Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nana Addo, Nduom top choices among likely voters in new internet poll

AMES, Iowa -- With nine months to go until the 2008 Ghana presidential and parliamentary elections the latest Ghana Elections ’08 Polls Group Internet survey finds the New Patriotic Party’s (N.P.P) Nana Akuffo Addo (39.3%) leading among likely voters, while Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom(30.8%) of the Convention Peoples Party (C.P.P) polling 2nd. Nana Addo is more than ten percentage points ahead of Prof. John Evans Atta Mills (29.9 percent) leader of the National Democratic Congress (N.D.C). 93.7% of respondents said they were Ghanaian citizens. Whiles 71.8% said they were registered to vote in Ghana, 28.2% weren’t. Please note that this survey was primarily posted but not limited to users of Facebook, the popular social networking site and has been up since January 2008. The sample also included users of hi5, another popular social networking site among Ghanaians living in and outside the country.

Generally the survey was popularized among internet users worldwide where a Ghanaian community was deemed to congregate. Social Networking Sites have become popular new media trends (Levy & Stone,2006) and have been accepted by researchers and the academic community as part of modern mass communication methods. Internet usage in particular has gradually increased since 1990s allowing researchers to gain access to huge numbers of people at cheaper cost. (Pew research Foundation 1998,2000). The concept of social networking is built on the idea/theory of social capital which is based on reciprocity transactions(Frank & Yasumoto,1998), behavior influence and social control, promotion of participatory democracy and the boosting of a candidate’s image.(Farqular,2008) . Computer IPs was recorded and respondents were allowed to vote only once.

Nana Akuffo Addo
Paa Kwesi Nduom
John Atta Mills
Kwesi Amofa Yeboah
Edward Mahama
There was a response rate of 91.2% among a total of 114 people surveyed. Voters from the C.P.P (79.4%) were the most satisfied with their candidate when asked the question: Do you think the C.PP (and other parties as the case may be) elected the right candidate. 67.3% said the N.P. P elected the right candidate while N.D.C voters were the most dissatisfied with their candidate with only 42.2% thinking Atta Mills was the right choice. Last year the former Vice President beat Ekow Spio Garbrah for the N.D.C party ticket. Respondents said they were likely to vote for a different party other than the N.P.P and the N.D.C if that party had a fair chance of winning giving credence to popular notion that Ghanaians are ready to experiment with a new party in power. This was in response to the question: would you vote for a different party other than the NPP or the NDC if that party had a good chance of winning the election. 57.9% said yes 22.4% said No, whiles 20.6% said maybe. Specifically probable voters said they will vote for the C.P.P (85.7%).

Research has shown that the use of the internet can help “reach traditionally hard to reach groups, enhanced political engagement, enhanced dialogue and candidate accessibility”.
Which party are you likely to vote for other than the NDC and NPP
Ghana Democratic Republican Party (GDRP)
Ghana National Party(GNP)
Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere(EGLE)
Democratic Freedom Party(DFP)

The Ghana Elections ’08 Polls was compiled through an internet survey tool from January-March 28 2008. Of the total number of respondents polled 49.5% live in Ghana, 0.9% in another African country and 48% said they lived in a country not in Africa. The new poll presents a much different picture in the race than generally assumed where the top two candidates were Nana Akuffo Addo and John Atta Mills—leaders of the two biggest parties in Ghana. What this means is that Dr Nduom known in certain circles as the long shot candidate has a realistic chance of doing well at the December elections and probably winning the presidency. If that happens it will be the first time Ghana’s founding party the CPP has returned to power since the overthrow of its founder and leader Dr Kwame Nkrumah in 1966.

Among likely voters 70.9% were male whiles females accounted for 29.1% showing a low interest in politics by women in general. However those who took the survey seemed to be closely following politics in Ghana—a good sign for participatory democracy in the country.

How closely have you been following news about candidates for Ghana ’08 elections
Very closely
Fairly closely
Not too closely
Not at all

On the performance of the Kufuor administration 40% of respondents said the president was doing a good job whiles 45% said he was doing a poor job with the remaining 15% ticking fair. However responses were different when voters were asked the question: would you like to see a candidate continue with Kufuor’s policies or take the country in a different direction? Only 39.6% said they wanted to new leader to continue with Kufuor’s policies giving an indication that Nana Addo should not necessarily run his campaign on the achievements of the Kufuor administration.

