Accra, Ghana (PANA) - The deepening rift in Ghana’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), which is threatening its survival, and the continuing debate on the authenticity of economic statistics released by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) were some of the major stories highlighted in the media this week.
The NDC has been split between a group led by President John Evans Atta Mills and another one led by former President and founder of the party Jerry John Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu.
Rawlings has been the most bitter critic of President Mills, who incidentally was his vice president from 1997-2001 and his anointed heir in 2000.
So sour are relations between the two men that Rawlings sponsored his wife, Nana Konadu, to contest President Mills at the party’s primary to choose a presidential candidate. President Mills won an overwhelming 96 per cent of the votes but this has not settled matters.
There are reports that Rawlings and his followers are considering the launch of a new political party. But now Mrs Rawlings has served notice claiming intellectual property of the NDC's logo – the umbrella.
“Mrs Rawlings wrenches NDC logo from Party,” was the headline on the website of an Accra-based radio station, Joy fm.
It said the NDC executive faced an impending legal battle to keep the party’s logo as lawyers for Nana Konadu had claimed ownership of the logo.
She has written to the national executive of the party criticizing it over “infringement of the party logo” which is her intellectual property.
According to Nana Konadu’s lawyer, Stanley Ahorlu, the logo is the intellectual property of Nana Konadu because she created it. He added that the right steps will be taken to ensure that the logo was not misused by individuals or group of persons.
“Give me my umbrella! – Konadu tells NDC” was the headline of the pro-opposition Daily Guide.
The story said the battle for the heart and soul of the NDC hadtaken a new twist, with the wife of the party’s founder, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, laying claim to the ownership of the single most powerful emblem, the red, green, white and black umbrella with the head of an eagle atop it.
It said Nana Konadu had subsequently caused her lawyer to write to the party chairman, Dr Kwabena Adjei, threatening to stop the NDC from further use of the logo if the party continued to infringe on her rights over the logo.
The letter, dated May 7, 2012, and copied to the Copyright Administrator, stated that she registered the logo on 12 April 2010 under the Copyright Act (2005), Act 690.
In spite of granting the NDC an unhindered access to the use of the logo, Nana Konadu indicated that her rights continued to be infringed upon by the leadership of the party both in their public utterances and deeds, and thereby denigrating the symbolic value of the emblem.
What seemed to worry her most was the fact that the denigration of the logo had further manifested itself in gross disrespect to her husband, former President Rawlings, founder of the NDC, coupled with the disunity in the party.
She also complained of the virtual neglect of egalitarian values of the NDC, lack of accountability by key party leaders to the membership of the party, leading to disaffection among the rank and file of the party.
The former First Lady has asked the leadership of the party to make amends before she takes a decisive action to withdraw her permission for the use of the logo.
A Senior Law Lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Kofi Abotsi, however, says Nana Konadu is likely to lose her right of ownership of the logo if the party can show evidence that the logo was registered in the name of the NDC at the Electoral Commission, prior to Mrs Rawlings registering the same logo at the Copyright office.
The debate triggered by criticisms of the government’s economic achievements and statistics generated by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) by Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the running mate of the presidential candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, continued in the media this week.
Dr Bawumia, a former deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana (Central Bank), had questioned government’s touted single digit inflation, substantial foreign reserves, high production of cocoa, the country’s main export crop, among other things.
The pro-opposition Daily Guide had the headline “Statistical Service stings Bawumia”. The story said that Dr Philomena Nyarko, acting Government Statistician, had described as "unfortunate” Dr Bawumia’s statement that the country’s single digit inflation was “not consistent with the economic fundamentals and developments in some key indicators”.
She said GSS had not tampered with the principles and procedures it used to compute inflation rates.
Dr Nyarko added that the consumer price index on which the calculation of inflation was derived was a weighted average of the price changes of 242 commodities which were collected from 40 markets across the country.
“Therefore, one cannot use only a few items in few selected locations as an indicator of the change in the general price level.”
The state-owned Daily Graphic had the headline “Bawumia misled public - Government statistician” with the story saying the GSS had expressed concern over the misinterpretation of some indicators and inflation figures by Dr Bawumia, which tended to undermine the service’s credibility.
Dr Nyarko said although Dr Bawumia admitted that single digit inflation was not a new phenomenon, he cast doubts on the current level of inflation in Ghana.
She said the service had been consistent in computing inflation figures and described the example given by Dr Bawumia to support his assertion that the single digit inflation was not consistent with the economic fundamentals and developments in some key indicators as unfortunate.
She explained that the GSS was unhappy with the concluding part of Dr Bawumia’s speech on inflation which said it was time for Ghana to have a truly independent and well-resourced Statistical Service.
“We would like to remind him that it is the same institution that computed the GDP figures he used to judge the good performance of the economy between 2000 and 2008,” she said.
Dr Nyarko said it was also the same institution that computed the GDP figures that showed declining growth in agriculture in 2011 which Dr Bawumia referred to in his speech.
But the NPP has rallied to the defence of Dr Bawumia with the Daily Guide saying in its story under the headline “NPP defends
Bawumia” that the Party had appealed to the GSS not to assume that any criticism of its work is an attack on its credibility.
In a statement issued in Accra and signed by Kweku Kwarteng, Policy Adviser to the party, it noted that the Ghana Statistical Service, as a state institution, needed to receive feedback on its work and use such feedback to improve its performance and output.
The Centre for Policy analysis, a policy think-tank, waded into the debate saying Dr Bawumia should substantiate his claims against the Ghana Statistical Service or apologise for questioning its independence.
-0- PANA MA 12May2012