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130,000 biometric passports issued since April 2010

Over 130,000 biometric passports had been issued nationwide since April 2010, Mr Chris Kpodo Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister disclosed on Wednesday.

The Deputy Minister, who put the figure at 138,067, explained that 75,912 were expressly issued with 62,155 being regular passports.

In addition, he said 444 diplomatic passports and 142 service passports were issued during the same period.

He said the 444 diplomatic passports included those that were issued to members of Parliament.

The Deputy Minister, however said, 666 passports issued have still not been collected by their owners.

Mr Kpodo was speaking in Parliament during question time. He said the passport office had issued an average of 10,620 passports for the whole period reaching a peak of 17,305 passports in March 2011.

He said, however, that in the early part of 2011, the issuance of biometric passport by the passport office had been characterized by considerable delays and huge backlog due to various operational constraints.

Mr Kpodo explained that the passport issuing procedures had been streamlined and additional equipment installed, adding that these measures had greatly enhanced the productive capacity of the passport office and had enabled it to clear the previous backlog.

He noted that it had also assisted the office to issue passports within the stipulated time of three days for express passport and fifteen days for regular passports except in cases where there were problems with specific application submitted.

Mr Kpodo stressed that the biometric passport system had potent security features that could eliminate non Ghanaians from acquiring Ghanaian passports and explained that the applicant appearing in person was a major antidote to the problem of passport fraudsters.


NPP annuls Okaikoi South parliamentary primary

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has canceled the Parliamentary Primary held in the Okaikoi South constituency due to the flawed nature of the vetting process.

The decision follows lengthy deliberations by the NEC on the work and findings of the Ambrose Dery chaired Committee set up to go into the protests arising out of the Okaikoi South Parliamentary Primary held on the 30th April, 2011.

Ahmed Arthur won the earlier election when he beat Vicky Bright who was widely tipped to win the seat considering she had worked in the Castle and had the backing of some highly placed and influential people in government.

Vicky Bright had earlier challenged the election results, which show that she lost to Ahmed Arthur. According to Ms Bright, the voting process was flawed and accompanied by foul play.

A statement signed by the General Secretary of the NPP, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie stated that the National Executive in collaboration with the Regional and Constituency Executive bodies would therefore reopen a fresh process for all interested parties to partake, including the aspirants who contested the April 30th Primary. A time table would be issued in due course to guide the conduct of the process.

It added that the Party leadership would like to call on all interested parties within and outside the constituency to remain calm and help the party structures in conducting a peaceful, incident free re-run of the Primary.

Story by :Kwadwo Anim/ghanamps.gov.gh

Annuling Okaikoi South election results would be costly – Kennedy Agyepong

The Member of Parliament for Assin North, Kennedy Agyepong has said the decision by the National Executive Council of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to annul the Okaikoi South primary results would have dire consequences for the party come 2012 elections.

He said the imprudent action by the party leadership will cause the NPP defeat in that constituency if the current decision by the executives hold.

The party hierarchy yesterday issued a statment cancelling the Parliamentary Primary held in the Okaikoi South constituency which was keenly contested between Vicky Bright and Ahmed Ibrahim due to the flawed nature of the vetting process.

According to the party the decision follows lengthy deliberations by the NEC on the work and findings of the Ambrose Derry chaired Committee set up to go into the protests arising out of the Okaikoi South Parliamentary Primary held on the 30th April, 2011.

However speaking on Oman FM’s morning show, the Member of Parliament for Assin North, Kennedy Agyepong who condemned the party decision urged the leadership to learn from similar grievous mistakes made in the past which cost the party huge electoral loses.

He warned that if the widely accepted winner of the election is not allowed to contest on the ticket of the party the NPP would certainly lose the seat.

“The gentleman has the full backing of the constituents and I wonder why the National Executives Council have given a deaf ear to all the concerns coming from the constituents and want Madam Vicky Bright to be elected as the parliamentary candidate at all cost, we would be doomed in Okaikoi South Constituency if she is elected’’ he said.

Hon. Kennedy Agyepong added that the 2012 elections would be keenly fought and it is important that the party leadership avoid such actions which would affect the chances of the NPP.