Would you like to see a candidate continue with Kufuor’s policies or take the country in a different direction?
Continue with Kufuor’s policies
Steer the country in a different direction
I don’t care

While the responses show how people would have voted if they had the chance to vote in the December elections it is by no means generalizable in toto since the survey was mostly limited to those who had access to computers. It could however give a clear indication of voting pattern among the educated, working class, students and elites in Ghana—a demographic group who are hard to convince and where candidates should be looking to in order to convince a considerable number of independents. Also even though Ghanaians seem to be generally interested in the political development of their country very few were registered party members. 9.6% of respondents said they were members of a registered party while 90.4% said they hadn’t registered with any political party. This may be an indication of a large number of floating voters in the country. On the whole 60.2 per cent of persons surveyed said they were likely to vote in the upcoming elections.

Are you likely to vote in these elections?
I cannot vote

Considering the fierce nature of the party primaries the polls sought to find out who voters would have chosen as their candidate if they were part delegates. Ekwow Spio Garbrah(27.3%) topped the list of potential candidates giving an indication that the former minister of state blessed with excellent oratory skills has enough political capital to try another time for the NDC’s presidential ticket. He led Kofi Annan and Prof Badu Akosa (both tied at 16.2%) by more than ten percentage points.
Who would you have liked to see running as a candidate
Ekow Spio Garbrah
Alan Kyeremanteng
Prof Badu Akosa
Kofi Annan
I’m satisfied with the candidates chosen
In the past the parties have debated ways of chosing candidates to involve a much larger population similar to US presidential primaries. Nevertheless it appears voters would not have made different choices from what party delegates did last year. The question still remains as to whether people are beginning to view politics differently and if more and more qualified people are being attracted to the profession.

Overall, what’s your impression of the candidates running for this years election. (As a group)
Only fair

On the issues
Respondents said they were more likely to vote on issues and policies (64.4%) than the quality of a candidate (43.3%) or party affiliation (2.9%). If this is anything to go by the party’s should prepare for a long haul of policy debates especially from the country’s literate population instead of expecting people to vote en masse. Education, poverty, unemployment, the economy and national security seemed to feature most when voters were asked what they wanted to hear candidates talk about. Here’s a sample list of issues respondents mentioned as important to them—and which candidates should be paying attention to:

· Constitutional and Judicial reform
· What they would do to compact the loss of our native languages.... Example, make reading and writing native languages a mandate in the new Education Reform.
· Employment
· nothing
· Education
· social welfare of citizens
· an excellent system of national identification, mechanized the agric sector and improve agro-processing capabilities of the economy, pay attention to industrial/manufacturing sector seriously, improve IT and communication, make conscious efforts to support institutions of higher learning to undertake meaningful research
· Improvement of education, revising the national health insurance scheme (probably allowing private entities to handle it instead of the government. Rethinking the way they treat employees. Relooking Ghanaian stance on globalization and agriculture.
· the economy
· Poverty Alleviation and accountability
· Improvement in the quality of life for the average Ghanaian which will ball down to salaries
· Well I think this has been put together by a presidential candidate - probably Paa kwesi Nduom. They should know more than us.
· industrialization
· Security Healthcare Education Economy
· The country and not themselves!!
· Per capita income of Ghanaians
· me
· internal security, that is, protection from armed robbers etc
· socio-economic development
· employment for the youth
· Being competent and not just trying to SOUND like they can do the job!!!
· National Unity
· That all himself and all his ministers will declare their assets and work to reduce corruption
· Corruption
· Education
· civil order
· Creation of Jobs & Wealth
· Creating the environment for equal opportunity for people desiring to progress in the country
· Unemployment
· Wealth Creation for Ghanaians.
· improving agriculture

The Ghana Election ’08 Polls Group will like to thank all who took part in this survey!

About the Group
The Ghana Elections ’08 polls Group is an initiative which provides the most up to date results on voter preferences and the public’s feelings and attitudes towards candidates and the political process in the country. This is done through frequent surveys utilizing innovative techniques and will be pre tested for accuracy. The Group uses empirical methods to evaluate the study and report on the public perception of the candidates in the upcoming elections. Survey answers are anonymous. This initiative is independent, non-partisan, and invites participation from all interested persons.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What’s up in Kenya?

