New GFA boss: Gabby ‘lobbies’ for Tony Baffoe

A close confidante of President Nana Akufo Addo, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, says former Ghana international Anthony Baffoe will be the best Ghanaian to lead the reformation of Ghana Football Association.

According to him, Baffoe, who is a match coordinator at the ongoing 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, “knows the game and the business of the game, locally and internationally.”

An Accra High Court on Thursday gave the green light for the dissolution of the current Football Association following the Number 12 investigative piece by Anas Aremeyaw Anas. The video exposes the rot in Ghana football as many top football officials were caught receiving monies to fix games .

Gabby believes Mr Baffoe is the perfect man to lead the new GFA. He gave his reasons on his facebook wall Saturday:

“I’ve known him for over 40 years. In my view, he will be the best Ghanaian to lead the reformation of Ghana Football Association. He is decent. He believes in discipline. He is not corrupt. He loves and lives football. He is a patriot. He knows the game and the business of the game, locally and internationally. He has played at the highest level, in Europe’s top leagues, and captained Ghana’s national team. He is respected worldwide in football. When the dust settles, help me convince him and the powers that be to make him the man for the new GFA. His name is Anthony Baffoe”


KNUST scores high marks in credibility assessment of universities

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has received high marks, for its ‘Good Quality’ rating, after an evaluation by the African Quality Rating Mechanism (AQRM) – a barometer used in assessing the credibility of universities on the continent.

Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said the institution scored 3.25 on the AQRM’s evaluation scale, which was next to exceptional per the assessment of the regulatory body.

The criteria used included the teaching and learning facilities, quality of infrastructure and material resources, quality of students’ services, academic staff profile in terms of qualifications and rank, as well as relevant documents and policies guiding the University’s conduct.

Prof. Obiri-Danso broke the news at the 52nd congregation of the University and said their vision was to rank among the top 10 in Africa.

The AQRM was developed by the African Union (AU) Commission, as part of the strategies to harmonize higher education, and adopted by the Conference of Ministers of Education in 2007.

The aim is to revitalize and strengthen educational institutions of higher learning to ensure they are globally competitive and attractive, while being locally-relevant.

It is also a tool intended to facilitate benchmarking of quality and to promote a culture of on-going improvements in higher education.

A total of 6,528 students, comprising 5,848 undergraduates and 680 post-graduates were presented for certificates by all the six Colleges in this year’s congregation.

Sixty-one (61) of the graduating students were awarded Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD) degrees, while 651 graduates had First Class.

The Vice-Chancellor highlighted the need to focus priority on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and said it was the way forward to grow the nation’s economy.

He announced that the World Bank, through the Ministry of Communication’s e-Transform Project had granted KNUST an amount of US$500,000 for the establishment of an Innovation Hub within the University’s Business Incubator.

The goal was to create a the right atmosphere and co-worker space with the highest bandwidth connectivity where people, intending to create ICT-related innovative ideas could sit with like-minds to think, design and develop prototypes, towards commercialization.

Prof. Obiri-Danso added that the entire project sought to bring qualitative change and standards to ‘Made-in-Ghana’ products, and said there was a 30 percent component for women participation in the project.

He told the gathering that the University had been making giant strides in the areas of research and innovation and spoke of how Dr (Mrs) Cynthia Amaning Danquah of the Department of Pharmacology, was featured extensively by the BBC for her research into the use of onions to tackle antibiotic resistance in infectious diseases globally.

Again, Prof Kwabena Ofori-Kwakye and his team from the Department of Pharmaceutics were also researching into the potential use of some cassava varieties as substitutes for imported maize starch in the pharmaceutical industry.

This is expected to serve as a binding agent in the pharmaceutical industry for the manufacture of tablets, capsules and other dosage forms.

The pharmaceutical industry currently imports millions of dollars of maize starch annually from Europe and Asia for the manufacture of various pharmaceutical products in Ghana.

Jejeti Health Center shut down after devastating flood

The Jejeti Health Center in the Atiwa District of the Eastern Region has been temporarily shut down following a devastating flood that nearly submerged the facility.

