissance, patrol and other similar operations. 2 Engaging in missions to assist the combat operations of conventional forces; 3 Developing and conducting guerrilla warfare (training of a guerrilla force; organization, command, control and supervision of a guerrilla force); 4 Developing and conducting counter guerrilla operations; 5 Conducting diversion and sabotage including disruption of the enemy’s chain of command and of their supply lines; destruction of communication systems and impeding transport of enemy troops and materiel; 6 Conducting psychological operations including misinformation; creating an atmosphere of defeat, spreading chaos, panic and terror; 7 Conducting rescue operations including organizing escapes from captivity, rescuing hostages and prisoners of war; 8 Conducting anti-terrorist actions; 9 Training allied units.

From the various functions and roles performed by Special Forces it is relatively fair to say that Special Forces engage in two distinctively different but complementary kinds of combat mission: those involving direct action, and those in support of unconventional warfare including sabotage, penetrating into the enemy territories to gather intelligence and working behind the enemy lines and securing strategic infrastructures on behalf of the country during hostilities.

Some of the operations that Special Forces are known to have been involved in include anti-terrorist operations, rescue operations, intelligence and reconnaissance, diversion and sabotage, counter guerrilla operations, training allied units, interdictions operations and psychological operations.

Exploits of Special Forces
The following accounts give the achievements of Special Forces and explain why they are valued around the world. People who have been following the news in Nigeria from Thursday (08/03/2012) would notice that the UK Special Boat Service (SBS) was involved in the failed bid to free two men (Chris McManus 28 and Franco Lamolinara) who had been taken hostage by members of the Boko Haram in Nigeria.

In May 2011 the US Navy SEALs successfully killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan and removed the threat posed by the Al Qaeda leader. In January 2012 members of the Navy SEALs, with support from regular armed forces, freed two hostages (Jessica Buchanan, 32, an American and Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, a Dane) in Somalia after killing about nine of the hostage takers.

During World War II German Special Forces were credited for the surprise taking of the impregnable Belgian fortress at Eben Emael.

In Operation Thunderball which took place on July 4, 1976, a 7 member team drawn from the Israeli Special Forces flew 2500 miles from Israel to Uganda and successfully rescued 105 hostages, killing 7 terrorists and 120 Ugandan soldiers in what has become known as the Entebbe raid.

Timothy Garden author of “Iraq: The Military Campaign” notes that during the Iraq war “Special Forces were deployed to secure key targets, provide intelligence and reconnaissance to optimize air strikes, and for traditional disruption tasks”. He adds that Western Iraq was secured mainly by Special Forces.

In the same Iraq war, Prof. Garden notes that the Australian military had 500 Special Forces operating in western and north-western Iraq. Their work helped to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction which Saddam was launching towards Israel. They also helped to secure Al Isad, the second largest airfield in Iraq. The British Special Air Service (SAS) also helped to secure Basra and the oil fields in the south of Iraq. In Afghanistan Special Forces played strategic role not only in toppling the Taliban but also in disorganizing the Al Qaeda terrorist network which saw its leaders fleeing to Pakistan for cover.

Alastair Finlan quoted above notes that the UK SAS played a key role in the Falklands war between Argentina and Britain in 1982. He adds that within fifteen months of its formation in 1941 the SAS destroyed between 250–400 enemy aircrafts on the ground in addition to other targets of opportunity.

The Special Forces demonstrated the viability of conducting operations behind enemy lines through parachute deployments which by 1944 included the means to drop all-important vehicles such as jeeps to preserve the vital mobility element that had proved so successful in North Africa and Italy. One SAS officer is reported to have said that “It was not our numbers but our ideas which made a big difference”.

Sayeret, Shayetet 13, and Shaldag of Israel played key role in helping Israel win the three wars she fought with her Arab neighbours including the independence war in 1948, the Six Day war in1967 and the Yom Kupur War in1973.

By whatever margin Special Forces have indeed become the weapon of choice, an indispensable arsenal not only to wrought havoc within the camp of the enemy but also to remove any threat such enemies might pose. Ohad Leslau of Israel’s Haifa University argues that Special Forces have the potential to play a distinct role, but can also complement the primary military effort. Leslau adds that Special Forces can be a decisive force, and “should therefore be considered a central element in strategic planning”.