Kibaki and Odinga have taken tea and watched golf since the peace deal was signed

Nearly three months after the worst massacre of Kenya's post-election violence, children's shoes and charred clothes remain in the ashes of a rural church where about 30 people were burned to death.

Wreaths of dried-out flowers lie where a mob set fire to the Assemblies of God building with 100 or so terrified villagers cowering inside. A cow nibbles grass around a fallen yellow tape reading: "Crime Scene, Do Not Cross."

All around the church, torched and trashed homes litter countryside outside the western town of Eldoret, one of the epicentres of violence that killed at least 1,200 people and uprooted 300,000 others after Kenya's December 27 election.

President Mwai Kibaki and his main challenger, Raila Odinga, have since made their peace, burying their dispute over who won in a power-sharing agreement. They have taken tea and even watched golf together at a colonial-era country club.

But on the ground, wounds from the worst bloodletting in the east African nation since independence in 1963 remain sore and many fear violence could erupt again if the deeper roots of the troubles are not tackled.

Communities are suspicious of one another. Tens of thousands of people still live as refugees. And there has been a massive population shift as Kenyans from different tribes return to the safety of their ancestral heartlands.

Less than a mile from the burnt church in Kiambaa village, police are building a new base to prevent repetitions of the attacks by Kalenjins -- who are in the majority in the Eldoret area -- on Kikuyus, members of Kibaki's ethnic group.

"We will hold the peace, and we will catch the perpetrators," one policeman said, nailing planks to new huts.

A few nervous-looking Kikuyus are back to check their plots.
"Some fear to return, some want to sell their land, some might come back and re-settle here if there is peace," said Francis Waweru, 23. His sister scorched her arm escaping from the church and has gone far away to the Kikuyu town of Limuru.

"It is hard to forget," he said, standing next to the church and describing how hundreds of Kalenjin warriors barred the refugees inside before burning the building and hacking those who tried to escape with machetes.

Down the road, locals have daubed a new name in their tribal language -- Kipnyiket -- over the Kikuyu word Kiambaa. Authorities say the perpetrators are among hundreds they have arrested nationwide. They plan a memorial at the church site.

On another side of Eldoret, scores of houses and shops are reduced to blackened rubble in scenes more reminiscent of war-riven neighbours Somalia and Sudan.

Huge boulders beside the highway also bear witness to the gangs who took over the area in January. Armed with machetes and bows-and-arrows, they had set up roadblocks to hunt Kikuyus.

"Of course we were angry. They stole the election in front of our eyes," one jobless 28-year-old Kalenjin man said.

"Now power is supposed to be shared 50-50 but they are not willing to share really," he added, echoing a widespread accusation among Kenya's non-Kikuyus that Kibaki's community has monopolised power and wealth.

Another Kalenjin man chided a visiting reporter, saying the media -- like Kibaki and the police -- had focused on deaths of Kikuyus around Eldoret, but not the killing of members of other communities elsewhere around Kenya.

"What about the house burned in Naivasha with 15 people inside? You don't talk about what the Kikuyus did," he said.

"There are no Kikuyus living round here any more. If they come back, it will depend on the 50-50 deal, if it works. Then if they return and are friendly with us, it will be OK."


According to the power-sharing deal, Odinga is set to become prime minister although wrangling remains over other posts.

Further down the line, Kenya's politicians will also have to overhaul the constitution and discuss underlying problems such as land and inequality that were laid bare by the dispute over Kibaki's re-election last December.

At Eldoret showground, 15,000 refugees -- almost all Kikuyus -- live in tents crammed together on the field.

They are either too scared to return home, have nothing to go back to, or are waiting for some way of travelling to their community's heartland in central Kenya.

"Power-sharing has brought peace to the people above, but not to us," said pastor Gideon Mwangi, whose house in Eldoret was torched and whose family fled to Naivasha.

"We are willing to go back, but only when there is real peace. There are still threats going on in the villages."

Refugee leaders are petitioning for compensation for destroyed properties, stolen livestock and lost crops.

Some Kikuyus in the Eldoret area have, however, returned to their former lives. In the centre of town, several dozen stick together for security in streets where they work as mechanics and labourers fixing minibuses.