The incident occurred Thursday after several hours of torrential rainfall in the area.

The flood waters entered almost every ward and department of the facility destroying medical equipment, patients folders , Health Insurance claims records,computers, refrigerators,cars among many other properties of the facility, but no casualty recorded.

Nakinpaak Napoleon, Physicians Assistant in charge of the Jejeti Health Center told Starr News ” There was a heavy downpour so around 8:30 then the place started flooding so by 11pm getting to midnight the place flooded. All our patients’ folders have been carried away , other document and then the drugs especially the oral drugs, everything is destroyed including most of the equipment we use in the facility”.

He added that “almost all the wards have been affected but most affected are the antenatal ward, the maternity wards and the stores where we keep our drugs.Then where we keep our health insurance document, even last month claim and this month’s claims prepared have been washed away”.

According to the In-Charge of the facility, officials of Ghana National Fire Service and National Disaster Management Organization have visited the health center to pump out flood waters stagnated at the wards.

Meanwhile,the Atiwa District Health Directorate has been notified about the incident with request to provide some essential drugs to enable the facility attend to resume work but recommends for relocation of the facility which he says is sited in a waterlogged area.

Officials of the National Disaster Management Organization in the District say the Thursday night downpour has displaced 50 residents in the community, affected some schools and carried away cooking items of a caterer of school feeding program.


Iraq: Protests rage over poor public services, unemployment

Demonstrations began in the southern city of Basra over high unemployment and a lack of basic services.

Iraq has placed its security forces on high alert after protests against high unemployment and a lack of

basic services in the country’s southern provinces spread to the capital, Baghdad.

The nationwide directive on Saturday was issued overnight by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who also serves as the country’s commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Reinforcement soldiers from both the Counter Terrorism Service and the Army’s Ninth Division have already been dispatched to Basra, where demonstrators gathered for the sixth consecutive day, to help protect the province’s oil fields, security sources told the Reuters news agency.

The order came in an effort to stem the burgeoning protests, which on Friday spread from oil-rich Basra – where residents had blocked access to the nearby commodities port of Umm Qasr – to the cities of Amara, Nasiriya and the Shia holy city of Najaf.

After an urgent meeting under al-Abadi’s chairmanship, the National Security Council also decided on Saturday to cut internet access in the capital to prevent the unrest from spreading further, Anadolu Agency reported.

Three people killed

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters stormed government buildings in the south of the country on Friday and stormed Najaf International Airport, demanding better services, job opportunities and an end to alleged Iranian interference.

In the latest in a week of daily protests against corruption and poor governance, demonstrators clashed with security forces in several provinces, including Maysan, Dhi Qar, Basra, Najaf and Karbala.

Officials said two more demonstrators were killed overnight in Maysan province on the border with Iran, bringing the number of people killed since the protests erupted on Sunday to three.

At least one person was killed and 15 injured in Maysan when Iraqi forces shot at protesters after they attacked and set fire to office buildings used by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Islamic Dawa Party, the Iranian-backed Al-Badr Organisation and the Shia Supreme Islamic Council Party.

According to Iraqi news website Al-Sumaria, 25 anti-riot policemen were also wounded as they tried to stop demonstrators from storming the governor’s house in the province of Dhi Qar.

The protesters had gathered near his residence and could be heard chanting slogans such as “Iran, we don’t want you anymore.”

Following anti-corruption protests across southern , protesters in Najaf storm the governor’s office and airport, chanting “the people want the fall of the [political] parties”

Rampant electricity cuts have exacerbated a sweltering heat wave, with Basra seeing temperatures exceed 48 degrees Celsius in recent days.

The region is home to the oil fields that account for the vast majority of the more than three million barrels of oil Iraq exports every day. Yet, it remains underdeveloped and has suffered from chronic power outages, poor water quality and uncollected waste.

Demonstrators in Basra used burning tyres to blocking roads as they marched on government installations and even attempted to storm an oil facility.