Written by Lord Aikins Adusei
Email: politicalthinker1@yahoo.com


Finlan, Alastair (2009) ‘The (Arrested) Development of UK Special Forces and the Global War on Terror’ Review of International Studies vol 35 pp.971–982

Simons, Anna and Tucker, David (2010) “United States special operations forces and the war on terrorism” Small Wars & Insurgencies, 14:1, pp.77-91

Kibbe, Jennifer D. (2007) “Covert Action and the Pentagon,” Intelligence and National Security, 22/1 pp. 57-74

Garden, Timothy (2003) “Iraq: The Military Campaign” International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944- ), Vol. 79, No. 4 pp. 701-718


Unemployment, Poverty and Inequality: A threat to the stability of Ghana?


By Lord Aikins Adusei

Ghana faces several security challenges including growing influence of drug cartels, weapons proliferation, shipping piracy, climate change, and spill over effect of terrorism, and militancy from neighbouring countries. These threats were acknowledged when the Chiefs of the Ghana Armed Forces recently held a seminar for junior officers and senior non-commissioned officers at the Jungle Warfare School at Achiase in the Eastern Region (see The Ghanaian Chronicle report headlined ‘GAF meets on terrorism threat’10th April, 2012). It is believed that these security threats led to the formation of the Special Forces within the Ghana Armed Forces.

However, there is one very critical yet hidden security threat that often does not get audience in policy circles but which has the potential to affect the long term peace, security and stability of Ghana. I am referring to the huge unemployment, poverty, and inequality in the country.

It is fair to say that Ghanaian governments both past and present have shown a disproportionate lack of understanding of the security implications of having a large army of people who are poor, unemployed and marginalised in the country. Many policymakers in Ghana including members of Parliament, the Executive and top bureaucrats of the various ministries and departments do not consider poverty, unemployment and inequality as major security problem and policies have often tended to scratch the surface of these problems rather than getting to the bottom.

Officially nobody knows how many Ghanaians are unemployed, not even the Ghana Statistical Service or the Employment Ministry can tell. In his presentation of the unprecedented and phenomenal achievements in the recently released “NDC Forum for Setting the Records Straight” Mr. Fiifi Kwetey, Deputy Minister of Finance could not tell how many Ghanaians are unemployed except to say that:

“… [The] levels of unemployment admittedly continue to be relatively still high and require a lot more efforts. There are no quick fixes though but the age-old need to continue to work hard to achieve faster expansion and growth of the economy which would open up more employment opportunities”.

That is how far Mr. Fiifi Kwetey could go. He could not specifically tell how high the unemployment situation is. However, what is true is that many Ghanaians especially the youth who are looking for jobs and are willing to work cannot find any. This truth is exemplified by the recent formation of the Unemployed Graduates Association (UGA).

While many of the youth have had access to secondary and tertiary education, the expanded access to education has not correspondingly given rise to expanded economic opportunities and job creation. Unofficially unemployment in the country is estimated to hover between 25 and 50% and is even higher as one move from the south to the north of the country. Apart from this high unemployment rate, available data indicate that nearly 30% of Ghanaians still live within the high poverty zone (i.e. less than $2 a day). Yet another unpalatable story is that the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen in the country with some people living in gated communities while others can barely eat two meals a day.

This chronic poverty is being experienced in Ghana in spite of the fact that since the 1990s the nation has received and continues to receive record amount of money in the form of loans, grants and revenue from export of gold, diamond, cocoa, timber, and recently oil. Nobody can really tell how the record amount of money has been utilised but a closer look at the country’s balance sheet indicates that it has simply been mismanaged, stolen or squandered by the elites in authority.

From what we can see in the streets of Accra, Koforidua, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale, Tema, etc with children as young as 10 years selling dog chains, ice water, etc and sleeping in kiosks and in front of stores, it is obvious that not much of the financial and material wealth being generated in the country has trickled down to the majority of the people especially the growing youthful population. The great number of young men and women selling anything they can find in order to make a living also show that a great number of the population is being denied their share of the national cake.