Story by : Kwadwo Anim/ghanamps.gov.gh

Bawku MP welcomes lifting of curfew

The Member of Parliament for Bawku, Adamu Dramani has welcomed the lifting of the curfew on Bawku, expressing confidence that the peace being experienced now would be sustained.

Describing the curfew in the area as a nightmare he noted that it has greatly affected normal live and business in the area, adding that the curfew was like a “stigma” on the people of Bawku.

He said Bawku has been in the news in the recent past for the wrong reasons which painted a negative picture about the area.

The 18 months old curfew imposed on Bawku was lifted yesterday June 29th 2011, in what government officials describe as lasting peace to that area which has recorded lost of violence in the past.

Speaking on Metro TV, MP cautioned the residents against acts that could easily compromise the relative peace in the area as Bawku cannot thrive in a state of insecurity.

He however called on the government to invest more in the peace process in order to sustain the peace in the area and urged the government to do everything in its power to bring back the Mamprusi side who have opted out of the peace talks, as their cooperation is vital to lasting peace in the area.

Story by : Kwadwo Anim/ghanamps.gov.gh

Gov’t officials scheming to frame me up with drugs – Ken Agyapong

The CEO of Kencity Media and NPP MP for Assin North, Kennedy Agyapong, has in the wake of threats by the Narcotics Control Board to nail politicians involved in the use of drug money for political campaigns, revealed to Citi News that there are plots by some Government and NDC officials to frame him up with drugs.

The man, who for many years has been tagged as a drug dealer, has thus cautioned the Narcotics Control Board to conduct proper investigations so they don’t end up jailing innocent politicians like him.

Often churned out by his political opponents, no individual or group has proven the cocaine allegations against the businessman and vociferous legislator.

Being a member of the NPP, a party that has constantly been linked to “cocaine trade” by their political opponents, Hon. Ken Agyapong has struggled to change perceptions about himself, especially as a former NPP MP, Eric Amoateng, is serving a 10 year jail term in the USA after he was busted for drug trafficking in 2005.

But the man, who is sometimes seen as a rabble-rouser in the political circles, says he is a different breed of politician who speaks his mind, and works hard to make genuine money to help society.

Speaking to Citi News on Tuesday June 28, Hon. Agyapong said some members of the ruling party are orchestrating several schemes all in a bid to frame him up with drugs.

“They are all stooges sitting there. They have picked a boy at Prisons called Boateng to set me up. He set me up and said I deal in drugs and that I have an underground house at Kasoa where I am hiding cocaine and where my girlfriend is living as well. This was a serious case. And the guy mentioned some of the NDC guys doing this and when I confronted one of them in Parliament, he said oh my brother, the guy wants us to release him from jail that is why he said you deal in drugs and that your girlfriend is at Kasoa. So this is how they planned it. So NACOB has to do it investigations well and not rely on hearsay to make such statements to ridicule themselves”.

“I will withhold the name of that NDC member for now. My brother in-law Fritz Baffuor (NDC MP for Ablekuma South) was a witness when I confronted one of the MPs who is a Minister of State. I confronted him and said that I hear he has been going to Prison to talk to a boy called Boateng that I deal in drugs. All he said was that, my brother me, my father owns lands at Dodowa and all over the place and I am not a poor guy so I don’t believe in that, but the boy rather wants us to release him from jail so he told us that you have a girlfriend at Kasoa with a house underground where you have packed your cocaine and he does the distribution for you. When I linked what the boy and the Minister said, there was an element of truth that they had plotted something against me” he said.

According to Hon. Agyapong, he made contact with the said young man in prison, who gave him names of members of the Government and the NDC, who are plotting to set him up.

“How can people be so evil? They did the same thing with this Frimpong boy. I don’t know him from anywhere. But before this thing came up, people called me telling me to watch out because NDC wants to disgrace me and they are using this boy against me.
“I don’t even know this guy from anywhere until I heard it in the media”.

Mr. Agyapong added that he is not shaken by any ploy whatsoever.

“I serve a mighty God and if they frame me, just like the Frimpong guy did, they will be exposed and disgraced, just like they were going to do the second one. I have a third one too, and I will release it later. They have been going there and I know what they are doing. I have my information but I am cool. I will hit them one by one” he cautioned.

Source: citifmonline.com

Illicit drugs have adverse effects on people’s health – Aidoo

Mr Evans Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, on Monday said the adverse effect of illicit drugs on the health of the people particularly the youth could not be under estimated.