“These protests are for the oppressed people of Basra,” said a demonstrator. “We are asking for what is rightfully ours. The government should provide clean water, job opportunities, electricity and basic infrastructure. These basic needs are the responsibility of the prime minister and the governor.”

Mohammed Jabbar, 29, an unemployed college graduate, said the demonstrators will not stop until their demands are met.

“If they don’t create jobs and improve services such as water and electricity, we will close down Basra and oil production,” he said.

High unemployment

The demonstrations spread after Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the supreme spiritual leader of Shia Muslims in Iraq, expressed his solidarity with the protesters.

“It is not fair and it is never acceptable that this generous province is one of the most miserable areas in Iraq,” Abdel Mahdi al-Karbalai, the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said at Friday prayers in Karbala.

Karbalai urged the “federal and local government to deal seriously with the demands of citizens”, while also calling on demonstrators to refrain from violence.

Al-Abadi has vowed to rebuild Iraq’s economy, which has been ravaged by years of conflict, but frustrations have grown in the oil-rich south.

Officially, 10.8 percent of Iraqis are jobless, while youth unemployment is twice as high in a country where 60 percent of the population is under 24.

Iraq is the second-largest producer of crude in the OPEC oil cartel, with 153bn barrels of proven reserves.

The oil sector accounts for 89 percent of the state budget and 99 percent of Iraq’s export revenues, but only one percent of jobs, as the majority of posts are filled by foreigners.

Iraq is currently in political limbo as the country looks to form a new government after Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr‘s surprise poll win saw longtime political figures pushed out by voters seeking change in the country.

Saad Jawad, a professor of political science at the London School of Economics, said the unrest was the result “of what happened in Iraq since 2003”.

“It’s an accumulation of protests about bad services, corruption, unemployment, lack services and electricity – all these things have been going for a long time and the people have been suffering from them,” he told Al Jazeera from the UK capital, noting that the protests against the Shia-led government are taking place in Iraq’s Shia provinces.

Jawad said al-Abadi is “weak” politically, casting doubt over his ability to find a solution, and stressed Tehran’s “major role” in the crisis in the aftermath of the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the threat of biting sanctions.

“Since Iran was put in a corner economically, they are cutting all electricity supplies and water supplies to Iraq, which were normally going smoothly, and this is also creating a problem for Iraq,” he said.

“I think the Iranians want to tell to the Americans that if you create problems to us somewhere else we can combat you everywhere – Syria, Iraq, the Gulf, whatever we can do.”


Revolution of the elderly: Why Putin’s rating is falling

According to a survey conducted by the state-funded Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM), public trust in President Vladimir Putin has dropped significantly. The July 1 poll found that just 37.9 percent of respondents trusted the president on taking decisions on issues of national importance. Right after the March 18 election, that number stood at 53.6 percent.

The semi-official Public Opinion Fund (FOM) registered a similar drop. Their weekly survey looking into voter confidence found that just 49 percent would vote for Putin if elections were held today, down from 68 percent in late March.

For Putin’s 18 years in power, his rating fell that much only once – in December 2011, when hundreds of thousands were protesting against the falsification of the parliamentary elections of that year.

Back then, the government found it difficult to ignore the crisis. State TV suddenly started giving airtime to opposition leaders and then-President Dmitry Medvedev announced political reforms (which Putin later largely reversed).

Today, there are no crowds in the streets protesting against Putin. The whole country is either glued to TV screens watching the World Cup and celebrating the unexpected success of the Russian team or relaxing on the beach or in the countryside. So how can we understand this sudden collapse in the president’s approval rating in such a short period of time?

Many have questioned the credibility of political polling in Russia: first, because the state funds the two main pollsters; second, because in order to ensure randomisation, the polling firms have to know the respondents’ personal data, which makes some reluctant to express opposition views when surveyed.

These two arguments could be used to explain Putin’s persistently high approval rating, but they cannot account for the recent significant drop, which is why we should take these statistics seriously. The Kremlin itself already is.

The main reason for the fall in the president’s approval rating is the pension reform announced on June 14 which would increase the retirement age from 60 to 65 for men and from 55 to 63 for women. The reform will likely affect around 10 million people or seven percent of the Russian population.