Unfortunately, in spite of the obvious poverty and unemployment in the country, statements, comments and language used by the politicians, policymakers and top bureaucrats in the country do not reflect the reality on the ground. The kind of actions, policies, programmes and urgency required to tame these problems have been ineffective to say the least. The policymakers continue to ignore or downplay the fact that unemployment, poverty and inequality are serious issues that need to be aggressively addressed.

The end result is that Ghana is slowly becoming a high crime state. Evidence is beginning to emerge which suggest that for some of the unemployed, excluded, marginalised and the poverty stricken members in Ghana violence and crime have become the only means through which they can make a living. These crimes include internet scam, fraud, drug and human trafficking, burglary and armed robbery.

Over the last couple of weeks armed robberies and crimes involving the use of guns and other offensive weapons have been on the increase. A police officer Corporal Ernest Acheampong was recently killed by armed robbers in Kasoa during a shootout with armed robbers. Another police officer Lance Corporal Iddi Braimah was also shot dead on Tuesday 10th April 2012 during a shootout between suspected car snatchers and the police. On that same day (i.e. Tuesday 10 April 2012) Andrew Mayer, a Zimbabwean investor was also killed in Juapong in the Volta Region, prompting President Mills to issue a statement condemning his murder. Nii Kwaku Obibini II, the late chief of Oblogo was short dead on 8th April 2012 and then butchered with machetes by his assailants.

A broader picture begins to emerge if we connect all these dots of crimes together. One part of the picture shows that serious crimes are being committed in almost all parts of the country. Another part of the picture also shows that criminals are becoming bolder and more willing to use deadly force and violence to achieve their objectives. Yet another side of the picture shows that guns have increasingly become the weapon of choice by the criminals in the country.

In 2005 Emmanuel Addo Sowatey, a researcher at the African Security Dialogue and Research in Accra, Ghana observed that about 100,000 guns are been produced illegally in Ghana every year. It is believed that some of these guns are being used to commit crimes in Ghana and also fuelling the conflicts and instability in northern Ghana.

A recent paper authored by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in conjunction with the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and titled “Governance and Security in Ghana: the Dagbon Chieftaincy Crisis” noted that:

“Ghana is generally described as an oasis of stability in a region that appears to be ravaged by intertribal and cross-border conflicts. However, Ghana too has experienced ethnic and communal conflicts, especially in its three northern regions (the Northern, the Upper West and the Upper East). The state of security and stability of these regions is deteriorating at an alarming rate due to the resurgence ethno-political misunderstandings since 1992”.

The authors found that the protracted conflicts in Northern Regions have stubbornly persisted partly because “There is a lack of a systematic structural and operational strategy that can transform the socio-economic conditions of the citizens of Northern Ghana”. Thus while other factors (including chieftaincy disputes and politics) have played a part in the conflicts, violence and instabilities in Bawku, Bimbila, Kpatinga, Wa, Yendi, etc the conflicts have been exacerbated by the high level of poverty, unemployment, inequality and a population that is increasingly youthful.

According to Mr. Bomahe-Naa Alhassan Issahaku Amadu, Regional Population Officer for Northern Region, out of the over 1.8million total population in the Northern Region, the youth aged below 15 years form about 850,000, representing 46.3 percent. The figure goes up greatly when those between the ages of 16 and 24 are added. With this huge youthful population, couple with high unemployment, poverty, low literacy rate and flow of weapons, it is no surprising that the three Northern Regions remain volatile and restless despite effort to bring sanity there. The easiness with which one can obtain guns in Ghana coupled with a youthful population that are poor and without employment pose security threat to the peace and stability of the country.

In 2011 a study in Northern Ghana by Kees van der Geest of University of Amsterdam, found that poverty, unemployment and lack of economic opportunity are acting as a push factor with one in every five people born in northern Ghana opting to move to the south with out-migration rates being significantly higher in poorly endowed districts. The large number of people from the three northern regions escaping unemployment, poverty, economic and social deprivations and working in cities in the south as kayayos and street vendors is an indication of how unemployment, poverty and inequality are acting as a driving force in the conflicts.

