Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More of the Same: Ruminations & Reflections of a Constitutional

--{picture shows yours truly taking our first pet dog PHOENIX for a walk just minutes walk from our house in the suburbs in Belgium. It was a summer day way back in 2003, hence the shades. Mum took this picture as I was just about to walk into the path that leads to the front door of our house}

As I proceeded on my habitual constitutional this morning with my pet dog Fenix, I came across the girl of FCUBE, not ICE Cube fame. I asked her whether she was ok; she said yes, thankyou. And as always, she was ever-so-polite. She was carrying something on her head in a big bowl through the dusty area that is just outside these Manetville gates.

In a manner reminiscent of september 2005, when I asked her about her attendance to school now that it is free--thanks to FCUBE--she said that tomorrow, her Mum was going to find out about attendance for her. "That's good!" I added eagerly and walked on. Maybe she said it for my benefit, but whatever the case, it won't be the last time I ask her:-) How can after five months or so since Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), mooted by Minister of Sports and Education Osafo-Maafo, this girl not been spotted by authorities who ply that route and her asked what she is doing not at school?

In so many ways, one of the reasons for the absence lately has not just been a busier work schedule, but also because of, well, more of the same.

In other words, last year around this time (, petroleum prices had gone up.

They went up a few days ago.

A couple of weeks ago, the so-called National Petroleum Authority (NPA)--established to ostensibly regulate fuel prices--brought the prices down, so there we were not expecting this increase at all. Thankfully, as the cover of today's Daily Graphic reports, the minimum wage has gone up so as to cushion workers from the increases:
The new wage is now ç16,000, "an increase of 18.52 per cent over the previous wage of ç13,500."


Yesterday, there was a demonstration (second) orchestrated on the most-part by the minority-led NDC over ROPAB, over Representation of the People's Amendment Bill, that went rather down south in the sense that there was some scuffle, and, regrettably, some violence, which some observers claim was initiated by young police officers.

The truth is in between somewhere there, I guess:-)

While demonstrations to get your spleen vented are all well and good, predicting that they will always go smoothly is a bad idea, cos given the human condition, someone is always bound to take advantage and do something atypical to the pacific nature of the demo.

All that being said, Accra has been polarized for the past couple of weeks over the passing or not of the ROPAB, which would, in effect, give voting rights to those Ghanaian residents overseas. While most Western countries have applied this voting times for as long as I can remember, it is not something that is of great necessity to Ghana at the moment. It only engenders the idea that the incumbent NPP government want to use it as a way of consolidating at best, at worst rigging, future elections.

A good thing that could come out of it is the decision to issue National ID cards--something that appeaars to be anathema to those in the UK, but not those in Belgium. Belgium, like many other EU and Schengen countries issue ID cards. As far back as 1980, when Dad went over to Belgium to prepare to work there at African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) Group of States, and prepare the coming over of my Mum, my elder brother, Samuel, and myself -- a tiny tot of 3.5 years old -- he was faced with having to register my brother and I not just in the commune, but having cards issued for us detailing our nationality, occupation, etc.

SO, in short, it's something we, the Bensah family at least, are conversant with and used to. In so many ways, I think it helps organise society in a far better way that with the use of just passports, driving licenses, or voting cards---which are the three requirements of ID here in Ghana. Whether or not society has to be "organised" at all is another debate for another day!

I understand that at the moment, the UK govt, under Blair, {mmm, when will it be under Gordon Brown I wonder?:-) } will be debating it in parliament. Actually, according to this article: (Defence expert undermines Blair on safety of ID cards) , Blair wants to "introduce compulsory ID cards and give ministers powers to order all motorists to replace their driving licence with a new one requiring a biometric ID card".

This is not sitting very well with campaigners against ID cards, who are claiming that "In light of the numerous inconsistencies and conflicts that have emerged, serious unanswered concerns that remain, project dynamics that are dysfunctional and potential outcomes that may be harmful to the public interest we can now no longer support even the principle of an identity scheme owned and operated by the Home Office."[from:

And I don't blame them. That the use of biometric data is being peddled as one of the ways of reducing terrorism, and by extension the introduction of ID cards are an unwitting way of getting biometric data on ID cards, suggest seriously that something wrong is afoot. The terrorism card is being held up too explicitly for comfort.

I do not quite think that the small, developing democracy that is Ghana has quite got to that level of sophistication, but I would not be surprised in any way that if Ghanaians dug deeper, we would not find something rather rotten at the core, that could involve our so-called "international" (donor) partners.

Right now, I have AKOSOMBO Blues. AFter having experienced views as verdant and breathtaking as the ones here, how can I not??:-)

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