Joseph Gitau, 23, was born in the area, saw his father killed with a poisoned arrow during inter-ethnic fighting in 1997, and admits taking up a machete to face Kalenjin gangs in January. One day, he saw seven fellow Kikuyus decapitated.

Yet he has returned to work to help feed his mother, and ten brothers and sisters. And he has no intention of returning to a tribal homeland he does not know.

"There, I have no job, no land, nothing. What could I do?" (Editing by Daniel Wallis) (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Religion in Our Educational Institutions

Accra Daily Mail Editorial

A student of Adisadel College in Cape Coast recently lost his life in an attempt to run away from a teacher who was doing his duty trying to get students to obey the school's rules.

Reports say the deceased, a Muslim, was escaping from compulsory Christian worship. See our lead story. An inquiry has been instituted into the tragedy. Religious and Moral Education (RME) has of late become an issue of public debate. We reproduce the article below which first appeared in ADM late last year, written by one of the foremost educators in Ghana on the subject: By Dr. (Mrs.) Nkrumah

" we need to look at the messages and signals we, the adult population, politicians, the priests and pastors and civil society as a whole, are sending them: the message that corruption, crime, greed and lack of morality pay very well in Ghana, and students are not slow in learning that lesson well."

I have been following the various viewpoints expressed about the educational reforms and RME as a subject, and I would like to contribute a few thoughts.

All the recent debate on this issue has focused on the role of schools in the formation of a student's moral compass and value systems and both the Catholic bishops and other religious bodies as well as some concerned citizens predict dire consequences for our nation because Ghana Education Service has dropped Religious and Moral Education as a separate, examinable subject from the syllabus.

First, what are the reasons for incorporating religious and moral education into other subjects, such as Social Studies, English, Life Skills, etc? For 50 years, we have been teaching Bible Knowledge or Scripture or Religious and Moral Education in our schools as a separate subject and it has been learnt in order to pass exams, just as one learns Maths and Science, without it, in fact, having much impact on the values or morals of the society as a whole.

If we look at Ghanaian youth and society today, where do we see its impact? After all, Religious and Moral Education was only removed as a subject in September 2007 so the youth and adults in society today have all "benefited" from such teaching, so how do we explain the moral and social decay we see around us today? Apart from the recognized need to reduce the number of examinable subjects, it is clear that for the values we would like to teach our children to have a meaningful impact, we need to make those values an intrinsic part of their lives and studies, not just a "subject".

From September 2007, the new educational syllabus began such a process, by making the values society wishes to inculcate in our children an integral part of the subjects they study, rather than an examination subject they can just cram and pass. But the wider question is, why do the Bishops and society at large assume that it is the job of our educational institutions to bring up our children for us on the path of righteousness?

It is first and foremost the job of parents to bring up their children, to teach them their cultural, moral and religious values, and to demonstrate these values by example from the way they live and what they do. The church and school are only complementary institutions, to reinforce those values. The Churches have their own primary role, which is to propagate their different faiths and to give moral and religious guidance to their parishioners and society in general.

The primary role of schools, however, is to educate students to a quantifiable and pre-set standard while at the same time reinforcing the values which the society holds dear. What examples have society, and even the church, set for children to emulate? In a society where materialism, corruption, drug dealing, abuse of children, domestic violence and immorality are the daily manifestations we demonstrate to our children, is it not the height of hypocrisy to blame Ghana Education Service and its syllabus for the malaise that has affected our youth? Why is not there a daily outcry from all the churches, apparently the biggest growth industry in Africa, especially Ghana, against these vices?

Children can be coerced into silence by adults but they are not stupid. They watch, they listen, they judge, and they learn far more from what they see in their homes, on the streets, on television and from the leaders of society, than they learn from a teacher standing in front of them teaching them a subject called Religious and Moral Education.

However, if the critics of the syllabuses would take the time and trouble to examine the contents, they would find out that the ethics, moral precepts, values education are still present, embedded in the text and passages the students will read, but if we want to save the children of Ghana from the moral abyss we are presently mired in, we need to look at the messages and signals we, the adult population, the politicians, the priests and pastors and civil society as a whole, are sending them: the message that corruption, crime, greed and lack of morality pay very well in Ghana, and students are not slow in learning that lesson well.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Is the dream over for Obama?