The problem is that pensioners are the most important supporters of the populist Putin regime; they are his core electorate and main target audience of state TV.

Gone are the times when the Kremlin was trying to engage the youth – by creating pro-Kremlin youth movements or engaging football ultras – or with the intelligentsia, which today is almost the biggest enemy of those in power, as was the case during Soviet times. And it’s not working with teachers and doctors either; before the 2012 elections, Putin promised to increase their pay to double the average salary in the country – which he could not do because of the collapse of oil prices in the following years.

All this time, the retired folk remained loyal, even if the average pension remained miserably low – at around $230 a month.

Putin tried to experiment with their loyalty once before. In 2004, his administration introduced a law cancelling benefits for special social groups (the most numerous of them being pensioners), such as free travel on public transportation and free vacations in state-owned hostels, and introducing direct payments.

That triggered mass protests comparable in scale to those of the early 1990s which brought down the communist regime. The government had to backtrack: part of the benefits were restored and pensions increased. Since then, the government never again tried to infringe on the interests of the pensioners – that is, until today.

Given their previous experience, the Russian authorities are already preparing for another outpouring of public anger. The state TV channels are expected to play a major role in the government’s attempt to play down the reform.

list of talking points, which was allegedly sent out to state media and which advise on how the pension reform should be presented to the Russian audience, was leaked. It is difficult to confirm the validity of the list, but the spin that it proposes has already been used by state TV channels. However, the mobilisation of the media doesn’t seem to be working.

The inability of mainstream media to sway public opinion has already been observed in the West on a number of occasions. Remember how the support for the Remain campaign in the most respectable British media did not save the UK from Brexit? And how the criticism of Donald Trump by most major TV networks (including, in the beginning, Fox News) did not stop him from first winning the Republican primaries and then the presidential elections?

In Russia, this trend is even more disastrous because it goes beyond the pension reform decision and public anger at this particular moment. State TV has been one of the main pillars of Putin’s power; it is more important than parliament, the courts and even the security agencies.

Just before the pension reform was announced, FOM released a survey that showed that trust in TV has fallen from 63 percent in 2015 to 43 percent in April this year. The other important trend that has emerged is that there is declining interest in topics like Ukraine and the war in Syria, which used to take attention away from domestic troubles.

Since 2014, these two topics were the main fodder for news broadcasts and political discussions on political talk shows – to the point that Ukraine’s domestic political scene was getting more airtime and attention than Russia’s.

Given the timing of the pension reform announcement, the authorities probably hoped that the World Cup would be a rallying point for national unity and help drive attention away from the bad news. And indeed, after every Russian victory, Twitter would explode with comments from exulted government loyalists and opposition politicians alike. But even that did not work. Putin’s rating was falling as the Russian national team kept winning up to the quarter-final with Croatia on July 7.

So what does this collapse in approval mean for the Kremlin and what will come out of it? The feeble attempts of opposition leader Alexey Navalny to take advantage of the situation and organise mass rallies against the reform were not that successful. The turnout in the streets was low, partially because his supporters are too young to care about pension reforms.

But discontent is growing and the main battle will take place in the fall when the law is handed to the State Duma to vote on.

It is difficult to predict how this would pan out. It could either be a “revolution of the elderly” which would bring down the system, or could turn into a boost for Putin’s popularity, if he decides to cancel the reform at the last moment. Some are already speculating that that was the whole purpose of the exercise – present Putin as a social saviour and keep his popularity high.


Roman Dobrokhotov is a Moscow-based journalist and civil activist. He is the editor-in-chief of The Insider.

I’m ready for Inter challenge – Kwadwo Asamoah

Ghana international Kwadwo Asamoah says he is primed for his new adventure with Italian Serie A side Inter Milan.

Asamoah joined the Nerazzurri on a three year deal last week, after leaving Juventus where he won 13 major trophies during his six year stay with the side.