The ongoing biometric voter registration exercise and the tensions, disturbances and violence that have come to be associated with it in cities in the south indicate that the threat pose by unemployment, poverty and inequality is not restricted only the north.

The growing militarisation and weaponisation of the ongoing voter-registration exercise with a section of the youth brandishing guns, machetes, pick axe, and stones are rooted in the deep poverty and of lack of employment and economic opportunities for these boys. These acts of hooliganism and of lawlessness are a sign of a ticking timed-bomb waiting to explode sooner or later.

Registration centres in some parts of the country look like war zones with people pulling guns and heavily built men (macho men) going round registration centres and terrorizing registrants. In one registration centre a 12 year old boy was short and seriously wounded by an NDC party agent. The militarisation and weaponisation of the registration have prompted some observers to ask critical questions as to how a mere registration exercise could result in violence but what they have failed to appreciate is that with poverty, unemployment and inequality spreading like wildfire, every state exercise is an opportunity for some to make money by extracting concession from the politicians and political parties.

The growing unemployment, poverty and inequality in the country are not only socio-economic problem but also a threat to the peace, stability and security of the country but the country cannot solve the huge unemployment problem with weak economic policies based on ideologies that say government must only create the enabling environment for the private sector. Ghanaian leaders and policymakers have find it difficult to admit that the private sector touted under Rawlings and Kuffour administrations as the engine of growth has failed woefully to grow and create jobs. The Structural Adjustment Programme undertaken by Rawlings with the privatisation of state owned enterprises gave rise to few jobs being created.

While the NPP’s “Golden Age of Business” built on the foundation laid by Rawlings and led to growth in some sectors particularly in finance and insurance, these sectors could not generate the needed jobs to close the unemployment gap. Kuffour toured all over the world horning Ghana’s stability and favourable political climate to foreign investors. But they refused to come. Nobody knows why. President Mills is also doing the same but little can be shown for it in terms of job creation.

The private sector is extremely weak to absorb the huge unemployment youth in the country. The government must stop the ‘creating of enabling environment’ hymn and seriously look for ways in which it can directly enter into the economy and make contribution. In other words there must be a deliberate effort by government to develop and implement industrial policies and programmes and build factories that will absorb the restless youth. Some will call this an affront to free market and capitalism but it is difficult to find a single country in the world where the government does not directly own or support businesses. Every year countries in the European Union, most of them champions of free market, provide $30 billion to support their farmers. Most of their production is dumped in countries like Ghana.

Ghana faces a real security threat and challenge now and in the near future if nothing is done to address the huge unemployment, poverty and inequality in the cities and also in the rural areas. The government of Ghana cannot be aloof to the growing unemployment, poverty, and inequality in the country because they are the ingredients of crimes, social chaos, conflicts and instabilities.

By Lord Aikins Adusei. The author is an independent Energy and Security Analyst and the author of ‘The Emerging Security Threats and Ghana Special Forces’. politicalthinker1@yahoo.com

Positive Activism: The missing ingredient in Ghana’s development process



By Lord Aikins Adusei

In 2007 Prof. Joseph Stiglitz a leading U.S. Economist observed that at independence, Ghana was far ahead of Malaysia in terms of economic development. Malaysia was considered one of the poorest countries in the world with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about 5 per cent below that of Ghana. But today, Malaysia’s income is 7.8 times that of Ghana. Dr. Michael Tagoe of the Institute of Continuing and Distance Education, University of Ghana, notes that while Ghana is crawling at the bottom of the global growth league table, Malaysia is in the top tier, with China, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Pastor Mensah Otabil adds sadly that since 1966 Ghana as country has been majoring on the minor issues and minoring on the major and critical issues leading to a situation where the nation has stagnated if not retrogressed. The question many Ghanaians keep asking is: Why has Ghana fallen terribly behind her Asian counterparts? A short answer to this question is what I have termed the lack of Positive Activism. I will explain later.

One peculiar thing about Ghanaians is that each one likes to complain to him or herself and each one likes to murmur and suffer in silence. They do not protest when government and state institutions do not perform their duties. They do not mobilise themselves to demand that government, state institutions and people acting in Ghana’s name deliver first class services to them.