He said the use of illicit drugs had also become a health problem coupled with its debilitating social and economic effects. Mr Aidoo said this at the regional celebration of this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking under the theme: “Be Smart to be Healthy, Do not do Drugs”.

He noted that drug dependence was rather a disease comparable to Polio and Malaria and no more a crime adding, “The real criminals are the traffickers and their agents”.

Mr Aidoo who is Member of Parliament for Sefwi-Wiawso said government was committed to resourcing not only the Narcotics Control Board but all security agencies to wage a relentless and concerted war against the drug menace.

Naval Captain Kofi Baidoo, who read the UN Secretary-General’s speech, said the need to fight the threat of narcotics was so urgent that a task force had been developed in the UN system-wide strategy to coordinate and strengthen the responses to illicit drugs and organized crime.

This, he noted, was to integrate the fight against drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime into the global security and development agenda.

The UN boss said communities could also make a major contribution in the fight against drugs through regular counselling and education particularly to the younger generation who were the future leaders.

Nana Kobina Nketsia IV, Omanhene of Essikado Traditional Area, expressed worry over many school children who now engaged in drugs and called for a collective responsibility from all stakeholders in dealing with the situation.


Takoradi meeting with delegates was excellent – Teye Nyaunu

Contrary to reports that the Western regional executives of the NDC were entirely against her decision to contest the flagbearership slot of the National Democratic Congress, a campaign coordinator of the Nana Konadu for 2012 campaign team, Michael Teye Nyaunu has described the meeting with the regional executives as “excellent”.

Speaking on the Big Bite on Xfm 95.1, Hon. Teye Nyaunu indicated that there was no quarrel when Nana Konadu’s team met regional executives in Takoradi on Monday June 27, saying “everything was okay”.

The Chronicle Newspaper reported in Tuesday, June 28 2011 edition that Hon Teye Nyaunu grew indignant at the constant insults that were rained on the campaign team by Araba Tagoe, the Deputy Western Regional Women’s Organiser of the party.

However, Hon Teye Nyaunu said the report is false. He said although he conceded there was a misunderstanding with Araba Tagoe, it never degenerated into a fight.

“Reception at the regional secretariat was excellent, we told them our mission, and during the interaction, they were putting a lot of questions to us. It was during that period that Araba Tagoe raised an issue and we thought that she was not getting it right”. “She wanted to brief me about the history of the party and I was telling her some of us started way back during AFRC time… that I am not a boy, that I am a man; and that I have been in Parliament for four consecutive times, so when she is talking, she must know she is not talking to a boy, but a full grown man; and that is what I said, but it was just part of the discussion”.

According to Mr Nyaunu, the team also got a massive welcome from delegates despite a purported instructions from their Municipal Chief Executives not to have audience with the team.
He said the delegates who came from Essikado, Afia Kwesmintim, Shama, Wassa Mponho East and Ahanta bought Nana Konadu’s message and agreed that Nana should be leader of the party and subsequently, President of the country.

Describing the meeting with both the delegates and the regional executives as a “family meeting”, Teye Nyaunu said “there was nothing to become angry about”; adding, “it was not a physical combat”.

Source : X FM

Local Government Minister briefs Parliament on floods

Mr. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, said 926 people were displaced and no life was lost in the June 5, 2011 rains, which caused the Akora and Ayensu rivers to overflow their banks.

Answering questions on the floor of Parliament in Accra on Tuesday, Mr Ofosu-Ampofo, said 93A total of 926 people were displaced; 350 at Nampong and 576 at Ofoase but no life was lost.” He commended the Police, the Ghana Fire Service and the National Disaster Management Organisation officials for evacuating victims of the flood.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said the entire community of Ofoase was virtually washed away leaving only a school, clinic and a few houses, which were on upper grounds.

At Nampong, 54 houses were washed away and 40 acres of farmlands at Nampong and 60 acres at Ofoase were destroyed.

The Minister said four tents and other relief items were provided for the Ofoase victims and three tents and other relief items were provided for the Nampong victims.

“As a long term measure, the assembly is currently negotiating with the chiefs to provide land on higher grounds to permanently resettle inhabitants of the affected communities,” he said.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said the main bridge on a river in Agona Swedru and its environs that was destroyed as a result of floods was being repaired by the government.