Wright's sermons have dented Obama's presidential campaign

by Foxnews

Surrogates for Barack Obama on Sunday downplayed the significance of Obama’s relationship to a controversial pastor and suggested the discussion is a preoccupation from bigger issues in the Democrat presidential race.

“The fact of the matter is people would like to move on to other things,” said Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, characterizing remarks by Obama pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright as “outrageous,” but saying they are not relevant to Obama’s candidacy.

“He’s rejected it. He said no– he doesn’t have any association with it. He finds these comments outrageous,” Dodd, an Obama supporter and former presidential candidate, told “FOX News Sunday.” He added that “guilt by association is not typically American.”

But some political analysts say that comments by Wright could pose a major obstacle for Obama because unlike average Americans, politicians suffer from “guilt by association.”
“This is a man who he chose to be associated with. It’s not a family member.

He chose to be associated with Reverend Wright and saw advantage in it. And that’s why he exploited it up to a point when he realized, especially when he was announcing, that he couldn’t have Wright by his side for the announcement in Springfield and now seeks to somehow distance himself. But it speaks to his character, and it speaks to the judgment which is the basis on which Barack Obama has been running his campaign. So I think it could be a big problem,” said National Public Radio national correspondent and FOX News contributor Juan Williams.
It also could suggest an insincerity by Obama, said conservative syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

“This, I think, is a huge story because it contradicts the whole persona and appeal of Obama as a man who transcends race,” Krauthammer said. “I think it ought to be explored a lot more deeply.”

Out on the campaign trail on Saturday, Obama was dogged by questions about comments made by his spiritual leader of 20 years, whose quotes have been sprayed over the news in the last several days.

At a town-hall meeting in Indiana, Obama said he was not in the pews when Wright said, for example, the U.S. is run by “rich, white people” or that the U.S. created the AIDS virus to kill African Americans. The Illinois senator said he “completely rejects” the preacher’s controversial sermons, including one in which he said the United States was asking for the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks because it had supported “state-sponsored terrorism” against black South Africans and Palestinians.

“Although I knew him and know him as somebody in my church that talked to me about Jesus and family and friendships but clearly, if all I knew were those statements I saw on television, I would be shocked,” Obama said.

Obama who is new to disavowing himself from the remarks, told his audience that people should speak up forcefully against comments like Wright’s.

Meanwhile, Clinton supporters are refusing to jump on the opportunity to attack Obama for his slow response. “I mean, as you know, I prefer Senator Clinton for a whole lot of reasons, but I don’t cast aspersions on Senator Obama for what somebody else said,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Voters should “accept what Obama has said and move on,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.
The Clinton campaign may be following a well-known operating principle of politics, which is when an opponent is shooting himself in the foot, stand back and let him. According to the results of a new, four-day Rasmussen tracking poll out Sunday morning, Obama’s national lead has narrowed to just 3 points over Clinton.

“The Clinton campaign won’t touch this with a 10-foot poll, but they don’t have to. … It will dribble, dribble out for at least a few more days and in this Internet era there’s no limit to what you can” dredge up, said Democratic strategist Susan Estrich.

Estrich said plenty of more information will come up in the weeks leading up to the Pennsylvania and North Carolina primaries.

“I don’t know, this guy didn’t give just two bad sermons, nobody … does the wrong thing just twice,” she said. “We all have to fill space for six weeks, this is how we’ll fill it.”

According to pollster, Scott Rasmussen, the recent controversy and prolonged fight between the Democrats is also turning out to be a gift for presumptive Republican presidential nominee and Arizona Sen. John McCain, whose numbers are up.

That’s a fear Democrats are hoping won’t be realized as the discussion over race and sex issues distract from their overall message of defeating McCain.

“I think we have to lift ourselves out of all of that. Look, we’re talking about running for president of the United States. We’re talking about the leader of the free world. We’re talking about the hopes, the aspirations of the American people being placed — and not like any other job in the world, placed on this person.

And I think people are much more interested on the ideas, the vision, the judgment, the plans that people have. And that’s why people are drawn to both of these candidates,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking on ABC’s “This Week.” Pelosi has not yet stated her preference for the top of the party ticket.