For decades the Electricity and Water Companies have provided and continue to provide 15th century power and water services to Ghanaians and yet the people do not complain. Port officials at Tema and Takoradi take bribe from importers and exporters yet they do not complain. Timber Companies are raping forest and destroying farm lands in Western Region and the people do not complain. . There are villages whose water supply sources have been polluted by unscrupulous mining firms yet the people do not complain. There are communities that lack proper sanitation yet they do not mobilise to complain. Police officers take bribe from drivers on the daily bais yet the drivers do not complain.

Pensioners are forced to hand over 5% of their end of service benefits to corrupt accountants working at the various ministries and departments before their monies are paid to them. It is a common knowledge that the Ministry of Finance is full of people who are virtually sabotaging Ghana’s development and preventing it to move forward. You really need to be an insider of the Finance Ministry to appreciate the gargantuan corruption and daylight robbery that has resulted in the impoverishment and underdevelopment of Ghana.

Many Ghanaians think the 500 billion cedis Woyome judgment debt and collusion and connivance of officials of the Finance and Justice ministries is the first time such people have been involved in a grand strategy to dupe the nation. Hundreds of billions of cedis that could have enabled Ghana to build fast train network, world class roads and be at par with the likes of Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong are siphoned off on a monthly basis through the connivance of officials working at the Ministry of Finance, Revenue Authority, Audit Service and the Controller and Accountant Generals’ Department.

The accountants working in the various state ministries and departments have teamed up with those working in the Ministry of Finance to dupe the nation of hundreds of billions of cedis meant to build roads, schools, hospitals and improve the living standards of all Ghanaians. There are projects that have been implemented on paper and payments made yet these projects cannot be found on the ground. There is an unspoken culture of corruption at the Ministry of Finance.

Chapter 20 of the1992 Constitution of Ghana titled ‘Decentralization and Local Government’ advocates financial decentralization in the country to ensure that functions, powers, responsibilities and resources are at all times transferred from the Central Government to local government units in a coordinated manner yet few oligarchs/Accra Mafia working at the Ministry of Finance are thwarting the Local Government agenda, preferring to centralise financial resources at the ministry and depriving local communities the resources they need to improve their lives. If I am to write about it, it will require volumes of books.

Ghanaians, yes I mean Ghanaians working at the Revenue Authority and the Audit Service have colluded with companies in Ghana (both local and foreign owned) to avoid paying taxes that could go to help provide clean water and healthcare to all Ghanaians.

Ghanaians like to talk about Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Korea and many of the youth are struggling to go there in search of greener pastures, but the record show that there is no way these countries could have reached their level of development if few people working in the ports, finance ministry have been allowed to steal and sabotage the country.

There are people who have virtually built corrupt empires in the ministries and have succeeded in bringing Ghana on its knees. The irony is that no one cares. The people of Ghana do not care. The members of civil society do not care. The media do not care. And the politicians? Well they are part of the problem. Because of lack of positive activism the country is paralysed by corruption, incompetence, mismanagement and poverty.

Much of the reason why Ghana has not broken away with poverty, unemployment and inequality is that the people appear to accept the poor governance and corruption handed to them by politicians and state bureaucrats. The Positive Activism that put politicians and state bureaucrats in Thailand, India, Singapore and Malaysia on their toes and force them to deliver good quality services has been absent in Ghana.

Positive Activism (i.e. refusing to suffer in silence and letting your voice heard through protest, votes and other citizen actions) has not been part of the Ghanaian people and their culture. Positive Activism means insisting that what is due to you be given to you without paying bribe to corrupt officials. It means that when people refuse to mobilise themselves against their rulers, against injustices, against corruption they [the people] are taken for granted and suffer. Positive Activism also means that politicians, directors and top bureaucrats are able to get away with what they steal when people refuse to demand accountability from them. This is exactly why many Ghanaians still struggle with having access to water and electricity.