He said Zoomlion Company was asked to collect debris caused by floods and a bridge over the Akora River at the business centre of the Agona Swedru, destroyed by floods, was being rehabilitated.

Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said new culverts or bridges would be constructed to direct the flow of water from Akora River at Nkubem, and drains and retaining walls would be built to direct flow of water from the Ankora River at Nkubem.

Source: GNA

MP calls for legalization of ‘galamsey’ operations

The Member of Parliament for Preastea Huni Valley Francis Adu Blay Koffie has urged government to legalize galamsey operations in the country.

He said if galamsey operators are licensed and registered, government will be able to collect taxes from them and by this the illegal miners will be helping develop the communities in which they operate.

The Preastea Huni Valley MP who was speaking with ASEMPA NEWS explained that, the country will find it difficult to halt galamsey operations.

Using his constituency as an example, Mr Blay Koffie enumerated renovation of bathrooms of the Preastea government Hospital and provision of street lighting bulbs for Bogoso as part of efforts put up by galamsey operators in his constituency.

The MP say government should endeavor to give some concession of land to the galamsey operators so that they do not trespass into large mining concession.

Source: Asempa FM

Health Minister calls for innovative policies and strategies

Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister for Health on Monday called for a bold, innovative policies and strategies to train experts in bridging the gap between the rich and the poor in the health delivery system.

He said the country needed sincere commitments at policy level to design and implement systems to be backed by strategic and strong regulatory mechanisms.

Mr Yieleh Chireh who is also the Member of Parliament for Wa West made the call when he opened the 15th Annual Conference of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa (AMCOA) in Accra under the theme: “Accelerating the Health Related Millennium Development Goals (MDG): The Role of Regulatory Bodies”.

He noted that weak health systems exacerbated by challenges in developing and retaining the requisite human resource, lack of access to basic proven interventions and burden of endemic diseases have affected developing countries including Ghana in achieving the MDG’s target of 2015.

He said the country had embarked on policies and social protection mechanisms that allowed for free services for pregnant women through delivery for a period of one year.

The Minister noted that government was expanding the Community based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) initiative, which was an expression of the close-to-client policy and had also made the health insurance scheme more responsive by removing existing financial barriers for the poor in accessing health care.

He said many African countries were struggling to meet the Abuja target of 15 per cent of public sector expenditure on health and stressed that although funding for health had increased, the country was far away from the 34 dollars per capita expenditure recommended by the Commission on Macro Economics and Health.

The Minister noted that technology held a lot of promise for making big strides needed for improving the health of communities, especially the rural areas and called for the need to place premium on regulation.

“Without regulation, there is bound to be lawlessness leading to anarchy resulting to infiltration of untrained personnel which will undermine all efforts in achieving the health related MDGs”.

“We need to develop policies, legal and regulatory frameworks for its roll-out in the health sector in developing countries and minimize frequent failures in the adoption of e-health solutions” he added.

Professor Yakub Mulla, Acting President of AMCOA said 101 United Nations member states have agreed to achieve the MDGs by 2015 under the UN Millennium Declaration signed in September 2000.

Prof Mulla said the focus on health was to achieve the MDGs 4, 5 and 6, that are to reduce child mortality, to improve maternal health and to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other disease respectively.

He explained that progress on the MDG 4 have revealed that annual deaths of children fell by 35 per cent to 8.1 million from 1990 to 2009 and the rate of decline doubled to 2.7 per cent since 2000 compared to the previous decade of 1.3 per cent.

Prof Mullah said maternal deaths due to pregnancy complications have also decreased by 34 per cent globally with a decline of 2.3 per cent on progress on the MDG 5.

He said on MDG 6, access to Anti malarial drugs was inadequate in many countries with nine million people being left out in the treatment of HIV by 2009 whilst deaths from malaria was still high in Africa.

He explained that action was needed to protect the health spending of governments and donors with sustained and predictable health funding.

Prof Mulla called for the need for the Medical and Dental Council to ensure that standards of education were consistent and efficiently responding to the challenges of the current disease burden, since “the quality in the performance of all registered practioners, health facilities and training institutions will drive the efforts in achieving the MDGs”.