The 29 year old Ghana international joins an Inter Milan side who are making a return to the UEFA Champions league after a six year absence, and he says he is looking forward to the challenge.

“We can do really well this year, Inter has everything needed to play a big role,” he said.

“Physically, I’m in good shape. I train every day and I’m ready for this adventure. I spoke with Spalletti and the directors about the project and the club’s objectives.”

Asamoah’s playing position has evolved over the years, with the former Udinese man being converted from a midfielder to a left full back in recent years, a factor many believe contributed to his exit from Juventus.

But when asked about where he prefers to play on the pitch, Asamoah says he is open to whatever role is thrown at him.

“I want to do something important and that’s why I’m here. My role? Either as a full-back or midfielder, I’m ready to give everything,” he added.

Asamoah made 156 appearances for Juventus scoring 5 goals and providing 21 assists.

No-bed syndrome: Korle Bu informs hospitals not to refer patients

The management of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) says it will not take referrals from other health facilities following a shortage of beds at the Surgical Medical Emergency Unit of the hospital.

The lack of beds at the unit has forced doctors to treat patients in plastic chairs and on the floor following a directive by the health minister for doctors not to turn away patients due to lack of beds.

According to the Public Relations Officer of KBTH, Mr Mustapha Salifu, the move is part of measures to decongest the facility after overcrowding of patients has made it difficult for doctors to work at the SME.

Some photos making the rounds on social media since Monday has caused outrage among sections of the public with some questioning the environment patients were being treated in.

“You know, this is a 36-bed facility unit but as at yesterday, the patients that we had were in excess of 60. So, which means that we have literally doubled the number of patients that we should have at the SME. So that was why we had patients on chairs and some of them were even outside,” Mr Salifu said in an interview on Joy FM.

“This morning there was one patient but fortunately the person has been moved in because space was created for him to move. At the moment, we are linking up with other hospitals to inform them not to refer, they can do telephonic consultations, we’ll give them guide on how to deal with those cases except the dire emergencies that they will still speak to us and we will take them.

“We are in the process (of informing them), usually we would want to do this for 48 hours to allow the place to decongest so that we can start receiving but for the dire emergencies that cannot receive help anywhere except here, they can still fall through but they have a way of contacting the emergency so that we deal with that”.

According to Mr Salifu, the situation at the SME has improved today and no patient was being treated outside in the corridors and under the stairwell currently.

“So, some of the patients were outside whilst receiving treatment but thankfully today we have been able to shift, to transfer some of the patients to the ward and space has been created where they have all been moved in now but we still have patients sitting on chairs receiving treatment at the SME now, as I speak to you now. That is why I want to tell our sister hospitals not to refer any further… to give us some time to decongest after that we move back,” he said.

State funding of parties wont stop ‘shady’ financing – John Boadu

The General Secretary of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), John Boadu, does not think the state financing of political parties will provide transparency on how the various parties are funded.

“I don’t think that resolves the problems,” he remarked on the matter of dubious funding of political parties on the Citi Breakfast Show.

Mr. Boadu’s comments follow the NPP National Delegate’s Conference, which was rocked by accusations of vote buying against the Freddie Blay, who emerged the winner in the national chairmanship race.

Mr. Blay was said to have facilitated the purchase of 275 minibuses for each constituency of the party ahead of the elections.

He admitted the political parties have not done enough on the issue of political party financing when they assume power.

“It is because we have been paying lip service to funding political parties, particularly when we are in opposition, we are so loud about it. When it comes to government, we are mute about it.”

Mr. Boadu also did not think citizens would be enthused about contributing to political parties.

“The General public thinks there is no point in putting a penny of their taxes to finance political parties and political individuals. That is another major [problem]. You need the concerns and acceptance of the people. We’ve not been able to communicate very well the need for funding political parties.”Ultimately, he said the current laws need strengthing.

According to the Political Parties Act, a political party shall within six months from 31st December of each year, file the state of its accounts, the sources of its funds, membership dues paid, contributions or dominations in cash or kind, among others.

Mr. Boadu said “I think there is the need to strengthen our legal regime with regards to the filing of returns by all, including politicians. We need full disclosure of how resources are sourced and used.”