Since February 2012 Ghanaians have had to make do with poor electricity supply. The Electricity Company of Ghana frequently cut off power supply to households and businesses without prior warning and do not apologise or explain why it had to cut power supply yet all that the people can do is to sit in their homes and murmur. The consumers have not been able to mobilise themselves to put pressure on the ECG to improve service and to change. This culture of suffering in silence is the reason for Ghana’s socio-economic quagmire where 55 years after independence not a single of the country’s many problems has completely been solved.

Tema and Takoradi Harbours are synonymous to corruption. Courtesy Anas Aremeyaw Anas we all know what is going on at the Tema and Takoradi harbours. We all know the difficulties exporters and importers have to go through, and the millions of cedis that they have to pay as bribe to get their goods imported or exported. Although the directors at Takoradi and Tema Harbours and their workers are paid to do the work they are doing yet they and their subordinates demand huge money from importers before goods are allowed to leave the port.

There are various levels that an importer has to go through before his or her goods are allowed to leave the port and at each level money must change hands before the green light is given. These are facts. Talk to any importer and you get same answer of having to pay bribe in order to get their goods cleared. Even when they pay the bribes the goods will still not be allowed to leave the port until further sums are paid. Delay tactics is the major weapon employed by the officials at the port and it seems to be working pretty well for them as frustrated importers part with millions of cedis just to clear their goods. But their lack of activism is always to blame.

Why have these importers not organised themselves and protest against these thieves and nation wreckers? Instead of protesting against these officials at the port for them to change their corrupt activities these importers prefer to suffer in silence and then pass on the bribe they pay to consumers in the form of higher commodity prices. Since I was born more than decades ago I cannot recall a day or a year in which prices of things imported or produced locally have ever gone down.

During Christmas festivities businesses cash in on the people through higher price increases even though the occasion is supposed to be in celebration of the birth of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. In Europe: United Kingdom and Sweden where I have much information about their business practices it is very common to see prices of goods including mobile phones, computers, laptops, TVs, cars etc being slashed sometimes half of its original price. But you will never find such price reduction in Ghana even though these goods are imported from these countries. The reason is that importers have to always prepare for the bribe they pay for their goods which can vary according to their bargaining strengths and negotiation skills with the bribe takers at the ports. Their lack of self awareness, activism spirit and their preparedness to suffer in silence have ensured that ordinary Ghanaians pay higher prices for goods whose prices may have fallen considerably in the country of production.

You may think that the lack of positive activism is only with importers. Since the Junior Secondary School programme was implemented in the 1980s there have been several cases where students in a whole district have scored 0% (zero percent) and yet no one has ever being made to account for such failures. Every year the results obtained by about 150,000 students are so poor that they cannot continue their education to secondary schools and many of the students end up selling dog chains in Accra and Kumasi. Yet the parents of these young students have never joined forces together to demand explanation from schools and government officials responsible for education.

In Ghana the police and especially the MTTU are notoriously corrupt despite effort by government to improve their working condition. Drivers both taxi and trotro (mini bus operators) pay several hundreds of cedis to corrupt police officers who mount unauthorised road block to pursue their private interest. Despite the fact that the activities of the police and the MTTU are a hindrance to the work of the drivers, the drivers have not been able to organise themselves against the nefarious activities of the police.

The recent biometric voter registration exercise has exposed the police institution as the bidder of whichever party is in power. Instead of maintaining professionalism, independence, and integrity the police officers used by the politicians to arrest people and political opponents and detain them instead of joining the people to demand accountability and improvement in the general well being of the people. They would rather support the corrupt politicians to embezzle state funds at the expense of the people. The irony is that the police officers are aware of the difficulties the ordinary Ghanaian is going through yet they are always in bed with the corrupt politicians who see no reason to improve the condition of the people.

If Ghanaians are ever going to have better standard of living, and taste the goods people in the West take for granted clean water, uninterrupted power supply, fast speed train system, good quality health service etc then the people themselves must be active not only politically but socially and economically. They must let their influence be felt by actively getting involved in political process, engage in peaceful demonstrations, strikes, sick leaves, sit ins. They must put fear in politicians by voting for independent candidates like what happened in Benin when they elected an independent candidate as president. The government in Ghana must fear the people and not the other way round.

By Lord Aikins Adusei