The “Graphic” Has Been Entrusted to the NPP, as Simple as That!
For two protracted decades, the Rawlings-led tripartite governments of the so-called Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) had absolute and hermetic control of Ghana’s Daily Graphic newspaper, even while also pretending as if such control had been assumed with the unreserved consent of the people. Consequently, to shore up his populist credentials, Mr. Rawlings unilaterally issued an edict renaming the country’s most widely read newspaper The Peoples Daily Graphic. The defenseless people of Ghana were, thus, forced into a criminal collaborative alliance with the P/NDC. The summary executions of Gen. I. K. Acheampong and Commander Utuka would be published on the front page of the Daily Graphic; those of us with a lode of fiery conscience would be utterly disgusted and feel unpardonably violated, but we would sport a poker-face demeanor, lest we be promptly branded as “Enemies of the Revolution” and find our very existence to be at risk.
Not that the latter situation mattered in anyway to anyone of those AK-47-toting uniformed thugs. Not in the least bit; for after all, wasn’t this “One Man, One Toilet” philosopher’s housecleaning putsch launched for the collective defense of the people, rather than as a veritable bid to permanently transforming the personal and miserable fortunes of the Yor-ke-Garri- indebted arch-revolutionary?
Back then, The People’s Daily Graphic spoke with one voice and strictly reflected one personality, the personality of Flt.-Lt. Yor-ke-Garri, of course. Nobody then either bickered or griped about the “biased reportage” of The People’s Daily Graphic. George Orwell (a.k.a. Eric Blair) had eloquently and poignantly taught us to be nimble for the sake of being able to keep our heads on our shoulders with his literary classic Animal Farm. And when the three Supreme Court judges were covertly and officially abducted and summarily executed on June 30, 1982, we also clearly understood the glaring fact that not only were “Two Legs Bad,” but also the quite grim and traumatic fact that it was very dangerous for anybody to be of Akan descent and also sport an Akan name; and it absolutely did not matter whether one had decked military fatigues – and or standard uniforms – and literally put one’s life on the line in defense of Ghana.
Those were the days when many of my most intimate classmates called me Togbui Sri II; it was a sort of ethnic camouflage. And as you can vividly see, dear reader, such ethnic camouflage perfectly served its primary objective: it would enable me to live out those lunatic days of Ghana’s “Tribal Imperialism” in order to document Flt.-Lt. Yor-ke-Garri’s “Housecleaning Exercise” for the benefit of my children, compatriots and posterity.
It would also be with delightful shock that I would learn, years later, that The People’s Daily Graphic had, finally, been allowed by the “real people” to resume the use of its original name, the name that its original British proprietor had given the paper until the ever-calculating President Nkrumah pressured Mr. King to sell it to the Ghanaian government of the so-called Convention People’s Party (CPP). Not very long afterwards, the CPP was to summarily proscribe all privately owned and privately published newspapers in the country. It appears that the African Show Boy had shrewdly figured out that the sort of one-party pan-Africanist dictatorship which he had long dreamed of establishing – along Garveyite, Black Imperialist lines – could be stillborn, unless, of course, Africa’s Man of Destiny promptly rid himself and his country of the voyeuristic King-Mirror Group of newspapers. “Command Journalism” would be the order of the day.
And so it is rather curious for Prof. John Evans Atta-Mills to be self-righteously accusing the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) of prejudicing Daily Graphic editor Mr. Ransford Tetteh against Prof. Atta-Mills’ fitful and visibly chugging presidential campaign (see “Graphic Is Not for the NPP – NDC” Ghanaweb.com 9/23/08).
The gripe was contained in a press release evidently written and signed by Mr. Koku Anyidoho, the communications commissar of Prof. Atta-Mills. The very first sentence of the release, however, suggested the fact that the piece may well have been composed with the express collaboration of Flt.-Lt. Yor-ke-Garri. For it reads as follows: “The Office of NDC Leader and Presidential Candidate, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, is putting it out that [the] Daily Graphic, with Ransford Tetteh as its Editor[,] is not being fair to the NDC.” And just exactly what, in the opinion of Mr. Koku Anyidoho, constitutes such lack of fairness on the part of Mr. Ransford Tetteh? This is what Comrade Anyidoho has to spiel: “In particular stories about the recent tours of Mrs. Naadu Mills, to some markets in Accra[,] have not been published. We are prepared to provide irrefutable evidence that the Daily Graphic received the stories and pictures but refused to publish them.”
Of course, about the only “irrefutable evidence” regarding the foregoing is the patent fact that Mrs. Naadu Mills is neither a government nor public official. And the last time that we checked, the title of “First Lady Wannabe” was not elective. And neither were any reports issued regarding the occurrence of any untoward event, such as robbery or physical assault, or even a verbal assault, having been directed against Mrs. Naadu Mills, while the former Second Lady toured any of the unnamed Accra markets.
You see, our argument here is that the Daily Graphic is one of the main official mouthpieces of the ruling Government. And while, of course, it is professionally and ethically sound for Editor Ransford Tetteh to ensure even-handed coverage of the various electioneering campaigns, still, the overriding objective, or mission, of the Daily Graphic, as it is also of the Ghanaian Times, for example, is to highlight palpable national development issues and projects.
What we, however, find to be both immitigably offensive and unpardonably pathetic, is the jejune attempt by Mr. Koku Anyidoho to draw the wife of the Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party into a fray over whose apparent provocation Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has absolutely no authority or control. In any case, what do the following remarks, for example, mean: “On the contrary, dead stories about the wife of Rebecca [sic] Akufo-Addo are constantly published by the Daily Graphic” and “We know it [sic] for a fact that apart from the Political Editor of the Daily Graphic taking [having taken?] a keen interest in the activities of Nana
Akufo-Addo and his wife, stories sent to the paper from the outfit [sic] [campaign?] of the NPP flagbearer get published with gusto”?
What is even more pathetic is Mr. Anyidoho’s attempt to draw Dr. Messan Mawugbe into his purely imaginary and hallucinatory fray. To be certain, what Dr. Mawugbe, who is head of the Center for Media Analysis, has emphatically said is that, indeed, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) gets more coverage from both the public and private media institutions largely because of the NPP’s policymaking and executing status or advantage. But even more significantly, Dr. Mawugbe has also promptly observed that while it ruled the proverbial roost, the NDC received even far more coverage than the then-opposition New Patriotic Party. And so, really, what is the problem of Mr. Koku Anyidoho? I bet my bottom-dollar that Prof. Atta-Mills’ communications guru could make a fairly good use of a shrink!
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of 18 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005) and “Abe: Reflections on Love” (Atumpan Publications/lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.