But the laws, as currently constituted, are not effective enough, he stated.

“I am so conversant with our political party laws with regards to funding and finances and the way it is, there is no way that particular law will resolve any of the problems.”

Blay facilitated the purchase of the minibuses, and reportedly made a down payment of $3 million, which constitutes 30% of the total cost of 11.4 million dollars for the 275 cars.

Freddie Blay purchased buses with UMB loan – Spokesperson

According to Richard Nyamah, Spokesperson for Mr. Blay, his boss contracted a loan facility from Universal Merchant Bank (UMB), to procure the 275 buses.]

Mr. Nyamah said discussions were held with the NPP and that the party “agreed and okayed the deal.”

“He has gone into an agreement with a bank, where the bank will make a profit and the constituencies at the end of every month, would also get some payments in their accounts to pay the party at the constituency level.”

The buses will also remain under the name of UMB, “until the facility is fully paid,” he added.

“When the facility is paid off, the buses will be owned by the constituencies and ownership transferred to them.”

A source at the office of the Special Prosecutor explained to Citi News that Martin Amidu is of the view that, Mr. Blay is a public officer as a Board Chairman of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), and also as a national officer of the governing party with influence, he falls under the Criminal offenses Act (1960) Act 29, and must therefore be questioned on his source of funding.

Richard Nyamah had said in an earlier interview that Freddie Blay was ready to subject himself to any such investigation.

Sacked EC Boss contributed hugely to staff’s death – Petitioners

Petitioners who caused the removal of Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei have accused her of contributing largely to the death of one of the petitioners, George Avukawey.

The petitioners claimed the late George Avukawey become seriously sick and was seeking for financial assistance from the Commission to help him receive health but was painfully denied that assistance by Madam Charlotte Osei, who was supposed to sign for the release of the money because she found out that he was part of the petitioners.

“He become very sick, and he needed Madam Charlotte Osei to just sign a document for him to seek health care but because he was one of us, he was denied the support and through that, our friend to pass on” they said.

Contrary to claims that, the late George Avukavey passed on eight years ago, but his name had been added to the petitioners, the petitioners revealed to Kasapa Fm morning show host Kwaku Owusu Agyei a.k.a Pato, with documents of his death which showed that the deceased died on 20th November, 2017 and was buried on the 2nd of December, 2017.

In July 2017, some staff of the EC petitioned President Nana Akufo-Addo to remove Mrs. Osei from office over allegations of fraud and financial malfeasance as well as abuse of office.

Some of the allegations involved the unilateral award of contracts by the EC boss in the run-up to the 2016 general election.

Subsequently, Charlotte Osei and two of her deputies were removed from office by President Nana Akufo-Addo over allegations of procurement breaches and in some cases financial malfeasance.

The President took the decision after a committee set up by the Chief Justice to investigate a petition against the top EC officials made the recommendations in its report.

Pregnant woman, baby die over GHC500 ‘doctor motivation fee’

A 30-year-old pregnant woman died with her unborn baby at the Suntreso Government Hospital in Kumasi on Wednesday, 4 July 2018 after the health post refused her entry into the labour ward because her husband could not immediately pay a GHC500 ‘Doctor Motivation Fee’.

Angela Afriyie Agyemang later died at the theatre just as her husband had made available the GHC500 fee for which she had been denied medical attention.

Pastor Solomon Lamo Latiff of the House of Faith Ministry in Kumasi, husband to the deceased, said he had taken his wife to the hospital the previous day when she started experiencing labour pangs after her due date exceeded by a week.

He told Moro Awudu on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show that one Dr Sarpong then informed him that a Caesarean Section (CS) was to be done but not until he had paid the GHC500 doctor motivation fee.

Pastor Agyemang said he intends suing the hospital for medical negligence, since, according to him, the hospital allowed several other women in labour into the theatre while his wife was kept sitting in a wheelchair for over three hours due to his inability to immediately pay the GHS500 ‘Doctor Motivation Fee’.